The Moment I Felt God Embraced Me in the Community Life

By Columban Hkun Myat Aung

The author is a Columban seminarian from Myitkina, Myanmar who joined the Columban formation program here in the Philippines in 2015. At present he is studying Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas.

I am Columban Hkun Myat Aung. I am from Myanmar. I came to the Philippines on 1st of November 2015 to join the formation program of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. When I arrived in the Philippines, I was not able to speak English very well. Most of the time, I was silent during our community meals because I could not understand what my companions were talking about. I could not catch even a word they said. Learning a new language is not easy for me. I went to language school in the morning after breakfast then came back to the formation house in the afternoon at around 4 p.m. Studying English the whole day drained my energy the moment I arrived at the house.

In spite of the hardship while learning a new language, I felt encouraged to continue because I was in a warm community. This was how I experienced the love of God, the warm embrace of God through my dedicated and committed formators (Fr. Raymond Husband and Fr. Finbar Maxwell) and my fellow companions. They understood me and showed me compassion; they listened to me with great patience when I was speaking to them. They encouraged me to speak at least one English word during meal time. They helped me broke my silence by asking simple questions so I was able to respond to them. It was the time I felt being part of the community. I felt God embracing me in my hardship through my community.

After I finished my language studies, I prepared for the college admission test for Philosophy. It was another hard time for me because I came from a totally different education system. I had to study Mathematics again as well as Abstract Reasoning, which I never experienced in Myanmar before. At that moment, I got a lot of support from my fellow companions even though they were very busy with their own studies. They were always ready to explain to me the things that I did not understand.

Columban with his co-seminarians

When I reflect on the experiences I had with my fellow companions, I felt the presence of God in the community life. God has been accompanying me in my vocation journey till now. Lastly, albeit there are many challenges in my vocation journey, I feel alive; I feel joy. I continue to find meaning in life living in a community of diverse cultures.