After a mission trip in 2015, Anthony discovered his love for serving the poor with VOICE (VOlunteers International of Canossa for Education with the Canossian Myanmar Mission. He shares more…
What were you doing before you decided to be a missionary?
I am just a normal Catholic guy holding a regular salaried job. To me, going on vacations is important. They are opportunities for me to maintain connection with my family and friends, and they are ‘sanity breaks’ from the stresses at work.
While thoughts on mission trips lingered on my mind, going on such trips was never my top choice as they seemed labour-intensive and lacking in comfort. Somehow, this call grew louder as I encountered inspiring stories from overseas missionaries. I heard and read how their lives have been changed (not only those whom they served) but their own wonderfully unique spiritual and personal experiences gained.
I signed up for the Humanitarian Forum & Fair (HFF) in 2015, and got to know the various Catholic groups involved in missionary works overseas. It was there I got acquainted with Sr. Angela from the Canossian Daughters of Charity and their outreach in Myanmar, and took the decisive and courageous step to support the Formation of Educators (FED) programme.
After that maiden trip, I was hooked! Since then, I devote a week of my annual leave to serve in the FED programme. I do so with a team of passionate fellow missionaries, teaching English and life-skills to poor village girls, training them to be educators. We call ourselves VOICE and we firmly believe that education can break through the cycle of poverty!
The VOICE team during their 2018 overseas mission trip
Back L-R: Veronica, Margarate, Rodney, Gerard, Juliet, Kala
Middle L-R: Nelly, Emily, Tracy, Maureen, Debbie
Front L-R: Gabriel, Sr Angela, Sr Joanna, Anthony
Why is doing missionary work worth your time and efforts?
It’s priceless to see the bright-eye smiles on the faces of those I serve, and knowing that I have made a little difference to the lives of others. It’s just simple ‘gifts’ we bring – helping them learn and speak English; sharing stories about Singapore and exposing them to our country and culture; or simply just getting to know them through games & conversations. All these simple gestures let them know that they are loved.
It is true that in giving, we receive. There is an inner joy that is unexplainable. I have no regrets in being part of the Canossian mission work in Myanmar. It feels good to give, and it is the right thing to do as a disciple of Jesus.
How can we pray for you?
Pray that the good works done by the different mission groups will flourish and sustain – all for the greater glory of God. That more kind volunteers will step forward to be part of the Church’s collective mission to serve the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged. Together, we can all make a bigger difference in the world, for God’s kingdom.
Whenever I become task-oriented. I get so engrossed in completing the assigned tasks of the mission trip that I may forget to rely on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance.
Did you ever face difficulties in feeling God’s presence planning for or during the mission trip?
Whenever I become task-oriented. I get so engrossed in completing the assigned tasks of the mission trip that I may forget to rely on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance. As such, it would be wise to devote time for faith formation before and during each mission trip. Let the Holy Spirit forms the hearts of every missionary, it is His work that we are doing after all.
What made you so convicted to become a missionary?
Heeding Jesus’ call for us to serve the least of our brothers and sisters. I am inspired by great saints who have courageously lived out the missionary call. I especially love and admire Mother Teresa and how she manifested Jesus’ love in serving the poor!