Faces Of The Other

By Father Raymund J Festin SVD

Fr Festin, from Odiongan, Romblon, learns some important lessons on being a missionary. We thankThe , published monthly by the Divine Word Missionaries in Ireland, for this article.

Angola is a hauntingly beautiful country lying along a stretch of Africa’s Atlantic shoreline. It is blessed with the choicest gifts of nature: fertile land, an ocean with a plentiful supply of fish, the air is sweet, tropical fruits abound and diamonds and oil flow like milk and honey. In the remote rural areas, time passes at a serene and soft rhythm, unperturbed by the din of war.

Sadly, Angola, formerly so idyllic, became for more than thirty years the scene of ruin and despair. After a long running struggle with the Portuguese, independence was finally won in 1975. Then, Angola’s liberation forces turned their arms against each other. The fledgling nation was ripped apart by a civil war that wrought untold suffering on her people. The many fertile fields, where the people sowed and gathered their harvest, became battlegrounds of terror and wastelands filled with landmines.

The Lost Oranges

By Sr Elinda Moron SSPS

Sr Elinda Moron

I am a missionary assigned to a village called Kindege, about 500 kms from Luanda, the capital city of Angola.  Only heavy-duty vehicles can reach Kindege.  Thank God, there are no land mines, only friendly people waving at us as we pass by.  In war-torn Angola, I have seen and felt God’s unconditional love, which goes beyond race, culture, age and gender.  The people of Kindege are very peace-loving, caring with a faith in God that can move mountains.  “Deus e grande” (God is great) is what they always utter in both painful and joyful situations.

The Day I Became A Refugee

By Sr Rosita Austria ICM

Sr Rosita Austria is a Filipino missionary working in a hospital in Congo, formerly Zaire. Three years ago, some anti-Angola government rebels followed into Congo and attacked the hospital where Sr Rosita and her fellow Sisters treated some Angolan soldiers who sought refuge after an encounter with the Angolan rebels. Below she tells us of that terrifying experience.

Goodbye Angola

By Fr. Efren de Guzman svd

After 20 years of serving in Angola, working with the lepers, some encounter with the danger of death, plus the occasional bouts with loneliness in that far, isolated land, I am now moving on to a new assignment; I will be working with the Jesuits and members of other congregations and lay people in East Timor. Similarly, the main thrust of my life will be on community development. As much as I wouldn’t want to leave Angola and the life will be on community development. As much as I wouldn’t want to leave Angola and the life with the people there I have loved through the years, I have to answer God’s call for me to go to another land. And in my heart I believe God will take care of the people I am leaving behind.

What is the situation in East Timor today? After 24 years of Indonesian oppression and violence in East Timor, a referendum was held on August 1999. it was preceded by terrorization and killing of East Timorese people by Indonesian militia groups to persuade them to vote for integration into Indonesia. The militias destroyed 70% of the buildings, fields and livestock and at the same time forcefully evacuated into West Timor (part of Indonesia) between 250, 000 and 300, 000 East Timorese – some 40% of the population of whom hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

Angola Diary

By Fr. Efren De Guzman svd

Dear 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.

Angola Diary

By Fr. Efren de Guzman, svd

All over Africa refugees and displaced persons are seeking help. Fr. Efren recently attended a meeting to help those involved in refugee work.

May 9: I arrived in Lusaka, the capital city of Angola, and visited the refugees between the frontiers of Angola and Zambia. I’ve seen some Hutu and Tutsi and some Zairian refugees. Loren Kabila, the new President of Congo, expelled President Mobuto and changed the name of Zaire to Republic of Congo and the people said that what happened to Zaire was just a change of dictators.

Angola Diary

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.

Hope Is 9 Novices!

By Sr. Evelyn S. Jose, SSpS

I arrived here in Luanda, almost at midnight. We waited more than three hours to get my suitcase. Finally, at 3:30 a.m. we were on our way to my new house. I noticed that we were the only ones on the road. All of a sudden I heard gun shots and the sister who was driving stopped. Oh dear, I thought, this is it. When I looked back, I say a group of policemen, one was calling back. He seemed to be drunk – the others were giving us a sign to keep going. What now?” I said. My superior who was sitting beside me said, “Keep calm sister, that’s nothing. They just wanted to greet you.”

Angola Diary

By Fr. Efren de Guzman, SVD

 Let me just share with you some recent events that happened this hot and rainy season. Don’t be upset with my stories. Just pray. Remember, anything beyond your control is not so much your problem. And may the things happening give you inspiration to have a compassionate heart—ready to forgive and understand, trying to be flexible and adaptable in every opportunity and concrete situation.

January 30

In the upper mountain of Kifangondo a drunk policeman lobbed a hand grenade at the people who were at a funeral wake, we brought the seriously wounded to the hospital. To our horror, the culprit was tortured then imprisoned. People said that he was a feiticeiro, a witch or a person possessed by the evil one. This fetishism is part of the culture and some attribute it to deep dreams. Anything bad that happened in their lives –accidents, sicknesses death –has its human cause. They always try to discover the human source of bad luck with help of the Kimbanda (witch-hunter, seer, diviner). One who is accused of being a feiticeiro must suffer tremendously and die. You can imagine the abuses this leads to.

Angola Diary

Fr. Efren de Guzman, SVD

As we prepare this article from Fr. Efren the news from Angola is bad. Things have deteriorated again and the longed for reconciliation between UNITA and the Angola Government seems far away. In the midst of very difficult material and physical circumstances, Fr. Efren and his little group struggle on. It is amazing that he finds time at all to write these brief thoughts, memories, dreams and prayers, special mixture which we call Angola Diary.