My experience with the Daughters of St. Paul, Nairobi

Ever been in a situation where you get inside a house looking for something but can’t really figure out what it is? The feeling is just weird. You try to move your eyes all over and let your hands land on so many objects, before you finally set your eyes on the particular one you were looking for, and then you take a deep breath as your whole body experiences a momentary peace.

This feeling of “thirst”, a thirst that can only be quenched by finding or coming in contact with what you’re looking for is not new. St. Augustine felt the thirst and he went on looking for something to quench it. Finally, he was quenched when he found God and as a result he wrote, “God you have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Too much analogies, right? Let me spare you that. When I stepped my feet in the compound of the Daughters’ of St .Paul, I felt fulfilled. It all began at the bookshop at the Holy Family minor basilica in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. There I met one beautiful Sister called Sr Eunice. I wondered, “This beautiful woman could have been someone’s wife and mother too, but now she’s a sister! Anyway, Jesus really deserves nothing but the best.”

Back to the convent, Immediately I got into their gate I felt like, wow! this is the place I have been looking for, this is the place that left my heart thirsting and vacant for a long time. How do I describe this feeling? I bet the same way a baby feels when sleeping on its mother’s lap.

This was just the beginning. Later that same evening I met my fellow aspirants: five young ladies whose names I recall vividly; Mary, Mildred, Ann, Mercy and Linet. They all looked cool, composed and ready for the retreat. However, each of them had an interesting trait that made  them unique from the rest. Mary and Mildred would laugh literally at everything, I mean everything. Ann and Mercy on the other hand, were the silent type, laughing and talking only when there was need. Then I, the talkative one, just ready to give my input on whatever discussion that came up. sometimes I feel bad about this part of me! Anyway the story about each aspirant’s character is for another day…let me say something about the sisters.

It will be unfair if I don’t say anything about two friendly sisters who spent a better part of the retreat with us. Sr Catherine Wanza and Sr.Noel Lucy are probably the humblest people I have met in my life. I found the latter more interesting. I loved her vibes, there was something in her I found attractive, I don’t as yet know what it exactly was, but I bet it her simplicity and outgoing nature, humorously narrating her experiences as a missionary adds to it. Basically, each person had something unique that I admired, the smiles, the accents, the simplicity and so on. Honestly, I loved this place and its people or is it what they call, “love at first sight?”

One look at the drafted program and I knew my stay was going to be more relaxed than I expected. It was not long before I left class work and two sessions a day was nothing to complain about. These were the best classes I have ever had, you know, taking a five- minutes break to listen to some music or maybe do some dancing! I love fun moments, I could be a comedian, who knows .

The most interesting part of the day was in during the morning prayers just before the Mass. the aura in the chapel was heavenly, especially with the chanting of the psalms. The sisters looked so gorgeous together in their white veils and the blue habits. The environment was peaceful. I was lucky to sit next to one sister with such an angellic voice! I was lost in this beautiful atmosphere and the reality of having to leave after four days hit so badly. Anyway, I could not let that fact kill the joy of what was unfolding in me.

Time literally flew and we came to the last day of the retreat. The climax was remarkable, I remember vividly the walk in the publishing department. Oh! I loved this place a big deal. As we moved from one section of the department to the next, I could not help but imagine myself in one of the them. May the grace of God be upon my desire.

The next tour was at the studio. I remember telling my colleagues how we will do a radio drama if we make it together for the come and see program.

That last night as we cut the cake with the sisters, the fact of leaving dawned on me. I remember feeling quite emotional. just looking at the sisters young and old, sitting together, laughing and happy having given their all to Jesus. I so deeply wished time would pass fast and I’ll be one of them. Some of them were ageing and this rang an alarm of Jesus’ words in my heart, “the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.”

It was time to say something about how we got to know about the Daughters of St Paul. All my colleagues had interesting stories. I felt mine was just ordinary because a friend had told me about the sisters and I got attracted because their charism of ministering through media matched my degree programme at the university. All along I wanted to be a religious but I had not decided which congregation I wanted to join. At that moment though, I felt like it was not a mere coincidence, it was completely the plan of God to land here. Something or do I say some voice inside me whispered, “Teresia this is where you belong.”

Alas! It was barely a week and yet, I felt a great sense of belonging but as the saying goes all that has a beginning has an end, this was the end of my retreat, all enjoyable and fruitful all glory to Jesus the Master, Way, Truth and Life.

Teresia Muia Sivu, Aspirant.

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