Emma Pabera

Emma Returns

By Emma Pabera

Emma Pabera, a Columban lay missionary, has lived in the male-dominated society of Pakistan from 1990-1993. Emma is now working with the Columban Lay Mission Program in the Philippines. Recently she had a chance to revisit the country and see old friends.

Sometimes Loving, Sometimes Brutal

By Emma Pabera

Emma Pabera tells about the dilemma of Pakistani wives.

I was in lay mission in Pakistan when a Columban friend wrote to me, “Life will never be the same again after your mission experience.” That was six years ago. I did not understand what he meant then. Not until my mission term ended and I went back home to the Philippines. That is why I was overjoyed when Fr. McGuire, Columban Lay Mission Coordinator, asked me if I wanted to visit our lay missionaries in Pakistan. Without any hesitation, I said, “Yes!”

Baji, Street Sweeper

One of the special persons, I wanted to see was Baji Hanefa (baji is a Punjabi word for sister). I regard her as a mother, a sister and a friend. A gentle woman, hardworking, loving and kind. She has six children, five girls, and an only boy. She works in a government corporation as a street sweeper. Most of the Christian men in the city work as street sweepers while the women as house cleaners in the Muslim families. They are poor but with hard work, Baji and her husband were able to send their children to school. Their son was in college and could speak English. He was one of the parish leaders before he got married. He helped me with our Bible activity in the community. I used to have meal in their house. Sometimes I stayed for the night. I felt at home with them as they regard me as a member of the family.

A Strange Meeting on Foreign Shores

By: Emma Pabera

The Bad Guys!
Would you believe that it is only in Pakistan that I have spoken to Filipino boys and Muslim men in general? It sounds strange, but it is true. The Muslim are in Mindanao, in Southern Philippines, while I am from Negros in Western Visayas. All the stories I read and heard about Muslim brothers and sisters are negative. This is the reason why I had developed a bias and negative attitude towards them. Muslim in the Philippines are known to be brave and warlike people. Most pirates are Muslims. They cannot be trusted some say.

From Philippines to Pakistan with love

By: Emma Pabera

“There’s no place like home.” Yes it’s true. Leaving home and family is not an easy because we Filipinos are known for our close family ties.

Longtime Desire
In December, 1990, I applied to join the Columban Lay Mission Program. For a few years I had work as a member of the pastoral team in the diocese of Bacolod. I was happy in my work, but it had long been my desire to be a lay missionary. When Father Michael Martin, former superior of the Columbans in Negros, now full-time Lay mission Coordinator in Philippines, invited me to join the program, I didn’t hesitate to accept his invitation.

Tatlong Pinay sa Pakistan

By: Emma Pabera

In 1990 three, Filipinos, Gloria Canama from Mindanao, Pilar Tilos, and Emma (Ems Pabera from Negros arrived in Pakistan to begin their missionary work with the Columban Fathers and Sisters. A letter from Ems tells us of their first impressions.

A Lay Missionary’s First Impressions
Pilar, Gloria, and I (Ems) arrived in Pakistan on Oct. 21. Our plane touched down in Lahore at 10:30 AM on a Sunday morning. Waiting patiently for us at the Airport Terminal were two Irish priest and a Filipino nun (Dan, P.J., and Perlita). As they put garlands around our heads I felt the urge of happiness. IT is strange but I don’t feel like a stranger in this place. Maybe because the Columban support group is great and they’re so good to us.