Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sister Beatrice, our Visitor from Zambia

We have had a lovely week-long visit from our Sister Beatrice, a Kenyan Daughter of St Paul currently stationed in Zambia. She was able to come to the US for a conference (the best kind: all expenses paid!); the funders threw in an extra stop anywhere in the States, and she asked to visit our Boston community. I've enjoyed hearing about her assignment in Zambia (nine years, so far), where there are currently four sisters in the community serving a country of 12 million souls. Two other sisters associated to that same small community actually serve in Malawi where we are not yet officially established (and where the sisters' bookstore is a shipping container).

It has been fun hearing Sister's reactions to the US and the ways we do things here. "It truly is like another planet, another world! I like the houses; they are very homely. But there is so much concrete everywhere!" We are well past the peak of an admittedly incredible New England autumn, but there are enough golds and burnished reds left to have inspired quite a few photos! "I had seen pictures of trees like that, but assumed they were painted. I didn't realize those colors were real!"

Sister also participated in the Mass for the profession of vows of our brothers in the Institute of Jesus the Priest (see yesterday's post). The event was held at a retreat house in a woodsy patchwork of towns just outside of posh Wellesely. Naturally, we used GPS to find our way. That brought another amused observation. "Here you never see people walking from place to place." ("That's true," I said, "people only walk for exercise.") "In Africa, there are always people along the road. If you need to know how to get somewhere, you just wave to someone and ask for the next step toward your destination. But here, there is not even a person to ask!" Sister knows whereof she speaks; in Zambia, the sisters are constantly on the road bringing their boxes of books to school and parish book fairs. They always get where they are going; all they have to do is ask.

Sister Beatrice revealed that she had first planned to enter the Comboni sisters, and was working with their vocation directress to see where her talents would fit in with their ministries (primarily healthcare and education). The would-be sister said that she really desired to work in the area of journalism.  "Then you need to meet the Daughters of St Paul." The rest was history. She made her first vows in 1997 and prepared for final vows in Rome with our Sister Tracey, making perpetual profession in 2003. It has been non-stop ever since, but it won't be non-stop on her travels back to Africa...

This afternoon begins the twenty-hour trip home. Please pray for safety for Sister Beatrice and her fellow-travelers, and for blessings on our mission in Zambia and Malawi.

No comments: