Interview with Fr Andrew Tin: My call is Mongolia!
Darkhan, Mongolia, 30 October 2020 -- Twenty years after the 2000 AD Jubilee Salesian Missionary Expedition, Fr Andrew Trung Tin (53 years), now a member of the Darkhan community, is one of the more than one hundred Vietnamese SDB missionaries. Indeed since 1999, almost 130 Vietnamese Salesians have been sent as missionaries ad gentes by the Rector Major, and Fr Andrew is the first of this lineup of missionaries as a member of the 2000 expedition. After being 'stranded' for 10 months in his native Vietnam due to travel restrictions, a few days ago Fr Andrew was able to return to his beloved Mongolia and now shares his missionary heart with us.
How was your missionary motivation in 2000 and how is your missionary motivation now?
Now, it's already 20 years of missionary life since I left my own country. Due to the pandemic I have returned a few months later from my home visit. While I was staying in Vietnam and could not return to the missions, many people tried to convince me to stay and even my family told me that 20 years have already passed and that is enough! Now stay here with us and work for your homeland, there is a lot of work in Vietnam - it's not necessary to go to Mongolia again! Yes, there were a lot of temptations and the invitation to stay. But I myself knew that was not my call, not my true vocation!
My call is for Mongolia! Now I am back on the mission already. After many years of living and breathing the Salesian air, spirit in the mission land, my motivation is just for the love of Jesus, the love that makes me focus more and clearly on one single goal! The only strong motivation for me is to choose a humble service to God and his people. And I long to see God’s children return to him. That is paradise, that is my salvation!
What makes you a happy missionary now?
What are your main challenges as missionaries ad Gentes in Mongolia?
The language challenge: not being able to express yourself, language also encapsulates cultural ideals and practices therefore lack of fluency in Mongolian language may cause weaker cultural exchange, struggle to understand all of the non-verbal communication which is all around.
The challenge of the mixed culture or international environment among the confreres. Sometimes you may feel a kind of indifference, when the confreres do not open their heart to welcome other cultures with mutual love and sense of acceptance.
The challenge of Gospel proclamation. Yes, it has never been easy in the history of the Church and here for us as a foreign religion and the line of thinking that does not mash with or make sense for their particular world view.
And last but not the least is the environmental challenge of health, climate and geography. All these things hinder our daily work, sometimes we are even forced to return home.
Many challenges seem to be almost impossible to overcome from a human perspective but our God doesn’t operate and work within human limitations, He’s all powerful, all knowing, all present everywhere. He has power to change hearts, minds and transform lives.
How do you experience the intercultural richness in your Mongolia delegation community, with 9 SDBs from 7 different nations?
There are challenges, too: some cultures are maybe less likely to let their voice be heard, we may be lost in translation, communication can be misinterpreted or misunderstood across languages and cultures in different ways. There might also be conflicts in working or living styles within our community life. And sometimes we feel it is not easy to correct each other, because of different standards and concepts.
After 20 years in the missions, what are your dreams for the Mongolia Delegation's future?
Dream for the mission: How to provide good and quality education of the young. Not only technical or academic knowledge but human growth towards a mature, self-confident and responsible character. How to educate for the sense of life for others, for the country or for the church community.
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!
Dream for the Mongolia Catholic church, that is alive with the Joy of the Gospel. A Church that is welcoming and also is welcomed, a Church that offers good teaching and provides a foundation in order to transform for better this society.