STORIES

 

 

Mission: Serve and expect nothing…A lasting memory of mission     

 Sr. Maria Lúcia Dias Romualdo, SMIC

Escola 044

 

I am sharing with you a bit of my experience in the African land of Angola.  Remember that Africa is a large continent, similar so to speak of a grandmother with 53 sons.  Each country has its own culture, customs, values, rites.  Angola has 43 official languages and each one has other subdivisions.

For 5 ½ years now our Congregation is part of the Archdiocese of Malange in the north of Angola.  We four Sisters are all from Brazil.  We are engaged in health care, education, catechesis and evangelization in general.

The war left many consequences, poverty is great and there are serious problems in education. 70% of the population are unable to read or write.  This, because 60% or the population are children and 50% are without schooling because of lack of birth certificates, teaching is weak and antiquated.  There are children in the 5th and 6th grade levels that do not know how to read well.  We visit the villages (areas distant form the city, where help comes from canoes, motorcycles .  We have to negotiate the land mines that although are quiet violently react when activated.  The difficulty to arrive in these places makes it difficult for the people to have work that sustains life…the majority of the people live by agriculture and making charcoal.  Produce is unable to be sold because of the precariousness of the roads.  The cost of living is very high because many items are imported.  Today we see an initiative so that the country produces its own food investing in agriculture.

A beautiful religious value of the people’s daily life is morning prayer where the people come to church to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  The preciousness of the psalms followed by the participation in the Mass.  You can imagine how the celebration is on Sundays.  It is a feast celebrating the memory of Jesus Christ with local songs in their native tongue, an infinity of languages…and the dances in the entrance and offertory processions, etc.!  The choirs have a specific mission to animate the celebrations.  The Bibles hasn’t even reached  the hands of the people.  It is an expensive item and is in need of creating an awareness about itself.

The president is in power more than 37 years.  The Country is completing “ 40 years of  independence” and 12 years in a “peace” accord.

Caring for the body and for the soul are important. The life of the people is difficult.  Typhoid fever is rampant due to lack of drinking water and even water for daily hygiene is insufficient  passing  contamination from person to person.

Another frequent illness is AIDS.  Many people are carriers of the HIV virus.  The most frequent cause is polygamy and conjugal infidelity, active sexual activity outside of marriage and also  numerous blood transfusions used to save children and anemic adults.  Accompanying Aids is tuberculosis which is rather frequent.  These illnesses are the most common without mentioning malaria.  The health centers belonging to Religious Sisters have more resources to attend people. The centers of the State lack running water and electricity and equipment to make a deeper diagnosis to better attend the majority of persons.

For me it is a great joy  to be able to share the richness of this multicultural experience.  All of this finds its basis in the life of daily personal and community prayer.  The sharing of experience, joys and difficulties help us to grow in faith and in the love for the mission which Christ has given us.

To be missionary is to live a little of the challenge of the incarnation which only Jesus  fully lived , to live immersed in the culture of the other and to acculturate oneself slowly listening to learn with them the values of faith.  It is to be as witnesses present to listen, learn from them and happy and committed that it is not important what I do, but more important how I do it and without pretense.