By Pegi Sadler
I felt very called to serve as a lay missionary overseas. After training I was sent to Sierra Leone. I remember telling Msgr. Meyers that I was afraid of bugs and hated the heat. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
About two months into the country of Sierra Leone, I had experienced so much; culture, weather, tradition, etc. These experiences were well beyond my comfort zone as Sierra Leone was bigger than life itself. Bugs, especially roaches, were twice the size than they were at home, tarantulas were common place, snakes next door, bats in my attic that made a lot of noise at night and on and on it went. I had no way to relax or escape so I developed a chronic headache and wasn’t sleeping. In other words, I was a mess!
I thought learning to live with those issues was all I needed to do until that November when rainy season started. We didn’t have thunder and lightning very often in California so that first big flash of lightning and bang from the thunder scared me to death. Multiple flashes, followed immediately by a bang, happened every night for an hour or two without fail. To say the least, I was a nervous wreck and it was keeping me from doing things after dark.
One night during a storm and while curled up in a ball in the back room, I asked God for help and told him I wasn’t going to make it without it. I wanted to stay in Sierra Leone so badly but I was losing hope that I could overcome this fear of everything. I begged God for help.
Sometime after that, I started noticing little things such as the crickets would start their screeching just before the last bang of the thunder. I was so excited to realize that! Just knowing when the end was coming was so helpful. Also, it occurred to me one day to say my Rosary during the storms with my musical rosary tape. I found it really helped to distract me during the storms. Another gift from God was my Spiritual Director who decided to bring me a cat in hopes it would keep the bugs at bay and it worked!
From that time on I started to relax, especially when I heard the crickets. I started to notice God in so many situations and realized that I wasn’t alone. I became much more confident in my surroundings and could laugh at myself when I was being a wimp. God is so good! I did manage to stay and started to appreciate the new culture, the wonderful brave people, the beautiful country and I even got involved with the displaced people which was a great gift. I grew in so many ways and wouldn’t change the experience for anything.
Note: Pegi served in the Diocese of Makeni, Sierra Leone from 1993-94. She was evacuated due to the civil war. She then served in the Diocese of Kumbo, Cameroon from 1995-96.