Comboni Lay Missionaries

Be mission in Ethiopia – first moments

CLM Ethiopia
CLM Ethiopia

We left back behind Qillenso, Adola and Daaye and what I saw during the journey, in this green that contrasts with everything I had seen so far since I arrived in this new place where God awaits every one of us, at least in the embrace of a prayer that, it cans travel from far away (I hope from your hearts). I take the duration of this trip to try to share (at least a grain) the wonders of this people that has received me so well.

We are in an unusual week. We take advantage of the fact that the Amharic classes will only start on June 3 (next week) to get to know the various missions of the MCCJ and also of the CLM (in Awassa) in the southern zone of Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa, is a city where pollution reigns, noise, the frenzy of the many cars and people who roam without rule through the streets. It could be seen in almost any European city if it were not for the disorder that governs here. Traveling by car is always an adventure, because the road here also belongs to animals and people (after all, the cars arrived later!). Among the several and crowded streets that exist here, the one more difficult for me to cross (until now) is the indescribable Mexico Square, point of reference for the arrival at home. Indescribable for not having words to express the pain it cause me when I see those bodies stretched out in the middle of the street, thin bodies, barely alive, some that do not see, others that have no feet to walk … Along with these bodies we can find many times the face of a child, whose lost eyes does not pass unnoticed. I imagine stories in my head that probably are his. They are malnourished mothers and their children. How it hurts to look and it hurts even more not knowing what to do!

CLM Ethiopia

This week’s trip through southern Ethiopia also allowed us to have a very different and colorful vision of this great and immense country. As we travel from Addis Ababa to Awassa, Qillenso, Adola and Daaye, the landscape changes its shapes and figures. If in Adis and Awassa there is a mantle of houses as far as the eye can see, in Qillenso, Adola and Daaye the earth is dressed in red and the green of the plants just born with the first rains. Along the way, houses are planted, with a rudimentary configuration but which are authentic works of art. The car passes and those who see us pass also look at us. I watch them also through the glass of the van. What a beautiful look! They always smile when they see us pass!

I am happy for the mission that God gave to the three of us and for which we ask for your prayers. The mission will never be ours. It is also yours. And above all, it’s God´s. Probably, and aware of this, we know that the mature fruits of this work only (and God willing) will be visible within a few years.

CLM Ethiopia

I’m fine! Feeling everything. The people, their looks, their words that I often do not understand, but I try to respond with a smile, or a look of tenderness, or using the few words I already know in Amharic. It has been a time to observe, hear, try to understand. It is also an advantage that I do not have a fluent level of English that allows me to talk a lot (and even less Amharic). I take advantage of that and I end up listening more, observing more. It’s time for that!

Our walking on the street is always a cause of looks. People look at us, as if we were something strange. For children it’s a party! They look at us and sketch daring smiles:

– Farengi! Farengi! Or China! China!

Don’t knowing what to do many times, we look at them and smile. We extend the arm and exchange a handshake. They’re all happy to touch us … it’s reciprocal!

One of these days, in Awassa, we visited the sisters of Mother Teresa, and the expected thing happened: the same reaction of the children who want to grab us … They run in our direction to touch our hands. But not just the hand. The arms, the face. They get closer, delighting in our heat. They run searching for love. And we try to give it to them. In the difficulty of not knowing much Amharic, I say the same all the times. I couldn’t limit myself to the same old words, I thought. I try to remember other things I can say, and there it comes out:

CLM Ethiopia

– Mndn new? (What is this?) – I ask pointing to my shirt.

– Makina (car) – several answer, each one in time.

I repeat the same question for other things, including the cross I bring to my chest.

And so they answer me. It’s a party for them! And for me. They do not know how much they teach me. I believe they are the best teachers I can have. They are happy with this little. As the one who is thirsty, like me.

I feel everything, even nostalgia. Great nostalgia! This also inhabits me, of course (I am Portuguese … of those very nostalgic)! As someone told me, nostalgia is the love that remains. Therefore, I always want this nostalgia to be part of me.

They have been beautiful days, full of novelty. Also within the community, with David and Pedro. In our differences, I see three pieces of a puzzle that come together and fit together. It is being beautiful as we realize what we are called to do here. We feel the weight of the responsibility of being starting to sow this grain that we want others to come to water, to reap, to harvest. The harvest here is great! But we feel a great strength of wanting to take steps. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us to take the right steps, in the right times and places.

