“Have an esprit de corps,” Lavigerie told us. One of the challenges we face in everyday life is the mutual support of our joys and sorrows. Ah ! If we were not only united but one; is it not the wish of every human being in his social, religious and even political life? At our level of formation with the Missionaries of Africa, this mutual support was concretized by a meeting of the stagiaires of the Province of Europe and their spiritual companions. Six members took part : Georges Jacques (Provincial Assistant and Responsible of the stagiaires within the province), Bernard Delay (stagiaires’ coordinator in the sector of France), Jesus Zubiria (Provincial Delegate and stagiaires’ coordinator in the sector of Spain), Jonas Yamba (2nd year of stage in Spain / Roquetas de mar), Moses Ariho (1st year of stage in France / Marseille) and Emile Kimembe (1st year of stage France / Toulouse). This meeting took place in Madrid from the 4th to the 6th April 2018 and in comported three parts. First a time of prayer, then a time of sharing of our apostolic experiences and finally a time of relaxation. What is the impact of the cultures of our places of stage on our spiritual, social and apostolic life? What did we learn? How were we welcomed in our sectors and communities? What are the prospects for the future? This was, by and large, the major questions of our meeting. This article will just give a general view. First we will briefly talk about the reception in the community. Then we will talk about our interviews. And finally we will talk about our time of relaxation.
It is a very strong and remarkable element when one arrives in the community of Nuestra Senora De Africa: a sense of reception almost infinite. A warm attitude, a spirit of sharing missionary experiences, a good sense of humor, a communal joy that becomes contagious, a spirit of the body during community services, etc. made our stay not only peaceful but also an encouragement in our vocational journey. One would think we are in the presence of the authors of this word: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13-35). Yes, we saw and believed. It would be ungrateful not to say thank you to the entire community.
Our meeting began on the morning of April 4th with a recollection on the theme: “managing my freedom”. Led by Georges Jacques, this time of reflection reminded us of Jesus’ freedom, which is submitted to the obedience of his Father’s will. Since the dawn of humanity, he said, man had difficulties managing his freedom. Far from being a poisoned gift of God to men, freedom is a great sign of trust and love. To be free is not to do what I want, but to want what I do, one says! To be free is to recognize myself as a limited being and thus make the choice of complementarity while respecting the differences. On a personal level, we were reminded that our freedom is at the heart of our limits. So to recognize and love them seems an asset in our life.
No time to waste ! The afternoon of the same day was therefore dedicated to a global presentation first of the Sectors of Spain and France, then of the Province of Europe and finally to the sharing of our apostolic experiences, which would end in the afternoon of April 5th. It was a time for mutual listening, support and enrichment. It was a highlight for us! Is there anything more wonderful than a free, sincere and rich exchange! Is there any encouraging time more touching than the sharing of the various difficulties encountered because of social, climatic, linguistic change for some of us! Yes, we felt very comforted by the sharing of one and the other. In addition, we also talked about some practical points regarding our training. As an illustration: the stage report, the declaration of intent, the annual retreat and the local holidays.
The time of relaxation has not been forgotten. We had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral of Madrid, the Royal Palace, the Santiago Bernabéu stadium of Real Madrid, and in a special way the Missionaries of Africa project Africa Fondacion Sur. To congratulate us for this beautiful time lived together, a dinner party was at the rendez-vous at the Ham Museum.
A joy lived and shared with one’s peers intensifies, and a difficulty experienced and shared with one’s contemporaries is softened, they say. This meeting of stagiaires organized within the Province in our favor brought us great joy and full satisfaction. We will remember the experiences of each one of us because they carry great wealth. We will remember that trust that characterized us. We will remember the advice of our spiritual companions. We will remember this beautiful welcome in the community. Not everything was said, but at least everything remains etched in our hearts. Does not St. John say, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. “ (John 21:25)
Jonas YAMBA, Moses ARIHO and Emile KIMEMBE