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Little sisters of Jesus in Tanzania, The Youth speak up!
With joy, I want to share with you my experience in the community of the regional house where I lived for three years as a young-professed. I was doing different services, welcoming visitors, friends and neighbours, hearing their cries and difficulties. I would carry them to God in my daily prayer. What I learned from them was their openness to me and their ability to share with me their stories. I also experienced a special relationship with my brothers and sisters, as a member of the committee in our parish that helped those who are sick and disabled spiritually and materially. I was so touched when I visited them. They welcomed me generously and shared whatever they had with me. I also shared in their suffering. They asked me always to pray for them. I participated in the "small Christian community" to share the Word of God with our neighbours. There, I experienced the importance of being with people. I am also happy with the different activities I am doing in the community, sharing my gifts with the young ones who join us. The most joyful experience was to participate in Rome in the 70th anniversary celebration of the Fraternity, where I touched the qualities of Unity and Love and true communication among us.
I am very happy to share with you my experience since my first vows. I started working at a pharmacy as a cashier. My co-workers were just ordinary people like me and I could share with them as they also shared with me their difficulties, bringing them to my prayer. My job was a good opportunity to learn more about the different remedies. Many who came to buy were calling on me to advise them; and I had to tell them that I was not a nurse, and directed them to the nurse. They trusted me to advise them well.
I made my commitment to God in the community of the Little sisters on August 14th, 2010: "My heart praises the Lord, my soul is glad, because of God my Saviour, because of the great things the mighty God has done for me, His lowly servant." (Luke 1: 46-49). Like Mary, the Mother of God, I rejoice for having experienced this Love of God, the God of faithfulness, love and patience. Just like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who followed her Son to the end, it is my conviction that my "yes." is to follow Jesus and to carry His Love to the world. The faith of the apostles has encouraged me, that in spite of my weakness and humanity, Jesus says to me, "Come, do not be afraid. I will transform you."
With all the people from so many places who were present in this celebration, my parents, brothers, sisters, friends, even those who were far have encouraged me a lot by their prayers and witness. They have brought me to an experience of the real meaning of "I chose you, and I am sending you to the world of today." This is what I felt while standing in front of this crowd. Yes, it is because of the Love of God that I am saying YES.
In faith, I pray that the Will of God and His Spirit will guide me in this mission. I thank all of you for supporting me with your prayers. "I bless You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children. " (Mt 11:25).
My experience in the novitiate since I came to Tanzania is good. As the climate here does not differ much from that of Kenya I did not struggle to adapt. The food and the Kiswahili language are the same.
I became very interested in reading the Bible and enjoyed our study times. I was moved to learn of the journey of the Israelites, how God, filled with mercy, care and compassion walked with them from Egypt to the Promised Land. During my seven-day retreat, I had a good experience of silence and of listening to God in my life.
The seminars, such as: human sexuality, discernment, African spirituality and communication helped me to understand myself better and also other people and enabled me to learn how to relate with those who are from a different background. The seminars also helped me to understand about sin, grace and freedom. Living in freedom, I should be able to listen attentively to my conscience when making big decisions in life. Taking more time to pray gave me a greater interest in prayer. Gospel sharing helped me to understand and to deepen the Word of God. Community living and the review of life helped me to understand myself in areas of my short-comings and in areas of my strengths. By having an attitude of receptivity, accepting the correction of others and also being able to point out to others what surprises or hurts me, increases good relationship and growth. On one occasion when I was much quieter than normal, I thought it over why and this helped not only myself but the others as well.
I am happy to learn new skills: candle making, rearing chickens and rabbits.
When I arrived everything seemed new to me, and I was lost for about two or three weeks. In the community, even though we spoke English, I took time to understand the others. Our way of living however spoke to me of universal love. This will help me for my future, wherever I may be.
Here, people are very simple and kind. In the beginning, I did not know how to greet the other in kiswahili, but I just gave them a smile. Often, I remembered my experience at Tre Fontane, at the General house. Little sister Jeanne the first companion of Little sister Magdeleine told me that there is no language for love, and it is true. I do sense peace here in the Community, and that we are united.
In Church, the Christians are very faithful. They come to Mass and pray with their whole person: that is, singing and dancing. I also have been challenged to be a prayerful person. I am not saying that I do not know how to pray but I have deepened and understood more. Prayer is the foundation; it brings me closer to God. And that helps me grow in faith. I believe that Jesus lived 30 years in Nazareth to do small things, and me, too, here and now, I've lived that by looking after, the chickens, irrigating our garden. I am glad about the choice I have made.
It is a good moment to thank God and all my sisters for what I have lived during this time of novitiate. I learned many things from the others: love, cooperation and unity. In community, I learned how to express myself when there is a misunderstanding, also how to be open to share my opinion, especially during reviews and meetings, which helps me to grow and to understand the other. The prayer life, especially adoration and Gospel sharing, helped me to meditate more and to reflect what the Word says to me. The seminars we received have been very helpful to me, because I learned more about discerning well, interacting with others, having good relationships and knowing more about myself and understanding others.
Our neighbours are very friendly and free to come and visit us. We often go to visit them on Sundays. They are welcoming, generous, and loving and ready to interact with us. My work was to care for the rabbits, chickens and also irrigating, which was a good experience for me. With all of this, I am happy to be here in the novitiate; and I ask God to continue to help me to be a good instrument of love, joy and peace wherever I go.
I thank God for what I have experienced here in the Arusha novitiate: I have learnt new things such as setting up the irrigation for our garden, even though there is a lot of competition in getting water. It is a fight for survival! I got to know many people and made many new friends. In caring for the rabbits, I took time to admire them, talk to them and give food to them, even though they did not produce as I had expected. Going round to search for rabbit food in the neighbourhood also gave me the opportunity to meet different people and I experienced the friendship and the love of our neighbours who are always ready to help. For example, one of our neighbours helped us to sell sugar cane.
Our small Christian community is another beautiful experience in which we meet with other Christians to share the Word of God and pray together. It is a joy for me to hear how some Christians are gifted in sharing the Word of God. I am challenged by how they are "concerned for the welfare of each member of the group. Joining the youth who come to share the Word of God every Monday, I count it as a blessing to be with those of my age, to share about the realities of life relating to the Good News of the Bible.
Community life is also a blessing. The noviciate was my first experience of living for a long time with my women of my age group in one community. Each one's participation can make the community very lively and beautiful. The prayer life in the novitiate has enriched me spiritually. The most precious times for me have been our days of prayer and times of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
There are three Communities of the Little sisters in Tanzania:
Inspired by Brother Charles...