“I am a missionary for all and not only for Catholics. My being in the Mission in this part of Africa has educated my senses, my thoughts and my actions. I have passed from being a missionary by words and deeds to being a witnessing Missionary by way of life”. A Comboni Sister, Onzizuyo Betty tell us her story.
It seemed as if everything was in the opposite direction; cars moving on the right, books being opened from the right, even writing was from right to left, moreover, weekends on Saturdays and Sundays were non-existent.
This was my instant feeling when I arrived in Egypt for my first missionary experience in 2014. My name is Onzizuyo Betty, a Comboni Missionary Sister. I am originally from Arua Diocese. I came in contact with the Comboni Missionary Sisters in 2008. That day, I found the reason for my being. I joined the Comboni Sisters in 2010 and made a journey of discernment in the formation houses in Kenya and Uganda respectively.
In 2014, I made my first religious profession and I was assigned to Egypt Province to study Arabic. Although difficult, I gave my best to learn it, knowing that language is the key to opening the door to any given culture. I am currently in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. Khartoum is located at the confluence of the white and blue Niles. Although Islam is the predominant religion, there are a variety of Christian denominations and sects in the country. Arabic is the official language.
I work at Comboni Girls School Omdurman. Comboni Schools are not like any other schools: they are Catholic founded schools in which quality education is provided. In Khartoum, there is a very cosmopolitan nature, with people from all over the world. As a result, our School has learners from different backgrounds: rich and poor, Sudanese and foreigners, Christians and Muslims. All of them present a mosaic of cultures.
This diversity other than discouraging us is the force that makes us unique and brings us together as a family, the family of Comboni School. We all journey together, interacting and collaborating for one common cause, Comboni’s plan to “Save Africa with Africans”. In Egypt and in Sudan, I have learnt an important lesson: “the impact of being.” Being in a place involves the whole human person: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. I have very few opportunities to share my faith openly as we do in Uganda. Most of the time, I am a missionary with my testimony.
I am a missionary for all and not only for Catholics. My being in the Mission in this part of Africa has educated my senses, my thoughts and my actions. I have passed from being a missionary by words and deeds to being a witnessing Missionary by way of life. As a teacher, I am in continuous contact with young people. My interaction with the girls in the school has taught me that I play an important role in modelling their lives.
These little ones remind me now and then that I am not only a teacher, but a sister and many times a mother. It is not rare that even Muslim children come to us for spiritual guidance and nourishment. I remember one occasion on which a pupil came to me crying because she had lost the lid of her bottle of water. She was afraid that her guardian would be upset because she had lost the lid. Although I couldn’t help her find the lid of the bottle, I encouraged her to face the situation.
Together, we looked at how much God loves us and how he is merciful even when we make mistakes. We are valuable and nothing compares the love He has for us. Then, I asked her to pray in the way she knew best before telling the guardian about the lid, to be calm, humble and honest when time to talk came. The next day, the girl came back. She was happy to give me the feedback on how she presented the whole issue. Her guardian understood her so easily as never before. I learnt from this little girl to trust in God, this trust can change people and situations for good.
Living in a society that is predominantly Muslim with minority Catholics and Christians of other denominations has taught me a number of things. First, the readiness to be. Before landing at my destination, I had to set my mind and heart to be there totally.
Then I had to see, accept, learn, understand, to live, to love and appreciate what life presents to me in all its variety of ways. Personally, Islam and its practices have helped me to deepen my own Catholic faith, to love it and to witness to it in a more vibrant manner. I came to Sudan with mixed feelings and yet this is turning out to be my “first love”. I cannot describe enough the love shown to me by the people of this blessed land. I am grateful to the Lord for such a blessing.