Missioner Tales January & February 2015
During my 22 minute-walk from Medi Aid hospital to a school run by the Maryknoll Sisters in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a short and energetic fellow stopped me on the street. He said his name was Bacchu and he wished to take my photo. He intended to show it to his boss, who he said was casting for actors to make a documentary film.
“I am not a Bengali!” I repeated to him several times. “No problem,” he assured me. He spoke very fast and I was leery of his purpose. But, he was nice enough, so I let him take a few mugshots. Bacchu then attempted to explain the project more fully, but he never overcame my skepticism. Needless to say, I do not expect to be called to appear on Bengali television.
Robert McCahill, M.M.
Suffering with a lot of pain, Mariamu came early to the clinic in Mombasa, Kenya, where I am a doctor serving with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Mariamu was an elderly Muslim woman who was upset because an insect had crawled inside her ear earlier in the morning. She couldn’t get it out and said it was biting her.
I looked into the ear and, sure enough, the insect was wiggling. A retired German doctor who had built the clinic proceeded to clean out the ear with water, but nothing came out. At the same time a retired Irish doctor showed up and confirmed what we saw—something big lodged in Mariamu’s ear canal. With three doctors in the little clinic, I felt we should be able to do something.
I went to my medical bag that contains useful tools I’ve collected over 30 years. I found my alligator forceps and put on my headlamp. The nurse and Irish doctor held Mariamu’s head while I proceeded to pull out a blob, which I later realized was the insect’s abdomen. The nurse rinsed the ear with water again but still not much came out. So I aimed my forceps and got out some legs. The nurse rinsed again and now I could see the critter clearly. I grabbed the thorax and pulled out an insect about one inch long with two wings on each side. It was still wiggling.
Mariamu was instantly relieved and thanked me profusely. I just said thanks be to God I had the necessary tools and eyes good enough to see what was biting and wiggling!
Susan Nagele, MKLM
Serving as a Maryknoll lay missioner in El Salvador, I would walk each day to my ministry site. Often a man who obviously had mental health and alcohol issues would join me as I walked. I could not understand much of what he had to say and was impatient to get to the office, so I did not pay much attention to him.
One day, noticing that I was brushing him off, he said to me, “I am not asking you for money. The only thing I ask from you is respect.” His words made me realize that I was in mission to serve the poor and disenfranchised, but by not giving this man a little attention, I was not fulfilling my mission. From then on, I was more conscious of listening and giving respect to all people I met.
Deborah Northern, MKLM
I was in Arusha, Tanzania, in a bus station waiting for a bus to Mwanza, another Tanzanian city. There were many people and the buses were always full. One young woman waiting with me said, “Don’t worry, Sister, my nephew will climb through the window of the bus and we’ll get a seat.”
Sure enough, when the next bus came, people ran for it and then we saw her nephew waving at us from the back of the bus. I went through the front of the bus and when I was in the aisle, I looked to see where he was seated. All of a sudden I was picked up and horizontally passed from one person to another toward the young man. All the while I kept exclaiming, “Oh! Oh! Oh!” Once I was safely seated beside the woman and her nephew, all we could do was laugh.
Bibiana Bunuan, M.M.