Pray for us, for the mission and above all for this people that welcomes us and that seeks and fights for life, day by day.

With lots of love,

CLM Carolina Fiúza

Ethiopia, missionary land

CLM Ethiopia
CLM Ethiopia

Dear Comboni Lay Missionaries and friends discerning the CLM vocation! We send you warm greetings from Awassa – a beautiful city in southern Ethiopia where CLM presence has continued for already 9 years. However, changes are coming and we invite you to make this change better.

In the beginning of May Madzia ends her mission in Ethiopia and in the beginning of June also Adela&Tobiasz go back to Poland. This practically means the end of CLM presence in Awassa. Hopefully it doesn’t mean the end of the CLM presence in Ethiopia. Pedro is already in Ethiopia studying Amharic language.

Throughout all these years we experienced very good cooperation with the Ethiopian Comboni Family. MCCJ are very open for CLM presence, understand our charism and are eager to help us to settle a stable, permanent and independent presence in Ethiopia. It would really be a pity not to continue our presence in Ethiopia.

CLM Ethiopia

We, as current Ethiopian CLM group, think that now came the best time to move our presence from Awassa to Gumuz, which is the region of first evangelization in north-west Ethiopia. Gumuz people were for long time discriminated by other Ethiopian tribes and until recent years excluded from society. Things started to change with arrival of Comboni missionaries less than 20 years ago, who has shared with them Good News and helped them socially, building educational and health facilities in 3 missions (Gilgel-Beles and Gublack run by Comboni Fathers and Mandura run by Comboni Sisters). Needs of missionaries, also lay missionaries, who would come to share their time and skills is huge, both in pastoral and social work. We have to admit that the work in Gumuz area may also be quite challenging, just to mention the hot climate, many cases of malaria and typhoid and Amharic language to learn… We are sure however that satisfaction would be greater than any obstacles.

Comboni Fathers would be very happy if our movement could open a community in Gumuz. But to achieve this aim, to run this mission, we need people. We are happy that Pedro is ready to go to Gumuz; also David and Carolina are about to come to Ethiopia. For sure we would need more CLMs ready to come, to live some years in Africa among the most needy. We encourage to come to Gumuz all discerning their missionary vocation and we are sure that Daniel Comboni would do the same!

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Greetings Tobiasz & Adela, Madzia

CLM Ethiopia

First Impressions on Ethiopia

LMC Etiopia

Dear friends: I left Portugal on March 6, 2019 and arrived in Ethiopia on March 6, 2011. I am now younger.

Thanks to everyone for your expressions of affection and friendship. In my prayers I keep myself in the heart of God, because He, who loves us all and each one of us in particular, knows what is best for each of us.

This is why I am in Ethiopia. Because he, who loves me, knows what is best for me. I do not know for how long. I only know that I am here and each day is a new adventure, a sincere desire to live my mission where he sent me. I am fine! Even better, I am happy!

I am at the provincial house of the MCCJ of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. This will be my home over the next few months while studying Amharic. Amharic is a difficult language. But, by the grace of God, up to now I have not yet fallen into the temptation of discouragement. I am strengthened by the desire to stay close to people, speak with them, be in communion.  And, unless you know Amharic, this is almost impossible or totally impossible.

LMC Etiopia

I love Ethiopia. I know that I will find difficult and hard moments of doubt and despair. But right now I am in love. And I want to live this moment intensely, because it is unique. I live in community with the MCCJ in Addis Ababa and I feel part of it. From the beginning they welcomed me in a wonderful way. Our days begin with the Eucharist and Lauds at 6:30. After breakfast, I go to school, which starts at 8:30 and ends at 12:00 noon. After lunch, I start studying. At 6:45 PM we pray Vespers and, after supper, we usually have some time together. The house is almost always full, since many missionaries traveling in Africa come through here. I was already able to meet some priests and even some bishops. I have already heard some beautiful and frightening stories. How hard is the mission sometimes… But always beautiful. Our lives are in the hands of God.

I already had the opportunity to be in Hawassa for a few days with the CLM stationed there. How nice it was. We even had a cake to celebrate my visit. In formation we learn that we must always have a good reception of the new CLM. And truly, to receive this warm reception and affection is in fact, extraordinary. For this, I am very grateful to the CLM in Ethiopia. In Hawassa, during a bicycle ride, I pinched both tires. It was a good baptism. This weekend I attended a retreat of Comboni Friends. It was very good. Here the celebration of Easter will take place a week after the celebration of Easter in Portugal. Taking advantage of a week’s vacation, I will go visit the mission among the Gumuz, the people with whom, God willing, I will work. I am enthused. Later I will let you know how it went. To all of you and your families I wish a holy Easter and o not forget that God loves us. Let us keep united in the love of God.

LMC Etiopia

Pedro Nacimiento, CLM

Youth program in Daye

CLM EthiopiaLast Saturday with some members of our Comboni Friends group, we went to Daye – one of the Combonis’ missions among Sidama people. We met there with youth leaders from different outstations, more than 50 of them came. The topic was based on Matthew’s gospel and parable about talents. There was small teaching about, testimony of Adela about her talents and how she uses them to serve others, and then time to work in small groups to discover and share which gifts God gave us and how can we use them.

CLM Ethiopia

Youth had many ideas about the talents they can use in the church (to lead groups, to teach, to sing or play keyboard in the choir, to help those who left the church to come back, to take care of widows and orphans…). And after this more serious part, there was some fun, which we called “Daye got talent!”. Youth in groups prepared short dramas based on different parables. They got really involved in it! And showed that they have acting talents too! 🙂
We hope that this meeting inspired them to discover their gifts and use them. Also for us, it was very joyful and enriching time.

CLM Ethiopia

Magda Plekan. CLM Ethiopia

My school

CLM Ethiopia

I’m about to go back to Poland from my mission in Ethiopia. A great part of my service was teaching children in two kindergartens. I taught them English. The schools belong to the Missionaries of Charity (Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta). The first year of my teaching I was more focus on learning than teaching. I observed what other teachers were doing. I simply used to go to school and teach the children what came to my mind or what I found in the Internet. First year sometimes I was really frustrated with the situation in the school, especially with the attitude of the teachers. Some of the teachers prefer to sit all the class doing nothing, while the students repeat alphabet 100 times and even don’t recognize the letters. I could give many examples like this.  I tried to talk to the coordinator of the schools and later also to the Sisters. However none of them hoped to change anything. They knew how they work, they tried to talk to them, to organize a training with psychologist, but nothing has changed.

CLM Ethiopia

However I still wanted to work with them. Last year I started to organize teachers’ training every other week (one Friday in one school, the next week in the another school). Before every training I had to prepare some materials. I learned a lot to be able to share this knowledge with others. I still worked with the children, however at the beginning I prepared the English program for the whole year. I included many games, songs, various techniques and activities so the children had more fun and were motivated to study. Even when I didn’t have a lesson, the teachers should still follow the program and report what they did. I changed my schedule to be able to have similar number of lessons per week with each group in both schools.

I wish I could change something, especially the attitude of the teachers. I’ve learned one very important thing about motivation. Those who daily struggle to satisfy the basic needs of them and their families usually are not motivated to serve others, to do the good work for the society. Somehow it is psychologically justified. Only God can give the motivation beyond that. Some of the teachers really care for the children and their future, for the efficacy of their teaching. I’m sure that it’s God’s influence.

CLM Ethiopia

If the teachers don’t have any motivation coming from inside then they might be motivated from outside. That’s why I’m struggling now to arrange the implementing of the new evaluating system. Up to now, all the workers are very free to do what they want because there are no many consequences of that. If they work hard or are lazy, nothing changes. So now first of all, I’m trying to  encourage the coordinator and the Superior Sister to prepare the new system and implement it.

My work at school was evoluting while I was also developing my knowledge, skills and way of understanding. I know that the most important was not the knowledge I shared with the students or the teachers, but my presence. I’m aware that the children are too little to remember the English vocabulary in the near future. But surely they will remember me as someone who gave them joy and love. If I managed to teach the teachers something useful then it would be for the good of the children. The attitude is the most difficult to change. If there is a little improvement, I give the glory to God, because only He is able to renew the people’s heart.

My presence in the schools was a great lesson to me. I learned a lot not only about the profession of teacher and methodology, but also about the culture, about the people, their needs, their thoughts. Now I can understand them better. I know my perspective is different. I’m not frustrated anymore. I don’t judge them. I tried my best. The rest of the work I leave to God.

So… Who have learned more: the students, the teachers or I? I would say that I… But God knows… I think we all have learned something.

CLM Ethiopia

Magda Fiec, CLM Ethiopia