Tales From Bolivia, Tanzania, Nicaragua & Kenya

Missioner Tales, September & October 2016

While I was driving a fellow Maryknoll lay missioner to the airport in Mwanza, Tanzania, we encountered a torrential rainfall. We made it to the airport but when I returned, I could not get through on the main road. A dala dala (public transportation van) was stuck in the mud and blocking the way. The passengers and money collector were pushing the van but could not get it out of the mud. The money collector asked me to pull the vehicle out, which I did. Then I was not comfortable driving through the mud, fearing I would get stuck, but I did not know an alternate route. One of the dala dala passengers kindly hopped into my car to direct me to the other side of town. We had to make a few detours because of the flooded streets but finally got through. One good deed led to another!
Deborah Northern, MKLM

Living in solidarity with people here in Nicaragua is for me being a bridge. I am connected with friends and family in the United States, who so willingly share both material and spiritual resources with their brothers and sisters with whom I work in Nicaragua. I am also able to share with those back home the beauty of the people here. While bereft of material resources, Nicaraguans have a spiritual depth that allows them to value the importance of people over things, something that often gets lost in more consumer-oriented societies. Over and over again, when I visit humble homes in rural communities, people offer me an egg or fresh fruit or a cherished tortilla when they have so little themselves. When I walk with the mothers here, they become my teachers as they point out medicinal plants used for various ailments. They introduce me to new birds as we catch their songs overhead. I am touched by the ways they invite me into their lives, sharing their hopes and dreams for their children. They teach me to “find God in all things and in each other.”
Katherine Madden, Maryknoll Affiliate

Each January I travel to Nairobi, Kenya, for our annual retreat and Maryknoll Society meeting. It is a chance for me to visit the Mukuru slums where I toiled for 20 years. I have a special longing to visit Holy Spirit Church. We now have 2,000 people at each of the three Masses on Sunday. When we put up our tent three years ago, the area was kind of open. Now we are surrounded by high-rise apartments. I call them seven-story caves. They are dark inside. All corridors are filled with clothes hanging from wire clotheslines. You have to watch out when you climb the steps. The cement is uneven and you often do not have a railing to cling to. Women tote water in five-gallon plastic buckets up the seven stories. The roads leading into the area have massive holes filled with water and garbage above the knees. But the enthusiasm of the people is contagious. Picture 1,500 people, clapping and singing with all their might.
John Lange, M.M.

There is a type of ant in Bolivia that is particularly vicious. These ants march side by side in long lines and devour anything in their path. It is wise just to let them be.

One day, Maryknoll Sisters serving here discovered that the ants were marching right through their living room. Not thrilled but knowing the ant march would be finished in a few hours, the Sisters went to bed.

When they awoke the following morning, the ants were gone, but the Sisters’ TV, radio and other belongings were scattered all over the living room floor. The Sisters figured out that a robber had gotten into their home at night and stepped into the ants’ path. That’s when the robbers must have dropped the Sisters’ belongings and made a lightning getaway!
Joyce Hylazewski, M.M.

Featured Image: S. Sprague/Kenya


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Missioner Tales

Tales of life in the missions around the world.