Missioner Tales, January / February 2018

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In the March/April 2017 MARYKNOLL magazine, I wrote about a Guatemalan man, Antonio Perez, whose cataracts were so thick he was totally blind. Dr. Luz Galindo, the local eye doctor, and I worked to cure his eye infections and got him scheduled for cataract surgery. But three days before the operation, his wife Andrea came to tell me his face and mouth were twisted, he couldn’t close his left eye, and he couldn’t chew his food! It turned out he had Bell’s palsy, which causes loss of muscle control on one side of the face, but most people recover in about six months. We rescheduled the surgery.

I phoned Antonio’s wife Andrea the day before the surgery. “He says he won’t go!” she told me. Fortunately Miguel, the young teacher who went with Antonio for his eye exam last year, convinced Antonio the operation was just on his eye, not the rest of his body. The next morning I dropped Antonio off for surgery, but more complications occurred. The electricity shut off, and the doctor had to wait for a diesel electric generator. In spite of all the setbacks, the surgery was successful. Two days later Antonio went home.

The most rewarding moment for me came when I stopped the car near Antonio’s house. His young neighbors ran up asking, “Can you really see?” Pointing his finger right at them, Antonio said, “Sure I can see; I can see you!”
Bernice Kita, M.M.


When my husband Erik and I were living as Maryknoll lay missioners in Issenye, a rural Tanzanian village in the treeless Serengeti plains, Maria, a Watatulu woman, delivered milk from one of her cows to us daily. One day Maria came to our house for tea. As I showed her pictures from a New England calendar, Maria was surprised by the number of trees and asked, “Did God plant them there?” I responded, “Yes, God did plant them.” To this day I reflect on her profound question.
Margo Cambier, MKLM


On the island of Wotje, in the Marshall Islands, where I served as a Maryknoll sister, I walked over to church one Sunday to find a toddler outside all by himself. Little Lee struggled to get his sandals off before going inside, as is proper here. Then he crawled into church, found a chair near a cousin and again struggled to get up on the chair. He just got settled when he looked out the window and saw his papa sitting on our porch reading the newspaper. Lee struggled back off the chair, into his sandals and crossed over to his papa. He grabbed his papa’s hand and led him to church. This time, his papa took off his son’s sandals, helped him into church and sat him on his lap. A very contented young boy had brought his papa to church!
Carolyn White, M.M.


In Mwanza, Tanzania, where my husband Chris and I were Maryknoll lay missioners, children loved to greet us in broken English as we approached our home. One day I pulled up and a young girl, maybe 5 years old, was playing outside our gate. “How are you?” she asked. “I am fine. How are you?” I responded. “How are you,” she asked again. I responded in English that I was fine and then explained in Swahili that she only needed to greet me once. As I drove into our yard, the girl told her little brother. “How Are You is putting her car into the yard!”
Katie Reid, MKLM


Recently in our Catholic Church at the United Nations camp for internally displaced persons in Malakal, South Sudan, we celebrated the 13th anniversary of the drama and cultural dance youth group called “Kwasha,” which in the Shilluk indigenous language means prayers. This group of 60 Catholic youths expresses through dramatic presentations, songs and dance the prayerful hope for peace in South Sudan.

The group had baked a small cake that was shared by over 600 people, which speaks volumes to me of their generosity.
Michael Bassano, M.M.


Featured Image: Father Michael Bassano in South Sudan.



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Missioner Tales

Tales of life in the missions around the world.