Comboni Lay Missionaries

After One Year among the Gumuz of Ethiopia

LMC Etiopia
LMC Etiopia

Dear family, friends and all,

I hope this e-mail will find you well. I hope the entire family is in good health.

Gratefully to God, I am well.

I am beginning to feel the intense heat we have, almost always around 40 degrees over here. A heat that does not even begin to compare with the warmth I feel when I visit the families, play with the children or work with these wonderful people. Like St. Peter said, “how good it is to be here!” (Mt 17:4)

Here I am still involved with the library. By God’s grace and the generosity of some people, it was possible to buy some books for the library. This way, the students who come over have access to some basic textbooks. Two Portuguese ladies who visited here brought us calculators and other material. Often, I try to have school books and ball point pens to give to anyone who cannot afford them, but is interested in them. Always, if they are looking for a specific book, we try to buy it. Their time availability is not like mine. So, I find days with two or three people and others with 20. But, I understand. They are young and working in the fields, but also study, they have family and some with two or three children. Well, how can they find the time for the library. They truth is that they do and, when they come to study, there is silence. It makes me happy.

LMC Etiopia

I keep up with a faithful group in English and computer classes. They like it. They want to learn and, even though I am not an expert, I am happy to teach them.

I also have a Bible study group in English, with four catechists. We read the Bible, then I explain the texts in English, meditate on them and sometime we watch religious videos in English. I am very happy with them.

I keep playing in the school which still hosts a refugee family. We bought a ball and this is enough to get the young together and enjoy some good times.

At least twice a week we go to the villages with the catechists, visiting families, playing with the children. These moments fill our hearts. To be with people is essential to our missionary vocation.

With the Comboni Missionaries we live with, we share Mass at 6:30 in the morning and an hour of Eucharistic adoration on Saturday. On Thursdays we go to the Comboni Sisters community and also with them we have Eucharistic adoration before supper. On Wednesdays, David and I have a community prayer.

Despite the work we have, it is the desire of the CLM, myself and David, my partner in the community, to start a new type of presence among the Gumuz. We are not the first CLM in Ethiopia, but we are the first to live among the Gumuz.

LMC Etiopia

For this reason, we are visiting the communities, speaking with the people, analyzing the concrete situation of each village and family.

Unfortunately, the car we have does not allow for constant work. The roads are horrible and require a car in reasonable shape. After a month, we stopped running games for the children in the villages because our car was at the mechanic, and this happens often. On top of that, we keep on paying for these repairs. We will need to buy a new car that will allow us to continue our work.

We also intend to build a house in one of the villages, near the people, and live there. Together with the house we will start working on projects. We are continuing with the project of setting up a children home for those who remain alone during the day, without adult supervision, plus a student residence to allow children to attend school who cannot go or need to cover over 30 km to get there. These are the projects we consider the most viable, if we take into account what we have analyzed and heard from the young ones and the adults.

Unfortunately, we need money to do all this. For this I ask for your prayers that we may do the will of God with these people. If you know of any NGO that finances this type of project, please tell us. Everything help, even a little bit, and is valued by God. And since I know that I am not here alone, I am sure you are with me!

At time we face adversities, like typhus or typhoid fever, but I am happy to have been sent to this place where God already is with the people.

I have been in this beautiful place for almost a year! I have no doubt, It is a beautiful place! I am happy! I live a happy life! It does not mean that there is no suffering. It means that, despite all the obstacles, it is worth being here. It means that God gives us strength and gives us the means to do his will!

I keep you in my prayers, I feel your friendship around me, and I keep on learning that distance does not cut the ties, but makes them stronger, reminding me of the importance of your friendship and your love for me.

Hugs and kisses from this friend who loves you a lot,

Pedro Nascimento, CLM Ethiopia

What remain in us and what came in

LMC Peru
LMC Peru

Perhaps this type of living in constant arrivals and departures may be the best way God has to show us the love he has for us and the secret formula of living at the service of others.

LMC Peru

Thus, mission will always be a meeting of lives almost magically crossing one another, as if everything were already planted in our history. Mission will always be the concrete way of being living witnesses of a love that does not die. It is reborn and gives new birth.

LMC Peru

Today we speak well about you. Afterwards, there remains the certainty that we were and always will be whole when we give of ourselves without self-interest, timelessly at all hours, when we step down from everything we have been building since forever and go back to being like children among them. We are family where smiles never end and tears sprout at times. We are a home where there is always room for one more. We will always be. Mission has not ended. It will never end. Because love always conquers. Mission is waiting for you and always will.

LMC Peru

Paula and Neuza, CLM in Peru

Visiting the APAC of Santa Luzia

LMC Brasil
LMC Brasil

I have the opportunity to be visiting the Association for the Assistance of Convicts, APAC, in Santa Luzia, which is basically a prison detention center, but not just like any detention center. Does it hold privileged people? No. Does it hold investments of the rich and the powerful? No. It is a center made available by the proposal of Dr. Mario Ottoboni: no one is unredeemable. This is pure Gospel.

From the very first impression one perceives that things are different: one of the inmates is the doorkeeper of a detention center with 120 “criminals,” and holds the keys both to the main door and the doors to the closed and semi-closed sectors. Once you enter, it seems that these “criminals” have, among other things, different faces: peace, joy, goodness, repentance, charity, deep and sincere desires of redemption.

Here, no one is a criminal, but all are REDEEMABLE, a very precise word, exacted and necessary as the initial step to ensure that whoever one day made a mistake will not go back to that same state. John 8:11 “She answered, No one, Lord.” Jesus then told her: “Neither will I. Go and sin no more.”

For sure, there is a method, the APAC method, to work seriously in the re-insertion of recovered people in society.

