This trip to Battambang, Cambodia provided me an opportunity to integrate better into the Catholic community. Right through from the initial preparation stages, there were many platforms for interactions between all participants through, spiritual talks, faith-sharing and makan sessions. During the trip, I had a wonderful time getting acquainted with people from all walks of life and also fellow members not serving in the same village. All these arise especially during mealtime, reflection sessions and even on the many bus ride. The reality of being out of your comfort-zone and having to adapt and fit in with everybody else is the best tool to break down communication barriers and foster only empathy and team spirit.
It was prideful realizing the selflessness of our fellow brothers and sisters from different walks of life fervently partaking in this Mission trip. Our conversations were like-minded, on giving back not only resources of time and money but also of hope and faith. It felt good to finally be able to be a part of something and being able to accomplish and actualize the thoughts of giving or ‘paying it forward’.
Typically, our day starts off with Mass as it helped to align our mindsets and set the pace for the entire day. It reminded us about our Mission and purpose of being in Battambang. The togetherness as well as the serenity during Mass also rejuvenated my mind and body from the previous day’s activities. Thereafter, we would move off to our locations and spend the day there with the tasks assigned. At the end of the day, we gather back at the Battambang parish to share our experiences for the day and how our day has been shaped spiritually through God’s work.
There was so much I took away from this trip. The teachers and children at Tahen Village gave love unconditional, as we shared many joyful experiences during my week of ‘teaching’ at the village. We had taught them curriculum and in return were reminded of many of our Christian values that we so often and easily forget. The learning points for me were to try to be more respectful and grateful. Further to that, what was so apparent was to try to love unconditionally and without prejudice, and above all - to be more human, and embrace oneself wholeheartedly.
Beyond the trip, this incredible experience made me realize that there are many marginalized individuals, “invisible” to the majority, which we should be supporting. And kindness does not extend out only to foreign territories but instead we should be helping those on local soil. I have realized that we are the instruments that God placed in people’s lives to spread grace and give hope. And as Father Garcia wisely shared, “we give not because they are poor but because they are worthy.”
ACTS Battambang 2015
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