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"IMUST BE CRAZY!!!"
Sr. Michelle Reynolds
EXPERIENCES AS AHONG KONG MISSIONER
In August of1972, I arrived in Hong Kong, a young Maryknoll sister, full of enthusiasm andeagerness to learn Cantonese, and be emerged into the Chinese culture andhistory.? I had just finished four yearsworking in New York Chinatown, where I had come to a deep love and appreciationfor the people, which had been my motivation for requesting this assignment toHong Kong. ?But little did I realize whatI was in for!
Language school was pure agony.? Within two weeks, I had exhausted my totalvocabulary, which I had learned in New York.?Even though I had a musical background, it seemed impossible todistinguish the tones, and listening to tapes drove me up a wall.? I had to get out!
Armed with myguitar, I offered to play at the parish Mass... but it had to be the ChineseMass.? I seemed to be one step ahead ofthe kids, learning the songs and chords, then attempting to teach them.
However, thatwasn't enough, when I was invited to help in a village parish, again I eagerlyresponded.? My language was almost nil...but that didn't stop me from hopping in.?Every now and then well, maybe every day, I found my selfthinking..."I must be crazy, to think I can do this!" ?But, the people I came to know were sosupportive and encouraging. ?When Istumbled, someone was always there to lend a helping hand.
Looking back onthose early years, I am amazed at all that had happened, the trust people putin me, and the many times in my foolhardy willingness, I jumped in and triedanything and everything!!! ?It seemedthat for all my weaknesses and lack of preparation, the people would more thenmake up for it.
There were timesI felt cut adrift from my roots, and all that I knew and understood.? But through the years, I was gifted with manyfriends who gave me the strength and support to continue.
These 27 yearshave been enriching and challenging.?I've had the opportunity to work in many different parishes, fromvillages to urban situations.? I'veworked as a parish administrator, sharing the responsibility of parishcommunity with the people, and also as part of a parish team.
During thoseyears, many changes have taken place in Hong Kong.? I've seen the Church grow, become much moreactive in its concern for the Universal Church, and outreach to our brothersand sisters in need.? Changing from amission-receiving to a mission-sending Church, to China and other parts of theworld.? The people have also taken up agreater role in the leadership of the church.
St. John theBaptist is a good patron for all missioners.?To know when it's time for us to be in the background, to give supportand encouragement, and to let the Spirit take root and grow.
When I firstcame to Hong Kong, I was filled with all the expectations of youth, concernedwith the many things I should be doing.?Now, I've learned to "let go" of my many plans, and to"Let God" lead and guide me.?The adventure is just beginning....
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