Greetings to you from Ethiopia! We are Mark, Maggie and our daughter Emebet and we are Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) from Canada, serving in Awassa, Ethiopia for 4 years now. The Comboni Fathers, Brothers and Sisters here in Ethiopia have welcomed us very warmly and truly we feel part of the Comboni “Family”. We joined the CLM motivated by our faith and our desire to make more room in our hearts for God. We felt called to give of ourselves more abundantly in this specific way in cross-cultural mission. We felt this invitation as a new husband and wife, and quite simply, we were excited to say ‘Yes’. Our missionary life has been full and we are gracious to God for all the blessings he has given us. The biggest blessing has been our daughter Emebet, whom we adopted here in Ethiopia. She is now 2 years old and we are aware everyday of the tremendous gift of Emebet into our lives, and of us into hers.
Maggie served during our first years here at Bushulo Catholic Health Centre, about 7 km south of Awassa, employing her training in Naturopathic medicine in clinical practice and public health activities. Now, Maggie is a full time Mom staying at home with Emebet (the most noble and fun of ministries!). Mark serves at the Awassa Catholic Secretariat, the main coordinating office for the diocese of Awassa which covers the south of Ethiopia. He is the manager of the Catholic Church’s social and development programs, including education, health care, water, women’s promotion, emergency response and other social services to the poorest. Together as husband and wife, we also have other ministries on the side, including working as mentors with the Catholic College and University Students Association in Awassa, facilitating retreat programs at Gethsemani Retreat Centre, teaching an art class at a local orphanage and teaching Theology of the Body.
Where our work begins and personal time ends is blurred and we are thankful for this. This is a consequence of the missionary life – where our work is our life, our life is our work and both we’re trying to give to God.
The environment around us is one of severe poverty and destitution with seemingly endless needs. The demands of this context and the faces of the people living in it are real and challenging to us, and we have no ‘ready made’ answers. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry and sometimes we look at each other with wide eyes not knowing what to do. But through all these encounters we are growing and changing as we try our best to live “shoulder to shoulder” with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters. It is our daily cheerful struggle. The blog posts and reflections we will share with you are the story of our CLM journey. We pray that God continues to transform both you and us into the people we were created to be.
Maggie, Mark and Emebet
Comboni Lay Missionaries