Regnum Christi Missionary Amy LeBlanc posts the first of several reports from the Movement’s first mission in South Africa.
After 14,000 miles, 48 hours of travel, 12 hours of layover, and countless attempts of finding funds and support, 18 missionaries from the United States and Mexico watched a red sun rise over South Africa. We had arrived to the first leg of our mission journey: Kruger National Park. An occasional boulder mountain and a baobab tree are all that break the vastness of that African paradise. Despite our jetlag and complete exhaustion, we shouted and pointed and took a million pictures as the giraffe, elephant, warthog, and cape buffalo welcomed us to their homeland. For two hours we drove through a park the size of England. It felt like 20 minutes.
Our camp was called Olifants, Zulu for elephant. From a lookout point, Frs. Juan Guerra and Peter Devereaux, LC celebrated Mass for the missionaries while hippos lazed in the river below. Monkeys chattered in nearby trees and Christ came into Kruger National Park to be with us in our safari-leg of discovering South Africa.
Wild and beautiful. The landscape, the animals, the experience. The one day we spent in Kruger was wild with rhino, zebra, ostrich, impalas, hyena, wildebeest, crocodiles, hippos and baboons. At one point our group stopped to observe five elephants munching on trees by the roadside. The youngest one took offense and proceeded to charge our car. Thank goodness our South African host and tour guide, Mr. Brian Hawkesworth, was alert and elephant savvy enough to speed away before any harm could be done to man, beast or Landcruiser. The beauty of God’s creation spoke to us at every bend as the landscape changed dramatically as we passed rivers and waterholes. Our desire to spot even one wild lion, leopard or cheetah was left unsatisfied, but has left us hungry for more of Africa.
And more of Africa we have had. After Kruger we proceeded on to the Drakensburg Mountains. A day of travel brought us into a new part of the country, one where hairpin turns, steep drops and towering cliffs left us all a little whoozy. Any discomfort was quickly forgotten as we stepped onto solid ground and let the panorama steal our breath away. Our retreat center was tucked into a hillside, across from which was a view of the Drankensburg Mountains that was so close we could almost touch them. Green hills and valleys, craggy rocks and cliffs, footpaths and waterfalls. More overpowering than what sight afforded us, was the absolute silence. Not a plane passed. There was no distant hum of traffic or electric lines. There was only the sound of the wind, the distant waterfall, and an occassional bird. It is impossible to put into words, how God speaks through the beauty and silence of nature. It is an experience one needs to find for oneself. Frs. Juan Guerra and Peter Devereaux, LC celebrated Mass on the hillside with the mountain range as their cathedral . As Christ came to us in Holy Communion, the birds serenaded and the clear sky blessed us. The setting lent itself in every aspect to the evening of reflection and Stations of the Cross we had under the stars. 18 missionaries travelled 14,000 miles to find God. Here in Africa, we have found God through the wild and beautiful animals, the magnifcent scenery, the caress of silence, and the awesomeness of His real presence.
Our discovery continues as missions officially begin Monday morning.