Happy Advent! I pray God is blessing each of you in every way during this beautiful season of anticipation and expectation.
When I daydream, night-dream, think about the kids at any random point throughout the day, I sometimes catch myself mid-thought, forgetting color in my mind's eye. When I recall the memories I’ve made with the children, I subconsciously see no distinction between us. There have been several moments when I have been among and interacting with the children, gotten a quick glance at my arm, and been genuinely surprised by the color of my skin. The eyes of my heart has become blind to the worlds that separate us. I forget that they have been through war, that they’ve all tragically lost parents and siblings, and that they aren’t going home to electricity, a toilet, or enough food. I am not ignorant of their many needs, but when we play, they are simply my friends. I feel so much a part of them, a member of their community and family, that the lines dividing us have so beautifully blended together. It's a strange realization in these moments that I am coming from a completely different world than my sweet little friends, because our hearts are so much the same.
"You have made us for Yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
Let me next apologize for the lapse between entries, blogging has been ever on my mind these weeks, but a free minute to accomplish the task has been impossible. So many BIG things are happening at Manguo Mission in Maridi, keeping us all so busy! I will attempt to take you quickly through all of them!
|Our Beautiful Sisters!!!|
The sisters have finally arrived! They are a perfect addition to this family here in Monguo Mission. Three sisters have joined our ranks, all of them young, energetic, personable, motherly, affectionate, tender, nurturing, adorable, and deeply holy. I love them so much! Our laughter is constant. One more sister will join us before Christmas.
The Hospital here at our mission was inaugurated with a massive celebration on November 20th. We had government leaders and politicians from all over the state and even some from Juba and Khartoum travel to Maridi for the event, in addition to the 1500 villagers who gathered for the event. If blessing our beautiful, new health facility wasn't enough, as Bishop Eduardo was celebrating the [five hour long] Inauguration Mass, he took a moment to administer the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation to ninety of our school children- twenty-two of whom were anointed and brought into the Catholic Church from the Anglican rite. What a gift for our Church! The whole day was beautiful and profoundly impressive. Two moments of greatest impact for me occurred as the dignified guests gave speeches after mass. First, the Minister of Health shared a powerful message, commenting on the health care statistics in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State being among the worst in the entire world, and he then praised the Salesian order for being part of the “solution to this problem.” He continued on to parallel the new nation as a “one-and-a-half year old child with a handicapped mother” and called the Salesians “the good neighbor, who comes to aid the child in his time of great need.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude and profoundly humbled to consider myself among the Salesian family after hearing this strong word of praise.
|Receiving the Sacrament of |
Confirmation during the
The hospital is now inaugurated, but it will not function for several more weeks. We are still in search of a doctor and laboratory technician, and all our medicines and equipment need to be purchased from Uganda. Slowly things will come together, in God’s timing!
|Loving my students|
|Sister Grace at work in the office!|
Our Diocese is preparing to celebrate a Centenary of Faith. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until 100 years ago that the Catholic Missionaries of St. Daniel Comboni arrived in Western Equatoria State to introduce the people in this place to the person of Jesus Christ. A massive week-long celebration is taking place in a city called Mepoi, within our Tambora-Yambio Diocese. The community here will be traveling the 9+ hour journey on Monday for the celebrations. I don’t know what to expect, but it should be a once in a lifetime experience! When will I ever again experience a place that has only known Christianity for 100 years?
Thank you for your continued prayers, and know of mine for each of you. On this great Feast of Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Conception, may she wrap you in her Immaculate Mantle and send her holy angels to guide each step you take. Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!