(ANS – Darkhan) – 20 years have passed since the Salesian Missionary Expedition of the year 2000, the occasion on which Fr Andrew Tin, a 53-year-old Vietnamese, also left as a missionary for Mongolia. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions forced him to stay away from Mongolia for 10 months, but he has now managed to return and has shared a testimony of his missionary life.
What prompted you towards missionary life in 2000 and what still inspires you today?
Already during the novitiate I was eager to serve the young. I really wanted to offer my life for others, those most in need. The animation of the then General Councilor for the Missions, Fr Luciano Odorico, was crucial to prompting me towards missionary life. Twenty years later, I feel that Mongolia is my calling and my vocation. During the period of the pandemic, I returned to my home in Vietnam and travel restrictions prevented me from immediately returning to Mongolia. My family tried to persuade me to stay in Vietnam. “There is a lot of work in Vietnam, it’s not necessary to go to Mongolia again!”, they told me. But this was not my true vocation.
What makes you happy as a missionary?
I believe this is God’s plan for me. God called me and sent me to this mission. Here I can see the hope, the future, the joy of the people. I am happy to contribute to the good education of the young and to share our experience of faith with the people.
What are the main challenges of being a missionary in Mongolia?
To cross geographic, cultural and linguistic barriers is still extremely challenging. In cultural contexts other than one’s own it is always difficult to find one’s way and one can feel confused. Even the proclamation of the Gospel is a challenge, because ours – in Mongolia – is seen as a foreign religion. Finally, there are the environmental challenges, which affect our work and sometimes hinder it. However, we know that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present everywhere: He has the power to change hearts, minds and to transform lives.
After 20 years, what are your dreams for Mongolia’s future?
We are all sons of the Dreamer; the dreams are many! I dream of Salesian missionaries who have mutual love, care and concern for each other. I dream for a better life for the Mongolian people, where everyone has a proper job to do, basic needs met, and has a family to love! I dream of a Mongolia Catholic Church that is welcoming and that provides a foundation in order to transform for better this society.