Greetings to all!
Moving on with the reporting on my trip to Kenya I would like to share with you about my visit to the new group of CLM candidates which is coming up there.
The group has been getting together for over a year in Nairobi. They meet on the first weekend of the month. Many of them come from the Friends of Comboni group, but in some way some of them would like to take another step forward and follow the CLM vocation.
First of all, I must give thanks for the reception I have received through this time, starting with my reception at the airport on my first day. Four members found a way to be there to welcome me. From there, we went to the home of one of them where she had lunch ready for us. A great welcome to establish a family spirit. Fr. Maciek joined us for lunch. He follows the group with the help of Fr. Claudio, whom I met later in Embakasi.
We spent the afternoon together even though I must admit that I was very tired because of the trip. After that, they drove me to the house of the Comboni Sisters of South Sudan, which is at the opposite end of the city. At that point I could see the chaos that grips circulation in a capital as large as Nairobi and that would be with me wherever I went in Kenya.
On the first Friday of the month they took me to Embakasi, outside the city and near the airport, which is the Comboni community that is the point of reference for the group and where they meet monthly.
We had supper together and shared how the week had been for each one. Thus, early Saturday morning we were able to start our meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to get to know each other better, starting with a presentation of the CLM at the international level, our history and the agreements reached at our last international meetings. All this in order to share on how the group is developing, what are its immediate tasks and spend some time on lectures, resolving doubts that are normal for a new group and looking at the challenges that will arise in the future.
They are in the second year of formation and they will soon reach an important moment. It will be time to decide and make a missionary option both at the personal and at a group level. This formation they are receiving must help them discern their personal missionary vocation, but also discern as a group the missionary options they will accept. This is what we talked about mostly. The Lord has called each one of them to be missionaries. So, this formation must help them decide the direction of the rest of their lives. If they decide to enter the CLM, they will have to see if the Lord calls them to leave Kenya and go to some of our missionary communities. But they must also discern if they are called to open a missionary presence far away from Kenya or in a neighborhood of Nairobi. For instance, for them Amakuriat and the Turkana area are important points of reference some have already visited. Next month two of the women will initiate a small mission experience there helping the health center, youth work and in general pastoral activity.
Each time the Lord gives rise to new vocations he does it to answer the many needs of the world. What is the Lord asking of them? This is what they must discern. They must keep in mind the needs and special cases that we must face in our condition as CLM being lay, single or married.
I also want to comment on the project of the sale of honey they carry out to find funds. It is something they already introduced to us in their blog and in which they are very involved. They buy honey from the Pokot warriors and thus help that community. Then they transpose it and sell it to earn something to live with, to buy what they need for the group and also to help finance the common fund at the international level. It is hard work requiring a lot of time, staying up on Saturday night or getting up very early on Sunday to fill the jars of one kg or half a kg, wash the empties that will be used to buy more honey. Then they must label them, follow the sales and keep the administration. This then brings them to do promotion in the parishes and also to sell during the week to relatives, coworkers and friends to earn something. This is a group that, from the very beginning, not only shares monthly about its activities, but also wants to contribute to our common cause.
During my last days in Kenya I also had the opportunity to chat with some of them, to know their families and their personal concerns.
It is wonderful to see how the Lord keeps on calling. A new group in Africa is, without a doubt, a great challenge for us as CLM. We ask St. Daniel Comboni to accompany it, to animate it and to fill it with his passion for Mission. “To Save Africa with Africa” is a slogan that keeps calling many Africans to serve their neediest brothers and sisters wherever they are.
May the Lord give them strength and courage in the journey ahead.
Alberto de la Portilla, CLM