2019 Taize Pilgrimage of Trust Cape Town

Stories of hope — Part 2

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This is the second of a three-part series, containing stories of hope by the participants at the recent Taizé Pilgrimage of Trust held in Cape Town between 25-29 September. The stories were written during one of the workshops held at Holy Redeemer parish (Bergvliet) as part of the morning programme as one of the host parishes. Sarah-Leah Pimentel compiles their experiences about how they have overcome difficulties, discovered God’s plan for their lives and are making a difference in the lives of others.

Clarinah Makiba, Johannesburg

Clarinah describes how she avoided a near-hijacking. She says that “God saved my life and my car.”

Two weeks ago I was nearly hijacked. I was driving from the hospital at 12.30am. Then I saw a car in the oncoming lane with its hazards [lights] on. Immediately after I passed this car, he blocked the road behind me. Then I saw another car blocking the road in front of me. I realized the fight was bigger than me. I called God to intervene and fight for me.

After praying, I was about to stop the car and surrender. The three guys in front just moved their car out of the road. I did not look back. I accelerated and drove off. I know only God came to my rescue. He is my Saviour, Redeemer and Protector.

Anonymous

Anonymous talks about personal struggles to qualify for and pay for tertiary education. An education progamme for underprivileged youth gave Anonymous hope that “no matter what kind of situation I face, I should not lose hope and faith.”

When I finished Matric I started to worry that I won’t be able to further my studies by going to college or university.  I really wanted to be a better person. I applied to North West University to study Human Resources, but unfortunately I wasn’t accepted. I then started to lose hope and accepted the fact that I won’t be able to study further and be a better person.

As the months went by, I heard of a youth programme that helps the youth by giving [them] an education, especially those who cannot afford to study. I applied for the youth programme and got accepted. Now I am able to study further. It really gave me great hope. I have learnt that I should keep on dreaming big and keep praying to God.

Fr. Paul celebrating Mass for the pilgrims in the Holy Redeemer Monastery Chapel // Luke Goemans

Maria Shinangolo, Namibia

Maria looks to her mother as her source of hope. She says that her mother’s faith and trust in every situation gives her hope that one say she will have enough money to further her education.

My mother gives me so much hope because she sacrifices a lot for us so that she can be a good mother. She is a house wife and works on a farm. There are eight of us. Imagine how she’s going to handle that! Seeing her smiling and happy gives me a lot of hope. She says that she works so hard, but she puts it all into God’s hands, no matter the situation.

I am struggling to upgrade my Grade 12 results. I want to improve my subjects, but I don’t have enough money. And the little I earn is not enough for food in the house, transport and other needs. But I have hope and faith that one day, God is going to hear my prayers.

Sithole

Sithole writes about God kept sending him “messengers” who encouraged him to live a life of service to others. When he went to college, complete strangers told him that he should be working for God. That is how he began rebuilding the Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS) at his college.

It was a year after completing Matric and I was about to start my first year at college after I had given up my vocation of becoming a priest. I told myself I would go to college and maybe meet a very beautiful lady and forget I ever wanted to become a priest!

A strange thing happened when I got to college. I kept meeting people who told me: “Why are you here? You are supposed to be in the seminary!” It was hard to keep ignoring them. Then the local parish priest asked me to restart ACTS. After a long time of prayer, I couldn’t get one verse out of my mind: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

That helped me to restart ACTS. We had our first meeting and we were 30 Catholics. Up until today, even though I have finished my course, the meetings still go on! I learnt to trust the Lord in everything and in his plans.

Taize pilgrims sharing a meal // Jody Theunissen

Eliaser Hamulungu, Namibia

Eliaser speaks about everyday activities that become more difficult with a disability. For him, it was getting his driver’s license. He say that he sees God’s hand behind the wheel of his life:

As a person with a disability, I have to overcome challenges in my life. Acquiring a driving permit is one of those. At times, I needed to drive without a license for various reasons. I know it was illegal, but I had to trust in the Lord to give me a hand of protection. With this trust, I never had an accident and I was never caught by traffic officials. Every time I came to a checkpoint, they either were distracted or allowed me to proceed.

I made sure that I never missed my driving practices and as soon as I mastered the necessary skills for the test, I went for my first attempt. And guess what? God is good. Now I have my driver’s license and I always give praise to God for it.

Joy Dreyer, Cape Town

Joy is a teacher and she says that God gave her a voice to pass on knowledge to the children she teaches. She wrote the following poem in gratitude for this gift:

I am (to He who defines me)

I am the voice that calls
A hope that does not fail
When darkness covers and night falls
Upon the seas I do sail.
The love within me becomes your guide
The joy that you find is my essence!
The face I show is true and kind
All peace is found in my presence
I light your path and carry you through…
All worth and value you hold; I freely give
I am your mirror, I have shown you
I am the one through which you freely live!

One of the afternoon sessions at the main pilgrimage grounds // Luke Goemans

E.M Nkunyanwa. Aliwal Diocese

E.M is a priest. He relates how he was without his car for some time, and had to use public transport to travel to his village-based communities. This meant he had to stay overnight in order to celebrate Sunday Mass. He talks about how the experience of sharing everything gave him much joy:

I have to use public transport. I have to go on Saturday during the day and sleep in the village. With 12 people — mother, father, children — we were sharing food and praying together. I was received by so many communities in their houses. I was welcomed and I learnt what it meant to be with the people. I realize how much they suffer, but that during their suffering and hardship, God is with them.

