The mission

This is my fifth day in Africa, fifth day in Kenya and the third day in Turkana. At this very moment I’m sitting in my bed at the end of the world on a mission grounds of Nariakotome. It takes between two to four hours to get here by a car. Depending on your driver. Even longer, if your car brakes down. There are no roads, as we know them from home. Just two tire lines in dirt and many confusing roundabouts near the riverbeds. Locals somehow sense where to turn and which “road” to take. Signs don’t exist. The same applies to the maps.
The mission where I’m staying is run by St. Paul Community. They have created a paradise in the middle of nowhere. Electricity, internet, clean water, gardens, vineyards, health care facilities. Magnificent church. Chapels, churches and small missionaries all around the country. The presence of God just cries aloud. Without Him and without father Avelino Bassols, his follower and the master of this mission, many thousands of people would probably have died or would have badly suffered. The mission helps, heals, feeds, defends, but most of all spreads the faith. This is the place where you really can experience the missionary spirit and the passion for God’s word.
This is also the place of the clash of Islam and Christianity. The battlefields are in Kenya, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia. And we can say that all of Africa is experiencing this fight. We’re loosing in Europe, but here, in Africa, we still can win.
Today we’ve visited people of Dassanech, often also called Morille people. They live just across the border in Ethiopia. Father Angel has brought some grass for their cattle. However, there’s not much of it left. Most of the goats and cows died – their carcasses have been spattered all around the land with vultures feasting on them. Due to recent floods brought down by Omo river they were not able to plant anything and thus whole villages are at the edge of extinction. The other danger they face are the fights over the resources that are still available. They fight with Turkana people for the grass lands for their cattle. Recently a massacre of about 40 people has forced thousands of villagers to move to the safety of one of the mission built by St. Paul community. Ngechu, a little boy of five, who has accompanied us from the mission told us his sad story. When asked whether he is the youngest in his family he said:”I had a smaller brother, but he died!” “What happened?”, was father Angelo’s question. “He was killed by Turkana, back at home.” These things hurt, I can tell you.
Not everything is perfect in our world. Thanks God there are people who are trying to help ones less lucky at least to survive, if not live better lives. There’s not much needed to make people happy. A shelter, a little bit of food and most of all – safety. That’s what missionaries manage to do very well. Without guns. Just with God’s word and a lot of work that improves people’s lives. You won’t find idle hands on a mission. Father Avelino with his vast pool of energy and ideas doesn’t tolerate laziness. His behavior reminds that of the king in his castle. In a sense, it is so.
He cares of “his” people. His missionaries but also his parish people. They are the ones he has come here for and they know it. They are grateful and faithful. I was told a story of one robbery, that had taken place in a mission. Some people had stolen solar panels. When Turkanas learned of this treachery they’d traced and followed the thieves for two days and nights. After 120 km (!) of pursuit they caught them and brought the solar panels back. Turkanas are generally very good in walking and running. No wonder. They spend all of their lives herding their goats and camels walking unbelievable distances in a day.
The mission brought them security and peace, faith in Jesus, education for their children. Missionaries help them to settle their arguments without guns, even if many of the local people own them. It’s nothing unusual to meet a local man herding his goats with a Kalashnikov thrown across his back.
The missionaries keep extending their reach to other people in need of help and of God’s word. Both of these aspects of missionary life are closely interconnected. Helping people is a traditional and a great way of getting new followers of Christian faith. It brings hardships, very often even danger, but possible results are too great to give up and to lean back in safety of their homes.
Missionary life is a life of sacrifice and hard work. But it’s also a very rewarding life. A life lived in the presence of God. A life of fulfillment and satisfaction. It definitely is a well lived life.

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Children gathering before community centre in one of The Missions’s parishes.

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Father Angel talking to Marille people who are starving because of the harsh climatic conditions this year.

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Turkana children gathering water in river bed. Most of the settlmemts still have no source of clean water and rely on weather or natural resources that are very often infested with bacteria.

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Traditional “chair” used by local shepherds.

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Father Angel among villagers in one of the missions run by St. paul Community.

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Ngechu is interpreting for Father Angel during the visit to Marille people.

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Men of Marille people explain the hardships they have to go through due to draught and consequently death of most of their animals.

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Nariokotome mission.

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Guns, especially Kalashnikov machine guns are quite common among Turkanas.

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Example of local religious art.

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Trip to Nariokotome. We’ve come across a diocese car with a flat tire that needed our help. Help each other is a natural thing to do in these conditions. Even passing by soldiers were offering help.

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Holly mass in a local community centre. Very energetic, full of rhytmical songs.

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Last supper.

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After the mass.

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