The South East Asian community vacation

"Look! What do I remind you of?"

From the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China... A vacation for 80 people from CL's South East Asian community. Beautiful days, “but not because of our virtue, it is God who brings us together.”
Paola Ronconi

A weekend at the beginning of November in Compostela, a town on Cebu, one of the islands of the Philippines. The resort Gabriel managed to find was reserved entirely for them, at a good price, near the airport. South East Asia is a world of islands, and it was miraculous that those who encountered CL in these lands could reunite and live together, even if for a very short time. The title of the weekend: ‘Eyes fixed on Jesus, origin and fulfilment of faith'. In total there were about eighty people from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and, for the first time, from China. A varied company, both in terms of origins and because many are 'expatriates', Italians abroad for work, for longer or shorter periods. For many, it was their first time on a 'CL format' holiday.

But was 48 hours, with people who in some cases have never seen each other, enough to be able to breathe and generate non-trivial relationships, to build something that does not end there?

Silvia, along with her family, is one of the veterans of the vacations of the Southeast Asian community. She lived for years in Dubai, now she is in Singapore, but not for long: “I had a big question in my heart: what was the point for us to be on this vacation as we will be moving again in June? What value do these faces, which I only see once a year, have for my life and for my family?"

Amid the singing, games in the pool and bonfire-lit dinners on the beach, the moment of testimonies was the most moving. Rossi, who lives in Beijing, recounted his conversion during a period of serious illness, through prayers said together with his wife Nora. Toesni, an Indonesian, said: “The movement helps me to have a real experience of faith,” otherwise it would all remain theoretical. Begoña is Memor Domini, from Shanghai: "My I flourishes when I am looked upon with a deep sympathy for all that I am. I have always looked for someone in my life to give myself to, and when I met Jesus through my friends, I discovered that He loved me just as I was." Finally Silvia, who is a midwife, spoke of how the pain of losing a son, Giacomo, showed her the presence of Christ concretely in her life. And how every heartbeat, even those of children who live a very short time, is wanted by the One who truly loves us.

"For many years I have suffered for the death of my second child," recounted Elmeri, from the Philippines, "but listening to Silvia, these feelings of anguish gradually dissolved. It is as if my mind and heart opened. Moreover, these friends show me how God makes me who I am. You just have to let him. That is why he allowed me to come on vacation.”

Among the participants, about ten were children and an even larger group of young people. "Even though I am introverted, I helped with the various activities," says Ivana, a girl from Malaysia. "Towards the end, we young people put together a film with videos and photos of these days, to watch again when we got home. Even though I was on my second vacation, it was a new joy. I really want to see what new things it will bring the next time we meet.” For Diva, who is from Bali, this vacation was not her either, and she decided to participate “because I needed to remember myself. Without these real friends, the risk is to live forgetting our deepest desires.” The young people had time to chat with each other and tell their stories, and were impressed by what happened on Cebu. "God willing, we will see each other again in April at the GS vacation, perhaps in Malaysia," says Diva. In the meantime, they will keep in touch via zoom.

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Although they come from different cultures, "deep down we have similar life experiences," says Howard from China, "and these days of communion and liberation have helped us understand what Fr. Giussani said about reason, experience, feeling, reality.” "My wish is to share the joy I feel having encountered this movement," Rega wrote to friends once back home on another island in the Philippines: "It was worth spending these days together, in which I learnt how much hope there is in everyone's daily struggles. Christ is in my pain.” "The certainty that this friendship is possible everywhere is what allows me and my family to move peacefully", Silvia understood after these days: "Because I know that our life is supported by this companionship, brought together and held together only by Christ.”

Gabriel could not better summarise the gratitude for these days together: "We organised everything well, the food, games, songs, testimonies, even in charity to help those among us who had financial difficulties. But I cannot say that these days were the fruit of our great virtues, of our creativity. It is God who makes and brings us together. All these beautiful things are like shouting Lewis's words: 'It is not me. I am only a reminder. Look! Look! What do I remind you of?"