With God’s help, together with the CLM Alejo Ramirez, for the past 20 years we have been helping in an enlightening project of interpreting Spanish texts, so that some of the inmates may take the ENEM test and with it continue their plans to attend the university after APAC. For the time being, we continue throughout the year 2020 with plans of major human and social importance.

To live among men who may have committed any type of barbarous acts, but who want to change their lives, and some of them without formal education, but each day trying to study, work, paint, and learn some trades, is a courageous thing. Actually, more than courage, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s mercy, never merited but always unconditional, in a climate of strict rules in conjunction with the family of the inmate and local society.

I thank God for the opportunity of being able to embrace and see in the eyes of these men, who are always so grateful, the joy when once again we come to visit them. If God believes in humanity, who are we not to believe in it?”

Alejandro, CLM

West Pokot Missionary Experience

CLM Kenya

It is said that experience is the best teacher and for us as candidates undergoing formation to become Comboni Lay Missionaries, this was and is part of our learning process. The experience had been planned months prior with the selection of two candidates (Beatrice Imali, a nurse, and Angeline Njeri, a teacher) as the first of the group to experience missionary life and work in mission territories. The experience was to be led by our formator, Fr. Maciek Zielinski. The journey from Nairobi to Amakuriat Mission in West Pokot County started on the night of 2nd December 2019 with a slight detour to Kacheliba Parish for breakfast and little rest the next morning. We arrived at the Mission at around 1:30pm to a warm welcome from the entire community (both MCCJ and CMS) and the Provincial Superior of the MCCJ in the Kenyan Province, Fr. Austin Radol.

CLM Kenya
With Rev. Fr. Austin on our first night in the mission

After a goodnight’s rest, we embarked on our duties the following day as scheduled in the MCCJ Amakuriat Community’s calendar prior to our arrival. Beatrice started work at the dispensary in the mission ran by an amazing and hardworking Sr. Gabriella. Angeline embarked on a journey of youth formation and pastoral work in Amakuriat and other outstations within the Parish. The missionary experience meant to last for about three weeks had already began. This was later followed by the sharing of meals and hearty laughter with the community later in the day. Even on our first days there, we knew that the experience would be a wonderful one.

CLM Kenya
Angeline conducting youth formation at Chelopoy, an outstation

Josephine (joined us later) conducting youth formation at Kaakow, an outstation of Amakuriat Parish

It was important to not only be fully engaged in the work of the Comboni Family in Amakuriat Parish but to also observe and interact with the people and try to learn as much as we could about them. The intricate workings of a society and it’s culture serve as a great teacher to an aspiring missionary. In our engagements with them, we not only were able to pick few words here and there, but also got to experience their enriching faith and community as a people. The Mass was celebrated with joyful singing and it felt like everybody knew everybody.

Nevertheless, there never lacks challenges that one observes even on a day to day basis. Due to limited health facilities, the dispensary is always having patients streaming in. Some patients so sick that Sr. Gabriella has to rush them to Moroto, Uganda. The heaviness of the workload could be seen in the face of Beatrice, who though tired always expresses the joy she feels in serving the sick.

Youth formation not only enables you to engage with the youth, but also opens one’s eyes to the need for youth sensitization on personal growth and development, especially through education and spirituality. However, the society has still yielded great young men and women who have and are still working towards the betterment of themselves as individuals and as a community. This can be clearly seen by the youthful young men and women working in the dispensary, the youth and young children in schools and the various professionals within the schools and churches. The work of the Comboni Missionaries in this area can be clearly seen and continues to grow daily. But even then, a lot remains to be done. It is as the Lord put it, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few”. This puts into perspective the need for Comboni Lay Missionaries in not only Amakuriat Parish but in other missionary territories here in Kenya and the world as a whole.

CLM Kenya
Beatrice, Sr. Gabriella and the staff at the dispensary

Our formator, Fr. Maciek, has always insisted that it is important to also experience community life, albeit even for short periods at a time before basic formation is completed. In our short stay, we were able to see the beauty of harmonious living among community members, and the joy it brings to the mission. We felt at home and social interactions between us and the MCCJ and CMS community in Amakuriat were something we will live to treasure. We even got to celebrate Fr. Maciek’s and Beatrice’s birthdays, and our first international CLM Feast Day with the community!

CLM Kenya
Celebrating CLM feast day with the MCCJ community in Amakuriat

With the end of the experience drawing near, we knew that this was an experience we would relate to our colleagues once back in Nairobi. There is guaranteed nostalgia, and the desire to serve as Comboni Lay Missionaries has only been strengthened by this experience. We hope that our experience also inspires other CLM candidates to keep discerning and aspiring to engage in such rewarding and blessed work. We hope to be back someday. Until then, to the amazing West Pokot community, Keriama! (See you again).

By Angeline Njeri

Comboni Lay Missionaries, Kenya

A missionary year in Brazil

LMC Brasil

Hello everyone!

We are Alejandro and Ana Cris along with our four children, Esteban, Isabel, Agustín and Lucia.

A year ago, we arrived in Brazil as part of our CLM vocation. We are currently in the neighborhood of Ype Amarelo, in the municipality of Contagem in the state of Minas Gerais.

Here we are living in the House of Formation and Mission of the CLM of Brazil.

We have 9 years of being CLM in Guatemala and we are part of the Province of Central America. It is a walk that involves many people. The community of Guatemala before our departure and also now during this time in this mission field, as well as the community of Brazil, the American committee that is always on the lookout and for of course the central committee that has constantly contributed to harmonize the project to move forward.

With joy we share a little of this walk.

May everything be for the Glory of God and the Salvation of Souls (Saint Daniel Comboni).

Alejandro and Ana Cris CLM