Simple Helpful Skills

IMG_20181129_153026

When I was growing up as a child, we used to grow coffee.  Coffee is one of the world’s favourate hot beverage, but do you know how tedious it is to produce a gram of the finished product on your breakfast table? Up to now there is no coffee harvesting machine known to me.  Every Berry is hand-picked when ripe. This can be very exhausting and time consuming.

IMG_20181129_153047

As little children, our parents taught us the value of work and not just work for the sake of it, but perfect work.  My father used to say,  “if you want to do it then do it well, otherwise do not do it at all.”  So every one of us the siblings would be given a portion of coffee bushes to take care of,  that is,  weed it, put manure,  prune and harvest it.  All this we learnt firsthand, watching how our parents did it.  At the time of payment, which came after every harvesting season, that is, twice a year,  each one of us would get his proportional cut of the earnings. This would take care of our minor expenses like buying tooth paste. They taught  us  how to earn what we spent.

IMG_20181129_153203

Apart from coffee farming,  we also learnt a number of other helpful skills like animal keeping,  repair and maintenance of almost everything, from carpentry, Masonry, mechanics and so forth.

This did not only help us to cut a substantial amount of daily expenses but also impacted us with the knowledge in many fields as well as well as the ability to innovate and improvise. It is because of this that I found myself so talented as a young person and felt the call to share these skills with other young people, especially those who did not have the privilege like my siblings and I had.

IMG_20181129_153129

When I was appointed for my first missionary destination in Arusha, Tanzania two and half years ago,  I came face to face with the predicament of many young people.  Many of them do not get sufficient education to secure white collar jobs at the end of their O-level program and have little or no technical skills at all to enable them earn a living.  I knew that I had a lot to do. Immediately I set on a journey.

We began first with building self confidence and self-motivational skills.  Then we embarked on building team-work skills through games like volleyball as well as frequent meetings to discuss issues affecting the youth today.

IMG20181128120932

The latest project is the Candle Making,  a, skill I learnt in Soweto, Nairobi when I joined the society of Divine Word Missionaries. I began with designing a candle-making-machine, combining the pprevious technology with the mechanical skills I learnt.  The candle machine combines the car engine and brick-making machine technologies.

First we began by recycling of some used candles, before buying new materials.  So far a number of youths have learnt the art so well that they are good to go even in my absence.

Down the years in my missionary life,  I have realized that people will always remember us by what they learn from us and not how well we dressed, how much money we gave to them or even how good we preached. I understand my missionary vocation as a platform to change the lives of the people through capacity building both spiritually and socially. I sometimes go to bed very exhausted but happy and fulfilled.

Fr.  Lawrence Muthee,  SVD

A Pastoral Visit like no other

IMG20181125103550

As missionaries working far away from our homes, a visit from a family member, someone from our home parish or district, is something very important and helpful. It not only reminds us of what we have left behind but also it renews our motivation in the mission.

Last weekend, 26 Parishioners from St. Ann Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Meru – Kenya, made a pastoral visit to our Epiphany Parish in the Archdiocese of Arusha – Tanzania. They came to visit one of their very First Priest and Missionary from their parish: Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD as well as having a first hand missionary experience.

The 550 km journey from Meru – kenya to Arusha – Tanzania is both tedious and costly but the experience during the 3-day visit made it worthwhile. Apart from Burka parish, they also visited St. Joseph the Worker parish in Olasiti where we also have a shrine in the memory of the victims of the bomb blast that killed 3 persons on the inauguration day of the parish almost 5 years ago.

IMG20181123174224

Being on a weekend, we the priests were very busy with the weekend apostolate as well as the preparation form the Feast of Christ the King and on this particular weekend we had extra work: on Saturday the TYCS alumni from one of the Secondary Schools in the parish had a graduation mass and celebration in the parish. Their were also two weddings on the same afternoon. On Sunday, apart from the regular 5 masses, we had also End-of-the-Year mass for the SVD Youths from our three parishes in Arusha City.

However, these did not restrain in any way the experience of our visitors because we had a team of youths who made them enjoy every bit of their time here. Though I have been with these young ones for about two and half years now, and also seen how they have grown in faith and charity in many occasions, the kindness and the sacrifices they demonstrated during the entire time the visitors were here left me amazed. The visitors also were profoundly touched by the gesture. They were in the parish from Friday evening to Monday evening, serving the meals, taking them around and explaining to them many things. Meanwhile, we continued with our normal weekend apostolate.

The team also came to help with our parish-house construction in the small way they could. This gesture also meant a lot for us and for the Church. It is time that the Church in Africa became missionary not only in terms of producing priests and religious but also financially. This pastoral exchange helped a lot educate our faithful from both sides, about the meaning of the missionary aspect of the Church and of each and every faithful for that matter.

We would like to thank God for His graces during the entire visit and also the Parish Priest of St. Ann Parish Kariene, Meru and his parishioners for this gesture. Deep appreciation also goes to the parishioners in Arusha and more especially to our youths.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

 

My First Love

 

Last week I left the parish and went to accompany some novices in their retreat. I had a four month stretch that had left me exhausted and drained. This made the request by the Novice Mistress to preach the retreat very appealing to me. I knew that I needed some refilling.  I had planned to spend the time also to reflect about my own ministry, taking advantage of the quiet environment of the retreat.

We began the retreat by focusing on the very first motivation each one of them had at the time they decided to leave their homes for the convent in order to begin their formation. On the following day we contemplated the call of Samuel and how it was not as obvious for him to recognize the voice of God as we may think, and how he was helped by Eli. Then we looked at the call of Moses and how he felt that he was neither worthy nor capable of the mission God was giving him, because he was a murderer and a stammerer.

