The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Friday, August 10, 2012

On Missionary Roads in Zambia

In my last post about my mission trip to Zambia, readers were introduced to Fr. Bernard Makadani Zulu, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Zambia.  Fr. Bernard was my host for two weeks in June 2011 as I traveled through Zambia visiting schools, parishes, outstations, training centers, and clinics funded by the Pontifical Mission Societies.

After setting out from the capital city of Lusaka, which was quite modern, it did not take us long to leave the footprint of the population behind.  Our destination was the Diocese of Chipata.  We traveled along the Chipata Road – one of the only east/west highways in the country.  To say the infrastructure of roads and their surfaces are variable would be an enormous understatement!  At times, we traveled on perfect pavement, only to be thrown onto rutted dirt and gravel that would stretch for miles.  Because the roads were full of car-eating potholes, we drove in a serpentine fashion, covering both lanes of the road to avoid disaster.  This seems like the safe thing to do until you realize that the cars coming in the other direction are doing the same thing!  It becomes an intricate ballet of cars, buses and 18 wheeler trucks that gave me many opportunities to recite my Act of Faith.

We drove past many miles of beautiful country side and just when I began to wonder if we would ever see any people, a roadside market appeared as if it were a mirage.  Local farmers and vendors had covered tables set up at the very edge of the road to sell everything from vegetables to dried fish to beautiful and useful household baskets made from banana leaves. 

Their hope was that travelers and truck drivers would stop and buy their wares and help support their families.  A successful day at the market would bring the local person enough money to splurge on a little extra treat for their loved ones – some cooking oil, perhaps a little salt or even some sugar for their tea.

About two thirds of the way through the day long trip, I had a lesson in the harsh reality of mission life.   We began to hear a loud clunking noise from under the truck; the smell of burning brakes was obvious.  Fr. Bernard pulled over, climbed under the truck and confirmed that our left front brakes were frozen and not working.  “What will we do now? How will we stop with no brakes?” I asked.  He smiled gently and said, “We will try very hard not to have to stop.”

And so we continued, slowly, on missionary roads.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

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