My Experience as a New Immigrant
I just want to share my humbling experience as a new immigrant in the maple land - how I was able to survive the emotional struggles, the good and not so bad experiences and how I found God in the midst of trials.
I've been in Canada for almost 3 years now. The first two years were the most depressing and hardest period I have experienced in my journey. I was uprooted from my homeland to start a new life in a foreign land, without friends, work and spiritual group. It is one of the toughest decisions I ever made. I just opened myself to the opportunity, explored something new and wanted to try my luck at the other side of the world. I even listed my purpose coming here: to explore new things, to meet people of different nationality and language, to learn new culture and to earn a living. I always reminded myself of 'my purpose' to keep going and continue dreaming.
Prior to migrating here, I had a successful career in banking in the Philippines. I was at the peak of my profession, doing things beyond my expectations and receiving rewards / praises out of my hard work. At that time, I always associated the meaning of good life to having a successful career and being financially stable. Plus the fact that I was working with colleagues who were also my good friends, life was great! I was working and having fun at the same time. When I left the industry, I told myself that I will not look back because I was really broken but full of hopes.
Likewise, I had a balanced spiritual life. I was a member of the Emmanuel Catholic Charismatic Community based in Greenbelt, Makati and attended the Kerygma Feast every Sunday. I was inspired by Bro. Bo's teachings and tried my best to live it. Personally, I liked attending praise and worship to nourish my soul and improve my attitudes and views towards life. Likewise, I loved talking to people who inspired me to do the right things and support me in tough times.
I came here as an independent immigrant. And since I'm single, my aunt offered me to live with her. I am blessed that I have family here who coached me from the start. They helped me to adjust easily but still, depression and homesickness almost killed me, to the point that I wanted to go back home and just give up! My first three months, whew! struggles pouring out, emotions unstable, no one to talk to and sleepless nights thinking and crying, asking God 'will I give up?', begging Him to take me out of this dark. I was always looking back to what I left behind and comparing my miserable life here to the exciting and fulfilling life back home.
I was desperately looking for a job through the internet, friend referrals, manpower agencies, job fairs and seminars/trainings anywhere. I was beginning to lose hope because I couldn't find a decent job. It was recession when I landed here and I had only limited relatives and friends who could refer me. I knew I had qualifications but I didn't have the 'Canadian experience'. That was the saddest part. After 3 months, God provided me, not only one but two jobs. I worked from Monday to Saturday, keeping myself busy to avoid boredom and homesickness.
But after 2 years, I got tired and felt that there was emptiness within. I started asking myself if 'am I happy with the life I have?' Though I attended Sunday mass and Wednesday Novena in our community church, there was still something missing. So I started searching for a spiritual group and a friend from work referred me to the SFC. I attended the 10-session CLP to join their group but felt that this was not the group that I was looking for. I always compared it to the community I had before. I guess I set high expectations and this only led me to disappointment.
Then one day, I was chatting with a friend from my previous community and told him about my spiritual struggles. He then referred me to LOJ because he also joined this community at UAE. With his testimonies about LOJ, I opened myself again but this time without expectations and no comparison. Likewise, I knew LOJ way back when I was attending the Kerygma Feast at Pasig. I wanted to give it a try.
On my first Feast at Milton, I felt 'belongingness'. People were warm, and the praise and worship touched me again. I missed singing and praising God! And I told myself that this was the community I was looking for. I want to be committed, thus, I've decided to let go of my part time job to attend the Saturday Feast. Financially I'm struggling but spiritually I'm fully nourished.
The 'Feast' helped me to change my perspective in life such as:
Choosing to have a 'positive aura' keeps me going and going…. Living in a foreign land is not all about struggles but how good I handle them. Either I look at the positive side or the negative side.
Having the 'right attitude' towards things and changing my mindset in every situation makes me a better person.
Letting go - looking back but 'moving forward'. It's normal to feel lonely but I've learned when to stop and start moving on.
Opening myself to new opportunities and accepting failures. I look at 'failures' as challenges and driving force to attain my aspirations in life.
Dreaming continually… don't stop dreaming, 'dream BIG' and ACT on it! In everything I do, I always give my best shot! I know one day, God will answer my prayers in His perfect time.
Finding 'joy' in tithing and sharing my blessings and time to other people.
Being 'grateful' for all the blessings I have received, either big or small.
Now, I have found my 'family' – my LOJC family, and I want to keep it for good. Looking forward to more Feast days!
Sis Erssy Lampa,
A member of Singles Ministry