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Friday, June 3, 2011

A Sharing by Aleona Natalio from the Philippines

Aleona Natalio
A Courtship with God
               “How beautiful you are my love,  how very beautiful” ~ Songs of Solomon 4:1

This is my Bible text for the year. God is affirming my beauty as a person. Letting me know, I am His beloved. Saying that I am special, a gift that needed to be opened to others. 

As I finished my 10-month formation in the Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia, IFFA (May 2010 - March 2011),  the most crucial part was my path of discernment wherein I needed to decide which path I will choose in line with His will.  I had three choices in front of me: 1) to be an intern in IFFA for a year 2) to serve in theYouth Development Center (YDC) 3) to be part of the Youth Ministry in Ina ng Lupang Pangako Parish.

It had been two months of deep discernment. Last January God opened the door of the youth Ministry while we were having our Youth Ministry Module. I saw the advantages if I chose to work there. I can apply what I had learned, stay closer to my family and it will challenge me to journey with the youth. It is also a place to grow. 

Last January 17, 2011, we went to Sabah, Malaysia, for our one-month Mission Project. In the Diocese of Keningau, God opened another door, the path to YDC. It was a very clear message. YDC is very close to my house. I will be able to stay with my family and have my mission in the family as well. This message   convinced me and I decided to choose my mission in YDC. 

I went into the Adoration Chapel in the Tatal Retreat House of Keningau where we were staying. I prayed for my choice, asked fervently for His guidance and listened in silent for His answer. When I was praying the word IFFA appeared vividly  in my vision. I withdrew and refused to accept the answer. I was worried that I may not be able to do my mission in my family if I chose to be in IFFA because I will have to stay there 24/7. I can only go home once a week. It had been very difficult for me to answer this call.

As we continue our journey in the Diocese of Sandakan, the eastern region of Sabah, I’d been struggling to accept my mission. I needed to ask signs from Him to make sure that this is what He wanted for me. And He showed me many signs from other people so I continued praying until our closing retreat. I managed to see the reasons why I needed to be an intern in IFFA. My personal transformation is still halfway and I needed to continue my love story with God. I know IFFA is the right place to help me through. Beside that, I also need to improve my skills, both social and pastoral and to know Him deeper as I grow in faith.

As I say “YES” again to His call, I will continue my love story with Him as He proposes to court me this year. This is a year of getting to know Him more deeply and accepting His love being offered to me. It is a time to let His love flow in spite of my own limitations. As I journey as an intern in IFFA, I will let my heart be filled with His love and share it with others.

Aleona Natalio hails from Payatas, a dump site in Metro Manila. She completed the 10-month formation program as a student in IFFAsia located in Tandang Sora, Quezon City in March this year. She is now an intern with the institute. She had her one-month pastoral exposure in Sabah from 17th January - 15th February 2011, two weeks each in the Diocese of Keningau and Sandakan.

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