I hope that all our lay people are well and that everything is moving along normally. By the grace of God, our apostolic community is doing well.
We are again in Bangui, this time to bring in a kid who has a spine problem due to bone TB, called Pott Disease, to have him undergo surgery in Dakar under Dr. Omnimus, a French orthopedist who often comes to work in Mongoumba. He will leave on the 12th accompanied by his parents. We will take him to the plane at five in the morning. We are grateful to the Lord for being able to be here accompanying Gervelais and his father.
This was a journey fraught with uncertainties. We had planned to travel on Thursday in order to do our shopping and then return to Mongoumba on the 13th, but the barge that takes us cross the river crashed on Tuesday and only started working again on Friday afternoon. At one point we thought that we would have to call some missionary in Bangui to ask them to take Gervelais and his father to the airport. Yesterday, as we were crossing the river with the barge, there was a moment when we doubted we could continue the trip because a truck could not get off and it was necessary to have it dragged off by another loaded truck. As the saying goes “man proposes and God disposes.” God does everything right! He is the one who knows what is best for us. I pray to Mary to intercede for Gervelais and ask that he may regain his health and be well!
Belvia underwent surgery, they performed a full mastectomy. Still we do not know the results of the biopsies. We hope it will not be cancer… Now she is feeling better, has finished the treatment and now she takes some medications. She is quite happy, because she had been suffering a lot… May the Lord help her.
Ana left for Poland and, according to plans, she will be back in May. May the Lord give her a good vacation.
Cristina is well and in good spirits. She started to learn Sango. She already greets people in their own language and they are very pleased. She loves the mission. May God make her be this way during her entire missionary service.
Next month, our parish will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation and, God willing, we will have a great celebration.
Let us stay united in prayer.
A missionary embrace from our community to all of you.
Greetings to all, how are you? I hope well… this Christmas and New Year 2018 were a little strange, spent in the heat of the Central African Republic, wearing a summer T-shirt and eating Portuguese cod… 🙂
THE NIGHT OF DESIRES
It is NIGHT here! A deep NIGHT that envelops everything! A NIGHT that is not like all the other NIGHTS, because it is a perennial NIGHT! It is NIGHT even during the day! We live in this NIGHT, in an infinite present, we live as if there was not tomorrow!
Our schools would need to be restructured because the bricks are literally eaten up by the termites and, when it rains, they get flooded, and during the NIGHT they are inhabited by bats that make your stomach turn…
Our hospital have no medical supplies, there is no food for the patients, and those who need surgery must provide everything down to the last penny…
Our roads have potholes that look like craters because of the big trucks and the rain, and the average speed on the Bangui-Mongoumba road is around 30 km/h and the trip lasts 7/8 hours…
We would need a bridge on the River Lobaye or a new ferry because the big and heavy trucks of the foreign multinationals that transport our lumber from the forest have damaged it… We would need doctors, pediatricians, teachers, instructors, university professors to take care of the new generations, instead…
…more soldiers will come!
Perhaps I am the only one who does not understand how more soldiers may help us come out of this dark and deep NIGHT in which we live!!
The new year has brought us as a gift a new military base in our diocese of Mbaiki… the bulldozer arrived, it flattened an enormous area, it quickly dug a trench, it raised great dirt barriers and behold… a beautiful, new, secure UN military base… to protect us from whom? The Lobaye is the only peaceful area in the CAR!!!
Perhaps I am the only one who does not understand how more soldiers, more arms, more armored vehicles, more resources to keep them going, can help us get out of this dark and paralyzing NIGHT in which we live! Adding the risk that our NIGHT may become even more NIGHT. We are all like acrobats walking on the wire, risking to fall again in our fears, instead of finding the courage to get out of this NIGHT that seems to be eternal!
There is no money for the schools, for health care for salaries for our teachers, for the hospitals, for repairing our roads…
…but there is money for building a new military base and pay 900 soldiers…
Perhaps I do not understand!
Someone asked me what we would have DESIRED on Christmas NIGHT… and for 2018…
…a little bit of LIGHT…
The people who walked in DARKNESS have seen a great LIGHT…
…for those who lived in the shadow of death a LIGHT has shone… (Mt 4:16)
I hope you are doing well. I arrived in the CAR two months ago and still I have not put away my luggage but my heart is totally taken by Mongoumba.
Emotions here reach an intensity that is beyond us.
At the very moment when I think “I’m leaving” I feel that my life is growing roots here!
