Articles from Third Ministries!
Despite only being here for a few months, one of the ways I have felt quite “blessed” is the sense of community with which working at CATUC and living here on the archdiocese grounds has filled me with. My experience here in Cameroon so far might actually be better described as a sense of belonging to a large extended family. Yes we are all co-workers and neighbors but there really seems to be a much deeper connection that goes to the level of family and friendship. Let me share an example.
Even before I had started working my future co-workers came and searched me out to welcome me to the university. They had been and continue to be friends with my predecessor and when they knew I had arrived, they made a point to come to my apartment to welcome me in person. As I have gotten to know them, along with others at CATUC I genuinely feel as if I have been adopted into a wider “human” family. There is no need for special invitations for lunch, it is almost implied that we can all just meet in one of the canteens and catch up.
This informal time together and sense of community also extends to my experience at my apartment. Pretty much on a daily basis when I am walking home, I am greeted by those neighbors who are outside. When I get upstairs to the veranda, it becomes time to debrief the day, harass each other, and laugh. Our time on the veranda, which overlooks a large portion of the grounds, usually includes heckling and being heckled by anyone who is walking past on the opposite road near the priest’s house. Apparently simply being within earshot is reason enough to begin a conversation! Unlike back in the US, here in Cameroon it is really inconceivable that you would not know your neighbors and at a minimum stop to greet them and inquire about their day. Maybe not everyone would appreciate this aspect of life here but for someone who is an extrovert it is like having a mini homecoming each day.
One final appreciation that I want to share which seems to have recently begun to take root in me and for which I know I will not be able to adequately articulate is this sense of an un-compartmentalized day. Back in the US I am so used to having categories for my day like time for work, time for prayer, time for shopping, etc. But what I am beginning to sense here in Cameroon (and maybe in all of Africa) is that life is less about categories and rather more about a sense of wholeness throughout the day. Life is less about deliverables and deadlines, and more about your relationship with others. There seems to be a greater sense of an “organic whole” and an allowing for the day to simply unfold naturally. I sense less of a need to ensure that I check off everything on my to-do list but instead to allow for the day to present what it may; whether it is unexpectedly ending up at a friend’s house for hours, or being absorbed into watching the national soccer game while shopping at the main market, or sitting down to meet new people as my friend Ina gets an unplanned for pedicure.
As I continue my stay here in Cameroon I am quite appreciative of this growing sense of an organic whole in my day and I hope this momentum will expand and take a deeper root in my heart!!!
Marco Svoboda served as a core team member for Catholic Central, the young adult group that preceded Third Ministries. He has been involved with young adult ministry in various capacities for almost a decade; among which include facilitating a meditation center at a university. Practicing and sharing meditation in the Christian tradition have been at heart of his ministry because he sees the importance of deepening ones prayer life as essential to an intimate relationship with Christ. He is currently on missionary assignment with the Lay Mission-Helpers Association serving as a Campus Minister at a Catholic university in the Archdiocese of Bamenda, Cameroon. Please keep him in prayer as he seeks to answer the call of discipleship.