Refresher Course Reflection: by Monika

Monika Lewatikana
March 15, 2011

Monika Lewatikana

I was so glad that the Columban Fathers in the U.S. Region gave me an opportunity to do a refresher course at Cuernavaca, Mexico. The six weeks were so helpful to me. It was more than language, the cross culture to the new horizon. Three major topics that came up to me during that course were politics, culture, history and tradition, and faith (religion).


They do not need money or food, because they have that already, but what they need is peace, compassion, respect, happiness, hope, and to be loved.

Before, politics was not a theme that interested me. I was not so enthusiastic to have more understanding about it, even in Fiji and in Chile. But those six weeks in Cuernavaca motivate me a lot to learn more and be in tune with the government here in Mexico. It helps me to see what is going on in the country, the U.S., and even among the community. The relationship between the politicians and the community, the rich and the poor, money and power, and so on.

The Culture, History and Tradition

It was a pity to me hearing that most indigenous group in Mexico do not exist nowadays. This means that culture history and traditions are fading away one by one. I hope that not all. The question I asked was, why? But the answer I do not know. Then hearing of some comments it was because of the pre-Hispanic time.  The abuse of other cultures in the country itself, and the discrimination leads to the question of Who has the power?

The Faith (Religion)

Before the Spanish people arrived into the country, most indigenous groups had their own ways of worshiping God in their own traditional manner. They had a God, but they worshipped that God in their own ways. When evangelization comes, the question I asked was: Are they really worshiping to the New Jesus or still have their belief to the God of their ancestors? They have their own religious dance, which they had before the pre-Hispanic time, e.g. during the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, they perform their different traditional dances. It is a positive feeling to me; at least they are still clinging to something that belongs to them, which identifies their roots and has uniqueness.

The thing that sticks me a lot was the fear in most of the students and teachers have about me working in Juarez. These people have fears in them about the drugs, the killing and the kidnapping. I felt this is a thing that gave me more courage to and strength to help and fight for these people. I know that it will be a challenge to everybody because the common question was, “Why do you want to work there?”

The answer was usually, if we criticize and make comments from outside as an outsider, who will help them? Are we to stare and do nothing? Aren’t they human?

The thought that came to me is that these people just need small help, even somebody just to guide them, accompanying them and listen to them. They do not need money or food, because they have that already, but what they need is peace, compassion, respect, happiness, hope, and to be loved.

As Columbans this is our motto: We belong to Christ, not to ourselves.

Monika is a lay missionary in Anapra, Mexico