Taiwanese sister journeys home with the Sisters of Providence
(This article reprinted from the Summer 2013 edition of HOPE)
Su-Hsin Huang (pronounced Soo-Sheen Wang) came to the United States from Taiwan for the first time in 2003 to explore entering the Sisters of Providence.
She recalled her father asking her what she knew of the community, of the United States — where she would live, with whom, the food.
“I responded ‘nothing’ to everything he asked and told him, ‘The only thing I know is that I love God.’
“It was a big change and challenge for me because of the language barrier, culture differences, lifestyle, new relationships and different geographic environment. I felt as if I was in another world. My life was upside down. All my support systems that I depended on seemed to have collapsed. I tried hard to adjust but I still felt stressed and like I had lost my identity, independence and confidence.”
Yet, 9 years later, Sister Su-Hsin calls the Woods home and has asked to begin her year of tertianship in preparation for professing perpetual vows in 2014.
“Saying yes to God’s call has been a pilgrimage for me. My journey has been guided by God’s care and presence and community support. As Mother Theodore says, ‘… the crosses and trials give me confidence. … When we seek only God, he generally arranges things so that all good is found in him.’
“Living in community for more than 9 years, I experience saying yes to God daily. These years I have gotten to know the community’s charism, spirituality, history and life more deeply. My relationship with God and my sisters has grown in depth and love. I enjoy sharing faith, joys and challenges. I am ready for all my life to respond to God’s call to be a daughter of Mother Theodore and further God’s mission. I truly feel part of this family.”
When speaking of her own challenges in coming to the United States, Sister Su-Hsin points out that the “receiving community” has challenges, too. They have to make accommodations for the person of another culture by being willing to open themselves to new learnings, new ways of doing things, thinking about things; and to accept the differences they encounter because of culture, background and language. This requires patience and understanding, and perhaps some changes on the part of all.
Sister Su-Hsin uses many descriptors when defining what the word home means to her.
“Home is where you long to be when you are weary or upset, where the mind will turn its troubles to forget. Home is where you will always find a helping hand, someone to depend on and someone to understand. Home is where each member is willing to share responsibility; it is a place full of dreams and a place to build love. Home means familiar people and places and a common history; it is a place of respect, trust and tolerance.”
Asked if she ever thought of comparing herself to Mother Theodore, Sister Su-Hsin quickly responded, “Oh, no! She is a saint. I am a normal, simple person. No compare!” When pressed for an answer, she admitted that she might be “a little bit like Mother Theodore.
“I, too, want to be God’s tool, to do God’s will. We both have a similar geography. We crossed the ocean to find a new home here at the Woods. I now identify with Mother Theodore’s words as she journeyed north from New Orleans by steamboat on the Mississippi River, ‘ … with inexpressible joy I saw once more my Indiana. I would have loved to kiss its soil. This land was no longer for me the land of exile; it was the portion of my inheritance, and in it I hope to dwell all the days of my life.’ The Woods has become that for me — no longer a place of exile.”
Another comparison with Mother Theodore emerged. “Mother Theodore wanted to be a missionary in Russia or China. When I was young, I always wanted to join an international community and be a missionary in a third world country. When speaking of her desire Mother Theodore said, ‘Little did I think I was destined for America.’ I have had similar feelings.”
Sister Su-Hsin likens her discernment journey to sucking on sugar cane, which grows prevalently in her country.
“If you start sucking the sugar cane at the top of the stalk, it has very little taste. As you suck the juice from farther down the stalk it tastes sweet. The farther down toward the roots of the plant, the sweeter the juice. That is my journey with the Sisters of Providence — my journey home.”