“The harvest (mission) is great, and the workers are few.” But though they are few they exist, they are good and they are ready for anything. This is Isabelle’s case. She is a missionary from our community, who has been living and working with us in Rome for the last few years. Her smile and her joy at her new destination speak of the quality of her missionary heart. She has been smiling ever since she learnt that her new destination is Lome, in Togo. It’s as if she had won the prize of a lifetime: the possibility of mission in Africa, in a town where she feels that God needs her.
When did she begin to be fascinated by this continent? Many years ago, when she studied medicine in France, she went to Africa twice to do her internship. What happened to her, is what happens to many people who go there as volunteers, they catch the “Sickness of Africa.” In other words she fell in love with the continent, its youth, its joy, its ability to celebrate at all times. Although Africa is a poor continent in certain aspects, it is also exceedingly rich in others. Above all it is rich in joy and in values. It is full of love and respect for life, for God and for others.
On June 25th we celebrated a sending out Mass for her in which the community of Rome and San Furmenzio parish participated. Isabelle has worked especially with the youth of this parish. This simple celebration was a moment of sending and calling: We sent Isabelle to her new destination and each of us received the call to live our mission where we are.
I want to finish with a conversation which struck me: An African person said to Isabelle: I don’t understand you, I wanted to leave Africa and you want to go. She replied: I have my husband, my friend and my brother, the Lord Jesus waiting for me there. He has made my life a gift to Africa and has given me Africa as his greatest gift.
We rejoice in Isabelle’s happiness and that of the Lome community. Hopefully all of us feel that the mission we have – be it study, work, family, is a gift for us and that we too are a gift that enriches the place where we are.