Three years ago an African priest visiting our area asked our family if we would welcome into our home a nun from Tanzania who was studying in New Jersey and who needed a break. We said yes, and Sr. Gaudiosa arrived wearing her blue habit, speaking broken English, but flashing a smile which drew everyone to her.
Since then she has been here four times, even spending two Christmas vacations with us. We've taken her to the movies, we've gone bowling (she bowled a strike on her very first try), we've traveled (to Atlanta and South Carolina), and once, after a visit to the planetarium, we returned home and used flashlights and rubber balls to explain the workings of the Solar System.
We are blessed from knowing her. Just being in her presence makes us kinder and gentler.
From Tanzania to Augusta, GA ... we both still marvel at that.
Sister is now studying at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic University in San Antonio, TX where she is working on a Master's Degree in Social Work. We email and talk on the phone occasionally.
In the meantime, I have been writing on two fronts. Personally, I have written some "sister stories" which I have shared both here, and through various presentations I have done at a Women's Bible Study. I even had one of those stories published in Canticle Magazine. Professionally, I am still working for a Catholic Company and writing articles that go into parish newsletters. These articles involve interviewing people from all over the United States.
A few weeks ago I received an assignment to write an article on a couple from Bismarck, ND who will be spending three months this summer serving as missionaries in Kenya. I spoke with the couple for a long time. They explained their work in Africa, and during the course of the conversation I mentioned our family's connection to Africa by way of a Sister from Tanzania.
There was a pause on the phone. Then, "Is your nun by chance studying in Texas?" they asked.
"Uhm ... yes. In San Antonio. Her name is Sr. Gaudiosa," I replied.
"We know her!" they exclaimed. "We had to go to San Antonio for discernment training, and we met with several sisters from Africa who shared some insights with us. Sister sang and danced for us! She taught us some words in Swahili!"
I was overcome with emotion. Sister has sung and danced for us many times, too. She taught us how to say jambo (hello) and asante sana (thank you). When she visited our boys' school, she taught the class the Our Father in Swahili.
But more than anything, I was humbled on how God, in creating this vast, beautiful world, can still make it seem small and connected.
Tanzania, Georgia, Texas, North Dakota, Kenya.
Connecting the dots.
|The Augusta Museum of History|
(Sister loved the James Brown exhibit)
|Visiting Timothy's Kindergarten class|
|Sister dancing and singing for us|
|Sister, Joe, and the boys|