The most important part for them is to go to Mass. This is what makes them happy in their daily lives. It also makes me feel happy.

Ven. Lasarus Ngube, Namibia

Lasarus tells how a young boy he adopted and raised fell into bad company and became so angry that he almost shot his adoptive father. God’s hand was over them on that day and a situation that could have ended tragically became an opportunity for a new beginning:

I took in a street kid in the hope of caring [for him] and [that] the power of God’s love would transform his life. At first, all was well. My ‘son’ went to school. Then I enrolled him at a business school. Things started to change without me noticing. I gave him money monthly to pay for his school fees. Then one day I received a call from the school that I owed R12,000. I was so angry at him. I chased him out of my house.

Then he decided to repay me with evil. He came home on Christmas Day. The other children told me he had a gun. He asked to speak to me privately because he needed to apologise. We went to my room. I told him I knew what he was up to and asked him to give me time to position myself so that he can shoot. Then he broke down, threw down the gun, and put his arms around me and we both cried.

That was a turning point. He changed. He started a business which is going well and he is back in school. I believe that a shattered and remoulded clay pot can be more beautiful than before it was shattered.

Pilgrims going to their host families on the same day // Br. Luc Alois

RTE Haufiku, Namibia

RTE lost her father at a young age. His death made her lose hope in life and she took up a destructive lifestyle. After she became a mother, some friends invited her to church and as she got closer to God, she began to “see the lights and joy.”

I lost my dad whom I loved very much. I was in Grade 7 and he was the only breadwinner. My whole life changed. I was lost and confused. I started losing hope in life. Although I knew God, all I cared about was drinking and boyfriends. After a few years, I got pregnant and my whole life got really messy.

Deep down, I started to talking to myself that I need to change to be a good mother. I started talking to a few friends. They took me to church and my life changed. I got a job and a few years later, I started my own business. I am grateful for everything that happened, because it made me a better person. Once you allow God into your life, everything else is taken care of, even if life is still messy at times!

Jody Theunissen, Cape Town

Jody shares the story of how he overcame the challenges of having a learning disability. He was teased and encouraged to leave school and pursue skills training. Through all that, he persevered and finished Matric with excellent.

When I was in Grade 6, I was told that I can’t read. I was told it would be best to drop out of school and go to a TVET college [technical and vocational training] to help me make use of my other gifts. I said no. I said no because I knew that God had a plan for me. I know he wanted to use me. I ended up failing Grade 7. People made fun of me. They called me “the boy that can’t read” or “hey stupid.” Still, I remained.

In 2017, I got to Grade 12. It took a lot out of me, but with God’s help, I passed top of my class and all my subjects above 80 percent. How did I do it? Knowing that God has a plan for my life was more helpful than to tell myself to quit.

Pilgrims hosted at Holy Redeemer with the local youth // Jody Theunissen

Mpho Ramothibe, East Rand

When Mpho lost a parent, he was angry at God. But as the wounds started to heal, he learnt to let go, even though he’ll never stop missing his parent.

At first it seemed so frustrating and painful. I also asked questions: “Why me, God? Why should it be my parent that had to die?” It is hard having to deal with such questions, because there are no exact answers. As time goes on, not seeing the person makes you realise that they are no more. All that’s left are the sweet memories, but also the terrible ones.

Each day, the wound starts to heal. You will still miss your loved ones every day. One also has to let go, forgive themselves [and realize] he or she is not in control of creation and they can never bring back the person from the dead. I ask that you give it time, even if it happened long ago.

Sr. Zithobile Zondi, Port Shepstone

Sr. Zithobile had to wait a long time to answer the call to the religious life, even though she had had a burning desire to do this from a young age. Instead she had to earn an income for her family until her siblings were able to assume that responsibility. For her “there is always a resurrection.”

I was born in August. My father passed away in May of the same year. My mother worked as a hawker selling month ends [produce] at different farms. As I grew, I wanted to be a religious sister in the Catholic Church. My mom could not accept that. I worked as a pre-school teacher for more than 10 years. When my brother found a job, he released me from being a breadwinner. I joined religious life at the age of 31. In every situation in life, God gives hope. God changes everything, even the very bad, into good.

Pilgrims on the bus to Rondebosch for the afternoon activities // Jody Theunissen

Lesedi Leepo, Welkom

Lesedi never really understood what faith and God’s love meant until the day his mother was involved in a serious car accident. She survived the crash. He is thankful to God for protecting his mother and his family on that day.

On 7 June my transport did not pitch in the morning for school and my mom decided to drop her meeting to take my friends and I to school. After dropping us off, she tried to hurry back to work, but on her way had an accident. The car rolled five times. After school, I was waiting for her to come, but she never pitched.

My father came to fetch me and we went to the hospital. I was confused. When we got inside he told me that my mother had had an accident. I literally broke down, but I was glad that she was still alive. This incident helped me have steadfast love for both God and my mother.

Anonymous

Instead of telling a story, Anonymous shares the following words to encourage other young people who going through difficult times:

I went through a lot, but have managed to pick up the pieces and move on. My words of encouragement are to move forward and leave the past behind. Never let your problems define who you are. Measuring your problems won’t solve anything. Prayer helped me to overcome the challenges I was facing. Be happy, love yourself, respect your peers. Give other people hope.

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.

 

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Stories of hope — Part 2