I am from the Province of Indonesia, and I spent 4 years in an International Community in the Province of East Asia. The community was in Sihanoukville, Cambodia - a satellite of Pattaya community. Firstly I would like to express my gratitude to the Sisters of East Asia Province, who welcomed me.
It was exciting and challenging for me to live with the sisters from various countries - Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.
The first challenge that I experienced was the language of community members from different countries. We tried and struggled to communicate with each other in English in everyday conversation and in our prayer together, as we were not able to master the Khmer language. Our community also experienced successive new members from time to time: Myanmar postulants, novices who were with us to experience community and apostolate for 3 months from Myanmar and Vietnam and also a Temporary Professed sister for 1 year. We as Perpetually Professed sisters assisted these sisters in formation as they learned religious life of prayer, work, community and Congregation charism and spirituality.
We strove for mutual adaptation to each other given the different cultures and languages. We engaged with existing apostolates such as teaching English: for children in the village, for employees in the bars, and in prison. We assisted with day care for children from poor families from 8am to 4pm at the Fountain of Life Center. We also worked with women who were willing to learn sewing and handicraft, as a way of making a living - albeit on a small scale - by making handicrafts. All this we did with Cambodian staff.
I was amazed when we attended the daily Mass in Don Bosco College because even the students who are Buddhist took some responsibility for the liturgy. I could see the good and positive aspects of Buddhism.
From all my experiences there is one point which is very helpful for me, that is, to speak and understand more English. It also helped me to be a free and open person, trying to understand and accept others as they are, to see the goodness of diversity of religion, culture, language. I too saw the capabilities and weaknesses of myself. I learned also to live the spirit of a Good Shepherd along with sisters and staff from other countries amid a majority Buddhist country.
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