Chris Colaco shares his experience of mission during his fulltimership in Uganda.

Chris, it’s great to have you share your mission experience with us. Can you tell us about yourself?

My Name is Chris Colaco, born in Mangalore, did some of my schooling in Bangalore and Dubai, and in 2005 when I was 11 we as a family migrated and settled in London, UK. I’m the only child in my family.  I’m currently pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in Maryvale Institute in England. I was also working as an administration assistant in St Joseph’s Hospice in London for almost 6 years.

What is your mission as a full-timer

I had divided my mission into two. I firstly concentrated on my spiritual growth, a desire to have a strong relationship with the Lord and as a result of this relationship I wanted to go out and reach out other youth. Just before I started my commitment, I had already set some objectives which I wanted to achieve during this year. I also had a mind-set not to waste this year but to gain and take in as much as possible. I had to have discipline in my life, I had to work hard and not waste time, and moreover whatever I learnt and did should be effective for the rest of my life. This had increased my prayer life to a whole another level. For the first two months I spent around 4-5 hours daily, reflected on the word of God, read and studied the life stories of the saints and had set some time for myself to contemplate on my life and the life of saints.

Secondly I had been advised to focus on youth ministry mainly. This involved initiating prayer meetings, Night vigils and one day programmes. I also had journeyed with the youth, befriended them and visited their houses. I visited local churches within my parish and introduced the movement especially during youth masses. I also helped the parish whenever I had some time on my hands. There were many baptism and wedding certificates to be stamped and issued so I was helping the seminarian and the assistant priest in these matters. I sometimes moved along with the parish priest and the parish youth chaplain for pastoral work, such as whenever they had burials or hospital visits etc.

Can you tell us something about Uganda, Your Mission place

Uganda, The pearl of Africa as they call it, is a Christian Country blessed by fertile land and rich treasures. Unfortunately, only a few people recognise this and I believe that there is no better place than this that the Lord had prepared for me to experience him and to form me.

I was placed in Kassese diocese which is also a district known for its Rwenzori mountains, wildlife and tourism. My parish was called Kasanga which is about 10 minutes’ drive from the Border of Congo. Infact it is the last parish of Uganda after which u will be stepping into Congo. Kasanga is in a valley (we can almost say that we are in a ditch between two mountains) and is a very rural village where the reality of poverty is highly visible.  There are many languages in Uganda as there are many tribes and kingdoms within the country. I was in the East side of the country where the tribe is called Mukonzo and the language spoken being Lukonzo.

How did you prepare yourself for this one year mission

Our preparation began even before our training. The team in charge for full-timers had sent us reflections for everyday through email which ended on the beginning of the training day. After 30 days of intense training we were then assigned our commitment places which I personally had accepted without any hesitation. I believed that the place assigned to me was from God and that there is no other place at that moment in time for God to mould me into his masterpiece. Even when I landed in Uganda I had only increased my prayer to the Lord to use me more, to help me adapt to those situations and to the culture there.  Holy Mass played a huge role in my spiritual journey even before getting to Uganda, it was the source of strength when I was weak, it gave me hope when I was nervous and doubtful and gave me courage to step outside the boat into the waters. I personally believe that even though I left Uganda, my mission never finishes till I see Jesus face to face. Wherever I go, whoever I am with, either with family, friends, workplace etc I should always try to be the presence of God wherever I am.

One of the main
outcomes of
this year of
fulltimership
is the intimate
relationship that
I now have with
my Lord

Did you feel ready to take up this mission that God so faithfully entrusted upon you?

Sometimes there was always a second voice in my head that says, why on God’s Green earth did I chose fulltimership, it was easy for me to just roll my blanket over and sleep in my cozy bed. But as the Lord had always said, the Path to heaven is always narrow, I believe the Lord had blessed me immensely during our commissioning at the end of the training to give me that grace to go forth to Uganda and carry out his work.

Some days when I thought I was going to Uganda I was a bit of scared and nervous not knowing what’s on the other side of the Planet, but its only through prayer you receive the power from the Lord.

Tell us about your time in Uganda – what were some of the challenges and blessings awaiting you there?

There were many challenges in Uganda, materially, physically and spiritually. Spiritually sometimes there is always a bit of laziness that used to creep in. Waking up early next morning or going to a church far away during the day in scorching heat could you put you off instantly. But I always had reminded myself that I’m not here to build my kingdom but Gods. Sometimes we had to foot all the way to the churches which takes around an hour of climbing up and then an hour of climbing down. You get really exhausted and all energy is drained out while climbing up to these churches. Some days you wouldn’t have electricity it would go off for hours or sometimes some days. It’s the same with Water too. I remember once we had no water for around 13 days, in this case we went out with big cans to fetch water from the river which was around 45 minutes away. This was a big lesson for me to know not to take things for granted even though they were free to us. Every human being has and should have the right to access water. In many of the developed countries we take water for granted but in Uganda I had realised that people used to wait patiently for even a drop of water to flow down the taps. So yes, there were many challenges and most importantly I have learnt from all these challenges and I’m sure these memories will remain with me wherever I go.

 What are some of the things that God has accomplished through you during this time?

God has taught me many things and has given me insights into loads of things that I was either confused or doubtful about. One of the main outcomes of this year of fulltimership is the intimate relationship that I now have with my Lord. Secondly, I believe through the numerous experiences of God throughout this year, there can never be an atheist or a scientist who would come to me and say that God doesn’t exist. They would never be able to challenge me in those terms purely because of the various experiences of the Lord speaking to me through personal prayer and Holy Mass.

 What is your dream for Uganda

I think my dream for Uganda in the short term is to have God fearing leaders who have a lot of zeal, joyfulness and be living witnesses, Missionaries to spread the good news. In terms of Long term dreams I dream that one day Uganda will be the power house for the movement to expand to East Africa and then to Africa.

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