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Unpacking my Packed Luggage: How Covid-19 Affected my Appointment to Lemek, Kenya

“[The Lord] will rebuild the ancient ruins, [he] will raise up the former devastations; and [He} will repair the ruined cities; the desolations of many generations (Isaiah 61:4).” This message of the prophet Isaiah to the exiled Israelites is what the world is longing to hear when all hope seems to be shattered in this critical time of the pandemic. I am sure the current situation of the world is a completely new experience which the world had not had before. The situation is pandemic in its literal sense.

We may talk of the world wars but these were not of the same intensity as Covid-19 pandemic. Even all other outbreaks like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Spanish flu, Cholera, Meningitis, etc., combined have not affected the world in the same gravity as we see it in the current crisis of Corona virus. Corona has literally imposed new lifestyle on the world. It has even come up with its own expression/language. Above all it has taught us new human values. For example, the pandemic has taught us that humanity is one without such distinctions as rich and poor, black and white, educated and uneducated, men and women, first world and third world, politicians and the citizenry. The pandemic has placed the whole world under lockdown with no hope of normalcy in the near future. Today, we cannot congregate for worship, no football games, no fun, no nothing.

It is against this background that I would like to share my experience of the aborted plans of taking up my first missionary appointment to Ngong Diocese in Kenya. On 24th of January 2020, I was ordained in the church of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Ocodri Parish, Arua Diocese, Uganda. This day will indeed remain a memorable day in my life. This was to be followed by two months of holiday prior to taking up my appointment in late March. However, six days to the end of my holiday, the first positive case of corona virus was confirmed in Uganda. Thus I began sensing danger of whether I would be able to take up my appointment immediately. Worse still, two days before the end of my holiday, my beloved country Uganda was placed under 14 days of lockdown hence my hopes of reporting were cut short. Since then the lockdown has been increased perpetually with no hopes of lifting it any time soon. This is due to the fact that the number of new cases has kept going up steadily.

This has left me with no option other than getting involved in passive mission in my home parish. I now reside in my home parish with my parish priest. We continue to celebrate daily masses for the community and for the intentions of the world. But I am still hopeful that one day corona virus will become history and life will get back to normal. The message of prophet Isaiah to the exiled Israelites that one day the Lord will lift them up again to be a people with their own dignity and rights and new identity remains my only hope against the corona pandemic. I am optimistic that one day I will report to Lemek to take up my appointment. May the Risen Lord the source of new life raise us up from this ash heap of corona virus.

Stay home, Stay safe.

Fr Epiti William MHM.

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