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.
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