Missioner Tales January & February 2016
Early Monday mornings in the village where I live in Bangladesh, I meet Mamoon, who collaborates with me in my work of helping sick and disabled children. Getting together at the Taj Restaurant for hot bread and lentils is my way of showing appreciation for Mamoon’s ongoing involvement in the works of mercy. By cell phone he helps me communicate with villagers who wish to see me. Sometimes villagers speak so excitedly I cannot understand them. Mamoon intervenes to get the information I need. Recently he purchased a used bicycle so he, like me, can enjoy good health that comes from the rigorous cycling I do to reach the children and families I serve. Last Christmas Day he was delighted to be with me at the jail, where I was privileged to shake hands with 800 prisoners while giving them each an orange. Mamoon is not my follower. We are brothers in service to the poor, Muslim and Christian collaborators.
Robert McCahill, M.M.
It was mid-afternoon when Yolanda arrived at the Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, to give birth to her fourth child. She was weary from her bus ride, but while we checked her in, she shared the fact that of her three sons, one had died four years ago. She did not go into detail and seemed relieved to have some time to rest before the evening meal.
After supper, one of the staff who remembered Yolanda asked about her son who had been born when she was in the Casa eight years earlier. Bursting into tears, Yolanda told us how “in a time of inattention, one of the farm animals accidentally injured 4-year-old Darwin Antonio and he did not survive.” Through her tears, she added, “I think that God—and Darwin, too—has sent us this baby to help take away the great sadness we have had these past four years.”
In the days to come Yolanda entered full-heartedly into the community of mothers, sharing in the care of the house, preparing food and joining daily exercises and afternoon classes on maternal and child health. Yolanda was slowly letting go of the grief held within her for so long.
Giving birth to a baby girl in early July, Yolanda said, “We decided to name her Darlene Antonia, not as a way of replacing her brother—we could never do that—but as a way of giving thanks as we remember him.”
Catherine Madden, former MKLM
During my ministry in Chinatown, Chicago, I did medical and social work translations and interpretation for new Chinese immigrants. One young couple had just arrived from China. The wife spoke no English and was pregnant with her first child. She was very apprehensive. I accompanied her to each prenatal and postnatal doctor visit. Her little girl, named Dorothy, was born with a heart defect. There were many more medical visits until the child was old enough for heart surgery, which was successful. After each medical visit, I would drive the family home and say, “God bless you and Jesus help you.” One day, the husband looked at me and said, “Sister MaryLou, I don’t know who this Jesus is whom you bless us with, but for me, you are my Jesus.”
MaryLou A. Rajdl, M.M.
Some days I come home with many bags to carry into the house in Mwanza, Tanzania, where I serve as a Maryknoll lay missioner. The neighborhood kids love to see the bags because they know that if they help me carry them in, I’ll give them a treat. One day I came home to find five little ones ages 2 to 6 waiting anxiously for a bag. They helped me carry everything inside. After putting the supplies in the kitchen, they knew to go to the guest bathroom to wash their hands. Then they all found a spot on the living room floor and waited for me to bring out a cookie for each one. We sat eating cookies together. One little girl, having finished her cookie, began laughing and playing with one of the other children. Watching her, I thought to myself what a blessing it is for my home to be filled with the sweet laughter of children.
Kristle Bulleman, MKLM
Featured Image: S.Sprague/Bangladesh