Today is the seventh day since we arrived in Zambia. We have been truly occupied with the experience. Thus far, my experience of this mission immersion is enriching. In this blog I would like to share the experience of the past few days, during which we did intense traveling in automobile. Firstly, we drove from Lusaka to Mongu, then from Mongu to Kalabo, and then from Mongu to Shangombo, where I am currently posting from.
Besides the rugged terrains which make traveling hard, our experience in the communities we visit seem to be worth the effort.
Since we arrived, we have been staying at the prenovitiate residence in Lusaka. The place is nice and very accommodating. This “luxury” was only temporary; in the words of Fr. Jim Chambers, OMI, we were only being acclimated, for the true mission was yet to come. It indeed came. It took us approximately eight (08) hours to drive to Mongu after a transmission issue with the minivan we are using. The combination of bumpy roads, and the three-hours wait for car repair taught me patience; For the six years that I have spent living in the US, I noticed that this virtue is rare, within the busy, overly planned and scheduled routine of the American culture. There is certainly something valuable to be learn from unplanned occurrences. I realized somebody else is in control of this thing, we call ‘time.’
Our next trip took us to Kalabo, a remote district where the oblates have outstations. The road to this location is extremely sandy and required a 4WD truck. When we arrived at Kalabo, the youth of the village received us with traditional songs of welcome. The songs, were accompanied with traditional African musical instruments such as drums, and clapping… we felt welcome. Having grown up in Africa, I can certainly confirm that hospitality is one of the values of this land. Strangers become part of the community once they have arrived. This value is even found and recommended in scriptures.
Finally, we drove to Shangombo, which was the most tiring of our journeys so far. Fr. Pius who is one of the community member at the Shangombo Mission Centre drove halfway to meet us, since his truck is more fitting for the driving conditions. The way to Shangombo is made of small villages of farmers, shepherds… the people happily waved at us as we drove by. Shangombo Mission Centre is right on the border with Angola. In fact, the zone where we are residing was once a refugee camp for those who fled the Angolan civil war. According to Fr. Pius, OMI, the Shangombo population is mixed with Angolans and Zambians. The Angolans brought their rich heritage of the catholic faith as taught by Portuguese missionaries. the catholic community is very alive in the words of Fr. Pius.
Today, Brian, Mike and I took approximately three miles hike though the winding paths of Shangombo. Shangombo is a beautiful country with little development. The sense of space and time is notable. In the coming days, we will be paintings the restrooms in contruction for the parish – St. Leopold- We are excitingly the experience here till we leave next Wednesday.