By Fr. Efren de Guzman, svd
Long ago, in the time of Noah, it is said that the Lord placed the rainbow in the sky as a promise of peace. As we go to the press war has flared up again in Angola as Fr. Efren feared. We ask our readers to pray that the rainbow of peace will return again to Angola. Everything else has failed. Prayer is all we have left and prayers are always answered.
July 3 Landmines
This month our mission project’s timetable is not so hectic, thus I have the opportunity to sit and write to you. I drove to Mabubas (110kms. from the capital) and we had a series of prayer meetings in preparation for the Bible months.
I would like to share with you some of our experiences there which inspired us a lot. Hope in the midst of hopefulness seems to me an impossibility, but a mother who shared in our prayer meeting asked: “Why did this happen to me? She and other mothers have amputee children, caused by landmines. There was a long silence. Then a grandmother catechist Mbeka said: “So that you will learn the true meaning of love.” Another long silence.
July 4 What is love?
Continuation of last night’s reflection:
Pai Simiao, an elder of the community of Zala, said that those who deserve love least need I most. And Gabriel Gombo, one of our catechists, shared this: “Let us never forget that the true meaning of love is best learned when it is difficult to love.”
July 9 More on Landmines; Diana
In our evening prayers, we remembered and included the late Princess Diana, one of our benefactors. In one of the Vicariate Meetings in Caxito which was presided over by Bishop Damiao of Luanda, I was nominated to represent Southern Africa in the International Conference for Migrants and Refugees and the Eradication of landmines. It will be held in Capetown, South Africa and I will also have the opportunity to visit our country, specifically Davao City. In this conference, I will speak about the situation of the refugees in Angola and Southern Africa. We will discuss also the problem of landmines and their effects of these countries.
July 12 Prayer Indeed is Powerful
In this evening I was called to anoint a dying child of one of the displaced people in our parish in Kifangondo. We noticed that the child seemed not to be breathing anymore. Catechist Lao told me: “She dead!” the widow and her relatives began to cry aloud and dance in despair. I suggested we pray and I explained that only God can heal. We prayed together, anointed the girl and then I left. The next day, early in the morning they were dancing with joy (an African way of thanksgiving) telling us that the child had recuperated from her illness. We only pray and it’s God who heals.
July 14 Peace Talks
We were hoping that the recent Peace talks (held in Zambia, between the two warring parties from Angola, MPLA and UNITA) would be the beginning of the lasting peace for Angola. But it seems that things are not going in that direction. The radio and TV are saying that the UNITA is not complying the agreement of the Peace Treaty, and that the Mobuto army is helping the UNITA in the North. The UNITA is also saying that the Government is using funds to buy over the loyalty of some UNITA leaders.
The people here are really tired of war so much so that any threat to go back to the wartime situation makes the people disheartened. Because of this, the catechists, mothers and elders invited me to their prayer vigil for peace. The whole night of prayers, rosary and singing were attended by around 100 parishioners. Most of all them had lost sons and husbands in the war. For them war is a total evil.
The Bishops f Angola sent out a pastoral letter condemning the controlled media for agitating fro a new war. They emphasized in their pastoral letter that 36 years of war have proved that military solutions are not the real answer to the problems of Angola. The true solutions of it all should only come through sincere dialogue and openness.
The international community specifically the US, EU (European Union) and the United Nations really hopes that the peace would succeed in Angola. They have given the ultimatum (for three weeks) to UNITA to adhere faithfully to the agreement of the Peace Treaty in Lusaka.
We were awakened by the sudden arrival of Fr. Raymund Festin, one of the three Filipino missionaries working here in Angola. He is assigned up North in the remotest and one of the dangerous SVD mission stations in the whole of Angola. He brought to the hospital a very sick Polish confrere who is suffering from acute malaria. For seven hours, he covered the distance of 450 kilometers by car to Luanda, (without brakes!) negotiating the rugged road where the possibility of getting ambushed or blown up by land mines is very real. He arrived safe and sound but very tired. He wanted to go back in the morning to his parish in the mountain, but I calmed him down, pointing out that he had to rest for a day and I had to call the mechanics to fix the brakes of his aging Land Rover.
I want to end this letter with special blessings for you and your loved ones: May you find peace for your heart in a world you do not always understand. May the suffering you have known, and the pain and conflict you have experienced give you strength to walk through life. May you see your future as one filled with promise, as you commit yourself to the love of God, May you always feel loved by God. For with this LOVE you can always forgive and begin again.