Gertrudes, where have you been?

To celebrate World Mission Day this weekend, Co-ordinator of Columban Lay Missionaries, Gertrudes C. Samson shares a poem she wrote which reflects upon her life as a Columban Lay Missionary.

Gertrudes, where have you been?

Gertrudes, oh Gertrudes,
Where have you been?
I've been in England,
guess what I've seen?

In England, in England?
What have you seen?
Asylum seekers, refugees,
needing help and assistance.
That's what I have seen.

Sanctuary and safety,
they are hoping within.
Fleeing persecution and violence,
from where they have been.

Making them feel welcome,
at peace now where they are in.
As I tried to journey with them
so they would be stronger within.

Simple, oh simple,
act of faith and love it might have been.
My humble contribution,
towards World Peace
we are hoping to be seen.

Crossing boundaries of faith, race, culture,
all discrimination that we have seen.
Following my saviour and friend Jesus Christ,
doing good and loving everyone he has seen.

In England, in England,
Yes, I have been!
Someday, I hope you would also see
what I have seen.
If not with your own eyes,
I hope at least in your hearts within.

Gertrudes C Samson

When I was asked to share about what I am doing as a Lay Missionary in a creative way, I attempted to write this poem, hoping that it would capture the importance of my mission here in Birmingham, as a Columban Lay Missionary.

The counting of the words on each stanza, and the rhyme on each end may not be perfect, for I am not an expert poet, but I do hope that it captured the message I was trying to give. I base its rhyme on a popular nursery rhyme ‘Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?’ which originated from England and was painted on the wall of our classroom when I was in high school. I have remembered the rhyme and it helped me in forming this poem.

It was 4 years ago in May during my mission sending mass when I said YES to God to work with Him on a cross-cultural mission. I decided to leave my country, my home and my father’s house, my family, my loved ones and my friends, my profession as an architect and the poor Filipino communities that we are serving. I left everything that was familiar to me and go to the land the Lord God shown me as he said in Genesis 12:1.  How long will God want me to do this? Only God knows the answer.  I simply must trust Him and live each day, one at a time. I am thankful to God and the Columbans for this opportunity. In mission God has enabled me to see far more than the eyes can see – things that can only be seen if you allow God to open your mind, heart, and spirit. It is such a great blessing.

Many of those I left behind in the Philippines were wondering where I have been.  For those whom I got the chance to meet during my home vacation, last May, this poem talks about the usual flow of my conversation with them as we met again. For those whom I failed to meet, I hope this poem will give you a glimpse on where I have been and what I have been doing. I am looking forward to seeing you all next time!

I realise that life cannot be measured by its length. It is measured by how we live it, and how we do the mission God has given us, how much we love and what we do to bring God’s love into the world. I believed that each role that God gives us at various points of our lives is a mission in which we’re called to spread God’s love. It is not only missionaries called for this purpose – we all are called by the Lord, whether you are a father, a mother, single, married, a priest, a nun, a lay missionary, professional or religious. Everybody is on mission given by God. Our roles in life might change at some points but the mission never changes – it is to spread God’s love.