We are delighted to share Sr. Fiona’s powerful reflections on her recent visit to the Fountain of Life Women and Children Centers in Pattaya. Sr. Fiona, representing the Good Shepherd Singapore Mission, highlights the vital importance of providing a safe and nurturing environment for those who have faced unimaginable hardships.
Sr Fiona Yeo is a Singaporean RGS who had been a volunteer at Fountain of Life, Pattaya, from 2008 to 2010. Now in 2023, she brought 4 other Singaporean young ladies to visit the RGS mission in Pattaya. Here is her reflection.
I asked at the airport about how they felt / what expectations they had of the trip? Their faces were that of eager beavers (look at the photos) filled with smiles and said that they were open to whatever the Lord shows them. I grinned.
We started the trip with my session and input on the sex scene in Pattaya (Asia largest sex city), then we walked the streets. They had tears rolled down their faces. In our debrief and in prayer, they questioned, “Where is God in all of this?” Enraged at the injustice, one asked, “can God really love ALL, including those who treat them as commodity to be used? Am I really called to love ALL too?”. It was a night of wrenched heart aches and there were no easy answers but for us to ponder it with the Lord.
Not the usual mission trip with all the “feel good factors of helping the less fortunate”; it was an exposure trip to see the other side of life- the side that u need to have eyes to see and reach out to because, if u would like, Pattaya can also be a fun tourist city too. Likewise in Singapore, what reality do we choose to see, to live in?
Then as if God was consoling their hearts, we were so shy to look directly in the eyes the ladies, afraid they would think that we are judging them but one reached out to us, smiled gently though we were not a customer of any use to her, though we were just like another hawking at her. She smiled, taught us human connection and offered a fist bump. The vulnerable reached out to us. I teared when I saw a scene of a beggar walking by. It was not the throng of rich tourists that gave him money but the ladies on the street all put money in, having the heart to reach out to someone less fortunate than them. (I even saw one going after the beggar who had past her by) Where is God in this injustice? What ideas do we have about merciful love, undeserving love? Who should reach out to who? What are our concepts of power relationships in helping?
Following days these 4 young ladies lit up when they taught the kids English. During prayer and debrief, I asked them where God was in their day, they answered me within seconds. I asked again, why was it so easy to see God in the innocence, joy and when we felt good, but difficult to see God in pain chaos and injustice? What image do we have of God? Is not God the God of All, which includes suffering too? Do we see Jesus the healer and Messiah like the people in His time did? Or do we also acknowledge him as the refugee, immigrant, outcast, always with the outcasts, the marginalised, having the eye to reach out to those vulnerable or considered less?
Thank u 4 of us, for helping me reconnect to the place I called home 15 years ago. Thank u for accompanying me on Vespers and Lauds daily and for your authenticity in your sharing during daily gospel sharing and debrief of the day. I pray that u continue to ponder on these necessary questions even after we return to our realities.