Tatlong Pinay sa Pakistan
By: Emma Pabera
In 1990 three, Filipinos, Gloria Canama from Mindanao, Pilar Tilos, and Emma (Ems Pabera from Negros arrived in Pakistan to begin their missionary work with the Columban Fathers and Sisters. A letter from Ems tells us of their first impressions.
A Lay Missionary’s First Impressions
Pilar, Gloria, and I (Ems) arrived in Pakistan on Oct. 21. Our plane touched down in Lahore at 10:30 AM on a Sunday morning. Waiting patiently for us at the Airport Terminal were two Irish priest and a Filipino nun (Dan, P.J., and Perlita). As they put garlands around our heads I felt the urge of happiness. IT is strange but I don’t feel like a stranger in this place. Maybe because the Columban support group is great and they’re so good to us.
On Monday at 5:30 pm the Columban Missionaries had a formal welcome for us with a Mass. Fr. Dan was the celebrant. Tanvir, P.J., Finbar, and the three seminarians, 4 Columban were present. I was asked to read the gospel and to share my reflection. WE chose Luke 4:16-21 (“He sent me to bring good news to the poor”). My sharing was from the heart. I was so touched by the occasion. I was full of hope and even now I feel I will love Pakistan and its people. Every day I was seeing news faces of God. Most of those whom I meet are Muslims.
Struggling with their Faith
The church is about 30 minutes walk from our house. It’s a small church. I was touched how the Christian here are struggling with their faith. The majority of them are poor but they are so committed to their faith. I saw an old man, a sort of elder leader and I was reminded of Tatay and Tiyoy Daruy back in the mountains of Candoni on the Island of Negros which is my home.
I’ll Miss the Fish
We are lucky to have a Filipino Columban sister here, Sr. Perlita Ponje, she’s really a great help to us. We arrived here in lovely warm weather though it is getting cooler now. Inside the house we wear coats or jackets aside from our Pakistan attire. I have problem with the food, but I’ll miss the fish. Fish is very rare here. We always have meat. There are lots of fruits and they are not expensive.
We are Babies Again
We are attending language classes. We start at 7:30 AM to noon, then from 1:30 to 4:30 PM. learning the language is interesting. I am enjoying it so far though it is very tiring. It is funny because we are like babies learning and struggling to speak, and like grade school students learning to write. The script is very difficult. But with patience, and determination I will learn it. This is the first time since my college graduation that I studied seriously. We are both learning Urdu and Punjabi.
Meal with Muslims
One Friday evening we were invited to share a meal with Muslims. The three year old daughter of the family had been sick with flu and was now felling alright. As the sign of thank giving they prepared a meal and invited their neighbors and friends. Before eating they prayed together as a small community, thanking Allah for His blessings. They spread special blanket on the floor where we say and ate with our hands. We always had water beside us because the food is hot. But it is delicious. I’m getting used to eating “chapati”. We enjoyed the evening with the women. The family is so good to us. They told us to come and visit them anytime. It is good that they speak English and we practice our Punjabi with them.
A stranger Approached
One day after class Pilar and I went for a stroll in the park nearby; we took turns taking pictured of each other. We were surprised when a stranger approach us in his early twenties and offered to take our picture. He had sensed that Pilar and I wanted our picture taken together. He was so good and respectful. Though he didn’t introduce himself and we didn’t ask his name, he welcomed us to Pakistan.
New Faces of God
I am happy and thank God for leading me here to Pakistan. Everyday I see new different faces of God in both Christians and Muslims.
Everyday I see new and different faces of God in both Christian and Muslim.