Comboni Lay Missionaries

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

A Part of me is called Peru

LMC Peru

LMC Peru

I often think of the meaning of the lives that crisscross my journey. I often think of the conditions where we meet and how simplicity brings us closer.

I could list a countless number of situations I have already experienced here. Some were mastered, while others will keep on ripening until I will understand them.

Many lives are already part of me, and many are the smiles that belong to me, the hugs I do not avoid and renew my strength. With the intention of just dropping in, I spend hours to no end conversing on the doorsteps. For me, mission is timeless.

The doors of our house are open, doors that open to receive the greatest joys of passersby and welcome the sufferings of those who seek refuge from us. They ask of you the only thing you have to give, yourself.

LMC Peru

When night falls, that is when I like revisit my day and, even though often I fall into tears, they are tears of contemplation of the marvels God is working in me and, through me, it’s impossible to ignore it, and not thank God for it all. Many a times I see, countless times, the little miracles and signs that have reached me through these people who are now part of me.

Mission is hard, and you would lie if you said otherwise. Mission is arid, here, where the landscape is covered with the roofs of what is left of homes close to be disintegrated by the strong wind.

In August, part of a year’s work falls apart, when nature blows so strongly that it is impossible to resist. Without fear, they roll up their sleeves, without giving up, and even though what they have is little, nothing is stronger than the will to move onward.

I am not lying, mission is hard. At time it becomes cruel, it hurts. You see the suffering in the eyes of these brothers of mine and the helplessness in the face of what they have to bear with.

LMC Peru

Many are the times when I simply listen, give a hand, my shoulder. Many are the times when we smile together, as we share this love of God so concrete and free. Many are the hugs, the hands shaken. Many are the moments of silence and mutual commitment, in the simplicity of sitting on the ground and be one with them.

Yes, mission is hard. It is in this hardship that I met the deepest meaning of my presence on Peruvian land. It was in this arid land that I placed my dreams and my hopes. In this little corner of the world that I pray daily for the integrity and the rights of people similar to me, created by God. It is a constant state of being fragile and be integrated in the simplicity and humility of those who have nothing. Without expecting anything in return.

Mission is hard, but this is the mission I always dreamed of, this constant discovery of who
I am and of what I am doing here. It is to know that I am nothing and often see how miracles just happen, naturally. It is trust that makes us flesh of the same flesh.

A little at the time everything falls into place, a little at the time everything happens simply, not in human but in heavenly times.

With love and gratitude

LMC Peru

CLM, Neuza Francisco in Peru

The beauty of the Imperfect Mission

LMC Peru

LMC Peru

“The greatness of the mission does not belong to us, but rather to the One who sends us,” Fr. Ivo.

A year in mission. How much time fits in this lapse? How many lives have been held in our own? How many arms were linked with our arms? How many lives have we given? And how many have we received?

We stopped planning our lives to allow life to direct us, to allow God to touch us and the people to meet us. We allowed ourselves to be met just as we are, with our wounds, scars and imperfections.

This is who we are, and this is how we embraced our mission, together and imperfect. We walked in the certainty that “we are all wounded and through these wounds light comes in.” We never wanted to be perfect. Instead we allowed God to touch our imperfections and through them lead us to our brothers, who are now our friends and neighbors. Today they are our family.

The beauty of an imperfect mission is in us, resides within us. Beauty is not in the moment you realize that you and your life are the mission, but rather in the ability to walk on your own little by little without fear letting your wounds, scars and frailties be part of what makes you who you are, an essential part.

Then mission become a solitary journey, with yourself, a journey of two, because you know that you were chosen for a greater love, a journey of three, you, God, your neighbor, in the certainty that the other exists to walk with you.

It allows you to be, to know yourself a little better to let yourself be discovered a little at the time, and join to your neighbor always ready to proceed together. And together, hand in hand with God, we reach the other and the other deliver you in an imperfect, complete fashion.

It is this journey of three that we meet our neighbors, our brothers. They become our home and journey together. They are the people who, in imperfect ways, complete us, make us grow. It is in being imperfect that we keep on meeting others, moving on and growing with each person we meet. This way, mission is not only teaching or learning, but rather growing together, knowing that the union of our imperfections results in the perfection of the whole.

This is the logic of God who made us in such a way that we need others in order to love, be, live and be happy.

LMC Peru
Paula y Neuza. CLM Peru