Hi, my name is Maria Miñano, but most people call me Bulay (boo • lie). The short answer to why people call me that is because that’s what people have been calling me since I can remember. The only people who call me Maria are those I meet at a professional or educational setting. It’s not that I don’t like the name, it’s just that Bulay feels like me. I always have to explain this because not everyone knows about my two names, and I’m sure it gets confusing when you go to a website expecting to see one name, but seeing a totally different one.
Anyway, I’m 25 years old, and I’ve been wanting to be a missionary since 2009. I found an organization called The Missioners of Christ (missionersofchrist.org) and when I looked at their website, I felt my heart leap out of my chest. A friend of mine and I planned to go on a 2-week mission with the Missioners of Christ to Honduras that summer, but political unrest made it too dangerous to go. We were finally able to go in the summer of 2010. I loved it. We went into the mountains and lived with the poor, serving the poor, loving the poor, and bringing them the message of Jesus. I felt that this mission wasn’t enough. I wanted to give these people more, but there wasn’t enough time. We came in, did our thing, and went back to our comfortable American lives. I wanted to back, but I didn’t know when.
After graduating from college with a B.A. in Architecture in 2010, I wanted to devote at least a year of my life to missionary work, but God didn’t allow it. I was pretty devastated, but I took it as God’s will, and I accepted it.
In 2011, I was invited to go on a 2-week mission trip to Nicaragua. This time, it was with Corazon Puro (corazonpuro.org), a bilingual (spanish & english) chastity ministry based out of the Bronx. In the two week in Nicaragua, we held retreats for the youth and youth leaders, we went to high schools and talked about chastity and pro-life issues, we held a concert outside in front of the cathedral, and some of us visited the jail.
In 2012, Corazon Puro went on a mission trip to Honduras, this time it was a joint mission with the Missioners of Christ and with Corazon Puro. We brought the chastity message through retreats, and we trained the leaders. We also went into the mountains and gave presentations about these topics.
I realize now that God didn’t allow me to devote a year of my life to mission work right after college because I had much to learn before I was ready. Through these short mission trips, I think God has prepared me to devote a longer amount of time to serve Him on mission. My desire is to become one of the people I serve. I don’t want to be set apart from them. I want to see them as my friends, my family. My spiritual guide and I discerned that this year is the year that God is calling me.
Starting in July 2013, I move to Cebu, Philippines to be a full-time volunteer. The Apostolic Sisters of St. John welcomed me to live in their guesthouse for 8 months. During that time, I went into the poor barrios and taught math and english to the children. I prepared high school students for confirmation. I did campus ministry at a poor college. I gave Theology of the Body sessions to a group at UP (University of Philippines). I visited a home for sick and malnourished children. I did bible sharing at a center for women taken out of abusive situations. And, I started Pure Heart Philippines, and affiliate of Corazon Puro.
About halfway through my volunteer time, I felt God calling me to stay a few years longer in Cebu City. So right now, I’m going continue my full-time work as a volunteer/missionary thing. I’ll be focusing on Pure Heart Philippines