First Taste Of Mission

By Tavite Tukutukubau

The first journey in one’s missionary life is exciting and wonderful.

As a young boy growing up in a Fijian village I used to admire big planes flying over us especially at night. Every night I used to look forward to admiring the level of technology we’ve reached.

Tavite  Tukutukubau
Tavite at Luneta, Manila

But on 9 May 2011 my dream was fulfilled by getting into a Korean Air Airbus on my way to the Philippines for my Spiritual Formation Year. My companion, Pat Visanti, and I were to spend three days at the Formation House in Seoul, Korea, before flying to Manila.

Coming from the western side of Fiji where it is hot and dry, the first thing that struck me in Korea was the weather. They said it was spring but coming from a tropical island and this being my first trip overseas, it was really cold for me. Also, the food was totally new but I had to eat it. Otherwise I’d be starving.

As we were making our way to our taxi at NAIA, Manila, my first impression was of the children who came running after us. Then I realized that this was the reality of Manila that I was experiencing.

With all the excitement of being in this country still with me I was eager to experience everything during my first few days. I was anxious to see and to feel everything that I had always heard about this country from others.

After a few days I realized that I was in a country totally different from my own. Loneliness struck and I began to think of home and all the fun they would be having at this time.

After the excitement had gone, I remembered that my main reason for being here was my Spiritual Year. I’m training to be a Columban missionary priest and one important aspect of our life as Columbans is crossing cultures. So a vital factor of my training is living in a culture so different from my own.

What really strikes me is my need to continually develop my personal relationship with my Savior in a new country. That means getting away from my ‘comfort zone’ and developing in a place where I will face challenges in life, especially on my faith journey.

Through the spirituality of St Columban, I will try to develop the values of Christ and to be a witness to others.

In the words of the saint, ‘I live for Christ not for myself . . .’

Tavite Tukutukubau is in his Spiritual Formation Year in Cubao, Quezon City.