Maria Sonia Wilma shares her experience during the African Mission training in Uganda.

Maria Sonia Wilma is a 13th batch fulltimer, currently residing in Qatar with her husband Antony Dino and son Eloi Antony. She is actively involved in Jesus Youth and is part of the present GCC (Middle East continental) team.

In 2010, the Jesus Youth Middle East Team   prayerfully decided to reach out to Africa.   After some initial exploratory visits to Uganda,   providentially, contacts were developed with   Bishop Robert Muhiirwa of Kampala Diocese   which led to a step by step growth in setting   up a base for Jesus Youth in Uganda. In   2012, Rajesh Moses and his family moved to   Uganda for a long-term mission commitment   and was instrumental in organising many   initiatives and trainings in various dioceses   at regular intervals. This subsequently led   to other families and youth taking full time   commitment for the mission in Uganda from   2015 onwards. As a result, JY has an active  presence in 5 dioceses in Uganda with an ad-   hoc National Team consisting of young leaders  from Uganda to coordinate all JY activities.  


The Jesus Youth GCC team, realising the   need to spread greater awareness of this   beautiful mission among the leaders in the   Middle East countries, decided to organize a   training for selected leaders from the region.   We had 23 leaders from various Middle East   countries and around 15 leaders from Uganda   to attend this training from April 28th to May   3rd at the Daniel Comboni center in Kampala,   Uganda. I was blessed with the opportunity to   attend this training with my family.

◗ On April 28th, Santosh Mathew and Subin   Jacob along with the ad-hoc team for JY   Uganda provided a detailed overview on how   the African Mission was initiated and has   matured till its present stage today. It was   really inspiring to hear how we decided to   not take the easy route in gathering people   by offering material goods like many other   groups, but instead, focused on identifying   a few young people and accompanying them   unconditionally as they encountered Christ   and began to follow Him. It has taken several   years for this mission to reach thus far, but   from the sharing’s we heard, it was evident   that we have a bunch of strong and committed   JY’s who identify with Jesus Youth for the   right reasons – their love for Jesus and the   movement! This is undoubtedly the Lord’s   work and is marvelous in our eyes!

◗ For the next 2 days, on April 29th and 30th,   we had Kibii Maiyo from Kenya providing us   with very effective and practical keys on how   we can witness to our faith among people from   other religions. Kibii is an excellent teacher   and led us effortlessly through each of the   sessions addressing all our questions with   clarity and charity.

◗ A pilgrimage was organized during these   days to the Martyr’s Shrine with a special mass   celebrated by Bishop Robert Muhiirwa, who   was also attending the training. Bishop Robert   was one of the first shepherds to support our   mission in Uganda and has played a significant   role in developing it to what it is today. His   presence was also an unwavering sign from   God on the role our movement has in the   formation of Youth in Uganda. Bishop Robert,   in taking time out of his busy schedule to be   with us for each of the sessions and actively   participating in all the activities, clearly   demonstrated to us how much he values the   movement’s contributions in Uganda.

◗ The participants then had the opportunity   to go on some outreaches to a few villages in   the adjacent dioceses over the next 2 days on   May 1st and 2nd. We all had heart-warming   experiences as we met with parishioners at a   parish, engaged with children at a primary school   and prayed with a few families below the poverty   line at their homes. We had brought some used   clothes, books and toys and distributed those at   these villages as well. We found the people very   receptive to the gospel and vast is the need for   laborers in this vineyard!

◗ We also had the opportunity to animate a   diocesan gathering of approximately 40 youth   leaders at Lugazi Diocese and introduce the   movement to them. We met with Bishop Paul   Ssemogerere and the Youth Chaplain of the diocese of Kasana-Luwero as well. We had   a very positive interaction with them and   heard their feedback and expectations of the   movement for the youth in the diocese. Bishop   Paul gave us a brief overview of the challenges  the people of Uganda face like polygamy, live-   in relationships, victim mentality leading them  to think that they always need help and hence   getting stuck in poverty. We all agreed that the   best solution to all these challenges is Jesus   and stressed on the need for an ongoing faith   formation in young people. 





◗ We also found time to experience the   beauty of the country. We visited the source   of the river Nile at Jinja by taking a boat   ride. We had split into 4 boats and one of the   boats got stranded close to the source due to   failure of the motor. Thankfully, they did not   have to wait too long and were rescued by   one of the other boats and made it back to the   shore safe and sound. The bus journey was   long partly due to the unpredictable traffic,   and hence gave us ample time to pray, share   and sing songs along the way.  

I was obsessed of using iron to straighten   my natural curly hair. This reached to an extent   that it had a negative impact on my confidence   especially when meeting people with straight   hair. The heat on my hair caused severe   migraines yet I was not ready to compromise   with straightening my hair. During my stay   in Africa I saw the ladies with minimal hair   on their head which had this rough texture   and they admired my hair. This opened my   eyes and made me realize how blessed I was   with what God had given me. As soon as we   returned from Africa I went to the salon and   cut of the 2-year-old permanent strengthened   hair which had gone half curly and half straight   and decided to keep what I am created with.

As a family we have decided to give most of   our time in the missionary activities specially   on our holidays and weekends. We have also   learnt to be content with what we have and not   to seek unnecessary worldly possessions.