The missionary life takes us to so many cool places in the world! I took this photo from a plane while flying from Nairobi, Kenya to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and I have shared it in several newsletters. It was a very clear day. Having spent many years serving in Tanzania it was a special treat to see snowcapped Kilimanjaro early in the morning standing majestically over East Africa at 19,341 ft.
As you can see it has two peaks. The tallest one with snow is named Kibo while the second on the lower left is Mawenzi. In the distance on the upper left of this photo there is Mt. Meru at 14,967 ft. located some 60 miles away.
The sight of snow on a mountain near the equator in East Africa has always amazed me. To me it symbolizes a major characteristic of the missionary vocation, namely a spirit of adventure.
When we leave the familiarity of our homelands we venture into new territory with different languages, cultures, customs and ways of life. We go to share our faith with others in a spirit of love and, at the same time, we open ourselves to learning so many new things from the people we encounter there.
As we adapt or enculturate in this new setting we establish friendships and learn so much about ourselves in the process. We are always on a search to discover and cherish God’s face in the faces of others. Centered in the Catholic faith we give of ourselves and receive so many graces in return. This is the gift of Maryknoll’s participation in God’s Mission, the gift of a missionary vocation and ultimately the gift that brings great joy.
In the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2:17 St. Peter is preaching and quotes the prophet Joel stating: “God says: “I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.”
Seeing visions and dreaming of a better world, a world filled with God’s love for all humankind; this is the vision of Maryknoll. So we are looking for visionaries and dreamers.
Give the dream a chance and recognize that perhaps God is trying to speak to you. When you think of spending your life in other cultures, learning new languages, and giving of yourself in service to others, I hope you feel both excitement and some trepidation because you will be forging out into something new.
Never be stymied by the challenges presented in life. Rather, be close to God in prayer, follow the teachings of Jesus and take the steps necessary to find the place where God calls you!
You and so many others like you are needed in today’s world. The message of God’s love for all people is so important. It needs to be preached not only in words but in the actions of our daily lives. Each of you is a messenger wherever you go and in whatever you do. But, you still need to take some steps in the direction that will fulfill the dreams that have brought you in contact with us. So, don’t be stymied by the challenge. Rather, dream on and make the dream a reality!