Evelyn, 49, and her husband Michael Thung, 57, have served with the Precious Community of San Fernando Dilao Parish of the Philippines for seven years. Here's their mission story:
THE COMMUNITY OF hearing-impaired, blind, and mentally challenged, is located at Paco, Manila near their residence. A second hearing-impaired community is located at the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Sorsogon City, a 12-hour bus journey away.
Every Sunday, Evelyn signs at the Mass for the hearing-impaired which is followed with Bible sharing and fellowship while Michael takes charge of the blind and mentally challenged members. Evelyn also serves as an interpreter at clinics or doctor visits and during job interviews. The couple sometimes provide parental comfort, guidance, and advice to the members (especially the orphans and widows) of the Precious Community. In both communities, they work closely with local volunteers and other interpreters.
Presently, Evelyn is pursuing a Master of Arts in Missiology at the Institute of Consecrated Life in Asia. For her, it is a journey of being present with brothers and sisters in need of support - listening to the pains and struggles by reaching out and helping one another.
From 1995 to 1998, Evelyn was actively involved in the Church of St. Michael where she often prayed to God for his mission and will for her. In 1997, Michael and Evelyn encountered Father Andy Altarmirano, a Filipino missionary priest posted to their parish. He had been diagnosed with kidney failure and was advised to retire.
Evelyn and Michael did what they could to support Father Andy's missionary work, and following his retirement, they accompanied him home to Philippines where they took the opportunity to see what was in store for them.
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After three weeks of mission exploration, Evelyn and Michael returned to Singapore, resigned from their respective jobs of human resource executive and hotel security manager, packed their bags and left the country for mission work.
"Initially, we knew God was calling us yet we had no idea how and what was his plan for us" wrote Evelyn in an email interview. "On reflection, I now know that since the beginning, God was leading us step by step, little by little, he was unfolding his mission, will and plan for us." According to Evelyn, letting go of her comfort zone and career, migrating overseas, and adapting to another culture's way of life ranked as the most difficult part of beginning her mission.
However, mission has brought her joys in "sharing our lives and the little we have with the least of our brethren here, having inner peace, and having found the meaning and purpose of our lives." Being able to live simply and understanding that life's struggles are not without joys is another aspect of mission life.
"Mission for me is... witnessing of Christ's love, mercy and forgiveness," she added. To someone considering becoming a missionary, Evelyn has this to say: " Have no fear and go for it with an open mind and heart. Truly, the grace of God is more than enough to see us through."
Michael Thung (top) and Evelyn (left) feed physically handicapped children from the community which they have served as lay missionaries for more than seven years.