In the summer of 2012 I came to the USA from the Congo in order to complete my studies in Spiritual Direction at Creighton University and to celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving in various parishes that helped me throughout my years of seminary formation in Los Angeles. At the outset, I was very excited for this vacation from my ministry in Tshumbe – getting a little break from the children, men and women who did not want me to leave.
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Serious health problems have kept me in America from the summer of 2012 up to today. After several tests and contradictory diagnoses, I learned that my liver had been affected. The possible source was a virus in the unsanitary water that I used to drink all the time I was growing up in my village. Had I not come to America, I would be dead by now. I thank God for my American doctors! The one who made the correct diagnosis said, “You must be from the family of elephants because you are still alive.” Things have improved and I have recovered, even though the liver will no longer fully work.
I will never cease to work for the mission of God that I started in my diocese. While I was sick, I asked our Lord not to take my life before I realized my dream of bringing his mother to the people of Saint Mary Church in Tshumbe by building a shrine to Mary.
Even though I was stuck in the hospital bed in the USA, this wish was miraculously granted. Through the generosity of American people who saw me near death, we were able to build a grotto in Tshumbe. I have heard that the people of the diocese come from long distances to pray in Tshumbe and the grotto has been a spiritual oasis for many. I thank the Lord for the wonders he does.
While I was away, the work with unwed teen moms and their children continued. The Marie-Catherine Center continues to care for the kids of the mothers, some of whom went back to school and others who have gone on to vocational preparation. You see the children in the film Day Care 1. Thank God for all this. We also renovated houses for the elderly and handicapped, and distributed plastic containers for water.
Our project “Dress a woman with $25” has provided clothes to women in impoverished areas, and is still in the fund-raising stage. There are women in Tshumbe who are so poor that they wear a loincloth and flip-flops. If you feel moved to help clothe them, please let me know.
The long-term plan for the Marie-Catherine Center includes the construction of a well in order to provide clean water. I know from personal experience how dangerous the lack of good water can be. I have suffered the effects.
I have to stop here because I know longer have a laptop and I use the computer of the parish office here at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Florida where I am in residence. I will soon be moving to Washington, D.C., for further medical care. God is good to me and I will never grow weary of serving him.