Thursday, 2 April 2015

My Personal Experience as a Missionary Student in Uganda

In most cases, some people tend to think that being in missionary or religious life is an opportunity to enjoy life and be away from any difficulties. As a missionary, one is expected to look for the people of God as a shepherd who looks for lost sheep. Many people forget that missionary life is not about relaxation but rather a commitment to the mission of Christ.

In March 2013, I started my formation journey in Tanzania with the society of the Missionaries of Africa as an aspirant. At that time, I had never experienced anything special in this life until when I left my own country for further formation.  After completing the first stage, I was required to come to Uganda for my first phase where I started to experience a new environment as a missionary student. I found out that we were many students from different countries as well as formators, with various cultural backgrounds. This also meant that there was a possibility for us to speak different languages. This was the time for me to show my missionary skills like adaptability and flexibility. It was necessary for me to learn how to integrate and relate with other students from different countries.

My personal experience of being in Uganda as a missionary student has been accompanied by various challenges and discoveries. This personal experience as a missionary student is mainly about the culture which I found here in Uganda. In this culture, we have different languages, local and national. I have been challenged by these languages especially while doing my pastoral work. In this mission I have encountered many people who speak vernacular yet I am not familiar with such languages. In this case, I have faced challenges especially when I have to lead services at outstations. Otherwise, I have always had someone who translates what I say. As a missionary student, I sometimes oblige myself to learn a few words in some local languages so that I can convey my message with ease. However, time has been one of the hindrances to this obligation.

Another factor is food. Food is also part of culture and I sometimes find some foodstuffs which are not found in my home country. I have been obliged to eat rather different foodstuffs because of being a missionary student abroad. The way of preparing food is also quite different but I have successfully adapted to this kind of environment.

Community life is another challenging experience as a missionary student. To live together as brothers in the same house, one needs community spirit. It makes people from different countries live as relatives and also share their identity as a family. As a missionary student, it has been a new experience for me to live with people from different countries.

Perhaps, being outside of my country has been a great experience despite the many challenges accompanying it. As Jesus calls me and you, we have to respond to this vocation as a gift of the church. It is a call to serve him and his entire society.   

Emmanuel P. Kavishe