Sister Cheryl Blanchard, M.M.M.

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Friday 25, January 2008 | Category:   Vocation and Discernment,Mission & Evangelization

From the heart of a missionary

Words come rushing into my awareness as I think of my missionary life so far . . . Kenya, my dream come true, far away from my birthplace of Detroit, Michigan. Fulfilling years of wondering, praying, searching, which culminated in my joining the Medical Missionaries of Mary, in Boston, Massachusetts. One dream, of being a nurse, had already come to fruition; now the missionary segment was unfolding. I was sent to a place called Turkana, a desert area tucked away in a corner of northwest Kenya. It was a land so totally new to me and “foreign,” yet it was there, in a seemingly barren land, that my life really bore fruit. I found a new life, a new home and all my dreams were fulfilled.

How to sum up my years as a missionary? So many experiences: joys and frustrations of learning a foreign language, becoming part of a gifted people so very different from my own. So much learning: about life and death, risk-taking and loving, failures and accomplishments. I discovered within me: my love for a people and land that is so deep that they will always be enmeshed in my heart and soul. It was a land where I experienced the deeper meaning of communion and commitment, of realizing more deeply what a missionary really is, the costs as well as the tremendous gift.

O what wondrous things I have experienced! What can compare with an old woman’s toothless smile as she eagerly awaits the often mispronounced or haltingly expressed words I speak in her language? Or who would trade anything for the laughter of a healthy baby and mother who have successfully fought the battle against tuberculosis? Again, what is equal to helping to quench the thirst for knowledge about God, about healthy living, about what the “rest of the world is like” that young people have?

Whom did I find? I found friends, people I am close to and will remain so until the day I die. I found Christ already present among the people who were labeled animists by some and heathens or pagans by others. I, the missionary, was missioned to, in countless ways, such as the heartfelt compassion I received from a starving mother of three who comforted me as I cried while telling her we had no more food to give, that our supplies were finished after a year-long drought and famine. I am the woman of little faith that, during that same famine, when death from hunger and disease were literally all around us, thought that Christmas would be dismal—but who had the best Christmas of her life! I experienced that Christmas Eve the true spirit and meaning of Christmas shining in the eyes and hearts, in the faith and joy of the people. These and countless other experiences I hold dear and will cherish always.

I lift my heart in gratitude to God for my missionary vocation and for all I have lived and experienced as a result! Glory and praise to our God!

I belong to: The Medical Missionaries of Mary

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