88th day, 1012 to go
The “AFRICAS” AROUND MY TABLE. I have moved to the Comboni parish of Our Lady of Fatima! Everything is new… new schedules, new food, new room, new COMMUNITY! Now I live with three African Comboni priests: Fr. Moises, Fr. Jean Michel and Fr. Romain! They are all African but from different types of Africa: Fr. Moises is Ugandan, had to learn French and Sango, has more experience than anyone else and he is charge of the parish. Fr. Jean Michel is from Togo, only recently arrived in the Republic of Central Africa, and is learning the reality, the life and the customs of the CAR. Fr. Romain is Central African, just ordained, speak fluent French and Sango, is learning to say Mass and will be sent to Guatemala on his first mission assignment. Uganda-Togo-CAR are so far off “AFRICAS” that it’s like living with a Russian, a Frenchman and a Portuguese. To say that they are Africans is a generalization, because they all have their own ways… it is not easy to be a COMMUNITY, but AROUND THE TABLE we joke, laugh, chat and speak of the problems of the various “AFRICAS”… There is a good rapport and brotherhood in this little corner of our “AFRICAS”!
May 22, 2017
95th day, 1005 to go
MARTIAL, THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Martial is a young man of the parish, he is 28, a catechist of Confirmation, and moderator of the AITA KWE group. This week he has also been my GOOD SHEPHERD, who accompanied me to school by “paths tranquil and safe.” The parish is near the Muslim neighborhood called “Kilometer 5” where in the “troubled” days they had some “small” problems. Martial, like the GOOD SHEPHERD, ensures tranquility and safety along the short walk to school. In the afternoon the parish is full of young people studying, women praying, children having fun, people looking for the fathers, but often it is a rather silent life or without too much noise and at times I have had the feeling that everyone is waiting for something. I hope it will be a waiting filled with hope and peace.
May 28, 2017
101st day, 999 to go
AITA KWE = “All brothers and sisters” is a parish group of adolescents and pre-adolescents. They wear a yellow shirt, green pants or skirts and a green scarf with a yellow border. Together with Fr. Moises and Martial I went to their retreat-formation day. When we arrived, they were reflecting on “my life project: my good points and my weaknesses.” After the reflection, they had some fun, a Mass celebrated by Fr. Moises and then a common meal of bread, fish, and manioc mush. All together like brothers and sisters!!! When it was time to leave, we loaded on Fr. Moises’ pick-up all the backpacks, the pots, the empty water drums, and a few tired little girls who had a hard time standing up, while the group line up by twos and, with drums beating, marched back to the parish (a two hour walk!!!). It was just like the days in my parish at the “oratorio” of Osio Sopra (or Basiano) with the catechism children and youngsters… also the pastoral life of the parish of Our Lady of Fatima is active and fervent with many people involved in the service of the community!!!
June 2, 2017
106th day, 994 to go
IN A FLASH: Tomorrow from 8:30 to 10:30 I will have the final evaluation of my second French course… in a FLASH…Anna will pick me up at school, we will go to the parish to load my luggage which I already packed and we will leave…IN A FLASH… for Mongoumba…a journey of five to six hours. After only 20 days, this will be another move…up to now I have kept to my “navigation route”: to arrive quietly in the CAR, to take time to adapt, to study French…now I begin a new phase of my journey: to learn Sango and to adapt to Mongoumba!
I haven’t sent you news in a while, but in the parish there is no internet connection and it will be the same in Mongoumba, at times even at Comboni House I can’t connect to e-mail and it becomes difficult to communicate with you, but this is one of the objectives of the journey!
I have yet to have my first malaria attack and haven’t yet met unsurmountable problems, perhaps I lost some weight (Fr. Alex says that I lost my extra Western pounds), but my appetite is good and the fathers continue to encourage me to eat, because food helps us to keep healthy. Time is going by fast…in A FLASH…106 days have already passed since my arrival in the CAR!!!
Greetings and hugs, a kiss and a prayer and THANKS…