My Gratitude To Columban Missionaries

By Dalisay Barrera Sena Yu

The author expresses her gratitude to Columban missionaries in Olongapo City and shares some of her experiences in Zambia, where she and her husband worked. She now works in Japan and has children in Australia and the Cayman Islands. Last year she became the proud grandmother of twin boys.

I am pleased to read your magazine as it reminds me of my happy days in Columban College, Olongapo City, where I finished my high school and college education. I was a Catechist under the Columban Fathers and an active Student Catholic Action (SCA) Cell leader when Columban Sister Una was our Spiritual adviser.  One semester she recommended me for a scholarship when I wouldn’t have been able otherwise to continue my education because my big sister was graduating from the University of the East.  My father couldn’t afford to send both of us to college at the same time.  Sister Una encouraged me to continue my studies and I was granted the scholarship because I was active in SCA and a Catechist. My Dad and Mom were so grateful to the Columban Fathers and Sisters that time.

Future plans

When I was in high school my confessor was Father Thomas Convery, I hope he still remembers me.  I want to thank him for all his prayers.  I recall the time he said to me, ‘You still have to prepare for your education.  What are your plans?  I hope you won’t marry at once, you are still young’.    I answered, ‘Father, you’ll be seeing me for more than four years because I’ll complete my education here. For sure I will be given the chance to teach here after graduation’.  I enjoyed my life both in high school and college.

I had my first and second year teaching experience at Columban College.  When I got married, I was accepted to teach at a government school in Marinduque.  After a while I was hired to handle the second grade at Marcopper Expatriate School.  The following year I was transferred to teach at the school on which the Marcopper employees depended: Marcopper Elementary School. My husband worked as a metallurgist at Marcopper Mining Corporation.  He was one of the lucky employees given the chance to work in Zambia, in southern Africa.  He was hired as metallurgical engineer in Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines, the second largest copper mine in the world.  I was grateful that I was accepted to teach at St John Convent School, Chingalola, the town in Zambia where we lived and my husband worked.

I was appointed to teach Grade IV in an internationally mixed class.  Seventy percent were Zambians. The rest were Malaysians, Filipinos, Indians and British.  I didn’t have any difficulty handling them because Zambians are polite and they love to learn. In addition, I had previous experience at Marcopper.  We lived in Zambia for fifteen years and I enjoyed teaching there.  It’s an English-influenced county.  It has a very good environment, with no pollution in spite of the fact that we lived near the copper mine. The British are so particular about pollution, so aware. Zambia attained independence from Britain in 1964.  

Our lot, which had been cultivated by the British before independence, consisted of 1,000 square meters while our house floor area was 400 square meters.  It was so nice, with fruit-bearing trees such as mangoes, avocadoes, peaches and so on planted by the British. The houses were made of bricks.  The drainage surrounding all the copper-mine towns in Zambia was deep and wide.  The climate is so good, with three seasons. April to August is cool and dry, August to November hot and dry, and November to April warm and wet. There was no dust around even in summer. Many British stayed after they finished their contract in Zambia and turned to farming. Owning large tracts of land, they became wealthy.

Life in Zambia

Daisy’s youngest child’s 2nd birthday party with Zambian neighbor

Zambians are hospitable.  They like us because we are so competent, reliable, loving and hospitable.  I could speak their language with my own children, who grew up there.  We enjoyed our stay in that country.  They were the most remarkable years of my life. I miss my pupils at Sacred Heart of St John Convent School. Sister Crucifix was principal then.

Now that my children are independent, having their own professions, I’m thinking of giving my time to God at the fullest.  How many times I thank the Lord for giving me a  farm with a life-size grotto made of marble.  Every time I’m in front of it, I can feel His presence.  I want to share this place with others.  I’m dreaming of putting up a chapel and an all-purpose building there. I have a bungalow with two bedrooms there.  I have a vision that I could make a difference for the Lord in that place. It’s still but a dream.

I dream of giving my time and place to those who are seeking a solemn area where they could talk to and feel the presence of the Lord.  I want to offer my place, so quiet, just like Mt Zion, almost half a hectare along a road in Rizal Province, an hour’s ride from Marikina, where the beauty of nature is all around and the mountains echo; with views, birds, trees and everything that the Lord gives equally to all who know and love Him so dearly.  I love this place, I real gift to me that I want to share with those who are in soul-searching, just like me before.  Now I’ve found Him in this beautiful gift!

In gratitude

Daisy,in her paradise

My children also have plans to help me with my dream but they are still starting with their own lives.  How I wish I can continue by vocation, my dream to be a gift to others through these little things that I’m doing, making me feel I’m with him.  I’m so happy dreaming – thinking of these things. My husband and I want to share these gifts that God has given have us.

My gratitude to the Columban Fathers and Sisters for all these blessings is deep.  I owe what I am now to them.

You may write to: Mrs Dalisay Sena Yu, 7-2-1-3-107, Koyo-Cho-Naka

Higashinada-Ku, KOBE 658-0032, JAPAN