Sharing: First Mission Assignment

I started to discern for first mission assignment on January 2009 by submitting four preference regions (China, Central Pacific, Philippines, and Taiwan) to our Personnel Director Sr. Norie Mojado.
There were presentation from seven regions (Bolivia, Cambodia-Myanmar, China, Namibia, Panama, Philippines, and Tanzania) for our area study and I submitted my discernment paper with two preference regions (China and Philippines) on Jul 6, 2009.
I had a meeting with our Leadership Team Srs. Bitrina Kirway and Rebecca Macugay on Sep 23, 2009. I couldn’t hold my tears during the meeting and the whole afternoon. I submitted my re-discernment paper on Sep 28, 2009 (It means it’s my second time to re-write my discernment paper). Sr. Norie and Fr. Lukas Batmomolin, SVD helped me in re-discerning process.
Here is part of my discernment paper for my first mission assignment.
...“As I experience how God has blessed and loved me in so many ways, I want to share those experiences by doing simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible in our broken world through my commitment as a Maryknoll Sister.” (I composed this mission statement during the workshop on “Spirituality of Fundraising for Mission” by Dr. Michael Gable on Sep 25, 2009 and I couldn’t hold my tears when I read it.)
I realize that how little I can do in service to the universal mission of the Church but how big I am encouraged to keep move forward because mission is not just a matter of doing things for people, it is first of all a matter of being with people, of listening to, sharing and praying with them.
My experience in discerning to religious life was built up from my preferences and then I am called to learn, grow and transform through my daily experiences. I am called to do the same way of discernment for my first mission assignment as several regions welcome newly professed sisters.
This discernment process has contributed in such a way that I also come to know myself better, my weaknesses and strengths. My personal preferences that I mentioned in the earlier discernment paper truly reflect my own self. Those preferences such as, starting my mission from my comfort zone, embracing my Chinese root and giving a bit of comfort to parents by working in a place near Indonesia, may not resound the Maryknoll spirituality of mission, yet they are the real conditions of those two countries. However, my commitment to mission as a Maryknoll sister is clear, offer my simple self to people, whom I eventually will work with. I also realize that my spiritual life which is very important to my missionary work can be enriched by the way Christians in both China and the Philippines express their faith through religious celebrations.
Reflecting on all the above, here are my personal preferences:
1. China Region because…
I was surprised to know that the first mission of Maryknoll and the summer program of Maryknoll Lay Missioners were in mainland China. There are still many needs in mainland China so China Region very much encourage to explore these opportunities and especially as they are giving a strong invitation and warm welcome to China region (mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau) since summer 2008.
I am willing to look for the ministry possibilities as I did during my orientation in Chicago including working among the immigrants.
As I have a little basic knowledge of passive Mandarin, I think it would be an advantage to start with.
As I am called to be a simple missionary instead of heroic missionary, I think to start it from my comfort zone (warm weather, near Indonesia, Mandarin, and having rice) and to come and see what God has in store for me.

