We are just finishing October, the month of the mission and we would like to share the life of a missionary with you. We have chosen to present the testimony of Paula, a Portuguese missionary who has been in Japan for 30 years. She has dedicated her whole life to Jesus in these brothers and sisters, from whom she has also received so much. Don`t go away! Let her tell you in her own words about her experience.
How did you receive the call to Japan?
About 39 years ago, while I was in the novitiate, a missionary who was returning from Japan came to visit us. Listening to her talk about the mission there, I remember saying to myself: “Thank goodness I will never go to that country”. I honestly felt incapable of adapting to such a different reality.
Eight years later I was assigned to… Japan! Today I feel very grateful to God and to those who believed in me, for having sent me to this country thirty years ago. By allowing me to stay in Japan for so many years, God responded to a desire I had always had: to go as a missionary to a certain place and to stay there forever so that, like Paul, “I might become all things to all people in order to win as many as possible to Christ.
What has Japan meant to you?
Japan has given me many gifts. These thirty years I have learned and received so much from the Japanese people I have met. I have grasped through them aspects of the Gospel that I did not understand.
They accepted me, respected me and loved me as I am. They opened their homes and their hearts to me, they introduced me to their culture and their personal lives. It is an especially immense gift to have been able to be with young people and to accompany them in their search for happiness. Some of them now have grown-up children… and I also enjoy being with the younger ones who, despite the age difference, continue to treat me as one of them.
Japan has taught me the importance of human relationships and that the mission begins with the small details of life, especially in the way we treat each other. I would summarize the mission here as follows: it is often about trying to make the other person feel at home and to make them feel that they have the right to be happy and to follow the voice of their heart.
Japan has made me discover God very much alive in many people who do not know Him. At the same time, it has made me glimpse the thirst for God in the hearts of many, even if they do not know it. I have witnessed the gift of seeing the miracle of faith dawn in the hearts of young people and the courage with which they opt for baptism, despite the incomprehension of those closest to them.
Japan has taught me to combine the attitude of “missionary urgency” with “infinite patience”, knowing that God has the right time to touch the heart of each person.