By Fr. Ferdinand S. Tomo, SSS
Responding to the challenge of missionary work was not an easy decision for me to make. I asked a lot of deep questions of myself before I finally accepted the mandate given to me by my superior, such as “Am I ready for the work? Am I ready to leave my comfort zone and devote myself into this new but unfamiliar missionary endeavor?"
I know my character and I know that I take after my namesake. Thus I can say I am a man of adventure. I like adventures and I am passionate enough to discover new things, learn new things and set up the best perspective to reach my life's vision with determination and courage. But the very reason why I was sent here is for me to discover my true vocation.
Ministering here in Uganda is like second Novitiate for me. I have more time for myself here compared to the very busy pastoral work I had been doing before coming here. I have more time for reading, studying, writing songs and other literary works. I have more time for silence, prayer and personal meditation and reflection. Although I also help in the pastoral work of the parish like mass in the Basic Ecclesial Communities, Schools (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels) and other various ministries, the workload is not too much and we manage everything with ease and passion.
The community and parish where I belong are very manageable. Life is simple and serene. Being in a third world country like Uganda, the great challenge is how to survive living on limited means. But then that’s where our creativity would emerge, and it is in overcoming these obstacles that we find achievement and fulfillment.
It’s been more than four months since I arrived here in Uganda to minister and accompany my brothers in the community. There is a sense of urgency in everything I do: learn the local language as fast as I can, understand their culture and live the way they live in terms of food, behavior, style, etc., learn to drive on the opposite side of the road and use their means of transportation like the ‘boda-boda’, even though there is a semblance of fear and risk. Seeing the way people live here would sometimes allow me to reflect on my own vulnerability, and the experiences would lead me to recall my own roots and life history. It is true that people who have much in life sometimes become wasteful, self-centered and indifferent. Having wealth, power and prestige could make one feel superior to others. Going on mission here has been an eye-opener for me personally and I look with admiration at the people I’ve seen and met here. I admire the sincerity of their hearts, words, feelings and actions. I admire the way they treat people with respect. I admire the way they value family, community and tribe. I admire the way they express their faith and love in God.
I sometimes felt that I have lost track of my own life and just going with the tide. But this time I am at home with myself ... I have found a new home here in Uganda.