While having dinner on Oct 15, 2009, Sr. Genie Natividad said that there was an announcement in the bulletin board that our Leadership Team would share good news on Mission Sunday Oct 18, 2009 and it might be our first mission assignment. I said “God give me the grace to accept whatever their decision.” I couldn’t hold my tears at the end of talks of Sr. Helen Phillips who acted as St. Teresa of Avila.
Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing affright you
All things are passing
God never changes
The one who has God wants for nothing
God alone suffices. Amen.
In the evening, I received an invitation card from our Leadership Team to join them in the main dining room on Oct 18, 2009 5.00 p.m.
World Mission Sunday which was originally promulgated by Pope Pius XI on April 1926 to remind us all of our participation in mission by reason of our Baptism and of both our privilege and obligation to spread the Good News wherever we are. I wore my pink Indonesian kabaya as I would bring the offertory. After Mass, Laura informed me that Minh, MKLM offered to give a hair cut in the afternoon. I planned to have hair cut this week but I didn’t ask her yet. She cut my hair as I planned for free. I was wondering was this a sign that I would be assigned to China region as my wish? One of the passages during our retreat “The Historic Jesus and Discernment of Mission Today” by Fr. Simon Harak, SJ and Carol was one of my favourite verse Luk 11: 9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you...”
Our main dining room were full with our sisters. The main menu was pizza. Srs. Ellen McDonald, Sue Rech, Norie, Genie, Laura and I sat together. Sr. Janice McLaughlin gave an introduction including quotation of our foundress Mother Mary Joseph in our Constitutions: "Assignments have a much deeper significance than we usually bother to observe. They do not mean merely the naming of Sisters to serve in this mission or that. When we make assignments we are acknowledging growth and needs. Our work has been blessed and expanded. New fields are offered to us and we are eager to develop them." Sr. Bitrina Kirway announced my first mission assignment: China region (Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China). Thanks be to God! It’s the best first mission assignment that I can get. Then, my sisters were in line to give congratulations to three of us. Srs. Sue Glass and Marilu Limgenco from China region called around 9.00 p.m. to welcome me.
The next day, several of my sisters asked whether I couldn’t sleep. Yes, I couldn’t really sleep since Oct 15, 2009 as I am coughing in the middle of the night. Upon arrived from my orientation with Maryknoll Lay Missioner, there were pink carnations in a beautiful vase, welcome notes including by email from my China region and a book “What’s in a Chinese Character” from Sr. Betty Ann Maheu.
Thank you very much for all your prayers. I do appreciate it.

“Be very simple in the beginning of your religious life. If you are patient with yourself and do not aspire to lofty things in the beginning, just build up a good strong foundation, you will have a very happy life.” (Mother Mary Joseph: 1925)
Ossining-New York, Oct 25, 2009