It is not easy to manage the unknown, it is not easy to accept what is different, it is not easy to control impotence, the difficulties… But it is in difficulties that we stop being blind, deaf, mute…
The process of adaptation is going “yeke, yeke” which is Sango for “a little bit at the time.” I have turned this expression into an “order” for my head.
On any one day my heart beats in different ways, it cries in the morning, it laughs in the afternoon and at night at times it does both.
I have already started my Sango classes. Simone says that Mr. Dominique, the professor, has already begun to speak Portuguese quite well. In spite of all this, I will let you into a secret I have: I am totally in love with five little Pygmies – Paul, Dimanche, Albert, Pauline and François. By coming to school they also have breakfast and lunch. Theyare myoxygen capsule where I feed my body and my soul. We play, we pray and we converse (truly, we converse). But you will say, how do we communicate? I have lots of fun when I am the object of their study. They investigate me in detail: hands, veins, the mark of an elastic band on my arm, they have regular sessions around my head and my hair is the topics of much discussion. On this las day Pauline discover a hole in my belly – my belly button. It was a great topic of conversation! (Ha, ha)
How not to fall in love with them?
I end by wishing all of you a Happy Easter.
May Lent be a time of deep reflection and conversion, but above all of “humanitarian” action and that this action may be the fruit of our prayers.
Kisses from all of us in the CAR.
May Jesus protect and enlighten us all, in particular the CAR children who are the true diamonds of Africa.
Greetings from CLMU and we hope all is fine and well over there. We are moving on with everything well with the grace of God.
We had our Lenten recollection in our apostolic community of Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Parish which was facilitated by Fr. John Bosco Nambasi – MCCJ with a theme of Relevancy of Religious Life in Today’s Society- 1 Kings 3:4-13 and Mt. 6:30
He illustrated many characteristics of our world that affect our prayer life and how to live in harmony with one another and the people we administer to. Some of these characteristics include dire need/poverty, yearning for authentic spirituality, commitment/stability, unity meaning of real love of God. He further illustrated the need to live the spirit of poverty as mentioned by Pope Francis who has declared 2018 as the year for the poor which is a true reflection of the world we live in which is full of poor people. This poverty he said is of material, spiritual and otherwise.
He also tasked us to come away to some lonely place and rest awhile. This helps to listen to ourselves (discernment), pray and make relevant options for apostolic work. A life without reflection is not worth living as a great writer once said. When we retreat or recollect to a lonely place for a meaningful prayer, we are likely to attract others to ourselves and this will make us relevant to the current world we are living with full of challenges.
Many people are living like sheep without shepherd in which there is no care from family to society and the parental roles for the young ones is lacking and no guidance for those who need it. Our apostolic missions should target these people who are like sheep without shepherd. This is where majority of poor people are and we need to do all that we can to improve their lives. He said to prioritize the poor is to set to teach them and impact gospel values/virtues in society.
He further said that being as opposed to doing is what we must be aware of. “Being” refers to what our core values are as religious involving prayers, charity in addition to our vows and commitments we made. The essence of being is therefore to strive to live a life of faithfulness, justice, integrity of heart other than having long life, riches and founding oneself on capitalistic mentalities of consumerism, relativism, scientism and individualism. Doing on the other hand refers to trying to live according to public opinion and to do everything to impress the public which at the end makes us to live double life full of stress. He said the bad die early and the good do great. We must try to live a life balanced to what our daily cores demand. He urged us to pray at all times and he cited that there is scientific evidence (research work) indicating that people who pray remain at peace with themselves and others and they are likely to live longer than their counterparts (The Longevity Project a book by Dr. Leslie Martin & Dr. Howards S. Friedman reports of 20 years of follow up research on 1,500 adults since 1921). Also St. Augustine after his many years of living earthly life after finding about God remarks “you have made us Oh Lord our hearts are restless until they rest in you”. These researchers found out that people who pray get more engaged in social work and free service to others than those who do not value prayer. He emphasized the need of Lectio Divina which focuses on personal prayer focused on the scriptures which we must be able to relate to our personal life and work. He said Lectio Divina is different from community prayers like from the Breviary which many times we confuse.
This is the time also for us to renew our vows and commitments on daily basis basing on the charism of Comboni Missionaries, we need to renew our vows we made and commitments that we made the first time and see if we are still on the road or we have deviated from the originality. We need to pray at all times and Fr. Paulino Mondo MCCJ Assistant Parish Priest of Our Lady Of Africa Mbuya Parish brought it beautifully in one of the morning Masses that the Prayer of our Father has three points that we always need to focus; it teaches us to ask for food which we use to nourish us and we also need to ask for this food for the poor and needy and should endevour to do this for the benefit of others. Secondly he said it teaches us to be delivered from the sin and evil one which is the core of this Lenten period and this we can do through daily self-examination of consciousness like what St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us in his beautiful book of Spiritual Exercises and personal reflections during our solitude moments. The third element is prepare for death as we say in the prayer of Hail Mary…..death is certain we shall die and we need to prepare for this moment sooner or later we shall die. When we come to the final judgment what shall be said of us, shall we be the people on the right of the Lord or the ones on his left who are cursed and cast into eternal hell….??? The answer must be deep in our hearts.
