A sharing by Sharon Tan, a batch 6 IFFA student from the Diocese of Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
My family hosted two batch 5 Institute of Formation Fondacio Asia (IFFA) students, Rose EiPhyu Aung from Myanmar and Aleona Natalio from the Philippines during their two-week mission project in Sandakan , February this year. My close encounter with my two new ‘sisters’ had in a way exposed me to IFFA, its mission and commitment. I was drawn to its tagline – building young leaders across Asia to be bearers of hope. I felt my response to IFFA is not an accident nor a coincidence. It is an incident made possible by God. A call that I discerned and responded.
|Malaysian students – Rebecca , Sharon and Sheerah (standing 4th, 7th and 9th from left respectively) after the one-month intensive English Class|
|Staff, interns and students of IFFAsia and IFFEurope during their brief visit to Manila|
There are 15 of us, 13 students and 2 interns coming from the Philippines, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia. Our six weeks here thus far in IFFA is very challenging, each from different background and cultures. We tried hard to adjust to the new place, the people, the food and the weather. Despite of all the difficulties, we held on to one another – accepting, supporting and motivating each other. We learn, gradually to let go of our past, emptying ourselves for spiritual infilling and eventual renewal.
Each of us is assigned to do the routine household chores, budgeting, marketing, cooking, housekeeping. We have daily prayer session, lead prayers and experience community living, a way to share what we have.
|Praying over kneeling from left , Sharon, Rebecca and Sheerah from Malaysia|
Initially, I felt very small, weak and kept to myself, not wanting to share the real me. At times I asked, ‘Lord, “Am I the chosen one?”. However, when we went for our PDP (Personal Development Plan) retreat from 6th – 10th June, I discovered the reason why God wants me to be here. He has a reason for everything. I began to open up and unfold myself, all according to His will and in His time. The 5-day retreat had actually made me grow closer to God, establishing an intimate relationship with Him. With His strength given unto me, I am now able to share the real me with my new found brothers and sisters.
|Me and my vision|
During the Launching Mass for the batch 6 IFFA students and interns on 12th June, Pentecost Sunday, I felt enlightened, excited and also nervous as that was the day, along with my friends we made a covenant with God to carry forth His mission, here and now. May we be the agent of change for a better world through this 10-month of formation and transformation.
We need strength, courage and wisdom as we persevere in this journey of formation and transformation.
Pray for us.
Out of the 15 students and interns, three are from Malaysia with Rebecca Isaac from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Sheerah Yanggus from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu and Sharon Tan from the Diocese of Sandakan. The students are now attending theology class at St Vincent’s School of Theology in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, Philippines.