I was 14 years old and had not yet received baptism when I first read what Thérèse de Lisieux had written in one of the pages of her personal journal. These words have accompanied my prayer ever since:
“I would like to travel the earth, to preach your name. A single mission would not suffice for me. At the same time, I would like to proclaim the Gospel in the five parts of the world, and even in the most remote islands. I would like to be a missionary, not just for a few years. I would have liked to have been one since the creation of the world, and will be one until the end of the ages.”
Years later, while attending the Missionary Community of Villaregia in Ivory Coast, I discovered people who were living this vocation, people who were able to give themselves totally to God in ordinary life. I felt this desire growing in my heart and I said, “Lord, I would like to love you in this way, with a total love.”
So, after my high school diploma in the science stream and courses in healthcare, I began the training course to become a missionary. To prepare myself to “travel the earth,” as Saint Thérèse wrote, it was necessary to resume my studies and take courses in religious sciences and pedagogy. Every morning, I walk through the crowded streets of the city to get to the university, facing the daily effort and sacrifice that many young people in my country have to make.
Classes start at 8:00 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m. To arrive on time, I have to wake up at 5:00 a.m., walk a part of the way, and then continue by public transportation. It usually takes me two hours to get there, as in addition to walking, I have to take three different means of public transportation that pass through different neighborhoods. I end with a final stretch on foot. The crowds, the heat, the rain, the traffic jams, the long lines and delays are my daily lot; but I face this daily challenge with joy, offering Jesus the difficulties and unavoidable efforts that this kind of travel requires.
The courses at the faculty are interesting and help me to grow as a person, to deepen my faith, and especially to prepare for the mission that awaits me. I don’t know which continent I will be sent to in the future, but already in my heart, I try to love the people I will serve by living this stage of my training with responsibility and commitment.
I am grateful to God for the experience of studying that I am doing, which gives me the opportunity to deepen the Word of God, to know the documents of the Church, to study the theology of consecrated life, and many other subjects.
I feel supported by my community and by the sisters who welcome me with joy when I come back home exhausted in the evening. They are close to me with their prayers and many gestures of love: so in the morning, I can leave full of strength and accompanied by the presence of God.
Saint Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, in one of his letters: “I do everything for the sake of the gospel.” And I, with these words in my heart and with those of Saint Therese, begin my day as a missionary student on the streets of Abidjan.