By Fr. Efren De Guzman svdDear Misyon Friends,
In the many uncertainties we are experiencing here in Angola or whenever I’m down, I praise and thank God that we have special friends like you, friends with compassionate hearts who wish to pray and support our work for the poorest of the poor.
I don’t know when God will take my life through sickness assault, landmine explosion or accident. So let me tell you, as I try to express this brotherly feeling within the limitations of a letter, how close you are to my heart.
December 1. Some of our friends in Cazega were hesitant to report to the authorities that almost every night in their area, some armed people were entering houses, robbing and raping women. One of the victims was woman who just given birth, later she died of infection. The people were so furious that when they caught the perpetrator, who was a military deserter and a drug addict, they tortured him and burned him alive.December 24. We made a lot of preparation for Christmas:
1. The distribution of food for lepers, handicapped, abandoned old people and orphans.
2. The rehearsal of our drams on the birth of Jesus.
3. Planning and implementing of 1998 reports especially those for the internal refugees whose project proposal need to be presented on the second week of January.
December 29. Another ambush by deserters in Ukua. Some people were wounded others were killed.
December 30. The Government repeated the ultimatum date (Jan. 22) for the UNITA rebels to hive up the rest of their hidden arms. All their offices and assets outside Angola have been closed. Some UN observers commented that the UN Council should also punish the Angolan Government for buying more new arms instead of investing the money for education and livelihood programs and helping demobilized soldiers.
January 1. During our Bible sharing a mentally sick woman, named Mesma, began ringing the Church bell yet again. The people tried to stop her, but to no avail. She would just run away, then later on come back to ring the church bell again. One of our elders name Indo, commented, perhaps, Mesma is a reminder to us of the many mentally sick people roaming around but nobody cares for them. We have centers for the amputees, for the lepers, for the orphans but not a home for the mentally sick.
Fr Efren De Guzman, SVD
Funda Leper Colony, CP 1326