We can find here the sharing of sr. CARINE NGUIMEYA, from Cameroon, missionary in Italy since 2017.
Accepting to ‘die’ to ‘be reborn’
- In your experience, what are the fundamental elements of a missionary lifestyle, which allows you to get into the mission?
I am just a beginner as a missionary in Italy. In the sense that it’s only three years since I have come to Italy from Cameroon. Therefore, in my short experience, I can say that the first of the fundamental elements of a missionary lifestyle which allows me to get into a mission is studying the local language.
· The LANGUAGE is the first gateway to the socio-cultural universe of a people and therefore, if we really want it, we have to ‘undress’ ourselves in order to get progressively into the ‘new land’, to ‘clothe’ the newness and the beauty that is encountered there and that the Lord is about to give us as an inheritance. It is an incredible experience although with a few difficulties to face, which opens up an immense horizon to explore, never thought of or known before. While learning a language you also need to change your way of thinking, reasoning, feelings and acting in the sense that you are learning not only the language itself, but also other important aspects.
· Having a WELCOMING ATTITUDE is another important element that one needs to cultivate. It means having a positive curiosity that encourages us to get interested in what surrounds us, to get to know, understand, welcome within ourselves the world around us; therefore, being a positive, optimistic person who has esteem for the people s/he is sent to and remains open to encountering, dialoguing and building a friendship.
· I also believe that LISTENING is a fundamental attitude: being attentive, knowing how to observe and listening to people when they tell their experience and how they tell it (verbal and non-verbal communication).
- What are your advice for a young missionary who is now entering a mission?
Having experienced all this on my skin I can suggest accepting the ‘stripping’ and giving up something of yourself to ‘clothe’ yourself with the new culture and the people who welcome you as a gift given by God. Accepting – with lot of patience and attention what is happening within yourself – ‘dying’ in some aspects of yourself sometimes not evangelical at all (prejudices, complexes, rights, stereotypes, selfishness, and all that can be an obstacle to our inner peace and joy ) to ‘be reborn’ as a new missionary in that place, a true ‘promised land’ . Only in this way the seed planted in the ground can germinate and then really flourish. I therefore feel this ‘passage’ as fundamental and almost as a sine qua non condition, to truly become ONE with the people entrusted to us in freedom and in love for Christ and his Gospel.
· Cultivating a SINCERE DIALOGUE in the community and also with a person who guides us, on whom we can rely and with whom we often confront, who can help our journey with patience and understanding.
· LEARNING TO LOVE and truly loving the people as they are in their diversity and beauty, with simplicity and esteem, trying to accept patiently the daily reality as it is and as it is given to us.
· Having the HUMILITY to learn from others, even from the people although poor ones who can seem less fortunate than us. It is precisely there that the Holy Spirit lives, it is there where the Lord awaits us.
· GOING OUT often meeting people, and participating in public meetings and events to now and deepening the reality and getting in touch with people.
- If you had to summarize in one sentence what you have learned in these early years of mission, what could you tell us?
I learned to listen and to love more, to welcome and to guard the other in me in his diversity, but who, in love, becomes one like me in humanity. I learned to dwell within me the suffering of the people I meet, but also to rejoice and to celebrate life together with them in everyday life.
- Telling us about a concrete episode that seems most significant to you.
Last year during summer 2019 I had animated our socio-vocational summer camp here in Pozzuoli along with two other sisters for a week. A young girl who contacted me on the phone to register her name for the camp. We did not know each other, but every now and then, I would message her with a positive thought or a passage from the Gospel of the day sensing her desire for God in her personal search. Then one day she wrote to me asking for my availability to meet her, because she was in trouble and wanted to speak a little. I gladly accepted, but since we could not see each other due to inconvenience of work, we made an appointment during our camp. She came for the camp, we welcomed her, and we embraced each other with so much joy finally be able to see each other!
The third day after a meeting in the morning, I approached her with simplicity to take a few steps with her and walking she told me with a cheerful face and full of gratitude: “ Sr. Carine I have never felt so loved as I am now by all of you”. I really feel very happy here and for that I thank you”. These words have moved me and I thought of the letter of St. John, who proclaimed that “God is love” and also our Constitutions invite us to go… to proclaim the Gospel, so that all people will feel and discover themselves sons and daughters loved by God. Feeling freely loved by God through us, small instruments in his hands, is the purpose of our mission!
Sr. Carine Nguimeya, Italy Province