MISSION TALK-MARIA SONIA WILMA
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 HAVE ALSO LEARNT TO BE
CONTENT WITH WHAT WE HAVE
AND NOT TO SEEK UNNECESSARY
◗ 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.