HOW WE CAME TO ZIMBABWE
During the last decade of the past century, the feeling of diversifying our missionary work began to gather momentum. In community talks as in provincial meetings, there was a desire to look for new challenging missionary areas. This feeling reached the XV Provincial Chapter of the Claretians of Betica, held on December 1998 and the Chapter´s Document asking to strengthen our missionary service with the explicit recommendation to the new Provincial Government of “studying the possibility of starting a mission in Africa along the sexenium”.
In April 1998, the General Government showed its conformity and offered some orientations for the discernment. After a period of searching and contacts, communication was established with the Bishop of Gokwe Diocese, H. G. Michael D. Bhasera, who during a visit to Spain got in contact with our Provincial Superior. In February 1999, he answered officially requesting our presence in his Diocese.
In April Provincial Council, the Provincial Government of Betica took the decision to found a new mission in Gokwe Diocese.
In June 2000, the first missionary team for Zimbabwe was appointed. On January the 29th, 2002, Frs. Amador Núñez, Antonio Llamas and Luis Mª Guerrero arrived in Harare.
Landing in Zimbabwe and in the Mission was not an easy task. We met a culture and language totally different from our own. The expectation of us, in many ways and literally, was «to become a child»: learning to speak and move in another culture and country. For us it was necessary to show a great amount of humility. We had to learn, at least in the beginning, to «see, hear and keep silent». There were plenty of things to learn from this culture and people, that were new for us.
In other aspects, Zimbabwe was not in its best moment. The economy had begun a downward spiral that would touch rock bottom in 2008. This situation added to other types of difficulties that forced us to share even the physical hunger and shortages of a great part of the population. As Claretians we tried to face all these and other difficulties, including lack communication (no phone, no internet), electricity, etc. All this helped us to better understand and share the hard life of the people in that first Gwave Mission. When we landed, the year was already advanced; after staying some time here and there, learning the language and culture, we began our missionary work.