I vividly remember the day my sons, Joe and Paul, drove me to MSP airport, sending me off with their loving hugs and kisses. As I turned and walked to the security line, big tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks, knowing I might not see them again for three years, as I set off on the first leg of my journey to Damongo, Ghana for mission work.
One year later and I have so much to be thankful for!
First and foremost, I thank God! I thank the Father for putting the call to mission in my heart. I thank Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for speaking to me through the people I am encountering on mission and I thank the Holy Spirit for the gifts of courage, patience, humility, understanding and peace that have helped me to maneuver through the differences in culture, tradition, food, beliefs, and way of life.
I am so grateful for my children, in-laws and grandchildren: for their excitement for me in taking the major step in following my dream, their emotional support, their sacrifice in giving up three years of family holidays, eating brunch or dinner together, visits to the beach or going out for ice cream, birthday parties, my homemade cinnamon rolls and French pancakes, or just dropping by to say HI and catching up on each other’s lives.
I thank Lay Mission Helpers Association, for accepting me into their program, for providing me with a comprehensive formation and training program, preparing me spiritually and culturally. I am thankful for the classes that helped me to understand myself, who I am and how I interact with others. I thank my co-missionaries and LMH Veterans who helped me through formation and for ongoing support throughout mission by sharing stories and experiences.
I can’t express adequately, how grateful and thankful I am for my co-missionary, Karen Hunka, who is here in Damongo with me. She has helped me navigate through this first year – which I have been informed is typically the most difficult year of the three. We experience together the different types of food, the tribal languages, cultural differences, extremely dry, hot weather, large and numerous bugs and insects, tiny ants that seem to invade everywhere, and the lizards that decide they want to make our living room their home. Karen is always available when I need some one to talk to or to run a problem by. I can count on Karen for her creative ideas, hard-work and generosity.
I thank my siblings, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles and cousins for their love and communications via Facebook, email and letters. I thank them for their many prayers and unconditional love and for believing my mission is a call from God and supporting me throughout, though it might not be something they would ever do.
I thank my friends: my Church friends, my family friends, my work friends, my neighbors, my Cameroonian community friends, my Facebook friends. I thank my friends for understanding why I had to leave and follow God’s call. I thank them for their spiritual and emotional support – via prayers and for their social support via Facebook posts to keep me abreast of what is going on in the United States.
I thank everyone who has helped to support my mission financially, through donations to LMH and sending of care packages.
I thank the people of Damongo for welcoming me with open arms, open minds and open hearts. I thank the Diocese of Damongo, Bishop Peter Paul, many priests, religious brothers and sisters for their friendship and spiritual guidance. I thank the Bishop for providing me with a comfortable home, for placing me at St. Anne’s Girls Senior High School (SAGISS) as a teacher, secretary and storekeeper.
I thank Headmistress Pauline, who is not only my boss but also my friend who explains the “Ghanaian way” to me. I thank my fellow teachers, the non-teaching staff (bursar, matron, security, cooks, laborers, drivers) who support my daily life, and of course, I love the wonderful, sweet students who are always smiling and who make me smile.
It is amazing to think that one-third of my time in mission in Ghana has already passed. I have had so many new experiences. I have encountered many wonderful people; they have welcomed me and have accepted me, allowing me to become more comfortable in their homeland. I have seen the beauty of God’s creation here in Damongo – the diversity in the landscape, the animals, the people.
2020 is a new year and I have dedicated this year to the Blessed Virgin Mary, my spiritual mother. I will strive to grow in my relationship with her so she can guide me to make decisions that will help me grow in holiness, humility, purity and love. She will draw me closer to her son, Jesus Christ, so I can radiate His light to those I encounter.