Through the lens of a missionary

Buffalo and Calf. Photos: Missionary Society of St Columban

Over the past year there has been much Good News of Great Joy with experiences of God’s love, healing, mercy, joy, justice and peace. Sadly, there have also been many tragic events which are not God’s will.

Illness and a donkey cart

A young Hindu woman named Hava had sadly been diagnosed with cancer in her leg. It had to be amputated. She wears rosary beads (which a Sister who one could say is another Mother Teresa gave her). Hava has a deep inner strength and although illiterate possesses plenty of get up and go with a captivating smile which is a tonic to those who have journeyed with her. Her father is very poor and ekes out a living with a donkey cart that I was able to help in its purchase. Hava’s husband, because of her health condition, fled and left her.

Muslims and Mother Mary

We again hosted an Iftar meal for some Muslims during their month of the Ramadan fast. They appreciate this reaching out to them and it builds up good relationships. Before the meal they like to visit the church and take photos of themselves with the statue of Mother Mary.

The brawl in the cemetery

We have a family living in the cemetery referred to as a ‘quiet place’. Some poor people known to them also came to squat there. Some other people nearby did not take kindly to them and a brawl broke out. On hearing this we rushed to the scene. Some of them had injuries requiring medical attention. The police got involved. One of our party was locked up. The next day we managed to get him released though we had to pay some money to the police where he was held. A man with influence brokered a truce among the parties and peace has prevailed.

An ambulance, goats and buffalos

The parish of Stella Maris in Christchurch, New Zealand, made a very generous donation to purchase milking goats. A group of us went to an animal sale where several thousand people were present. We purchased 11 milking goats with two kids at heel. These we piled into our ambulance and then delivered to poor widows and a few other poor and needy people. They were all so delighted and thankful. Now they would have milk, without added water, for themselves and family.

A virus has hit resulting in the death of buffaloes and goats. A few of our goats died. One family, seeing that their goat was sick, managed to sell it to a butcher before it died. A few days ago I visited a place where we gave a goat to a poor widow. Recently it delivered two healthy kids. The buffalo that I had to purchase last year, after running into it with the jeep, has produced a very healthy calf to the joy of the people in a village who care for it. The calf is a good size now. Its mother is still giving pure milk and is ‘in calf’ again.

Collecting annual  rice contribution to the Church. Photos: Missionary Society of St ColumbanCollecting annual rice contribution to the Church. Photos: Missionary Society of St Columban

Footy tournament and thorn bushes

During 2018 we Columbans have been celebrating our Centenary Year. Among events here in Badin we sponsored a football tournament. Not a blade of grass on the field, with one side lined with solid thorn bushes, and so the linesmen had to be extra alert so that the ball did not become punctured. A grand day was held by all. We could not allow any Muslims to take part for fear of someone getting “high blood pressure” from an altercation. This could develop into a dangerous situation which could develop into a misuse of the blasphemy law.

Holiday in New Zealand

This year was my turn to have holidays home in New Zealand. After a long fierce dry summer it was such a relief to board a cool plane with meals and beer available for the flight “down under”.

On my way home I dropped into Sydney and caught the Columban Centenary celebration there. It was very special meeting up with friends some of whom I had not seen for 30 years. The celebration in New Zealand was also a wonderful event.

Politics

This year former cricket captain Imran Khan was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is the leader of the “Movement for Justice Party”. He is endeavouring to hit some sixes and bowl out corruption, yet it is a struggle!

Delhi Belly

Some families have fled from the feudal system and are squatting with many other families on land at the edge of Hyderabad City. A few times I have visited them with catechist Lal. The living conditions are very basic indeed. Last week before arriving I had a good solid meal in the bazaar. The previous time I ate what the people gave me but the few days following I had the Delhi Belly real bad.

Annual retreat

We had our annual retreat at the Monastery in Karachi. These enclosed Sisters have high walls around them. During our retreat, about a mile away a bomb exploded where poor people were selling and buying clothes on the side of the road. Some people lost their lives. It was a very sad scene when I visited, with clothes and victims’ footwear scattered around.

For Christmas there will be three Columban priests in Badin. A priest in a large parish about eight hours travel north of here has invited me to help him out with Christmas Masses in different places.

On the evening of Boxing Day eight Columbans will gather here in Badin for a Christmas celebration together.

May we sing God’s love song all the days of 2019.

Thanks for all your generous support in various ways helping mission here in this part of God’s vineyard.

Columban Fr Daniel O’Connor from New Zealand has worked in Pakistan for over 30 years.

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