RSCJ Uganda/Kenya Province | Sharing my story

DO NOT BE AFRAID, TRUST AND BELIEVE

Irene Mmbaya, RSCJ Irene Mmbaya, RSCJ

I am the first born of eight children together with my elder step sister. I was born in 1976. I thank the Lord for His goodness and love for me and my family. I was born in a God-fearing family with my parents being members of special prayer groups in the church. They extended this to the family where we had prayer daily. As we grew up, this inspired me to love prayer.

My desire to serve the Lord began during my catechism classes and while in the junior legionaries group when we used to visit the sick, pray for them and do works of charity. Coming back to the group, each small group would share how their mission had been. In my parish, I never saw any sisters since there were none. I read of them and of their works which deepened my desire to be like them, to pray and visit the sick.

At the age of thirteen, while in standard eight, I lost my vision. This was a testing moment for me and the family. During seven dark months, I felt the light of Christ all around me, especially through my family and friends who visited. In my anguish and search for Christ’s healing, I felt His word to me: “Do not be afraid, trust and believe”. To cut the story short, I regained my vision and went back to school and promised to give my life to the service of the Lord. This was a moment of rebirth which called for new life in me.

Since then my desire to serve God increased and after school, I shared with my parish priest who gave me the contact addresses of different congregations. I applied to three different congregations and had said to myself that the first to arrive, that would be God’s will. Indeed a letter from the Society of the Sacred Heart arrived after a week and I was invited for a live-in.
This is when I came to know about the Sacred Heart Sisters; I was touched by their simplicity, joy and prayer which drew me to them. I became an aspirant working at Kipchoge Home, Eldoret, and the following year I studied at St Paul’s Teacher Training College, Kenya. When I had completed the training, I asked to become a postulant and was accepted. I joined our community in Chekalini, Kenya, and taught in the nearby Koromaiti Primary School.

A year later, I became a novice, a period of two years for me to ponder the call received. Sharing our stories in the novitiate helped me to appreciate each one’s story, for I saw God in each of the stories. Long periods of prayer helped me deepen my relationship with God in prayer.

On December 7th 2002, I made my first vows, saying “yes” to the One who called me. As a professed of temporary vows, I was able to touch many young souls at Father Boyle Primary School, Tach Asis, Kenya, and St Bernadette’s Primary School, Nakibizzie, Uganda. What joy filled my heart seeing the children grow and happy.

A moment to live deeply is the love and joy I experienced on January 30th 2011, in Rome, when I said my “Yes” to God forever.

I went back to see him after ten days. I had made my choice to go on with my studies. When I shared with my parents they were happy and my dad said, “After school you are free to do whatever you want with your life so long as you share your plans with us.” I felt at ease and happy with my decision. While at the university I continued praying to God to guide me and help me realize my dream.

On completion of my studies, I started thinking seriously about my future. I decided to arrange all my books at home so that also I could save space for my siblings. To my surprise my heart was just praising God when I removed the newspaper at the bottom of my box and I came across the letter I had received from the Society of the Sacred Heart. I recited three Hail Marys thanking God. I stopped all I was doing and wrote an application letter to the vocation promoter. I gave it to my dad to post it as he was going to town the following day.

The day I got a letter from the Society of the Sacred Heart replying to mine, I realized I had made it; I shouted with acclamations of joy. I felt God had ever been on my side and Mary had ever been interceding for me. The joy I experienced drew me very close to God. All through my life in times of joy and desolation, God had been holding me and guiding me.

May God who has called me, and continues to call me, give me the grace to always be ready to say “yes” to whatever He may ask of me and to look to Him alone, whom I desire to please in all things. These are graces I especially pray for in this year dedicated to Consecrated Life.