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible

Sharing: Discernment with Maryknoll Sisters

When starting my discernment, I never heard about Maryknoll Sisters as they didn’t have any convent in Indonesia since the independence of East Timor. Here is the story of how God prepares my way to Maryknoll Sisters which is quoted from my answers for applying to Maryknoll Sisters.
I visited Fr. Agustinus Surianto and he suggested joining Maryknoll. He looked for Maryknoll’s website at the Catholic Directory of Indonesian Church, opened the website and asked me to send the preliminary form from his computer at that time. The next day, I met Fr. Ridwan Amo who also suggested joining Maryknoll. Both of them were taught by Maryknoll Sisters during their formation as seminarians in Bandung. I had not met both of them for more than ten years and yet they sounded so sure about me for Maryknoll.
I started to communicate with Sr. Leonila Bermisa, MM through email. In replying the question in Initial Discernment Form “What about Maryknoll Sisters do I find myself resonating with...”, I replied “After reading the website about Maryknoll Sisters, I find myself resonating with their spirituality and ministries. In Nov 2005, I wanted to join a contemplative, active and missionary congregation. That I find in Maryknoll. God has blessed and loved me for 35 years so I want to share it with others and the charism of Maryknoll is making God’s Love visible. I wrote my faith experiences in a book “Menghitung Berkat” (=Counting My Blessings).
Here are excerpt from Form A. How do I see myself participating in mission, and living in community with women of varied backgrounds, culture, races, ages? I will participate in pastoral work such as visiting the sick and abandoned persons, help families to have a better life financially and socially, contribute my writing and organizing skills to the community. I enjoy living in a multi-cultural and multi-generational communities as I can share my experience and I can learn from them.
Upon arriving the Philippines for live in, I answered the Form B. What is it about Mother Mary Joseph, the foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters, inspires me? She is intelligent, ready to take a challenge, open minded, motherly, loving, joyful, and an easy-to-be-with person. She was the first smiling foundress of an Order that I saw. I connected with her when she said “Each of us has seen her own star and had the grace to follow it. That is the secret foundation and growth of our Congregation, for our stars – a vocation to the foreign mission apostolate – led us to Maryknoll.” I also connected with her when she said “…the longer you live and the more you see, the more you will become aware of the finger of God in the guidance of this work and your own spiritual development.” I was inspired by her when she smiled and said to Margaret Shea, “Let’s just go together and see what God has in store for us.”
Which aspects on the history/story of the Maryknoll Sisters impress me the most? Sending the first missioners to China, which was far away, with different language, and culture, and still have zeal even though facing so many problems there including imprisonment, war, disease, etc. I wish I know as much as the Maryknoll Sisters.
Here are excerpts from Form C. During my discernment process, I have come to understand the Maryknoll Sisters as …
· What I find challenging are the different types of personalities among the Sisters, different types of community life, and different types of ministries.
· What gives me hope is that we have the same journey to the Father, to be a missionary and holy person, no matter our culture, personalities and talents.
After two months in the Philippines, I couldn’t see any reason to turn back from this discernment. On March 23, 2007 I choose to seek membership in the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation because I think the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation is the most suitable Congregation for me in spirituality, in the way of expressing opinion/ideas, the way of living out the vows, the way of appreciating God’s personal call and talents, and the acronym (M.M.) has a meaning for me. Even though my English is still not good enough, I believe God will give me grace to speak my words to foreign men and they will understand (cf. Song “Be not Afraid”).
Sr. Leonila called me on May 24, 2007 to inform that I am accepted as a candidate and Maryknoll Sisters would send all the paperwork for the religious visa.
After facing computer problem at Surabaya Consulate General of USA so I should come back the next day for the interview, waiting the communication between the interviewer and Leadership of Maryknoll Sisters, I got one year religious visa.
I left my family and friends in Indonesia on Jul 26, 2009, arrived in Newark airport on Jul 27, 2009 and got 3 years I94.
I stayed in Chicago during Fall 07 and Spring 08 and in New York during winter 08/09. Here is the excerpt for my discernment paper for canonical year: “I am grateful for my first year of orientation as God gives me more than I ask or imagine in my relationship with God, community, personal, study and ministry life, therefore I, Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati, M.M. (Linda AB, M.M.), desire and wish to continue my journey to the canonical year of Orientation Phase in the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic Congregation.” I received the acceptance letter to enter canonical year from Congregational Leadership Team before leaving for New York on summer 09.
Here is the excerpt for my discernment paper for first profession of religious vows: “Finally, I am grateful for my second year of orientation as my school of knowledge, love and humility and also growth in self knowledge, and I desire and wish for first profession. Therefore I, Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati, M.M. request to make my first profession of vows in the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic Congregation.“
I moved to Ossining-New York since May 28, 2009. Our Congregational Leadership Team invited to attend their morning prayer on Jun 1, 2009. I was moved when we read the Magnificat to the God of Dawn and couldn't hold my tears when I said “Thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness...” I couldn’t continue my sentence. Sr. Bitrina Kirway gave an introduction and then Sr. Ann Hayden gave the acceptance letter for first profession of religious vows. It’s the answer of my discernment to religious life. No turning back.

“How does one find God’s will? We believe that we discover the will of God within ourselves. When we most clearly know ourselves, we best know where and how God speaks to us...We believe that God’s will is found in doing what we want at the very best and deepest level of who we understand ourselves to be.” (Inviting the Mystic, Supporting the Prophet, Dykman and Caroll).

