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By Rodolfo Christopher Kaamiño IVThe author, from Ozamiz City, was ordained deacon in Malate Church, Manila, on 12 December. He writes here about his experience as a Columban seminarian on First Mission Assignment in Taiwan.
Friends ask me what I’m doing here in Taiwan. Half-jokingly, ‘Washing asses’ is my frequent reply, and they laugh, thinking I might be joking or that I mean something else. Here is somebody who has studied for four years in graduate school in the USA now washing other people’s asses. It led me to wonder what’s ‘wrong’ with this, probably because it’s a ‘dirty’ job, or because it’s not a ‘classy job’, a ‘sophisticated profession’ such as engineering or accountancy. A friend asked me why I’m doing this. I told him I don’t do it on my own, or else I would have quit a long time ago. I have some help from above.
After being in Taiwan for almost two years, I felt I was an ‘amateur in every field and professional in none’. Probably that's what being a missionary is all about. Being in the ministry for several months now, I feel that I don’t have to be a professional or a rocket scientist to be a minister. I arrived here with ‘professional ideas and concepts’ about mission and ministry learned in school. In ministry here at AiJia these don’t matter much. Mentally challenged adults don’t necessarily need a professional. They need a human companion, somebody who can ‘waste’ time with them.
The ministry at AiJia, of course, also requires professional nursing and care-giving and I learned both on the job. Probably it was my willingness and openness that enabled me to also take on those roles. It wasn’t easy. Being an adult, I don’t want to be told what to do. Yet being a ‘tongue-tied’ foreigner, I depended much on others in the ministry. In AiJia a professional nurse, caregiver or social worker may efficiently take care of the physical needs of mentally challenged adults but not necessarily of their human needs. It has been my continuous struggle in the ministry to provide the people here with professional care and at the same time to be a human companion to them.
Most of the first followers of Jesus knew only of one trade, and that was to fish. These disciples could have remained professional fishermen and serve the hunger of the people by providing them with fish. But Jesus invited them to a whole new level of fishing, to ‘fish’ for people, a whole new field beyond their professional expertise. It required less of their professional skills but more of their hearts and minds. A tall order, but they were willing and trusting. Despite their being slow to understand, Jesus patiently journeyed with them as they continued ‘fishing’ for people.
Like the first disciples, I too am slow to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Yet I continue this journey in trust and with help from above. We missionaries try to put some flesh on God’s love in this world. Each does it in different ways depending upon the different gifts each has been given. One can be a professional when the situation calls for such. But most of the time, people need a human companion, somebody who is willing to go the extra mile with them.You can find the Reverend Chris on Facebook.