Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an independent sovereign island nation consisting of four states – Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. The Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice have been engaging in missionary work there since 1980. Even if the islands are small, our sisters have dreams. Today, Sr Sophia shares her dream.
When I was a little girl I used to listen to my grandma’s stories. She used to tell me interesting stories that moved my heart and sometimes I used to dream about them. One of her stories that inspired me a lot was a story of the sisters with their white habits. She said they were like angels because they helped people and brought them to God. I often told my grandma, “I wish I could be like them.” She told me, “Someday, you will be one of them”. I said, “It’s impossible since you said all of them have white skin, but I have brown skin.”
However, when I was twelve years old, I moved to the main island to attend school there. Every Sunday, we went to Mass at the Cathedral, where I could see many of the sisters. My dream came back to me, which made me to come to church every day to see them. One day after Mass there was a gathering at St. Cecilia School. One of the sisters gave a talk. I remembered the words she used in her talk, “I saw Jesus last night and I was talking to him.” That phrase moved my heart with a deep dream of seeing Jesus and talking to him face to face.
Somehow, when I grew up, I sometimes forgot about my dream until I was a freshman in high school. My dream came back when I met the Mercedarian sisters who used to give us a Bible study after school. I was very happy and committed to the Bible study. One time, during Lent, they gave out a signup sheet for those who wished to join their retreat. I signed up my name to join their weekend retreat at Xavier High School. That was my first time to make a retreat. I was very faithful to our times of prayer and sharing. There was one time we were asked to pick the name of the person to be our companion so that during one of our sharings, we would share about what are our dreams for our future. I was lucky to pick the name of my cousin as the person whom I would share truly about my dream for my future. I still remember that beautiful day we stayed in one of the local houses and shared together our deepest dream in life. It was the first time I revealed my dream which I always kept in my heart. It was not something easy for me. I was in tears throughout my whole sharing. There was a long pause after my sharing. My cousin turned to me and gave me great reassurance, saying, “Don’t worry! From now on I will really help you.”
After the retreat, there were times I was very challenged by my friends at school and my sisters at home. They used to call me “sister”. Sometimes I pretended that I did not mind about what they called me. There were times, I cried silently and wished I could live far from them. There came a time, when they knew that what they teased me about was my true desire in life. Sometimes, in my prayer, I said, “God, you called me to follow you, but why do I feel more pain in life? The people whom I trusted to help me and give me courage are the ones who discourage me. I am a weak person, I no longer have the strength to receive painful words.” I wished there was a short cut to reach my dream right away.
Thanks to God because through prayer, I always received the grace and strength to continue to join the prayer group where I met my friends with the same dreams. Being with them, they gave me strength and courage through our sharing of what we encountered on our life journey.
My lovely mom too accompanied me and comforted me all the times I experienced difficulties along the way.
I was keeping in contact with my M.A sisters here in Pohnpei; S.M Hikari was the one who came to meet me in Chuuk. I was shy and afraid to go on my own, my mom accompanied me. I know it was not easy for her, but she respected my dream.
When the time came for me, to leave her, she cried, but at the same time, she gave me word of reassurance.
Reflecting on my life’s journey, I knew it would not be easy, and no one ever pushed me to enter this life, it is my choice. I am always aware that through the grace of God I find peace, hope and strength in life to say yes to him up to this very moment.
Sr. Sophia Marie (Pohnpei, Micronesia)
P.S. Sophia is now teaching in a Catholic School in Pohnpei