Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Little Successes

Success in missionary life is almost impossible to actualize.  Especially in the process of transition, it is difficult at times to determine which way is up and down, much less whether or not any of the activities of daily life can be deemed effective in any small or large way.

After two full weeks of settling into Maridi, I started getting used to the rhythm of life here, teaching a few classes and participating in daily oratory, living a life packed full of smiles and handshakes, name learning and games.  I thought my efforts were going relatively well-- though of course their results were in no way tangible.  It was mid- last week, that Father John Peter exclaimed to the community during evening announcements, "We should all be very proud of Grace and Caitlin, they have really begun their mission work today!"

I was caught off guard in the moment and thought to myself, What does he mean?  I've been teaching and playing with the children so much in the past weeks.  Hadn't I done everything he'd asked of me since I'd arrived?  I couldn't even recall what I had done new or different that day.

And he continued, "Today they taught songs in the school and played football with the girls!"  Oh, right- we had taught a new song to the Class 6 and initiated the girls' soccer team that day.  The whole community clapped.  And then it dawned on me.  Yes, just like we learned in orientation: Mission is not about doing, but about being and loving.  Yes.

Featuring my amateur guitar and vocal abilities and less-than-impressive soccer skills that day, while definitely some of the most enjoyable parts of the day, were far from what I considered the epitome of being a missionary.  The Gospel story this morning of Martha and Mary becomes all the more applicable.  I am Martha- my mind has been focused on what I was assigned to do- becoming the world's best English teacher or never missing a minute of any scheduled event.  No, what Father felt was most the most important thing that I could do for these children was to be Mary- to offer simple moments to just be with the children and to love them.  Skill and expertise were not the aim, but the amount of heart I could pour into my work.  This is where true "success" lies,  not only in mission but in the very essence of life.  Once again Mother Teresa's voice echoes in my heart, "You can do no great things, only small things with great love."

Some new friends from Class 6
This week I have also begun teaching a Scripture class to Grade 6!  I never anticipated teaching, but it's quickly become a highlight of my time here.  A few days ago, I asked one of the young seminarians in the community, Emmanuel, how his classes were going and if he enjoyed teaching.  His response was: "Yes, Jesus was a teacher, and we are called to follow him."  This has stuck with me ever since.  The nursing will come in its time, but meanwhile, I get to love children, help them learn something, and follow in the footsteps of the Perfect Teacher.  I teach one 40 minute period from Monday through Friday to 42 students, ranging from ages 12 through 19.  Only three classes in, and honestly, I already love them.  A lot.

I must admit that despite the language barrier and the moments of frustration and hesitation that naturally come each day, I am so deeply and peacefully happy here.   I strive to live simply and intentionally in every moment I'm blessed with here in South Sudan.  Jesus, help me to love.
"We must begin with love, continue with love, and end with love." -St. Francis de Sales


  1. Way to go, Gracie! With prayers.

  2. Hi Grace,
    greetings from Slovakia, a small country in the heart of Europe. I visited Maridi a year ago as a member of salesian development organisation SAVIO. It is so great to read your posts, read about your enthusiasm, your effort and achievements. Thanks a lot for your loving presence there, amongst the God's little ones. And thanks for sharing all this with us, who cannot be there personally but we keep those we met there in our hearts and prayers.
    I wanted to ask you for a small help - could you take some photos of the newly built hospital in Manguo and send them to my e-mail hola@savio.sk? We want to distribute them to our benefactors who helped to build it.
    Thank you very much!
    Take care. And may God bless you and guide you in whatever you do.
    Love, Klara

    1. Absolutely, Klara! Thank you for your kind words. I'll send you the pictures as soon as I can! God bless you!