A REFLECTION FROM THE HEART OF AFRICA
Rev, Fr. Raul Tabaranza, MCCJ
This is a reflection from my friend and brother, Rev. Fr. RAUL TABARANZA,MCCJ, a Comboni father who is serving the LORD in the African mission. He wrote this last Sept 14-15, 2009. When I was a postulant in Calamba City, Kuya Raul was a novice of the Comboni missionaries in the nearby hill.
I am writing full of imagination in my mind on how a missionary should behave in the eyes of God. I also take into consideration the celebration of yesterday- the Triumph of the Holy Cross, and today, a special day for our Lady of Sorrow. Forgive me therefore, for my scattered thoughts, for I am always writing freely straight from my heart.
The soul of this poor missionary in the heart of Africa is very much grateful to God for the many things granted on him. He offers himself but also thankful to God for the reward. At times, the reward is suffering- the scourging heat of the sun, flu and malaria, headache and sleepless nights in the villages and many more. Yet, this soul is very much triumphant for he sees all of these as gifts, not punishments. He has understood that trials and aridity in spirit are actually privileges, given to a soul who loves to suffer joyfully. He has learned the art of joyful suffering.
When I was in Kasweta, 180 kms from our mission, in the middle of the jungle, there I saw the real expression of suffering- no school no clinic, people dying of illness. They have to walk 3 days crossing 5 mountains in order to reach the hospital. Many of them die on the road. Women had to pound maize every day, to grind them by stones, no money and more. Yet, in their faces, they manifest joy and happiness. They have strong faith though abandoned for 8 months because of the rain and flood. They are unreachable by that time.
I have seen what simplicity of life is, I have witnessed what it means SORROW, yet I could not describe it. Sorrow is only in the heart, and the heart has its own language. Yet, I am convinced that it is good for us to feel sorrow, for ourselves and for others. It has an impact when your heart feels for people. Your presence among them is itself a comfort, I can attest that.
Yes, I am this soul, vulnerable, nothing at times, but I suffer joyfully. My heart is in deep peace and tranquility. I have learned the art of serenity, that is to offer my activities and life and ministry into the hands of the Lord.