Ashley Aperocho, second to the left, is spending a year working in Guyana with Scarboro Missions. She is one of two women representing the new style of missioners Scarboro Missions is seeking, devoting a year to their work rather than three years as has been the case in the past. Scarboro Missions is taking applications for such positions until Feb. 16. Photo courtesy of Scarboro Missions

Scarboro Missions puts out the call

By 
  • January 11, 2015

Scarboro Missions is seeking those with the guts and grit to answer God’s call to serve as a foreign missioner on a short-term basis.

“Mission is not for everyone,” said Scarboro Missions Father Ron MacDonell. “It has to come from a deep conviction that you are called ... by God, called by Jesus, to want to serve. And young people have that capacity.” That is why Scarboro Missions is once again accepting applications from those 21 and older who are interested in enrolling in its One-Year Missioners program. The application can be found at scarboromissions.ca and must be submitted by Feb. 16. Traditionally Scarboro Missions sought a three-year commitment from those looking to put Gospel teachings into practice by travelling abroad to help the disadvantaged of the world. However, after years of declining interest the team at Scarboro Missions modified the program to attract fresh faces for foreign work. “It was a response to the signs of the time,” said MacDonell, who became involved with mission work in his early 20s, shortly after graduating from university. “Students coming out of university can’t envision making a financial commitment for a three-year period but they would like to serve ... (and) usually haven’t made major life commitments.”

Although Scarboro Missions covers the majority of costs encountered by missioners abroad through donations collected year round from its benefactors, bills back home still need to be paid by those serving in mission abroad. Fortunately for university graduates who join the program, student loan payments can be deferred during time spent overseas.

Ashley Aperocho, a recent post-secondary grad, is an example of that kind of young person. Last May she graduated from the University of British Columbia with three goals in mind: formation, develop a deeper sense of community within a faith-based context and manage the debt which more often than not accompanies a bachelor’s degree. “After coming out of university three years is a big commitment, especially when I don’t know what I want to do yet or what I am passionate about,” said the 26-year-old who is missioning in Guyana. “So a year allows me to dip my feet into the water and to experience a year-long portion of what mission life is.”

After landing, Aperocho was instantly distracted from her mission because “Guyana is quite abrasive and chaotic,” but she has since realized “underlying all of that is a sense of freedom that the Guyanese people have.” That shock came despite Aperocho spending her first two months as a missioner living at Scarboro Missions completing the pre-trip formation program. During this time she, along with fellow one-year missioner Paulina Gallego, completed workshops on self-defence, adjusting to culture shock and personal spirituality among a variety of other topics. Safety also concerned Gallego, who works with young children in a daycare setting, upon arrival in Guyana. But her concerns never had to do with herself. Rather it was for the children she takes care of, many of who frequently come to the daycare with obvious signs of abuse, which is quite distressing to Gallego. The only solution or coping mechanism she’s found, besides an embracing hug, is in God — the reason she is there. “You are never prepared to go on mission because mission is everything you never expected,” she said. “So be prepared spiritually. At the end when everything goes wrong or when everything is not a pleasant surprise then the only person or thing where I get my strength is God.”

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