On October 12, 2020, four sisters, from four parts of the congregation, arrived in Juba, South Sudan to begin a new missionary partnership with the Franciscan Friars in Holy Trinity Parish in Juba and with the Comboni Missionaries in Old Fangak. Here they share a few reflections of their experience.
Ruth Karina Ubillús Agurto (ALC)
It is not by chance that I am in South Sudan. God led me here. I experience life in Juba as a circular movement of daily learning, adapting, loving, and embracing. It takes time to learn how to live in a new culture. What is needed most is LISTENING, listening to learn the ways of the people in order to discover together how to best love one another. I have learned that what I call my “good initiatives” are simply seeds sown. If they are to bear fruit, this will be in God’s time for God’s rhythm is motivating, not imposing. Mission is made visible in small gestures: a smile, a handshake, a greeting, a loving hug for the children.
These little human encounters open up trust, help me to be sensitive. It is amazing how the dignity of people can be restored with small gestures of love and closeness. After that, the doors open to walk and work together.
Looking back over almost two years in Juba, I am amazed and grateful for how God works in my life and that of the people. The important thing here is the BEING and that is my desire – to be a real loving presence of God who loves immeasurably. Daily, I need space in my life to make Love visible to those walking with me. … Love is the transforming agent.
Sister M. Dominica Michalke (BY)
I want to focus on the experiences of insecurity, changes, and surprises in daily life and ministry here. I am a person who likes to know ahead of time what is coming, to plan and organize things well. However, I learned that this is not a reality here.
However, I learned that this is not a reality here. You have plans – and they do not work out. You make an agreement with someone – but it is not taken as seriously as you understood it. You try to organize something – but everything takes much longer and includes many challenges. You want to do something – but things are not available. Often the reality of a lack of infrastructure contributes to the unknown.
… The challenge of dealing with this reality called me to be more patient, invited me often to let go of my way of thinking or planning, to minimize my expectations, and to try to understand how people are functioning in this culture.
Sister Rose Ngacha (AF)
For the past year and a half in South Sudan, I have been teaching Christian religious education and Kiswahili through the missionary youth movement. I also work in an orphanage which brings great joy as well as challenges.
But our call from You Are Sent is even deeper: “Our internationality challenges us to witness to unity in a divided world; to discover unsuspected ways of sharing what we have, especially with the poor and marginalized… and to search for new channels of service in the universal church.” (YAS C 26) As an intercultural community, we strive to be of one mind and one heart, sharing a deep understanding and respect for our varied cultures and world views. This is not an easy task.
Sometimes we defended our views and reached conclusions that brought discomfort to the community. But we have grown and now there is a mutual exchange of ideas and cultural own views and reached conclusions that brought discomfort to the community. But we have grown and now there is a mutual exchange of ideas and cultural norms, norms, strengthening our bond as School Sisters of Notre Dame. This has been possible only through prayer and dialogue. …
The fruits of our efforts to live as an intercultural community have also enriched our ministry. We, in turn, are daily enriched by those we encounter. As I enter the orphanage each day and hear the welcoming shouts of the children as they run to the gate to greet me and reach out for hugs, I am filled with gratitude. At that moment all my cares are left at the gate as I share my day with the children. They are a true blessing and I wonder how their mothers can live without them. They remind me of the call to come before God with the simplicity of children, to open ourselves and be embraced by our Creator.
Sister M. Teresa Lipka (PO)
Opening …giving/offering myself…to fulfill God’s desire
This is key for me.
Silence … prayer… reflection…in between everyday ministry… challenges…
God guides me through His Word day by day. It is light for me. It is consolation. …
God comes in the Eucharist… in the Old Fangak church full of people singing, dancing. God comes in the children Teresa, Teresa… young students in the school, in the village… in the people greeting each other after morning Mass…
God is at work in me… transforming me… guiding me to the fullness of life.
I offer–myself to the Triune God, to God’s people…
God brought me and leads me here… in South Sudan… in Old Fangak. . .
God is here… God leads the people here… God opens them…
God transforms them…and me.