Ossining-New York, Oct 18, 2009

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible

Sharing Panggilan untuk Misa KKI DC area Oktober 2009

Selamat siang Bapak/Ibu/Saudara/Saudari sekalian. Pertama-tama saya ingin mengucapkan banyak terima kasih kepada pengurus KKI DC dan Romo Lukas Batmomolin, SVD, yang telah memberi kesempatan untuk membagikan pengalaman panggilan saya sebagai seorang biarawati dan misi dari Maryknoll Sisters.
Nama saya Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati. Saya dilahirkan di Jombang Jawa Timur dan menempuh pendidikan di sekolah katolik sejak taman kanak-kanak sampai SMA. Saya dibaptis sewaktu kelas tiga SMA.
Saya berkeinginan menjadi seorang biarawati ketika kuliah tingkat satu tetapi kemudian saya berpikir bahwa saya dapat melakukan pelayanan meskipun menikah. Setelah bekerja sekitar sepuluh tahun saya tidak melakukan pelayanan apapun. Saya sibuk dengan kehidupan pribadi terutama ketika menjadi seorang kepala cabang sebuah perusahaan kargo di Surabaya.
Ketika sedang duduk di depan gua Maria di Pertapaan Karmel Tumpang, di bulan Oktober 2005, saya mulai menangis ketika menyadari betapa Tuhan sangat memberkati saya dan mulai berpikir tentang panggilan hidup saya. Saya memutuskan untuk mengundurkan diri dari pekerjaan empat bulan kemudian agar bisa berkonsentrasi dalam mencari kehendak Tuhan. Saya mulai mengunjungi beberapa komunitas biarawati, mengikuti beberapa retret dan Sekolah Evangelisasi se-Asia Pasifik di Australia.
Saya mengenal Maryknoll Sisters pada bulan Juni 2006, melalui Rm. Agust Surianto dan Rm. Ridwan Amo, yang pernah menjadi murid Maryknoll Sisters sewaktu masih frater di Bandung. Komunikasi saya dengan Direktur Panggilan Maryknoll Sisters berlangsung melalui email, mengingat tidak ada biara Maryknoll Sisters di Indonesia sejak kemerdekaan Timor Leste.
Saya menjalani “live in” di Maryknoll Sisters selama empat bulan termasuk mengajukan surat lamaran. Saya diterima untuk menjalani masa orientasi sebagai calon Maryknoll Sisters sehingga saya berangkat ke USA pada bulan Juli 2007. Selama masa orientasi di Chicago, saya tinggal bersama tiga orang calon yang lain dan dua orang suster direktur, bergiliran memasak, membersihkan rumah, memimpin ibadat pagi dan sore, menjalani pendidikan di Catholic Theological Union Chicago, mengunjungi pasien di University of Chicago Hospital, mengunjungi penderita HIV/AIDS di Bonaventure House, menjadi volunteer di pusat kehamilan Aid for Women, dll.
Saya mengucapkan kaul kemurnian, kemiskinan dan ketaatan untuk tiga tahun pada tanggal 9 Agustus 2009 di Maryknoll Sisters Center New York, dimana saya berjanji untuk hidup sederhana dan dengan ketaatan sebagai wanita selibat dalam komunitas, mengikuti Injil dan berkomitmen untuk melayani misi universal Gereja.
Komitmen untuk hidup sederhana, dengan ketaatan kepada kehendak Allah, dan hidup berkomunitas merupakan panggilan setiap umat Katolik, apalagi hidup berkomunitas merupakan ciri khas Gereja perdana. Karenanya upaya untuk mengumpulkan umat Katolik di DC area dalam wadah KKI menjadi suatu sarana untuk menampakkan komitmen untuk hidup berkomunitas.
Meskipun saya sudah pernah memutuskan untuk tidak menjadi biarawati tetapi ternyata Tuhan memberi kesempatan kedua dan saya percaya ini adalah kehendak Tuhan. Selama dua tahun di USA, saya merasakan betapa Tuhan selalu hadir dalam peristiwa sehari-hari, melalui begitu banyak orang yang hadir dalam hidup saya diantaranya Romo Lukas dan termasuk melalui kebiasaan memakai pink, sehingga saya maju terus dalam menjalani masa orientasi sampai selesai.