After that we looked at the Faith of Abraham and how he always trusted in God even in very unlikely circumstances. We then listened to the teachings of Jesus on the cost of being his disciple, how we need to deny everything for the sake of the kingdom, take up our crosses and follow Him. Then we ended with the promise of Jesus to all who left everything for the sake of the kingdom, how they would receive hundred fold all they had left and in addition eternal life. on the last day we celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation.

WhatsApp Image 2018-11-19 at 06.07.35 (2)

During those 6 days I had the privileged  opportunity  to meet all the 26 novices, who shared with me their vocation stories, their present feeling about it, their doubts and challenges. But what interested me most was the vocation story of each one. Everyone had a very unique vocation story and a motive that made them make that leap of faith to join the convent. Each story was different and revealed to me something about God and how differently he calls each person for his mission. Some stories embodied a long process and various promptings like Samuel’s until finally the person gave in to the persistent voice of God. Others were so sudden and powerful like that of Moses.

However, common denominator in all of them, was how each of them, at that kairos moment, became so much convinced that to leave whatever they were doing or thinking and go to the convent, was the right thing. It was for them as though some mysterious hand was pushing them to go to the convent. Actually majority shared that it was way after joining the convent that they began to evaluate that moment and even doubt whether they made the right decision at all.

What I learnt from this was that, when God calls us, he makes it so clear and powerful that we don’t get to doubt. We just follow the heart. Once we have made  the move then he lets us free to slowly discern what mission he want us to undertake. The process of discovering our purpose and charisms begins.

I also discovered that God knows that to make that leap of faith needs a powerful thrust, and afterwards he guides us through the months and years making it clear his mission to us. Just like Moses, God used something very attractive like the burning bush that was not being consumed in order to get our full attention. Later on he would discuss with us about the mission and even bargain about it.

Towards the end of the retreat something as much striking as the vocation stories came to my mind. During the sharing I said that the novices also talked about the challenges they were facing especially from one another.  Most of the challenges ware based on negative competition and mistrust. I asked myself how could that happen when each and every one of them had such a beautiful vocation story and over and above a dream and desire to fulfill the will of God in their lives. In fact all of them had something in mind about how they would like to serve God after their formation. I thought, if all these beautiful vocation stories, could be joined together and become one huge vocation story, how much good would they have made.

So I suggested to all of them to make a point of listening to the vocation story of the mates in order to understand that they were all trying to respond to the call.

This negative competition is not only found in the formation houses but also among religious and clergy who are working together. Negative competition brings about envy and jealousy that leads to infighting and the ones who suffer the consequences are the innocent people they serve. I concluded, therefore, that the differences should not bring conflict but beauty.

I can say that the experience was so much enriching and renewing for me as it was for the novices. I actually benefited more since I got to  share their many stories.

SVD Youths from Arusha Visit to SVD Parish in Nairobi

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-22 at 09.17.35

On Friday 19th October 2018, the SVD youths from our parishes in Arusha set on a Journey to Nairobi to visit their counterparts in DIWOPA parish in Kayole. The Journey began at 6 a.m. hoping to arrive in Nairobi on time for lunch. However, things changed on the way when our bus developed some mechanical problem that delayed us for 4 hours. We finally got to the CFC Langata at 6:30 p.m. and met Fr. James Mailady, the Rector, waiting for us with some volunteer Mamas who had prepared lunch for us. They had been patiently waiting for us from noon.

After our late lunch, we proceeded to DIWOPA parish where the youths were also patiently waiting for us. They took their friends to their families where they were to accommodate them.

On the following day, some of the youths from Arusha joined their friends for the zonal youth festivals that were held in Eastleigh Nairobi, while others remained in the parish and attended the diaconate ordination of two of our young confreres. Afterwards they visited Soweto parish and its surroundings including our Pre-philosophy Formation House.

On Sunday we celebrated the World Mission Sunday in the second mass and after the breakfast with their friends, they visited the City Center and then  the journey back to Arusha began at around 2 p.m. The return Journey was relevantly smooth. We thank God for the journey mercies.

According to the youths, the trip was very informative and enjoyable. They experienced many new things especially the way the liturgy was celebrated. They noticed how alive the entire congregation was during the mass, as well as the way the people went about their daily businesses, which was quite different from what they have back at home.

 

 

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-21 at 22.35.48

The Trip was organized by the SVD youth leaders in Arusha together with Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD, in collaboration with the youth leaders in Kayole under their chaplain Fr. Emmanuel Koffighan, SVD. The youths were so happy and grateful for the opportunity of their lifetime.

We at Jambokentan would like to encourage more of this kind of exchange program in the future.

Deacon means Servant

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-22 at 07.34.30(15)

The term Deacon is derived from the Greek Word diakonos that means “Servant”. In the Acts of the Apostles 6:1-6 we read:

Now in those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose by the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the twelve summoned the community of disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we neglect the word of God to serve tables. So, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will put in charge of this need. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the statement pleased the whole group, and they chose Stephen (a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit), and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus (a convert from Antioch), whom they stood before the apostles. And they prayed and placed their hands on them. (Text from Bible Gateway).

On Saturday 20th October, two of our young confreres: Francis and Honore, Together with three others from the Congregation of the Servants of the Divine Province, were ordained to the Order of the Deacons. The ordination took place at Divine Word Parish in Kayole, Nairobi. Bishop David Kamua, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Nairobi was the Ordaining Prelate.

The Deacons will serve as ministers in the service to the poor and the marginalized in the Church, as well as the Preachers of the Word of the Good News. Later on they will be ordained as Priests for the people of God.

in the same celebration, we also launched the Common Formation Center Silver Jubilee. The magazine contains the history of the CFC and stories form Alumni since 1994.

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-22 at 07.34.30

We at Jambokentan would like to congratulates them and wish them God’s blessings in their ministry.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD