A former lay missionary turned a religious sister. We are amazed by how the Lord worked in the life of Sr. Donnalynn. For making that desire of service to the Lord burn in her heart as she continues to grow in service. What touched as most when she told us that the love that God burned in her heart is not just for one person. It’s so massive that it needs to be shared to everyone she meets. And that’s how she found out her vocation. Be inspired by her story. Read on….
Tell us about yourself and your journey of knowing Christ
What or who made you decide to be a missionary?
Can you share to us your journey of becoming a missionary?
I’ve always asked God what I can give to the world. Do I have a special talent or gift that I can offer? Somehow the Lord has planted this desire in my heart to be of service but as to what way I was not really sure. The only sure thing was that He will let me know what it was when it was time. Becoming a religious Sister already was one of my “what do you want to be when you grow up?” answers but one out of so many.
I started serving in school during the Holy Mass as a student which later on grew when my family started our journey with the CFC family ministries. I was still unsure of my capabilities so I simply made sure my availability, for anything that God would throw at me really. The longer I was in the family ministries the more that I started to think that maybe God did not intend me to become a religious Sister. I transitioned from a youth member to a youth leader and it did not take long before I felt that maybe this is what God was pointing me to – to serve the youth as a full-time lay missionary. Little did I know that what I thought was my final destination was apparently but a suitable preparation for this great mission called life of consecration.
I experienced having relationships before I entered the convent but it always felt unfair for the other person knowing that God and the people He entrusted to me will always come first. I remember telling my mother about that strong feeling that the kind of love God planted in my heart was not meant for a single person alone. It felt so much bigger. I could never be worthy of this call and I could only be grateful to the Lord for allowing me to have share in His mission.
What makes you feel like a child?
I’ve always been the “ate” before entering the convent but saying “yes” to this life has really taken me out of my element. All of a sudden I felt like a child in this “whole new world.” It was exciting at first, because of the great shift from the life I’ve been so used to. Until it all started to become scary when I realized how much I had to depend for almost everything. Like a child, life has been full of awe and wonder ever since. I never thought having no control over my life, having no plans or whatsoever could ever feel this free – free to be who God intended me to be. This life meant a whole lot of entrusting to the Lord – this incredible life of “pagpapaubaya” makes me feel like a child – a beloved child at that.
What are your simple joys?
Walking under the sun is what I consider as my simplest source of joy especially the way the sun leaves this distinct smell on my clothes. I guess the heat “never bothered me anyway.” Other than that, it is really the warmth of human interactions, whether it be virtual or real life for that matter that is the quickest way to brighten up my day. I consider it as God’s love language to me whenever I would feel down from time to time and He would simply make me smile with a random visitor in the Campus Ministry office. A virtual “kamustahan” with the students, a random message from the young ladies that I am journeying with or table conversation with my Sisters in the community. It brings me back to my senses and makes me feel all the more alive.
In your missionary adventure, what were your joys, struggles, challenges and even difficulties?
It is pure joy to accompany young people once again in my mission now as a Campus Minister and Vocation Promoter. I have been greatly challenged though as to how to effectively minister to them online. It has been a humbling experience accepting all the limitations brought by the pandemic and start learning how to adapt.
One thing also about accompanying others, especially the youth, there were a lot of times that their anxiety became my anxiety as well. It is not easy to be an agent of hope especially during this time of the pandemic when you have to compete with all the negativities online. I find much joy and strength in knowing that I don’t do mission alone, never did and never will.
How do you define joy?
Joy is waking up every day not having to worry whether people like me knowing that God’s approval is the only approval that I need. Joy is choosing to end each day affirmed of my purpose not because of the things I have accomplished but having my identity deeply rooted on WHOSE I am.
Joy is hearing God’s I love you in every little aspect of my every day – may it be in the simple encounters with my Sisters and with the people in the apostolate, or the opportunities given to me, or the precious quiet moments within a busy day. Joy is keeping to mind that the God who called me will qualify me and sustain me. Nothing that I do can make Him love me less or more and if that is not joy I don’t know what is.
In who and what you are now, what are your other dreams or do you still have anything you want to achieve?
It is not so much as something to achieve but I continue to beg for God’s grace and look forward with faithful anticipation to have a heart in constant state of mission even when that day comes when I could no longer do much for the Lord anymore.
The ultimate dream is to holiness. It is everybody’s goal, God just prepared different ways for us to get there. Mine is through being a religious Sister. I am not there yet. It will never be easy but how can I quit if the Lord has not given up on me?
What is your message to young people who are now feeling lost, who are still finding their purpose, who doesn’t know what to do with their lives?
I would dread that day when I already perfectly know what to do with my life – when I would no longer need God to show me the way. Feeling lost gives me the opportunity to experience being found. We don’t have to know and understand everything right now because our whole life meant for that – finding out, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. What’s the use of travelling if you have already reached your destination? They say trust the process, I say enjoy the process, knowing that the Giver of the process is a trustworthy God who loves us.
What is your message to young people who wanted to serve but do not know how?
If you have a favorite Bible verse, what is it and why.
I have a favorite chapter – John 21.
I consider it as our meeting place, Jesus and I. Whenever I would feel lost with all that is happening, I would be like Peter and return to the Sea of Galilee as I am, empty-handed, and there I would find Him time and time again waiting for me ashore. This chapter is a reminder for me whenever I would depend my joy on the amount of fish that I catch when really “It is the Lord!” and everything is just far second. He continually asks “Do you love me?” not because I have something to prove but because often times I need to be reminded why I do things. It speaks of the same love meeting me exactly where I am at affirming me every single time.