10 May 2011

A Life of Thanksgiving

(I wrote this prayer after I had given my YES to the invitation to answer God’s Call. - Joan B. Yap)

Lord here I am
Wanting to do your will
So weak and frail
Anytime it will break

Lord here I am
Happy with all the knowledge; and
Fear that I may not be enough for you
But your love fills the emptiness

Anxieties and fears trouble me
but you never give up on me;
am I in the right direction?
Touch always my heart

You are the source of everything
The light of my life
The meaning of my life
Hear me when I say
I surrender!

Empty me, I pray
For in you I find the fulfillment
And that would be the greatest gift
that I give to myself
and making you as my life.

Lord I am weak
I love you
And you love me
And this is what matters most.

Joan Blaza Yap

by Joan Blaza Yap, Columban Lay Missionary

I am Joan Yap, fifth child of the late Mr. Lito Yap and Josefa Blaza Yap. I am one of the fruits of the love of two people who offered most of their life to the Prelature and now the Diocese of Ipil. I am blessed by a family and by a circle of friends who, even when we were young, had already taught us how to serve and believe in God’s providence. I am now committing myself, after my sisters Jennifer and Jasmine, to the life of a Lay Missionary under the Columban Lay Missionaries of the Missionary Society of St Columban. 

I remember well - before I resigned from the Social Action Ministry of the Diocese of Ipil - I shed so many tears because it was so hard for me to let go of the things that I was already comfortable with. I had come to love my work and the people whom I used to work and serve with.

Rowena D. Cuanico, Coordinator, Columban Lay Missionaries - Philippines

I was inspired by the commitment of the many people here in the Diocese, the priests, religious and the lay, who have offered most of their life in building the church of the Diocese of Ipil. Life isn’t that easy for them - going to barrios riding on a habal-habal or sometimes walking for miles. They attend to the needs of others so unselfishly, rain or shine, giving seminars even to the point of leaving their family behind. They are undaunted by threats to their life, and even rejection, pain and difficulties, all for the sake of justice and peace. With and despite all these difficulties, I can still clearly see the smiles on their faces, a joy so simple and real, a joy that can only come from the grace that they have served God in their own special ways.

St Joseph the Worker Cathedral, Ipil

I am moved especially by the commitment of the lay as co-partners in building the kingdom of God here in the Diocese of Ipil. Their dedication to love, serve and respect their communities as well as the generous offering of their life for the church – all these taught and inspired me that Life will be more meaningful and fulfilling if I choose to share it to others. I will be forever grateful for the privilege of working with the people here in the Diocese of Ipil. My YES to God’s invitation is truly a gift from God, that I may partake in His mission and an invitation to live my faith into action.

My experiences here in the Diocese of Ipil have opened my eyes to see God’s mysterious presence in different situations, from environmental issues and concerns to human rights violations especially against women, peace and order, poverty, health issues, youth. These all challenged me to become an instrument of Hope and Love.
Joan receiving a blessing from Bishop Julius S. Tonel of Ipil

And now offering my life to the Columban Lay Missionaries is a great blessing and gift to me. It’s an invitation for me to come to know who I am as a gift. It gives me an opportunity to better understand myself, get hold of myself and most importantly, to experience and acknowledge God’s unconditional love for me. It’s a journey of love, an experience of forgiveness and of the healing of wounds. My wounds become the gift and the blessing for myself and for others.


Please allow me to share to you how my number Nine works for me as part of God’s mysterious plan in my Life. To start with, I was formed in my mother’s womb for NINE months with my twin sister. My parents at that time were working in the different ministries of the then Prelature and now the Diocese of Ipil. Then God gave me NINE wonderful people in life, my parents, who were the first missionaries that I came to know and who taught us that prayer and service go together. Then my four brothers and three sisters who shower me with their love and care are my community of LOVE. Then the meaningful NINE years with the Social Action Ministry of the Diocese of Ipil that formed and molded me to be a local missionary. Being with the Social Action Ministry nurtured my vocation to be of service to others because I was inspired by the sincere commitment of the people.  And God is the God of Order who, before sending me to where God wants me to go, has blessed me with this Gift of the NINE-month Orientation Program of the Columban Lay Missionaries.  It’s a journey of knowing God through others, a journey of going deeper into myself with my God and finally, a journey of responding with God’s love to others.
'Thank you', from Joan

And as a fitting part of the Magical Nine in my life, it was Bishop Joy who chose May 9 as the date for my commissioning Mass which happens to be a joint celebration for the gifts of vocation for Lay Mission, Deaconate and Priesthood.

With some current and former Columban Lay Missionaries
I am sure that there will be other significant events in my life associated with 9! As I am going to encounter my lucky number, I am holding on to God’s promise that He will be the one holding me. I am looking forward with awe and amazement to bear witness to God’s love. This comes from this great personal realization that when I start emptying myself, surrendering myself to God’s will because I love God most, it is when I am given a new life. I realize that God’s will is simply Love.

Is Joan reflecting on St Columban's words: 'Since we are travellers and pilgrims in the world, let us ever ponder on the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our roadway is our home'?

What Jesus said to his disciples; ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to every creature’ has become a deeply personal, more real and even bigger challenge for me to spread his Gospel of love to everyone I meet.
A stop on the journey!

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