To leave everything and to go
I am a Cameroonian, from the ethnic of Bamiléké, second of eight children. My daddy, now retired, worked in the military as a guardian of the prison. My mother is a vendor and housewife. When I was nine years old, since my father’s salary was insufficient, with my brothers and sisters I was also selling the seasonal fruits and vegetables at the bus stand. Then my daddy was transferred to North Cameroon. At that time my elder sister and myself were not baptized yet.
When I was studying at the elementary school, one day I met a Christian girl and we became friends. She talked to me about her prayer life at home, of her activities in her parish with the little ones (She was participating in the Catholic Action Movement) and came every Sunday to call me to go for the Mass. Her practice of faith made me to feel something that I did not have and I missed. One Sunday she took me to greet the sisters. I never saw them so close by, in their long sky blue colour habit and white veil. I said to myself they are like the angels! That day something moved in me, but I kept it to myself. I started to observe them when they were with the children, teenagers and young people… They were very fascinating!
When I was twelve years old, I started to go for the catechumenate classes with my sister. During the three years of preparation for baptism, I was inspired by the life of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. After the Mass at 6 a.m. in the morning, I saw a priest going to the villages and returning back only in the evenings or even days later. On Saturdays, even though he used to be tired, he directly used to come to the church for adorations and confessions. I began to ask myself, but who are these men? Why did they leave their country to come here? Who are these priests so committed working for us, for the people in the extreme and difficult places always, without complaining, enthusiastic and joyful? Yes! It was their missionary passion that had shaken my life, but I did not know which name to give to this turmoil.
At age of fifteen, I received baptism with my sister from that priest who impressed me so much. Meanwhile, difficulties have arisen in the family, and they were hard to be handled by myself alone. I felt uncomfortable, so I went to speak to a sister who advised me to speak to God in prayer and to tell Him what I was going through. But after a few months I went into crisis. I could no longer tolerate the pressure from my family and in deep sorrow I began to cry aloud to God that paradoxically brought me closer to Him. I often went to the church to pray. One day I was very upset, I went to the church and I knelt down with my eyes fixed on Jesus on the cross and I said, “Jesus who are you? Why are you crucified on this wood? Come down from the cross and do something for my family and me. “Coming out of the church, I met the sisters and priests who returned from the village tired, but joyful. All these things impressed my heart: my family, the dedicated and enthusiastic life of those consecrated persons.When I was eighteen years old, I moved to the South with my family at Ambam. The departure and detachment were not easy for me, but at the same time it remained in me as an experience of faith and mission which I lived. My parents said to me to stop to go to the parish activities and to concentrate myself in my studies. I obeyed them for three weeks, but a voice within me was disturbing me, saying, “Carine, you can not stay indifferent to what you have been living!” It was a strong voice that I could not resist. Then, secretly, I searched for the sisters and presented myself to sr. Regina, Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate, and I spoke to her about my desire that I was living: I wanted TO BE like the sisters, but TO DO as the priest whom I knew. Sr. Regina gave me two books to read about the life of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate. When I read it, I felt something had touched me and clarified my desire from what I was searching for and feeling inside of me: This is what I want: TO BE A MISSIONARY… OF YOURS! And three days later I went to share it with Sr. Regina with whom I started the journey. By re-reading my journey, I see that Jesus visited me and left something greater in me. This is the Good News which I want to speak out to all of you!