My Journey In The Holy Land and My Visit To Zambia by Sr Agnes Morgan
Sr Agnes Morgan writes: I began my Sabbatical in the Holy Land. I attended the Scripture course at Ecce Homo in the month of June 2013. The theme was Rediscover Jesus in the Land with Matthew. For me it was a truly wonderful experience and it will stay with me. The Sion Sisters were very welcoming and made us all feel so much at home. The course consisted of Lectures on St. Matthews Gospel, Catholic/Jewish relations, 50 years after Vatican II, Introduction to Judaism, Understanding Islam, Eastern & Oriental Churches, the complex realty of Palestine/Israel and the complex realty of Israel/Palestine. Apart from all the lectures just to be in the land of Jesus and walk through the market place gave me a real feeling of what life may have been like in the Lord’s time.
Of all the wonderful places we visited the one most vivid to me is Bethlehem University, the only Catholic university in Jerusalem run by the Christian Brothers, Four Israeli students told us about their life and struggles living in occupied Jerusalem. They answered plenty of questions afterwards. This gave a sense of what life is really like living in Jerusalem.
Our two days in the wilderness of the desert gave a feeling of wonder and expectation. Our reflection began with “In those days John the Immerse appeared in the wilderness of Judea” (Matt. 3:1) and we stood in that very desert. We could see with our eyes, touch, and allow the earth to run through our fingers. We looked out over the area extending west of the lower Jordan and Dead Sea into the central plateau or hill country. It was good to float in the Dead Sea. Anyone who has been knows how strange it feels. We encountered the flowers and animals of the wilderness. Truly a great experience. When I hear or read any wilderness texts lots of memories and pictures come flooding back.
The four days in Galilee by the lake was a memory to treasure. Just to be able to sit by the lake in the evening or early morning and look across at lights and life in the distance but the sad part was to hear the gunfire coming across from Syria and to think of the suffering that the people there are enduring. On our way back to Jerusalem we stopped for a short prayer service and silent prayer for the people of Syria. The boat trip on the lake is hard to describe especially when we stopped in the middle of the lake for meditation. So many biblical text came to mind; this was the lake that Jesus loved and had so much to teach his disciples.
Our group was 34 in number from different parts of the world. We all got on well together and were a very happy group. Some were from India, UK, America – the largest group was from Australia. There was a good mixture of lay and religious. There were lots of happy times together with some socials in the evenings and going out together to explore places and find things of interest to us. It was lovely to mingle with the people in the streets and have an iced peppermint drink and watch the Jewish men come and go to prayer at the Wailing Wall. It was good to meet up with some of the group in Australia when I visited there but that is for another time……
My Visit To Zambia
On Thursday 20th March we arrived in Zambia. The first thing that struck me was the intense heat. Sisters Christina and Marianne were there to give us a warm welcome. Driving from the airport to Roma was an experience with lots of traffic, people and more especially all the green fields with lots of trees. Our base was the Formation House in Roma. Sr. Caroline also gave us a great welcome. That evening we had Mass in the Regional House where we were greeted by Sisters Margaret Mary, Madeleine and the sisters living in the school house. Fr. Peter Paul was the Celebrant. On Saturday the Region had a meeting and in the evening we all gathered in the Regional House for a barbeque. It was good to meet so many.
My visit to Zambia has been the experience of a life time. There was a great welcome and hospitality from all the sisters everywhere we visited. We were welcomed in song and presented with lovely gifts. Travelling on the roads was an experience – some were good and we travelled on dirt roads also. We were lucky as the rainy season was over and we did not get into difficulties. Travelling on the dirt roads we experienced what was affectionately called the “Zambian Massage”. There were many market stalls set up at different points on the road. They were set out with fruit and various vegetables. We also saw many villages just off the road and lots of exotic birds and butterflies.
Having the opportunity of visiting some of the sisters’ ministries was a privilege. We visited the Under 5 Clinic and some of the villages. We met pupils in the schools and these children loved having their photos taken. They are Zambia’s future. The Victoria Falls was a magnificent sight. We also met with the Associates of Mary Aikenhead in Livingstone. Our visit to Chaminuka Game Reserve was great as we saw animals in their own habitat.
It was wonderful to be part of the Holy Week Liturgies in Roma Parish. The highlight was Holy Saturday night when the Church came alive at the Gloria. There was great rejoicing, great singing and dancing as the women transformed the Church setting the altar with flowers and candles.
The visit has left me with lots of memories to treasure.