To live is to love
Being open to whatever is asked in mission opens many doors for a new missioner in a new land
By Dorothy Novak
When I arrived to do mission work in Bangkok in 2001, I was overwhelmed by the size of the city and how much of our Western culture was available. It became like a little Toronto to me. Of course, Bangkok has nearly eight million more people, more pollution, more poverty, more slum areas, and more traffic. Yet, you hardly ever hear horns blowing or people getting upset when they are sitting in traffic for hours trying to get from one place to another.
Little Bin, daughter of a friend who teaches at the Centre where Dorothy Novak volunteers, welcomes Dorothy to her home with friendship and joy
Most foreigners love Bangkok and of course it is because of the Thai people and their culture. Bangkok means City of Angels and that is what it has become to me. I live in the Din Daeng area, a poorer area of the city, on a street called Soi Boot Mae Prae Fatima (Mother of God, Fatima Church Lane). At the beginning of the soi (street) is a statue of our Lady of Fatima.
Further down the lane is the Good Shepherd Self-Help Centre for Women where I work. A statue of the Good Shepherd stands at the entrance. Most of the people I live and work with are Buddhist, yet each person who enters the centre bows before this statue. I am continually overwhelmed at the respect the people in Thailand have for our Christian beliefs.
My mission work began here with the Good Shepherd Sisters, helping the poor to help themselves. When I first saw the work these few Irish Sisters had accomplished, and listened to the stories of their 36 years in Bangkok, I wondered what I could contribute. However, being open to whatever is asked of me has opened many doors. For sure, to live is to love.
The Sisters have overwhelmed me with their love and support as they do for all who come to them. People at the Centre often mistake me for one of the Sisters, and I tell them, "No, I am a mother of three children, and I have a grandson!"
I am now in my third year as a Scarboro lay missioner. Being part of the Scarboro community has given me many reasons to be thankful. In August 2002 I returned to Canada to take part in Scarboro Missions' General Assembly and XIth General Chapter. Priest and lay missioners met together to share the past and plan for the future.
This gathering of missioners certainly was a blessing for me as we shared the gift of each other in song, laughter, and love, and shared our stories of mission. Some of us had never met each other before.
Since joining Scarboro Missions I have found each day to be like a new day, a new beginning. I continue to be open to the surprises that God has in store, to love what I am doing, to love all whom I meet on my journey, and to share that love with my neighbours on the other side of the world. What a blessing. Yes, to live is to love.