don Mattia Zuliana was ordained a priest on the 24th of June. This letter recounts some of his first experiences of mission in Ol Moran, Kenya, where he spent his diaconate year.

Dear friends,

I am writing to you just after knocking off the dust from a trip in Jeep, during which I finally began to drive. I went to Kinamba to welcome some benefactors of our mission who will stay with us until to tomorrow in order to visit our works. I was accompanied by John, the handyman of the parish, who, last week, taught me how to ride a pikipiki (motocicletta).

Around the parish, where I live with Fr. Giacomo and Fr. Paul, there are cultivated fields that I love to cross when I pray the rosary. Especially in this period, there are different workers hired for the cultivation of sprouts, tomatoes, and carrots, under the supervision of Fr. Paul. The tractors underway in the early morning, while in the background you can hear the bells, remind me of my home in Brianza. The expanse of fields, pasture, and savannah runs all the way to Mt. Kenya, which every now and then appears impressively on the horizon. In the midst of this nature there are the 20 out-stations (chapels) of the parish, situated in localities of variegated names in which, in turn, we go to celebrate the Mass. There is a different prevalence of tribe in each of the chapels. It is extremely beautiful to enter the small churches of mud and hay and find the faithful dressed in their Sunday best (especially the women with their traditional clothing) as they practice the songs of their liturgy.

I would like to recount two experiences from this period. With don Giacomo, I visit the boarding school near the parish. Due to a prolonged absence on his part, I began to follow the kids in their recitation of Night Prayer in his place, which they pray at 9:30 every evening all together. My role is simple: I lead the prayer, accompanying them on guitar, and then I wish them a good night. It was fundamental to pray to the Virgin Mary to help me to encounter these kids, and, one day, it happened that, after Mass, I came across some of the students and we began to chat. George, who is a junior, invited me to play chess with him. With another two, I went all out playing Ping-Pong. Another girl wanted to learn the songs from Night Prayer and a teacher told me that it would be wonderful if I could teach them music.

A second experience is the blessing of the houses. Normally, near 9AM the responsible of the jumuiya (community) that we will visit; I take the jeep and begin to drive around the surrounding area of the parish. I pass the cultivated fields, or the trails for the goats, or in the midst of the shrubs (obviously on the first day I got a flat-tire). I finally get to the boma (fence), where normally the husband and wife are there waiting for you. I explain briefly what we will do: despite the fact that all of them know the reason for the visit a sort of introduction is necessary. After this “briefing,” we say a prayer and then I begin to bless everything. Being as there is not a single house but an entire boma, the zones are divided: there is the “kitchen” hut, the “dining room” hut, the granary, the bedrooms, the hut of the chickens and of the goats, the paddock of the cows. Then there are the fields, the basin of rainwater, the mango and avocado plants. And, in the end, the tombs, which are usually piles of earth in the garden or in the fields.

I am very grateful for this initial period. I am able to live my silence profoundly during the day, reflecting in particular on my approaching ordination to the priesthood and on my desire to depend totally on God.

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