The stories of missionaries have always fascinated me. After some experiences in the missions of Guatemala, I had a ‘missionary dis-tress’ during my postnovitiate. I spoke of this with my spiritual director, my confessor, and especially with missionaries. After all, these missionaries had one day lived this same anxiety and today are the bearers of this charism in our province. Above all, I prayed. I knelt before the tabernacle. My fingers rolled over my rosary beeds. I asked the Lord for clarity in his call, the courage to answer, and the love to make it a reality.
The counsel that impressed me most was that of Don Checchi. He smiled and said, "My dear, if you've already placed your life in the hands of God ... enjoy His dreams. Let Him do the driving. Let Him take you to the kids He has thought of for you. Love His voice. Love what he has planned for your life. I assure you, you will be happy that you trusted Him. "
Some of my confreres were more rational. They said, "Why go out? We have such a lot of work here itself?" True, there is a lot to do. It is also true that the Congregation is one, the world over. Young people as well as confreres are waiting for us everywhere. If the vineyard is of the Lord, He should be the one to distribute His workers. It is ours to do what He asks of us, with the love He gives us, where He wants us and sends us. And then I thought ... if the first Salesians did not risk what they had to go beyond, how would we ever have come to know God, Don Bosco and our vocation?
Urged on by the desire to serve the Lord, I made myself available and, in 2015, I was sent to Kosovo in Albania. There I faced a totally unexpected reality. I had got used to thinking of missions with their churches overflowing with believers. I had not imagined myself landing up in a completely Muslim village. There I was, sharing the joy of being a missionary with two confreres and 18 Catholics!
My very first difficulty was to give up the idea that I had had till then of the missions. I had to try and understand what the Lord was offering me. Add to that the difficulty of the language and my ignorance of Islam. I found myself faced with a real challenge. Only the help of my brothers and sisters gave me the courage to understand and to carry on. How much joy I have discovered since then in letting me be surprised by the presence of God in the boys around me. Their questions, our discussions, and the way we have listened to each other, are today the joy of my heart. They are my gratitude to God for my missionary vocation. I think it will always be so, that the most beautiful blessing from being a missionary will be the young and the confreres.
I believe that to be a missionary is part of our Salesian DNA. From going out to the streets to find boys, to leaving our country for God's love, our vocation gets greatly enriched. We live life in its fullness when we make God's dream our dream, His youngsters our boys, His calling our life. So if God wants you to be a missionary, let yourself be guided by his love and go where the young people are waiting for you: I assure you there will be no greater joy in your life!