Through the children that I met during the field trip, I saw what happiness was – having nothing.
By Stephanie Tabalujan
When I was in junior college, a quote by Mother Teresa struck me – “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Holding on to this belief, I promised myself that I will do what I can to help and spread love and joy to the disadvantaged.
Since then, I have volunteered physically on an annual basis. This year, I chose to go on a mission trip with Barré. Before the trip, I attended pre-trip briefings to better understand what I was getting myself into. I was confident and knew well enough of the expectations as I had been on volunteer trips before. However, there was a little surprise–attending mass at 5am every day during the trip (it is really very early)!
I do not have the habit of attending weekday mass regularly and at that hour early in the day, I told myself I would have to be disciplined and put in the effort to be with God before I started my day doing God’s work. Furthermore, we were tasked to teach literature, specifically about Shakespeare and his plays. At the end of the lesson, the students were to act out on one of his plays titled “As You Like It”. Truth be told, I had no idea what the play was about. I didn’t study literature in school and I was not exposed to Shakespeare. In other words, I had ZERO knowledge of the syllabus onsite! I would have a lot to prepare for before the trip!
The day that we had to fly into Vietnam came quickly and I had butterflies in my stomach. The journey took more than half the day and Father John warmly welcomed us when we arrived in Kon Tum in the evening. We enjoyed our very first dinner in Kon Tum and the rest of our meals were FANTASTIC! The very first morning was the toughest to wake and stay awake for mass! However, I was greeted with a sight that inspired me to get up and attend mass for the rest of the trip – school going children attending mass before they headed to school. With this, I told myself that “if they can do it, so can I”.
When it came to teaching, we struggled because we were able to sense the difficulties that some of the students were facing when we were introducing Shakespeare and his plays. It was tough but we made certain changes to suit the needs of the students so that they were able to enjoy the learning process. At the end of the day, we were glad that we made those changes as we saw the joy that the students expressed during the play. In addition, with the changes made, we were able to spend some time brushing up on the basics that some needed help with. This reminded me that it is not about the content that will impact them but how we delivered it that will create an impact on the students.
In the afternoon of our last teaching day, we had a field trip to visit some churches in the village, students’ homes and orphanages. The trip reminded me of how fortunate I am to live in Singapore, with decent transport system and reliable food and water sources. Through the children that I met during the field trip, I saw what happiness was – having nothing.
I was delighted to see the children in the orphanages sharing their toys and happy with the little they had. They did not have iPads, computer games or TV programmes to watch but they were happy to just play simply – catching one another and climbing around. This is something rare in Singapore.
My takeaway is definitely the fellowship and friendships that I have forged with everyone I met on this trip, especially Father John. At the age of 67, he is an active priest, doing all of his work by himself and still finding time and energy to bond with the local children. He is definitely a role model!
Upcoming Mission Trip: July 2016
Our Mission team is looking for our next batch of missioners to head north this July to teach and meet the community in Kontum.
Do contact us at email@example.com to find out more.