We can find here the sharing of sr. CARINE NGUIMEYA, from Cameroon, missionary in Italy since 2017.
Accepting to ‘die’ to ‘be reborn’
- In your experience, what are the fundamental characteristics of a missionary to insert oneself in the mission?
I am just a beginner as a missionary in Italy. In the sense that only three years have passed since my arrival in Italy from Cameroon. Therefore, in my short experience, I am convinced of the fact that the study of the local language is the first fundamental element of a missionary life, which allows me to insert in a mission.
The LANGUAGE is the first gateway to the socio-cultural universe of a people and therefore if we really want it demands to ‘undress’ oneself in order to enter progressively into the ‘new land’ and to ‘clothe’ the newness and the beauty with which the Lord is about to give us as an inheritance. It is an incredible experience though it is difficult yet it opens before us an immense horizon to explore, never thought of or known before. Learning a language also requires you a bit to change your way of thinking, reasoning, feeling and acting in the sense that you are learning not only the language itself but also it involves the entire aspect of the person.
The WELCOMING ATTITUDE is another important element that one needs to cultivate. It is to have a certain positive curiosity that pushes us to take an interest in what surrounds us, to try to know, to understand and to welcome within oneself the world around us. Therefore, being a positive, optimistic person helps one to respect the people to whom one is sent as well as remains open to encounter, to dialogue and to friendship.
I also believe LISTENING is a fundamental attitude: to be attentive, knowing how to observe and to listen to people when they share and narrate their experiences (verbal and non-verbal communication).
- What is your advice for a young missionary who is now entering a mission?
Having lived all this on my skin my humble advice for the young missionary is to accept the aspect of ‘stripping’ and to give up something of themselves in order to ‘clothe’ themselves with the new culture and the people who welcome them because it is given by God. To accept with a lot of patience and attention what is happening within yourself. To ‘die’ in some aspects of yourself which sometimes not evangelical such as (prejudices, complexes, rights, stereotypes, selfishness, and all that can be an obstacle to our inner peace and joy) and thus to ‘be reborn’ as a new missionary in that place, a true ‘promised land’. Only in this way, the seed planted in the ground can germinate and then really flourish. I, therefore, feel this ‘passage’ is as fundamental and almost as a sine qua non-condition, to become truly ONE with the people entrusted to us in freedom and in love for Christ and for His Gospel.
To cultivate a SINCERE DIALOGUE in the community as well as with a person who guides us, to whom we can rely on and with whom we often confront ourselves, who can help our journey with patience and understanding.
To LEARN truly to LOVE the people as they are in their diversity and beauty, with simplicity and dignity, to accept patiently the daily reality as it is and as it is given to us.
To have the HUMILITY to learn from others, even from the people although poor who seem less fortunate than us. It is there precisely that the Holy Spirit lives, it is there where the Lord awaits us.
To GO OUT often to encounter people, to participate in public meetings and events and to know the reality well and to get in touch with people.
- If you had to summarize in one sentence what you have learned in these early years of mission, what could you tell us?
I learned to listen, to love more, to welcome and to take care of the other in his diversity, but at the same time who, in love, becomes one like me in humanity. I learned to feel for the suffering of the people I meet, but also to rejoice and to celebrate life together with them in everyday life.
- Narrate to us about a concrete episode that seems most significant to you.
Last year during the summer 2019, I organized our socio-vocational summer camp for a week here in Pozzuoli along with two other sisters. A young girl who was willing to participate in the camp contacted me on the phone to register her name for the camp. We did not know each other, but sensing her personal desire for God, every now and then, I would send her a message or a passage from the Gospel of the day. Then one day, she wrote to me asking for my availability to meet her, because she was in difficulty and wanted to speak a little. I gladly accepted, but due to the inconvenience of work, we could not meet. We made an appointment during our camp. She came for the camp, we welcomed her, and we embraced each other with so much of joy finally to be able to see each other!
The third day of the camp, I approached her with simplicity to go for a walk. She told me with a cheerful face and full of gratitude: “Sr. Carine I feel that I am so much loved by all of you”. I really feel very happy here and for that I thank you”. These words have moved me and I thought of the letter of St. John, who proclaimed that “God is love” and also our Constitutions invite us to go… to proclaim the Gospel, so that all people will experience and discover themselves sons and daughters loved by God. Feeling freely loved by God through us, small instruments in his hands, is the purpose of our mission!
Sr. Carine Nguimeya, Italy Province