Nazareth with my Bagyeli friends in Ngovayang, Cameroon

We live as a CommunityWe live as a Community

Sometimes the Lord allows us to discover hidden treasures, which belonging to everyone should be shared so that together we can give thanks to God. I have lived in Ngovayang nearly four years and during my retreat before renewing my vows I read and prayed Emmanuel Asi’s book ‘The human face of Jesus of Nazareth.’

Let's see together!Let's see together!

Like Nathanael, I thought to myself:’Can anything good come from living in the forest? What sort of formation could I receive?’ I discovered however that as in Nazareth, it is precisely where the Lord chose the little sisters to live so that they could produce in abundance the fruits of his love!

Happy to have a place just to be!Happy to have a place just to be!

If you arrive in Ngovayang with a superior attitude, as in Nazareth you can leave without making any discoveries. If however your attitude is one of openness and humility, you discover many new things, you grow as a person and you receive so much. You are then able to give to others.

I arrived there with my predjudice, my ideas on how to save the world, my image of myself as a ‘revolutionary’ and immediately I encountered rejection and humiliation. So I asked myself: ‘Why am I here? What is my place in this village?’

To know we will be cared for is goodTo know we will be cared for is good

Then I began to listen more and I started to understand how to carry their suffering, their joys, how to be a presence of friendship, a smile for those who are sad, a listening ear for those with problems and together we have been able to find a way forward.

It is where I have been able to make so many discoveries about the real meaning of ‘being poor among poor people.’

Like in Nazareth some can marvel at this simple Nazareth life and others are shocked. We must not be surprised; the life of the disciple cannot be different to that of the master!

The key is to be convinced that we are ‘beloved of the Father’ and our only preoccupation must be to do the will of the Father.

I have been able to experience at first hand this God so misunderstood in his Incarnation, because born into a poor family with no social standing. So I too am happy to belong to this world of the poor and little who cannot speak out because they have not received the same educacation.

Preparing to welcomePreparing to welcome

I have understood better the suffering of our friends from the forest who are often dispised for who they are. This friendship has helped me understand and be close to those whose whole being is looked down upon. In Nazareth 'the little' live close to God because they are confident in his Providence.

The Bagyelis are not very familier enough yet with the Gospels but they do know how to live a lifestyle where everyone is equally cared for, where there is sharing and a total freedom from material things. Even when they have obtained something after a lot of effort, they are able to share it with others or even give it away. They teach me a Gospel path. They know how to live each day as it comes even though this sometimes means not having enough and going hungry because game is hard to find. What a contrast with our society in which we hord up more than we need and leave no place to Providence.

Growing our own foodGrowing our own food

Who would believe that you could discover so many social and cultural values in the forest. It is there that I experienced  having a job and coping with its demands and rhythm and I uncovered talents that I did not know I possessed. I have learnt a lot on heath issues and caring for others.

We can enjoy the hospital surroundingsWe can enjoy the hospital surroundings

I learnt how to overcome problems that can arise when living with others in community and I also saw my vocation as prophetic when facing the increasing injustices around us.

Before leaving Ngovayang I had a last dream, to be able to go and visit one of the encampments near Bipindi where the community had lived for many years. I wanted to share with them about Christmas.

Bagyeli childBagyeli child

These Bagyeli were among some of the very first friends, four brothers and their families. We read and shared on the texts together and sang songs. The star of Bethlehem was shining through the forest  with the Holy Spirit lifting our hearts!

So now I continue my Nazareth journey in Nigeria where I hope to improve my English. It will be a new opportunity to open wide my heart!