Missioner Tales of Maryknoll Magazine May/June 2008

On Samal Island in the Philippines, I taught English for the first-and second-grade children who spoke the Visayan language and only a little English. One boy named Archie spoke only Visayan. One morning, he brought a shell. I thought he wanted to show it to me so I returned it after looking at it. He talked in Visayan, but I didn’t understand. Finally, I realized he wanted to give the shell to me. He gave me another shell several days later and again spoke in Visayan, but I knew he wanted me to keep that one too.
During that time, I used to pass a newspaper stand on my way to daily Mass. I would smile or say ”good morning” to the woman running the kiosk. One morning, I went earlier than usual so I could talk with her. When I stopped, she said ”I love you, Sister.” She did not even know my name! Then I said, ”I love you too,” and asked about her family, speaking slowly so she would understand. I realized after I moved on that I too had forgotten to ask her name.
The experiences reminded me of the song ”Be Not Afraid,” which we sing at Mass and prayer services, because one of the lines of the song says, ”speak my words to foreign men and they will understand.” (Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati M.M.)