I2M 2019: Arrival and first impressions

Just over a week ago, we announced that six people from Britain – Joe, John, Marina, Katie, Catherine and Stephen – were setting off to visit the Philippines for the Invitation to Mission programme 2019. Below is the first in a series of reports/reflections on their visit, which will be posted over the coming weeks.

Arrival and first impressions
By Joe O’Brien

Joe O'BrienWednesday 17th April

After a quiet 13 hour flight, I was straight in to the noise, hustle and bustle of Manila airport and the next phase of our ‘Invitation to Mission’ adventure. John and Arlene, two lay missionaries based at the Columbans House, warmly welcomed us and shepherded us through the throng and into a minibus to take us for an evening meal at the local ‘Aristocrats’ restaurant. We enjoyed good local food and a chance to talk to each other and our new friends before a welcome sleep.

Thursday 18th April, Maundy Thursday

Morning brought a fresh day with hot but green surroundings and new things to have for breakfast. Papaya and different bananas….fish and rice….and good Filipino coffee!

One of the great things about being somewhere new is the chance to meet new people. This can also be daunting of course but today God reached me through connections. At lunch I met Fr Kaamiño, a Filipino Columban, who mentioned that I was the second person he had met from Stockport, as he had been working with Fr John Boles, a Columban from Stockport, in Peru. I meet Fr John in my parish of St Peter’s in Stockport when he ‘fills in’ for our priest, Fr Peter. I mentioned that it was hard to talk with John as he was always running off after Mass to go walking. Apparently he is the same wherever he goes, with a great love of the outdoors.

I also had this sense of connection when talking with others around the table: people from Australia, America, Ireland, Korea and China. God showed me that He calls, equips and sends those He chooses from all around the world and puts them together where they are needed. It was good to feel a very small part of God’s much bigger plan.

I am looking forward to going to Malate Parish Church today for services and to meet the family I will be staying with over the next couple of days. I am sure that God has much to teach me about Filipino people and culture, and about the Columbans. I pray that I can listen with an open heart and see with fresh eyes.

I2M at Heathrow (cropped)
Joe, Catherine, Marina, Katie, John and Stephen at Heathrow airport and in the wrong queue for ‘baggage drop’! They made their flight and arrived in the Philippines on 17th April, greeted by Lay Missionaries John Din and Arlenne Villahermosa.

What is Holy Week and Easter like in Malate parish? Look out for Stephen Awre’s report… coming soon!