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New world and new beginning
Monday, 10 March 2008 Written by fra Juro Tokalić

father Juro TokalicLife is the most beautiful gift God gives to a man ili to us(ili moze jos mozda bolje Life is the most beautiful gift one receives from God) but it's up to us to use it in the right way. The One that has given us that gift has also given us the freedom to make a good or bad use of it. We don't choose the place or time of our birth but we do choose the place where to live and the way to live our lives. I lived in Bosnia for 35 years (ili I spent 35 years of my life in BiH). As a boy I had decided to follow the life of St. Francis of Assisi and joined the order of OFM.

After my education I did my final vows and was ordained to be a priest. For nine years I worked as a Franciscan priest in Bosnia.(ili I worked as a Franciscan priest in Bosnia for nine years). During all that time I had a desire for something else and different smoldering inside me. A year ago I had decided to start preparing myself for missionary life and 21.01.2008. I steped on the grounds of Africa for the first time. Despite my passion for that new world I felt fear of what I'm going to find there. But the wish to be with those people, live with them and for them overcame the fear.

My journey from Europe was quite exhausting. Strangely enough it was easier to travel from London to Nairobi then from Nairobi to Kigali. In Kigali I was welcomed by fra Ivica Peric, our Bosnian frajer:)), a longtime missionary in Africa working with another Croatian salezian priest Sebastian. Their salute was really warm and friendly, like to their own brother. My Africa, my dream has become a reality. What had seemed so far became a part of me. I imagined Africa as a continent of heat, hunger and endless deserts and Africans as people who live from day to day, expecting help from someone else and not used to do much.

To my pleasant surprise I was wrong about both. Rwanda where I came as fra Ivica's guest is a country of a thousand hills, green and full of lakes. Even soil is clay it's very rich and populous. Almost every inch of the ground is cultivated what is completely opposite to my homeland. If Bosnian fields were as used as African it would be enough food for everyone as well as for exporting it. Rwanda is full of life, children and youth. What this richness of life needs is someone to organize it little better and show to people how to make life easier.

An African man is not much different than a European one. The colour of the skin is different but the needs and desires are the same. An African man as same as me has a need for food and drink, for love and friendship, the same feelings as us. He cries when sad and has a bright a smile on his face when is happy. We all equally wish for friendship and closeness both with God and a human. I hope that myself and people I am going to live and work with here in Africa will recognize God in each other followed by recognizing the same needs and wishes.

Father Vjeko Center

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