The Couples Reach Libya
By Veronica Ugates
Libya is on the north coast of Africa. At one time, a couple of thousand years ago, it was part of the Roman Empire. In fact that was where St. Augustine’s famous city of Hippo was. Today it is a Muslim country but Christians are allowed a little room for movement, quite unlike some other countries in North Africa. Veronica Ugates, together with a Filipino community there through a beautiful spiritual experience had got involved in the Couples for Christ. The Couples for Christ is an organization which tries to help husband and wife to pull together in the same direction, to bring their life in line with Christ and supports family values in the light of the Gospel. A great organization. Here you will see how it flourishes even in the deserts of far-of Libya.
I have been working in Tripoli for the past 15 years. In all those years I have been completely indifferent to the things that were going on around me. In 1987 I met Armando, married him and the following year had my baby. My world revolved around my family’s needs. However, at the time I delivered my daughter by caesarian. I underwent an unforgettable experience. I almost died while on the operating table because I developed an aberrant reaction to the drug syntocinon.
I almost got there
I was asleep, then Sunday I found myself looking at myself on the table. I was somewhere above the theater lights and looking downwards while the nurses and the doctor was galvanized to action because I fibrillated (an irregular convulsion of the of the muscular wall of the heart). I could her then clearly as one commented. “Why did she fibrillate? She has no history of heart problem.”
Then I went forward into a very dark tunnel and I spoke to myself, “Hanggang dito na lang pala ako. Anong magagawa ko?” but though the tunnel was very dark and I could not hear nor see anything I felt envelop by a very profound sense of peace. I felt very content. And I thought, “Hindi naman pala istrikto ang Diyos.” Because I did not think of myself as deserving of heaven and yet I felt I was going that way. Then suddenly I woke up with a terrible pain all over my body. I kept saying, “It’s painful, it painful.”
That experience did not change me at all. I can clearly recall those moments but I thought that was only it. It was back to earthly existence. But in November 1997, a CLP (Christian Life Program) was conducted here in Tripoli to which my husband and I attended. My objective was perhaps to find some ways to ease the difficulties. I was experiencing in our marriage.
Couldn’t Say No
It was then that I met Fr. Jose Latigio, ofm. And upon hearing the experience I had had Fr. Joe told me perhaps that experience was to wake me up to the knowledge that I have not done something useful with my life so far. Fr. Joe initiated the sessions for married couples to contribute in the making of the pre-cana seminar lecture notes. There were four or five couples invited at a time. Since I worked as a medical secretary with access to a typewriter and computer, I got the job of collating the contribute materials. At the same time, we were also chosen as members of the pastoral team of Couples for Christ. So whether we liked it or not, I was not given the choice to go back to my shell.
That was two years ago. So far we have conducted several CLPs and pre-cana seminars. At the same time I was asked to form the group that composed the feature writers for the newsletter, at first with the Couples for Christ newsletter and later with the Church newsletter.
Fight for an Abused Child
Recently we got involved in seeking justice for a sexually abused child whose case would have been cast into limbo had not some concerned Filipinos banded together to support this unfortunate mother and her daughter. This has been a tough struggle so far because a lot of people would rather not get involved. And the man who was involved has a lot of friends in the community whereas the mother is not from Tripoli and she has the disadvantage of being a single parent. I have to bear with a lot of indifference and sometimes downright hostility even from those people I thought would be more supportive.
The Hope is Up
At present the case is on trial. We still do not know the outcome. But we have not lost our hope that justice can be achieved. We only hope that the witness will not give way because the opposite camp is trying to intimidate her.
Thanks to the Almighty, we are able to extend our support and I am doubly glad that my husband is supportive enough to the stand I have taken, that is what Couples for Christ is about.