Last night around 7:30, we made arrived safely in Lusaka at the pre-novitiate residence. Fr. Pat, OMI welcomed us in, and we settled in rather quickly.
Today, all of us have been invited to reflect on the trip as a whole, and so here I go…
One of the common questions that people would ask me before I went on the Zambia trip is “are you excited.” I would usually reply that I was very excited, and that I was not lying. I just want to clarify that even with the orientation that took place in Washington D.C., I was not entirely sure what we were going to be doing. With that in mind, before going on this trip, I really wanted to rely on God’s loving guidance to take care of us, and to provide us with the strength needed to do God’s will.
This trust was quickly relied upon in our first couple days when I experienced first-hand, how much I take for granted. Some of these things include, the access to food and water, electricity, and the access to good transportation, let alone good roads. One of the big differences that I noticed early on was that in the U.S. lifestyle, much of the day is planned quite thoroughly, and usually followed through. In Zambia, I had the great opportunity to re-learn planning, and timing, and how the whole day would go. I had the opportunity to expect the unexpected, and to be joyful… Even when things such as the car broke down on our way to Mongu, when the car was delayed about 30 minutes on our way to the mission church in Siholi, and when I had stomach problems at one of our mission churches… Simply put, we certainly would have plans for the day. But I had the great experience to let God provide for us, when surprises would occur.
One of the treasures of the trip that I will try to carry with me was the great joy of the people, and a great admiration of the beauty of their music and liturgy. Though I could never understand the songs being sung at Mass, the beautiful and unified harmonies was something that touched me.
Also, as I will be entering my third year in the pre-novitiate with the Oblates in the fall, I was curious to see how the Zambian Oblates would be, and what life would be like in the “missions”. To this note, I am incredibly grateful for all of the Oblates who we met for their hospitality and for their openness to share their culture with us. Though the culture was different, I still felt at home with the Oblates and was overjoyed to experience once again the Oblate family. I also was inspired by the Oblates’ generosity towards the people, who on a regular basis travel some distance, on questionable roads, to serve and to be present to the people.
I am incredibly thankful to God, to the Oblates, and to our benefactors for blessing me with this experience. I am also grateful for Fr. Jim, OMI, and Pedro, Miguel, and Teko, who have journeyed with me.