Following in Paul's footsteps - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Lent 2024 newsletter


Gabe Hurrish, South Sudan

Waterhole in Toposaland

Life at the waterhole

I have suffered for the Lord….  (2 Cor 11:22)

The above quote from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians often gives me cause for thought. Why would Paul go through all that suffering for a people he didn’t know? But then, why am I here in Toposaland suffering for these people? My soul begs God to explain all this.

The old woman came up to me and said, “We know you, white man.” Luckily, my translator was with me, and I was able to ask, “Mama, what do you mean?”

‘We watch you struggle in the mud ….’

She looked me directly in the eyes, as all Toposa do and said, “We know you walk long distances like a Toposa. You greet everyone with respect. We watch you struggle in the mud and the water on the roads. We see you wash your feet in the rivers. We know you give tobacco to our adults. You share your clothes with our youth. Our children show us the sweets you give them. You touch our babies. [I always bless the babies of the women who present their newborns to me.] You visit the kraals. We see you pray the rosary. We know you are a man of God.”

That was it. She walked away. I asked my translator what that was all about. He shrugged and said, “People are watching you. They talk about you.”

Another old man said to me, “We see you, white man. We know you can’t speak our language. We know you come from far. But you take time to greet us — the young and the old. You try a few words. You are trying to live with us. You speak to our children with gentleness. That is a good thing.” He too just walked away after having his say.

Sometimes when we move through the shadows of life, we think we see things clearly, but in fact other things are taking shape. We think we need to evangelize using words but in fact it is our actions which people are watching. It is not large or grandiose actions but little things that mean something to the person who is in front of us at the moment. It is a smile. It is a handshake. It is a thank you.

I sometimes ask God why I always find myself in such difficult places and difficult situations. There is usually no answer. That is just the way it is. Do your best no matter where you find yourself. Sometimes you will be lucky and see the success of your life. Other times the mist will shroud you.

St. Paul never questioned his mission. He embraced it. A true inspiration to any missioner today.

I thank all of you for the wonderful support and prayers all these years.

Love and prayers,

Please consider supporting my mission work at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Riwoto, South Sudan, with a donation via the button below. 

If you are able, I invite you to walk with me as a “COMPANION IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 

Gabe Hurrish
Gabe Hurrish works in parish ministry at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Riwoto in the South Sudanese state of Eastern Equatoria. He has served as a Maryknoll lay missioner in South Sudan since 2018.