It has been a year since I arrived at the Mission of Carapira, in the north of Mozambique. But at times there are moments when it feels that I just arrived and that I am still taking my first steps, like a beginner. There are times when I feel that the trip from Portugal to Mozambique was not the longest journey I ever did, even though the geographical distance suggests otherwise. The longest and greatest journeys are those where I have to travel from my mind to my heart, getting out of myself and stand next to whoever is at my side and, at times, seems to be so far away. The truth is that mission is not a physical place. It is first of all a place that cannot be circumscribed and that requires a constant attitude of humility, audacity, willpower. Mission is also a school of love, a place where one learns and re-learns how to love. Here I have gotten to know a lot of missionaries and volunteers. These are people who come with a desire to do well, but who progressively also discover their vulnerability.
The deepest experience we can have consists in loving and feeling loved. But when everything around us seems unknown, this apprenticeship becomes tiring. Because to learn to love means learning to accept who I am, with my desires, my faith, but also with my difficulties, my compulsions, my need to be right. But, in the encounters and in daily life quickly we discovered the fragility of our texture. Nevertheless, I hold for myself that, as we go discovering it, perhaps we may be able to see the vulnerability of Jesus and love it.
It is also a school where we learn the different proportion of things. But we do not learn to measure things (especially not patience). The space is large, and it is easy to get lost.
Time morphs into my time. Everything, literally, happens in a rather singular rhythm with a soft, very soft, compass. Therefore, there is time for what we truly want to do, because the slow pace teaches us to go beyond our rigidity, beyond what would simply be functional and useful.
But it is in these moments that authentic experiences are born. We do not turn on your GPS to know how long it will take to go from here to there, even because the “from here to there” is so immense that it has not been captured and deciphered by satellite maps – we get into the car and come what may. If the number of flats is reasonable, and the car does not break down, we will get there faster.
And even if it may be true that Mozambique does not have gorgeous sceneries, it is also true that those within each person are the most incredible and precious. I have had the pleasure of getting to know people who teach me a lot. Simple people and able to be trustful even in poverty. They look at tomorrow with the hope that all will be well, Inshallah [God willing, as we get used to hear]. At times I ask myself: trust, in what? Why? Trust. Trust in life. These are the people who teach me faith. They trust in God’s protection and are very grateful. They have such a surplus of trust that invites me to look at life with added serenity.
This is a school where one also learn to look in the eyes of those who look at us. Because, truly, it is when we observe that we begin to see. Often, when I look around me, I may feel that I am not ready to see all that I meet. But even in this and for this, God has enabled me.
One learns also to see God in small things. I remember very well that, before coming, I had plan to write more: I wanted to have a diary or, at least, to jot down more regularly what was happening, how I felt… And also to share about our mission in order to keep close (to “feel united,” as we like to say).Often I ask myself: what should I write about? It is much easier to do it about extraordinary things. It is clear that I did not do what I had planned. Because, among other things, when I was planned it I thought that in mission there would have been a million extraordinary things to talk about. In reality, mission happens every moment and in an ordinary way. Extraordinary events may be more colorful and exotic, but it is the ordinary that more closely is the foundation of our life. These, the simple and ordinary moments, those we meet in our service and in our dealing with the people give meaning and make mission something special, without waiting for the extraordinary days, to ask for commitment and oblation.
Mission is a daily map deciphering and knowing. That is why, I constantly feel that I beginning a new time, not in the calendar, but in the opportunities of life and of salvation that can happen any time God visits us in the smallest and most insignificant things.
I arrived in Mozambique a year ago. But I keep on beginning to walk to the Lord of daily blessings.