What should be done despite all these?
Fr. John Bosco MCCJ gave us some suggestions in how to live with the above issues that affect our life more so in the spirit of Lenten season;
We need to adapt to novelty and renew our life through putting more emphasis on prayer and fasting, common apostolate in all that we do. He said Religious life should not be run like companies that are managed aiming at making outstanding brands. We are all human beings in need of mercy of God to live a life worthy of his call. He said superiors need to look for new ways to animate communities and we must read the signs of the time in terms of technology and human development. We must come out of comfort zones that this is how it used to be done, times have changed. Members should be happy with their vocation, put Christ/Church at the centre of their life and reduce on the measure of consumption of social media, money, digital gadgets, power/politics and bodily satisfaction of sex and beauty. We must stop the saying that “I do this because of obedience” when someone puts us in such a task contrary to our vocation
He also said we live God centred life through looking at the evangelical counsels, Lectio Divina and daily reflection on the founder’s charism. Have constant proximity to the gospel values, accept your weaknesses and work on them to live faithfully.
He also said we be life care givers. There are many religious men and women today who have very wide knowledge about humanity and the institutions they run but have no heart for the human person and yet our Lord Jesus prayed that “Father may they be one…. John 17:21”. They have knowledge for excellence of institutions they run but nothing of the life in Christ. He said vows therefore help us to affirm meaning, obey the laws of nature and God and face life with realism. He finalized this point by saying “you can only make decisions from a thoughtful and discerned position if you accept the life cycle: Birth-growth-death. Let us therefore bring Christ to the people we work with, the people we lead and the people we live especially in the different institutions we lead and work with.
We were also blessed to receive MCCJ Council Members from Rome who made apostolic visit to us and it was such a wonderful moment. They tasked us to do our work in the spirit of St. Daniel Comboni to the poor and the needy. They told us to promote vocations as very many Priests and Comboni Missionary Sisters are advanced in age and there is need to bring many to the table of the Lord. Therefore everything we do we must promote the message of St. Daniel Comboni to the young people so that they carry the candle of St. Daniel Comboni burning to the rest of the world.
From Uganda we wish you all happy Lenten season as we discover where we went wrong in order to be worthy followers of Jesus and renew our lives imitating the Lord when he was in the desert for the 40 days living among the wild animals with the angels guarding him. Our wild animals include hatred, jealousy, pride, lust, gluttony, greed and many others that we call the angels to guard us from.
Sunday was day when we could pray more together and to learn more about other Christian denominations. We were assigned to different churches in Arusha – myself went to Mennonites. We were very warmly welcome by the local pastors and also the Mennonite bishop. We joined the prayer which was full of joyful songs and dances, prepared by the parish choirs (there were three of them – children’s, youths’ and adults’). There was also reading Bible & preaching and then we heard some more about the Mennonites’ activities in Arusha. And after that we shared the delicious lunch, which gave us occasion to more informal chats and getting to know each other. Very blessed time and beautiful experience of community! The last part of the program was planting the tree.
The last two days of conference continued to be intensive. Full of prayers, sharing and inputs. On one of the days was focused on embracing the cross. We heard very touching speech of Orthodox Patriarch of Syria – sharing his experience of war, showing photos from his recent travel Damascus and the Eucharist they celebrated in the ruins of church and also about the support they provide for the people who are still there – mostly Muslims, but it doesn’t matter, they are suffering brothers, so as Christian is our duty to be on their side and help. There were also other testimonies from different part of the world, where people experience suffering and what “embracing the cross” means in their context. The prayers were also focused on this, some made in the orthodox way of praying.
Those few days in Arusha were really wonderful for me, I’m thanking God for this chance to be there, to pray with all these people, to share with them, to hear so many interesting things, to experience this spirit of unity and openness. I met many wonderful people from all over the world, from all the Christian denominations. And it was amazing that everyone was equal – it didn’t matter if you are just a student or you have a phD or are a professor, didn’t matter if you are just a member of the church or you are the bishop – in front of God we all are His beloved children. And we could really feel it there in Arusha.
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