A Seminarian’s Reflection from the Amazon

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Human beings are God’s language. If you want to hear God, you have to hear God through the people.

We Overseas Training Program students experience mission with a people, a cultural community. The missioner and the welcoming community learn from each other as God mysteriously evangelizes both of us.

[The Amazon region we visit] is home to the Mojeño, Chimanes and Yuracaré Indigenous groups, who live from the land and are mostly hunters, fishers and gatherers. Meeting the people of these communities helps us to develop greater sensitivity to the importance of culture in mission.

During the weekend just after Pentecost, the Santísima Trinidad community holds a big celebration of three days to commemorate their founding. The celebration includes colorful cultural dances and honors the creator and protector, the Most Holy Trinity. The Eucharist is its key event. In addition, families take this opportunity to introduce their sons and daughters to the Christian family through the sacrament of baptism. 

Our faith in Christ and confidence in mission is strengthened when we are blessed with seeing the Christian faith manifested through the traditions, customs and heritage that still exist in the Indigenous cultures of the Amazon. For the people living there, this is the heartbeat of their existence. 

Coming from Africa, I could not be any happier than experiencing this simple, humble and kind encounter of life in the Amazon. We miss our homelands. We miss our families. But joining in Christ’s mission and experiencing life with the communities here gives us a taste of home and family in these beautiful and blessed fields afar. 

That is what mission is all about: sharing in and listening to the stories of others though they are different from us, and ultimately learning the beauty and richness hidden in our cultures. Mission is always about God’s beautiful language: human beings.

Featured image: Maryknoll Seminarians Lawrence Mutiso (far left) and Leonard Kabaka (far right) meet with youth from the parish and community of Santísima Trinidad in TIPNIS, a protected area of the Amazon in Bolivia. (Adam Mitchell/Bolivia)


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About the author

Leonard Kabaka

Maryknoll Seminarian Leonard Kabaka, of Kisii, Kenya, earned a bachelor of science degree in history and Swahili at Kenyatta University. He took his first oath to the Maryknoll Society in 2022 and is currently completing his overseas training program in Bolivia.