By Sr. Saba Embay
My missionary experience I have lived in these almost 20 years sharing my faith and my life has helped me to experience the love, kindness and tenderness of God manifested through the many people He has put before me. Irrespective of the fact that missionary life is not all roses, there are also spies, I have seen more roses than thorns. The difficult times were well assumed with the help of God’s grace and mercy as they have been a learning experience that drives me to grow more in Christ, humanly, spiritually and also to mature my faith by looking at the life of St. Daniel Comboni and our first sisters, comparing what was being done to carry out the Lord’s command “go all over the world and preach the good news …. And I will be with you all the days until the end of the world“ (Mt 28,19-20).
After a year of my religious profession, I was destined to go to Mexico. It was my first time to hear about it and I was scared. Neither did I know where to locate it on the map. And when I inqured about he language they speak, the more I became frustrated and emotional. All along I thought they would only post me to an Englsih speaking nation where I could work wherever I wanted but this totally changed. After a couple of days and reflection, I decided to go to Asmara to talk to the Provincial to show her how annoyed I was and surprisingly, I had completely forgotten about the virtue of obedience. However, the Provincial was not available and I only spoke to the vicar who was my formator at the postulancy. She calmed my heart down and informed me that I shouldn’t worry about this as they were going to speak with the general director.
I returned to my mission with the hope that my destiny would change.
However, I was made aware that one cannot carry out missionary work from the country where she has studied the language and studio porofessional from. I was left with no choice but to depart for Mexico as my final destination. I recall, on the day of arrival, I entrusted myself to the Lord because I did not know even a single word in Spanish nor the country. I only convinced my self to say “thank you” to everything that was asked of me! But knowing a little English has helped me a lot on the trip. However, with my native language no body could understand. The first year was meant for learning the language and gradually assume the cultural shock, after continuing with the academic study for 4 years 6 months.
In 2003 I was assigned to the mission where I was very much awaited with great joy to an indigenous zone (Maxaticos) Jalapa de Diaz. This is found at the south of the country and my main work here was mainly to work with the youth ministry and formation of leaders, provide catechesis classes to the children and also visit the sick and elderly. I have had a beautiful experience migling with with all kinds of people. This has helped me to feel like a saint and like St. Daniel comboni, as everyone has had the same access in my heart; the young and the old, the poor and the rich, the sick and those in need because they all have the same cause.
For sure I have also benefitted a lot from them. Their way of life is so simple, kind and they are too close. I feel I have not only opened doors to their homes, but also their hearts. It is at this point where I also understood that to evangelize, is to know how to enter the heart of the people. In 2006 we delivered the community of Jalapa de Diaz to the local sisters – the Daughters of Good Shepherd and we transferred to the community of Teutila to the closure of Oaxaca, which was a completely different reality from that of Jalapa in many ways. In this New community, at first it cost me a lot to adapt and read the signs of the times and there were many needs and realities that needed our attention.
I together with the diocesan Father and a Sister did a reality analysis by visiting all communities and listening to the People. This helped us to decide where and how to start at the same point, which was not easy at first with other communication problems and means of transportation. There were no adequate roads, and we had to use a lot of money from one community to the other and somewhere we used to foot or ride on horseback. Most interesting was the great interest and thirst of God that people had. It gave me greater great satisfaction despite the tiredness and despair because the situation. It was something worthwhile and fulfilling.
My experience in Vocational Training and Missionary Animation: When I was asked for the Vocational Guidance service, I was very happy to accept it, because I was very much involved in the mission of the Oaxaca Teutila closing because I knew very well what it meant to work in this field and I did not want to leave the mission with the indigenous Cucatecos since we were just trying to organize in different pastoral fields and my desire was to give it continuity. However, the provincial superior instructed to look for someone else to take up my position and I was thus transferred to another service in Mexico city. Thus, I had to leave my beloved mission with all its beautiful people. In performing this service of the OV, God has manifested Himself that He wanted me to accompany, and guide the lives of the young women by discovering their vocation and to respond to God’s call with serenity and generosity in their personal project.
The collaboration with the Comboni family in the few times we have done Missionary Animation and also in some occasions vocation promotion has helped me to work with confidence and with the sense of familiarity with the same ideal and language that we express according to our Comboni charism with the sense of fraternity with an ideal of being able to open new ways to respond from the gospel according to the reality that challenges us. The collaboration with the local church and missionaries is to work together and this has developed within me and my vocation as consecrated for the mission today.
A strong ecclesial sense and to work with a purpose that is for the construction of the kingdom of God from here and now fighting together for the well being of the person and wanting to live in an environment full of peace, love, solidarity and justice with a desire to reestablish a more humane, just and fraternal society that deserves to restore its dignity to the people who suffer the most just as Jesus Christ did. For me to work in an intercongregational group with its multiple colors and flavors has been a very beautiful experience that has helped me to express the richness of the church that has challenged me to live my vocation faithfully and to represent my Comboni missionary charism with great clarity, feeling great Responsibility for the trust that has been given me and also trying to give the best of me with much passion and enthusiasm for this very delicate and upright but beautiful service.
I thank the Lord and my sisters in the congregation for this opportunity and trust that they have given me. It has truly been a personal and vocational growth and fortifying my faith. It was also a moment to live my missionary consecrated life with love and dedication. Has allowed me to perform. My invitation to all the people who are going to read this article, to strive for something that is worth and very important, because the one that costs a lot is worth more and not to be afraid.
The Lord has made our life for the mission pure, merciful and lovely. I confess that the missionary life has made me become part of my beloved people of Mexico: leaving a family but finding a family that looks at me as a daughter! You find friends who are so close and full of trust. This only calls for God’s intervention and guidance through his paths to bring the Good News to all humanity in need. I encourage you to evangelize with joy as Pope Francisco says in his document.This is the life lived and shared with my dear brothers and sisters from Mexico who have given me much more than what I have said. It is true of what Saint Paul says “there is more joy in giving than receiving”.
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