Kalau dalam bacaan Injil hari Ini, Tuhan Yesus mengatakan sesungguhnya setiap orang, yang karena Aku dan karena Injil meninggalkan rumahnya, saudaranya laki-laki atau saudaranya perempuan, ibunya atau bapanya, anak-anaknya atau ladangnya, orang itu sekarang pada masa ini juga akan menerima kembali seratus kali lipat: rumah, saudara laki-laki, saudara perempuan, ibu, anak dan ladang, sekalipun disertai berbagai penganiayaan, dan pada zaman yang akan datang ia akan menerima hidup yang kekal, maka saya menerima bahkan lebih dari seratus kali lipat saudara laki-laki dan saudara perempuan dalam keluarga besar Maryknoll.
Yang menjadi tanda sebagai seorang Maryknoll Sister adalah cincin dengan logo Chi Rho, yaitu dua huruf pertama dalam bahasa Yunani yang artinya Kristus, dan lingkaran yang melambangkan dunia.
Motto Maryknoll Sisters adalah Membuat Cinta Allah Kelihatan, yang menjadi inspirasi motto saya, Mari kita melakukan hal sederhana dengan cinta yang sederhana untuk membuat Cinta Allah Kelihatan.
Sebagai seorang Maryknoll Sister, saya akan melakukan pelayanan misi di luar Indonesia kecuali ketika sedang melakukan pelayanan keluarga. Setelah menyerahkan sebagian besar sekolah, rumah sakit dan lembaga lain kepada awam, kami melakukan berbagai jenis pelayanan di Afrika, Asia, Amerika dan Kepulauan Pasifik, diantaranya mengadakan latihan kepemimpinan, mengajar, merintis proyek penambah penghasilan, dan melayani penderita HIV/AIDS. Kami juga mempunyai kantor yang memperhatikan masalah-masalah global di Washington DC, yang baru saja saya kunjungi dalam minggu ini bersama misionaris awam Maryknoll.
Semua karya kami ini tentunya sejalan dengan pesan Bapa Paus Benediktus XVI dalam rangka Hari Minggu Misi Sedunia 2009, yang menyatakan bahwa Gereja ingin mengubah dunia dengan mewartakan Injil Cinta kasih, "yang dapat selalu menerangi dunia yang semakin suram dan memberi kita keberanian yang dibutuhkan untuk hidup dan berkarya ... dan dengan cara ini membuat terang Allah masuk ke dalam dunia" (Deus Caritas Est, 39).
Bapa Paus juga mengimbau, agar semua umat dan lembaga Gereja untuk berpartisipasi sekaligus "menegaskan sekali lagi bahwa tugas untuk mewartakan Injil kepada semua umat manusia merupakan perutusan hakiki Gereja" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14), suatu tugas dan misi yang semakin mendesak dalam masyarakat dewasa ini yang mengalami perubahan yang meluas dan mendalam. Karenanya saya akan mengakhiri sharing ini dengan kutipan dari Mother Mary Joseph pendiri Maryknoll Sisters “Setiap orang, dengan pekerjaannya masing-masing, dengan daya tariknya masing-masing, dipakai oleh Allah sebagai sarana khusus untuk melakukan pekerjaan tertentu untuk menyelamatkan jiwa tertentu.”
Silakan mengambil kartu dan booklet tentang Maryknoll Sisters di bagian belakang Gereja. Bagi yang berminat untuk membaca pengalaman-pengalaman saya, bisa membacanya di website Maryknoll Sisters, blog serta facebook saya.
Saya juga mohon bantuan doanya agar dapat menjalankan komitmen saya sebagai seorang Maryknoll Sister.
Sekali lagi terima kasih banyak kesempatan ini dan terutama untuk doanya. Semoga Tuhan memberkati Bapak/Ibu/Saudara/Saudari sekalian dalam perjalanan misionaris kita masing-masing.

Washington DC, Okt 11, 2009

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible