Comboni Lay Missionaries

Once again, I climb the mountain

Atardecer
Atardecer

I write to you as I contemplate the landscape. The sun is barely visible, but I can already see the silhouette of the volcano in the moonlight. Today I again climbed the mountain, one of those places where I lower my defenses and I can imagine, on the other side of sunset, the faces of those, not those I left behind, but all those who constantly allowed me – and still do – to fly, at times with fear, but still trusting in this great plan that God has for each one of us. For me. I look intently at the horizon, God and me. Me and God alone. He allows me to get close, and embraces me through the wonders that I can see. He waits for me in silence on top of this small mountain any time I believe that I cannot make it, any time reality becomes cruel, any time everything turns dark, or too heavy to carry… At these times, I climb the mountain, I let go of the heavier stones I carry in my bag, to be able to go on. I climb searching for silence, for hope, looking for myself. Looking for God.

The sun has already left this small mountain, and I am left alone with my thoughts. Thus, I remain alone with the cry of those who come this way, seeking refuge, seeking love, seeking God. During these unfathomable moments I become part of nature that surrounds me.

Atardecer

To climb the mountain allows me to get out of myself, to quietly observe nature around me, to feel all that I carry inside me, to realize that love is made up also of falls, that we also build with the stones found along the way. It allows me to see light. I allow my eyes to open and no longer face the darkness buzzing around me as I climb, I see the little lights shining in the midst of these people, I feel the divine presence among us all in these little lights, in these hearts seeking for him, in the hope of those who believe, in the perseverance of those who dot give up in the face of sorrow, in the knees of those who pray, in the courage of those who risk to move ahead, and then I see the lights that remain in me.

And, as I descend from the small mountain, I feel God again with me. Once again, he invites me to meet with the poor and the needy, with all those who open their doors to me every day, and with all those who still wait for me to arrive. He makes my burden light and makes me feel the joy to be mission in the only way possible, through love.

Servir

May we all be able to climb the mountain as often as necessary during this journey of life. May we always empty our bag we carry all the time. Let us not be afraid to speak of whatever happens within us when we are alone with God.

With love and gratitude,

Neuza Francisco, CLM

The color of love

LMC Peru
Peru

Perhaps our idea of mission and of the world is a little rosy, but for me mission is a rainbow of colors, emotions, instants and learning. Mission is more than the vast blue sky I embrace every day at the beginning and at the end of it, it is more than the brown color of the desert’s sand that covers the ground. It is also more than the green of the scenery where some trees fight to stay green, or the grey of foggy days hiding the volcanos. Mission is an immensity of colors. It is the color of the faces that make me smile and the color of the stories I listen to hour after hour reminding me about what we are made of, and it is the color of all those hearts that teach me how it is possible to love more. But it is also the color of the smiles, the hugs, the tears and the color of the natural and human scenery. The daily mission to stick with them has a lot of colors.

Peru

They are the children who call to me in the streets or in the kindergarten, where I joyfully share my returning to being a child with them, giving myself without fear. They are the elderly who freely dance when they come to visit since, allow me to say it, for them we are often the only family they have. There are real stories of survival and struggle. Or the families when we gather to share it all, which is the sum of individual parts because it through this occasion that we meet and donate of ourselves without preconceptions or conditions, simply because that’s the way it is. It is also in the daily visits where I find the true meaning of my walking around and where I see the colors of the world here and now. Here in this little burg I daily live the experience of being me, with the essence of all the colors I feel inside and of those I allow myself to see in the world.

I confess to you that often I allow myself to be molded by them, by their experience of life and of God, that I allow myself to observe and where I have many teachers. So, I allow myself to get out of myself in order to learn from them. I always believed that they did not call me for nothing else but to love. To love these people, this culture and these customs. To love in all its aspects, in the falls in the errors, in the getting up and with the hope of being a better version of myself every single day. And even though over a year has gone by, I keep on learning from them – we learn together. Thus, each day I discover another color both inside and outside me, in this interchange of life, histories and faces where every day I discover the color of love.

Peru

PS. Love is not of one color. Love will also have the color you choose!

With love and gratitude,

Neuza Francisco, CLM

Mission is not an experience, but LIFE

LMC Peru

LMC Peru

Perhaps the perception we have of ourselves down here has lessened due to the greatness of the world to which we feel we are called. Perhaps, a little at the time, we have let go off things to hold on to the world, the people, and love. Already we have nothing. Nothing is ours. There is nothing that cannot be given, shared with all those who walk side by side with us. It is a lot that we are not alone, and that all that we have is shared not only among ourselves, but with the world. We are part of a whole that only has meaning in the daily sharing and the life we have and we know is joined to others.

The scenery reflects the grandiosity of our interior, the grandiosity of the little miracles of which we are only spectators, as being the grain planted in fertile soil, we are channels of meaningful life. It is not just us, but we are more than the sum of the parts. We are from God. We are his instruments, his hands, his feet, and his embrace. We are imperfect and wounded, in a world full of sorrow and suffering where in love we dare to sow the paradise of God’s love.

LMC Peru

Each morning we go out to meet the others, out of the comforts we have, of what is ours, we go to meet love. We go, hoping that on every street and at every corner we will always have two arms to help people grow with us. We are nothing, but in our humble state we are what is truly existing within ourselves. We cannot even count the lives that have already crossed ours, nor the number of smiles, tears and hugs we have shared in the simplicity of a home’s front steps. This is how it is, love deprived of superficiality, integral without color or race, simply being. And we are called daily to let it be and grow.

Each day we give our life without plans nor schedule. We offer ourselves. Many are the times when we feel that it is God himself who calls us at the door through many faces, many personal histories and people. We are available to the love aimed at us, which calls us at each moment. We are open to the call of Jesus who calls us daily.

LMC Peru

We are soil open to care for others and to the possibility of growing hand in hand in Jesus’ journey. We are the cross carried on the shoulder and arms of others who are lost and cannot walk. It is not easy. We know by our own lives that it is not easy. But this is the only way it has a meaning for us.

Mission is life, our life, their life and the life we accept and give by proclaiming a Gospel living in each one of us. With each step we are witnesses of a Jesus who wants to live in the simplicity of our hearts. It is in recognizing ourselves as family that, in each day, in each visit we offer ourselves and grow.

The soil is barren and the mountains around us are often the way home for many. Protected by the imposing presence of the Misti and the Chachani, holding to our walking sticks, we cross the limits of what we can see and off we go looking for the face of God among those farthest away. We climb and descend mountains, following contorted paths. We go beyond the physical limitations of our bodies that often demand rest. We have gone beyond our limits, in the certainty that He is our strength and our life. With the certainty that ours is the mission of carrying him and of announcing him where He already is, where His seed is already there, where God already exists, where the only thing missing is that he be remembered, named and proclaimed. We go beyond our peripheries to the peripheries of the world to be the symbol of life, of love, of Him.

LMC Peru

We do not have much. We live simply and humbly among the people of God. In the simplicity and poverty of the life we lead is the treasure in vessels of clay of our hearts: the love of God.

It is good, very good, to allow ourselves to be moved by all who have become part of our history. It is good to be a shoulder of support, to be a place of refuge, to be Neuza and Paula just as we are, and share in simplicity this gift of our life. And to help others to discover the gift of their own. We belong to what is brought to us, to those who go off, and to those who come and to all those we leave along the way. Step by step we discover mission, we are mission. We belong to a mission which is not ours, but belongs to the One who daily sends us to love more.

We are part of the Comboni’s thousand lives for the mission. Together, we rediscover new Africas, new peripheries. Ours is not a little bit, the flatlands of comfort. We go. Together we go beyond the mountains, beyond even ourselves. Together we go to meet new peripheries, where we have not yet been and have not yet reached. If you only knew, if we knew how many Africas are left to discover, how many peripheries are there thirsting for God, for his love and for the miracle of love, which is the Eucharist. This is why we are here. For this we go to this meeting of love turning our lives into mission.

In our daily prayer we discover the path to be followed, the beauty of an unending mission, without borders, without limits. He is the limit. Actually, he does not have any. We move forward in the certitude that we are not alone because we find his arms at every dawn and at the end of day. We walk knowing that we always arrive where he is waiting for us. No matter how long the day will be and the life histories we meet and involve us, often including the tears we share. Yes, Lord, here we are, takes us where you want us to be. And even if life takes us far from here, we are Peru in the same love that brought us here and binds us as sisters and brothers to the end.

From Peru with love,

LMC Peru

Neuza Francisco and Paula Ascenção, CLM

This Christmas

Navidad LMC Peru

Navidad LMC Peru

I still remember the moist smell of Christmas, the heavy dress, the bright lights, a reflection of the inner state of those who live for a spirit of greater love.

Here it’s summer and the sun brightens the magic of the smiles and of the tears shared during visits and the invitations to stay a little longer. The sun burns the landscape and highlights the humanity of a people not forgotten but rather a fighter, it shines on the heart and soul of all those who welcome me, of all those who visit.

Here I do not smell the evergreens or the smoke from lighted chimneys. Here we have the scent of humble human beings who share with you all that they have. I am surrounded by people who, by the witness of their lives, help mine grow and grow closer as we are nearer to God. It is the smell of expectation and hope that tomorrow, even with its difficulties, will be much better than today, coupled with a strong will to move forward, with a smile. It smells like a kitchen where folks are not preparing a great dinner, but rather their hearts to receive Jesus.

I have so much to learn from them.

Every day I allow myself to be moved by the witness of their lives. They are the lives of flesh and blood people, people who have nothing and share everything, who give me tears and smiles from dawn to dusk. People who touch my heart and transform me. I would not want a Christmas different from this one, because here I have met the family God dreamed for me. This Christmas I only want to be a refuge for hearts seeking peace, and God.

Navidad LMC Peru

The fact is that at times we forget that the true essence of Christmas and of life itself consists in recognizing daily that life is a gift and, what we do with it, should be a daily option of love.

This Christmas, forget neatly wrapped gifts and give of yourself, such as a time to live and share with those you love and to seek forgiveness with those who, during the year, have challenged you. From here I will walk from home to home to visit those who are alive and life giving in my days.

This Christmas may your table be plentiful, not with an infinite quantity of sweets, but with love, hope, affection and unity. This Christmas allow yourself to be the light in other people’s life and be an agent of reconciliation and peace. Allow yourself to belong to and mingle with all those you love, that together you may appreciate the gift of life. This Christmas, allow your humble heart to be the manger where Jesus will be born.

Christmas is wherever there is the courage to dream, the daring to keep alive those dreams with eyes closed. May the security of interior silence inspire you to live a discovery of God in you, in others and in the world.

This Christmas I will do what I do every day and will offer the best of me to Milagros and his children, to Marcellina, Celia, María, Valentina, Ariana and their brothers, Martin, Luís and many more to whom my heart leads me.
Navidad LMC PeruBest Wishes of a Holy and Happy Christmas

With love and gratitude,

CLM, Neuza Francisco