by Sr. Sheila Campbell Ireland 30.09.2023
Written over sixty years ago by one of the early MMMs, the following article resonated with me. The name of the actual author was never published. I could almost have written the same words about my life and ministry in Brazil. The language would be a little more modern, and frustrations with information technology might replace the “blankets”, but the underlying message about happiness remains true to this day.
“I often ask myself, ‘Why am I so happy on the missions?’ I am very far from home, far from my family and friends whom I love dearly and miss deeply. Continually I am faced with situations which, with startling clarity, reveal the appalling depths of my own inadequacy. Learning the language demands a constant and often unrewarding effort. Dust, flies, and mosquitos do not add to the enjoyment of life. We are chronically short of money. Transport is always fickle and often hazardous. Conditions in the hospital are far from ideal; last week we had 88 patients but only 76 beds and were down to ‘the last blanket’. I know the bishop lent us beds and we managed to buy some blankets but gone is the erstwhile feeling of ‘having everything under control’.
Admittedly, it does not add up to what should reasonably make one supremely happy. Yet, what is it that makes the life worthwhile? What gives it an inner glow? – the feeling one should have if permanently in love and beloved. What is it that sustains it?
Isn’t it the fulfilment of these words, ‘Behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.’ (Matt 28,20). Nothing less, I think, could be the answer.
I have watched other missionaries contend with many serious difficulties; Christians who do not practice the faith, church ruined by a hurricane, another cut in a government grant, failing health, misunderstandings and all the inevitable vicissitudes of missionary life. Yet, in spite of all, one can always sense a blitheness of spirit, an indefinable atmosphere of peace.
‘Go ye forth, teach all nations’ is a tremendous assignment and would well nigh overtax weak and weary mortals were it not for the following words ‘behold I am with you,’ bringing consolation and encouragement beyond all dreams. It is a life so full and satisfying and to which no other can quite compare.”