On the 2nd of March 2013, ten days before my 29th birthday I visited Ngome. I went to Ngome pilgrimage because there was an opportunity to, I was curious and felt that the trip came at a time when I needed divine intervention beyond daily prayers.
On our way there I had mixed feelings, anxiety, confusion and fear. I was anxious and confused, mainly due to the logistics of getting there. I was frustrated because I felt we had taken the longest route to get there and taken too many pit stops, I doubted we’d get there in time for the Mass. I was confused because being the internet junky I am, I did my own little google research on Ngome and places similar to it. I studied miracles of Marian apparitions and went in as far as investigating the validity of such, all through the good ol internet of cause. I read testimonies of people who had been to such places and the origins and causes of Marian apparitions. I honestly read some fascinating stories and some which I took with a pinch of salt. I listened in on a few conversations from people who had been there before. I secretly wish to see the Virgin Mary myself. I needed solid proof that it were all true, the tsibinki in me needed proof! I started to converse with a lady was sitting next to me, unfortunately, she like myself, was going there for the first time. She shared stories of miracles she’d heard about Ngome, how people lives had turned around since visiting the Holy site and so on. I was too damn curious.
The road to Ngome is absolutely breath taking. The brown and yellow colour contrast of the soil, the uneven landscape, the green forrest of Pine trees, neatly aligned in straight rows and in some parts scattered randomly. I found myself lost in the beauty of the place and my mind began to wander. Kana I’m a Pisces it takes very little for me to go into lala-land mode, I thought of all the beautiful blessings I’d get after my visit. All the money and ‘luck’ I’d have. The fancy car I’d drive and the beautiful house I’d live in. I thought visiting this place would be an instant fix to all my problems. After the 5/6 hour drive to Ngome, we eventually arrived, just about an hour before the 18:00 Saturday night vigil mass. We were traveling with the Sacred Heart Sodality and had gotten a few empty seats that were available in the bus. A few others and myself, who were not members decided to stick together as we feared we’d lose the rest of the group as they wore their uniform and it would naturally become difficult to track them down. They left the bus and went joined their fellow Sodality members and we went about together.
As we entered the Holy land, I felt shivers down my spine. I knew it wasn’t the weather because they clouds were clear. We had joined other groups of people who were coming from the Free State and Swaziland. One lady from the Free State led the group to prayer and worship. We had a ‘normal’ mass and my eyes were all over the place like my five-year old in a toy store. Prior to the mass, we had an opportunity for confession, those that wanted to confess went in, there were about four priests available for that. While that happened me and another parishioner went and bought books, candles, incense, rosaries and other goodies. By the time we returned it was time for blessings and an opportunity to make special petitions and request. I don’t remember the exact order in which things went from thereon as I was beginning to get cold and sleepy as the night progressed. The area was quite dark, though there is electricity, it must be all those Pine trees and the greenest healthiest lawn I’d ever seen. There was a procession to the chapel, a very small chapel were the faithful went for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we took turns going in and as with any conversations with the Lord, time was lost. Frustration was beginning to build from the people who were at the back of the queue and even the priests that led the procession had a slight challenge of getting out of the chapel. However, we had all found a way to calm down and bring order into things and everybody got an opportunity to adore the Blessed Sacrament. I remember standing on a queue and going in, stunned by the calmness and silence in that room. I entered, knelt before the blessed Sacrament and got lost again in deep conversation with God. Shivers ran down my spine as I’d never felt such a closeness to God. I wanted to cry, scream and shout. I didn’t know what was happening with me. My mind and body were in shock. Mentally I tried to comprehend what was happening to me, but to this day I still can’t explain it, I don’t know what happened but as I continued to pray be burden got lighter. My fellow parishioner came looking for me and I was really surprised that I was in there for about 45 minutes, they were worried that we might lose each other, and I was shocked that I’d taken that long because for me, I felt like I’d spent 5 minutes. I walked out of the small chapel feeling numb. Positive kinda of numb. I was in a state that I can’t and couldn’t explain at that time and to this day.
Like I stated I don’t recall word for word how the events of that night went. I remembered that while I was in the bus, I’d noted all the things I wanted to change in my life, I actually took a piece of paper and noted down all my wishes, like I was writing to a genie. Number one on my list was my faith in action. I wanted to get closer to God. I wanted to actively be involved with my church and make a meaningful contribution to my church community. I prayed about many other things, but mostly, the ability and gift to bring God’s people closer to Him. I feared making selfish requests like being rich and getting a fancy job. I felt like that’s all I ever prayed for so for a change let me ask God for something greater. I must have passed out on my camp chair after everything else that was happening around me, I was woken up by early morning chill. It was about 4:30 and some people had started to pack and retreat to their buses and rooms for those that had been there since Friday. Me and my fellow parishioners did the same. I got onto that bus feeling brand new. I promised myself to always invite God in everything that I did. In every decision and it every way possible.
As the days and months went by, I had to train myself to remember to pray, I researched again what I could do for my parish, I felt that I needed to belong to something in the church. In April, I spoke to a lady who was a Daughters of St. Anne aspirant (later she would become my pillar of strength, my mentor and role model). She told me about the sodality, what they do and who qualifies to be a member. Again, I went to my good old friend Mr. Internet and did some google investigation into the Sodality. I found an email address and sent a query to the Archdiocese President and told her of my intention to join the sodality. On the email I attached a doc I have found online (http://www.moyacatholic.co.za/Daughters) about the Sodality, I needed her advise and confirmation that the document was correct. Turns out it was. She was pleased with me and referred me to the nearest parish where I’d enroll, of course I already knew this. I enrolled and found greater pleasure and pride in being a Catholic woman.
While my spiritual life was taking off, my other life was falling apart, my finances took an uglier turn, my car got broken into, I had plans to extending my parents house, I was building outside rooms and a double garage. Things got very unpleasant at work. I even considered leaving this Sodality, at this point my Mom and Thandi encouraged me not to, their reasons weren’t strong enough to convince me but I decided to stick out and trust the process. I felt like God was not keeping to His end of the deal, I was frustrated and wondered if He hasn’t forgiven me for my past sins. I asked all questions nobody, including the Priests could answer. I continued to pray, though more out of habit than faith, things weren’t getting better. I became depressed, I felt like every aspect of my life was hanging by a weak thread. I soldiered on, I stopped receiving communion, I felt unworthy. A few months later in November I received a call for a job, I was over the moon. I remember laughing and smiling genuinely for the first time in the longest time ever, yes,on the 5th November 2013 I smiled! On the 6th of November and I went for my interview, my nerves on edge and I was mumbling like crazy, sometime during the interview I was convinced I’d screwed things up! Fast forward today, been in the new job for about 6 months. A few months back, after I’d already started, I went for confession and spiritual direction. Try to restore my faith and put things into perspective.
Every Thursday the ladies from my Sodality, Daughters of Saint Anne, gather for bible sharing and spiritual support. We basically check in, invite the holy spirit, sing, pray and worship. In all honesty, I’m seeing changes in my life. Positive changes, I find myself in a position where I trust more and question less. Fear is replaced by faith.
Finding my passion and purpose in life is the gift I’m most grateful for.