The SLDI program has taught me that true communication is more than sending and receiving messages through modern technologies. Subsequently, I learned that there is a great deal of transformative power in personally greeting someone with a simple “Good morning.”
Communication without attentiveness and understanding is like the sound of waves in the ear, limiting the hearing of a person and degrading the intended message. Personal interactions with people are a more worthwhile way to forge a relationship with someone.
My daily encounters with people, especially after morning mass, has reinforced what I learned during the SLDI program. The program has given me the confidence to reach out to people, even if it is in the simplest of ways. The most prominent lesson I learned is that you should never label anybody without interacting with the person first.
There are three experiences that exemplify my belief that personal interactions with individuals can be a transforming agent in people’s lives by reviving broken spirits.
The value of communication in forming relationships
The first experience began from consecutive, brief encounters that evolved into a friendship. Originally, I only acknowledged this person in passing, but gradually we became close confidants because this individual expressed the desire to extend our short greetings into conversations.
We started getting closer to each other and now share intimate details of our lives with each other while walking from one place to another. My friend’s face is now a brighter one than when our interactions first began and I recognize a noticeable amount of relief and appreciation from this individual following our talks.
This system of sharing has become a sort of morning therapy and I have learned a great deal from the formation of this friendship. Our sharing has turned from the sharing of burdens to praising God and sharing God’s goodness and blessings.
Unfortunately, some people regard my friend as a difficult person because they are quick to judge. I see this person as someone who needs somebody to confide in, though, and will continue to listen.
I am able to seek out a gloomy face and help transform it into one that emulates joy as a result of the SLDI Administrative track training I received on how to handle difficult people.
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A second experience included a group of men who used to drink so early in the morning I would see them already buying hot drinks by the time morning mass let out. I would throw my greetings to them as well. Initially some of them chose not to respond, but eventually majority of them reciprocated my salutation.
Soon, I was able to discern their eagerness for our usual encounter while I was still a distance away. Once again, this taciturn encounter evolved into a friendship.
The SLDI program empowered me to reach out to such a group and made me believe in the importance of my simple words of acknowledgement.
Finally, I experienced another lesson in the value of personal communication when I was in a different community. One of my religious sisters similarly reaches out to people through her greetings. One morning, I was coming from morning mass with her and we passed Keke or cab drivers waiting for passengers.
As we greeted them, one of the drivers turned to me and said, “This is our sister,” referring to my companion.
This religious sister then shared her own experience regarding the drivers with me. It began with brief encounters, but soon, the drivers respected her for daring to communicate with them since they were Keke drivers.
They were very happy she reached out and now consider her their sister as well.
Communication through listening
My dears, this is the secret of opening one’s mouth and also being ready to listen to what is coming out of another’s mouth. It is the best communication life offers because it returns life to those in their most desperate moments and enables deep relationships to form.
Is it not the kingdom of God on earth we are told to establish? Let us make ourselves available at any time to anybody without stereotyping them, for we never know who will be saved from a simple acknowledgement.
I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped me in one way or another participate in the SLDI program as well as those who sponsor and organize it, especially my Regional and Rev. Sr. Clementina Obembe, OSF, ASEC's Regional Director -- West Africa.
My deepest gratitude is to God Almighty, who is everything to me.