A final reflection of the trip

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.

Mosi oa Tunya Park & all

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These are the mounds of rocks that people crush into small pebbles with simple hand-tools
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“The boiling point”- a picture of the rapids on the bottom of the falls

image imageToday was a blessed day. We were able to visit Mosi oa Tunya Park (Victoria Falls) which was a great experience. Since Teko and I both have lived in Buffalo for the past 2 years and have experienced Niagara Falls, we didn’t know how it was going to be. Both of us, were certainly in awe of the scenery and of God’s handiwork… Even though all of us were quite surprised when a baboon approached Pedro(the baboon wanted Pedro’s Sprite, so Pedro gave it to him, and we continued on).

Since we had been in Shangombo for about a week, it has been an interesting to transition to a city again. One of the clear realities of the city that I saw was the existence of slum-like conditions just a mile or two away from highly developed neighborhoods. This is quite different than the country areas where the people in the villages are for the most part equal. Additionally, our time in the city has given me a better understanding of the struggle in parts of Zambia to maintain their tribal culture and way of life or to conform to the western culture.
Tomorrow, we will go on a wild-life tour in the morning, before heading back to Lusaka until we return to the U.S.A. on Monday.

It has been a great journey, thus far. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us on the last few days before we return.

Experience with Shangbombo Parish

After a morning and the early afternoon dedicated to painting the newly created bathroom of the parish,we had the opportunity to visit with some of the groups of the parish. The first group we spoke to was the choir. During this time, Pedro taught a simple song in Spanish, and the choir taught a simple song to us. Then, we spoke with some of the members of youth group, and joined the younger group of kids praying the rosary.

Finally, after the group activities were done, we began to play soccer with the guys… This was something where interpreters were not needed. Pedro and I played for some time with the kids and many of the barriers were broken down.

Although I have experienced  the differences in culture and language(even the English language; the kids were laughing at our accents at first), today was a beautiful day where I saw the family of the Church in both prayer and in soccer.

Thank you Jesus for a blessed day.

 

Oblate Radio Lisele Monday

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Today was a quieter day as we prepared to head to Kalabo tomorrow and for our longer experience in Shangombo. In the morning, though, we had the opportunity to visit the Oblate radio station (105.3 Liseli). We arrived, and firstly, participated in the Mass that was aired on the radio. It was inspiring to be in a celebration that could be experienced by so many people who were unable to go to Mass because of a lack of transportation. We also had the privilege to be interviewed on the radio, about our lives in America, our experiences with the Oblates, our experiences of Zambia so far, etc.

Upon going to the radio station and being interviewed, it forced me to reflect on this experience as a whole. We have already been in Zambia for almost a week, and it has been a quick week at that. We have traveled to various Oblate places, along different urban and rural centers, along Zambia. Yet, it dawned on me today, that we are almost a third of the way done, and our time here is going to continue to go fast.

However in the midst of my feeling of my limitations, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here, to use my strengths and weaknesses for Jesus, and to be with the people and with my fellow journeyers: Fr. Jim, Miguel, Pedro, and Teko. It has been a real blessing to experience a new culture, with different languages, ways of being, and to experience the simple joy of the people.

Fr. Jim told us from the beginning that our main aim should be to receive from the people more than what we give. I hope and pray ,this evening in Zambia, that we will continue to be open to the seeds planted within us during our travels, and that God works through us to plant seeds in the people we encounter.