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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Testimony by Alena Ernawati Yusten (RCIA St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan)

I am Alena Ernawati Yusten, born in a Christian family from a different denomination.  I did not know anything nor heard of RCIA.   I would like to record my thanks to my husband and my mother- in-law for encouraging me to find out more about their Catholic faith through the RCIA.  They offered their continuous and full support.  They willingly took care of my daughter when I attend the RCIA sessions every Saturday. 
It has been almost a year now after my first session in my RCIA class. My journey of faith to know more about Almighty God, The Father and the Trinity was not easy because it requires understanding and knowledge to enable our faith to grow as Satan is always there to prey on us.
During my young days, my mother used to tell us fearful stories to encourage us to be good, as on judgement day Jesus will take all good people to heaven and all bad people to hell.  God knows everything as He can read our hearts so we cannot pretend to be good.  I am thankful to my mum for instilling into us to be good and God fearing children.  Growing up in such environment, I have the urge to know God better. I wanted much to be a good Christian but I was still very empty, lacking in faith. I just wanted to be a good Christian so that I will not go to hell as a punishment.   
I agreed to attend the RCIA program because I am married to a Catholic. I think it would be good if we go to the same church with our children as a family so that they will not have confusion like me. We want them to grow up as good Catholics.  Praise be to God that my parents and family members are not against me going to a Catholic church, so long as I remain a Christian.
I was a bit lost in my journey of faith after my marriage.  I think it was due to the transitional period, having to cope with too many changes at a time. I encountered changes like moving from leading a single life to a married life and suddenly attending the Catholic church instead of my previous church. It was totally a new environment. It was a great challenge. I need to adapt to the 'new life.' 

Things became tougher when I was expecting my first child.  I had to quit my job and followed my husband back to his hometown in Sandakan.  I had no friends in Sandakan and had to be a full time housewife.  These drastic changes really stressed me out and I was so emotionally upset.  I was lost, frustrated, upset, bad-tempered and got angry with myself and everyone.  I knew deep inside me that this was only a transitional period and I was telling myself to bear with it but it just did not work.  Things got harder and my world was turning upside down.  No one seemed to understand me. I became very self- centred, selfish and was trapped in self-pity. I felt empty and lonely though my husband and his family are there to give me all the support I needed. I did not know how to appreciate the goodness in others where every-one was trying to help me.  I prayed but God was no-where to be seen and my prayers were not heard.
On July 2014 I joined the RCIA class and met a couple of new friends. I appreciate the companionship and overwhelming welcome from the facilitators. In the very first contact I felt peace within me.   I knew the Holy Spirit touched my heart and I had not had this kind of feeling for a long time.  My husband was surprised to notice that I was cheerful and relieved.
Life without guidance from God is like a journey without destination.  As from the sessions, I began to understand how God works in our life and allows certain things to happen for our spiritual growth and maturity.  We must be thankful and appreciate all that God has provided and allowed it to happen, be it good or bad.
Now towards the end of our journey in the RCIA programme, I confessed I have made the right choice to come forward to learn and to know more about God. My conversion to Catholic is not just for the sake of my family but I have found my way home, like the prodigal son after having gone astray for sometimes.
I am a changed person today. I learnt to be humble, understanding, patient, forgiving and more tolerant with other people and in difficult circumstances. I will try to put my-self in their shoes and look at things in the eyes of God.  I am glad that I have the chance to come to this class which changed my perception about the Catholic faith.  I now have a better understanding about the Church and I want to share with my family members that Catholics are not what they thought.  Catholic does not worship Mother Mary.  She is an honoured intercessor, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to serve  my  Lord Jesus Christ and help more people by sharing my story and how this class has changed me.  I enjoyed and am looking forward to our weekly gatherings.  I am enriched by the sharings in our group as well as the facilitators.  I found that our facilitators are very encouraging and enthusiastic in spite of their 'retirement' age. They are still very patient and eager to share with us all the encounters and experiences in their journey of faith.  May the lessons that I learnt in the RCIA continue to grow within me in my spiritual journey.
To all my facilitators, I really appreciate and thank you for journeying with us with love and patience, imparting your life experiences and bringing God into our life.  May God continue to bless all of you. We also want to record our thanks to our Parish Priest, Rev Fr Thomas Makajil for baptising and confirming us on Easter night.
Alleluia, Alleluia the Lord is risen!!

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