An unexpected surprise

Subin Lee helping out at meal time.Subin Lee helping out at mealtime.

Subin Lee had little understanding of Catholicism but decided to accept an invitation from a nun to visit the local church. It was there she was taught how make the Sign of the Cross even though she didn’t fully understand what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit meant. Amazingly it was there that she began an unexpected relationship with the God of Jesus Christ.

Subin Lee wanted to learn more about God and the mission of Jesus. After listening to another nun speaking about her missionary life, she began to explore what mission really meant. She came across Columban Lay Missionaries while surfing the internet and over the next three years Subin Lee attended information days with the Columbans in Seoul.

After a long journey of five years, Subin is now a Columban lay missionary working in Taiwan. Whilst there has been many challenges with living away from home, understanding a new culture and learning a new language, she has no regrets.

When my friends ask, “What are you doing in Taiwan?” I tell them that I work with patients in a HIV/AIDS Centre.

They find it difficult to understand why I would work with people that I have nothing in common with. I used to feel that way myself, but after spending three months in the Centre, visiting and sharing meals with the residents, my prejudices and preconceptions were challenged and shattered. I am now more understanding of the stigma and discrimination that those suffering from HIV/AIDS are confronted with.

There are 48 residents in the Centre which offers full accommodation and meals. Most of them suffer from a range of physical and mental disabilities. They generally don’t like to talk about themselves and are especially reluctant to talk about their families who do not want to live with them or even visit them for fear of being shunned by society.

Activities with the residents. Photos: Missionary Society of St ColumbanActivities with the residents. Photos: Missionary Society of St Columban

Although I do not see my family often I am fortunate that they keep in touch with me and offer their encouragement and support of my work as a lay missionary. I realise how lucky I am to have this support and try to understand how painful it must be for the residents who do not have the love and support of their families.

I pray that society will eventually see the ‘humanity’ of those living with HIV/AIDS and not just the disease.

I would like to say thank you to Columban benefactors for their care of those who are sick and alone.

Matilda Subin Lee is a Columban lay missionary in Taiwan.

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