A team of 11 missionaries, made up of 10 Singaporeans and one from Sabah, Malaysia, made the arduous journey to Ranau, Sabah, as part of a mission trip to distribute essential humanitarian supplies to about 300 families living in seven villages.
Among them were Franciscan Friar Father Justin Lim and two Franciscan aspirants. (See sharing by one of them below).
An affiliate of Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore (CHARIS), Clare’s Missionary’s July 5-10 visit was part an outreach to 52 mission outstations under the care of St Peter Claver Church in Ranau.
In collaboration with the church’s parish priest Fr Nicholas Stephen and with support from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC), the team distributed to the villagers water filter containers, solar-powered lamps and hand-cranked torch lights, which were funded by CHARIS.
The team also got to know the villagers better by chatting with them, dancing and singing with the young and old and eventually praying together during Masses.
Every year, Clare’s Missionary organises about three such mission trips to Sabah to assist the indigenous communities that lack basic necessities such as food and education.
Encountering God on Mt Kinabalu
Franciscan aspirant Julian Chua shares his experience:
The journey to Ranau from Kota Kinabalu took our mission team three hours across undulating terrain and misshapen gravel tracks. It was uncomfortable at best. I wondered how my fellow missionaries managed to endure this arduous journey. After all, we city dwellers are creatures of comfort.
This line of thought was abruptly cut short by the spectacular view of Mount Kinabalu which crept up on us. Almost by instinct, my fellow missionaries whipped out their phones hoping to capture this magnificent beauty. As quickly as it had revealed its face, the clouds veiled the mountain side.
The mountain is a mysterious place. To St Francis of Assisi, the caves and mountains were places of intimate encounter with the Lord.
St Francis ached to know who the Lord was, who he himself was and who the Lord was to him. Yet above all, it is the Lord who desires to avail Himself to love and draw all to Himself. It is the Lord who first humbled Himself by taking the form of an infant, and having died in love for us, continues to be made vulnerable in that little piece of fragile host offered to unworthy hands.
In the heart of all encounters lies a deeper appreciation of our human dignity. I take this disposition into my mission while waiting patiently for the Lord. To me, that translates to being open to changes and surprises. I may not get to build that house we envisioned, but that is fine. The distribution of humanitarian supplies may be chaotic, but that too, is perfectly fine.
I am not suggesting that we do not do our utmost. On the contrary, it is necessary. However, we must not lose sight of the dearest of all treasures. In everything we do, I pray not to forget that it is the Lord whom we wait upon. We are here not by the virtue of our goodness, but because of the sweet desire of our Lord for us.
During the sharing among the mission team, we came to recognise the hand of the Holy Spirit working in unexpected and surprising ways. We do not dictate when or how we encounter the Lord; we can only wait patiently in anticipation for Him.
Clare’s Missionary was founded in 2010 by MaryClaire Fan, a lay Singaporean Franciscan. The organisation centres round the concept of Christ in the marketplace, to bring Jesus’s love to the needy, lonely and hungry.
In Singapore, they help children from needy or dysfunctional families by providing education services at Clare’s Enrichment Corner in Yishun Street 72. There is also an English Reading Programme on Sunday mornings targeting children who need help in learning to read.
For their outreach overseas, Clare’s Missionary collaborates with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) in Sabah. It supports the evangelisation efforts of the Franciscan Sisters by organising mission awareness trips to support the indigenous communities. Clare’s Missionary has a programme to raise the standard of education of these communities by running an English programme in collaboration with volunteers from Sabah and Singapore.