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An Advent Calendar Blessing L. Bonzena lives in Bitako village, which is served by St. Monica's clinic, a CAFOD partner in Yakoko, Nigeria. The Franciscan Sisters of the Divine Motherhood, who run the clinic, delivered her twins Peace and Patience. On 28 November, click bell 28 on the calendar to begin reflecting with us this Advent on Blessing's inspiring story.
Reflection Main pageWhen her labour pains started two months early, Blessing was ready.
She walked straight to the clinic and gave birth to healthy twins.
They put me on a drip and gave me an injection to speed up my delivery. Afterwards Sr Teclar explained that I could have died if my blood pressure had gone any higher. Stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42) Stand ready!
ReflectionIf Jesus returned to judge the world today, would I be ready? Matthew 25 says hed be very interested in how I have treated the poorest and the rejected. How would I answer his questions? How do I respond when Im visited by Jesus in the person whos unpopular or difficult to get on with?
PrayerWelcoming God, help me to prepare for your coming by treating others as if they were you. Amen.
Previous slide Main pageStand ready!Action!Look up Matthew 25 and read it.
Blessing named one of her twins, Peace. She was the second baby to be born and was smaller and lighter at birth.
Despite her name, Peace lives in a place where there has been conflict as a result of poverty and of tensions between Muslims and Christians. Reflection Main pageNation will not lift up sword against nation, there will be no more training for war. (Isaiah 2:4) Peace
ReflectionIsaiah looked forward to the coming Messiah and spoke of a time of peace, yet Jesus was born into a nation occupied by the Romans. Jesus taught and lived peace-making in a time of great tension.
Am I a peacemaker? Do I try to include everyone or do I just avoid those who have different ideas?
PrayerPrince of peace, you call us to be peacemakers. Help me to be peace in this divided world. Comfort all who suffer due to conflict around the world. Amen.
Previous slide Main pagePeaceAction! Find out how you can support peace in another African country, Sudan.
SimplicityAfter her twins were delivered, Blessing was very weak and concerned at the size of her children.
She says, I was on a drip. I was very worried about my babies They were so tiny I could hold them in the palm of my hand. I bless you, Father for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. (Luke 10:21)
Reflection Main page
ReflectionJesus says God reveals his wisdom to the little ones. I need to have a childs openness so that God can reveal things that are beyond my expectations. Like Blessings tiny twins, God will never forget us. We are engraved on the palm of his hand (Isa. 49:16).
PrayerCreator of all life, you came to earth as a tiny baby. Help me remember that it is in the little ones, and to the little ones, that you reveal yourself. Amen.
Previous slide Main pageSimplicityAction! If you can, spend some time playing with a little sister or brother or helping a relative with their baby.
World AIDS DayAt St Monicas clinic in Yakoko, people are given treatment for HIV and AIDS, such as anti-retroviral drugs.
These drugs slow down and reduce the amount of HIV, greatly improving peoples quality of life. He will wipe away the tears from everyones eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. (Isaiah 25:8) Reflection Main page
ReflectionToday is World AIDS Day. 33.4 million people live with HIV and AIDS worldwide. Thirty million of these live in low and middle-income countries.
In 2008, more than 1,000 children in the world were newly infected with HIV per day.
PrayerIn a moments silence, I pray for my sisters and brothers affected by HIV and AIDS Amen.
Previous slide Main pageWorld AIDS DayAction!Buy or make a red ribbon and wear it to remind people of those affected by HIV and AIDS
TrustWhen she was four months pregnant, Blessings husband turned her out of her home.
Blessing stayed with neighbours for two months before returning to her parents.
My father was not happy when I turned up unannounced. But he let me stay with him. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to rely on human beings. (Psalm 118:8) Reflection Main page
ReflectionBlessing took refuge with neighbours, then with her parents.
Where do I take refuge in my times of need?
PrayerThank you, God, for all the people I can rely upon when I feel troubled. Help me to trust that I can always rely on you. Amen.
Previous slide Main pageTrustAction! Say thank you today to someone who has helped you.
HopeBlessing hopes that her babies future will be bright.
I hope that I can put my children through school and that they can become children of God.
Be strong,let your heart be bold, put your hope in the Lord. (Psalm 27:14) Reflection Main page
Previous slide Main pageReflectionTodays psalm says I can be bold, because I hope in God.
Do I hope in God? What do I hope God will do?
Am I bold enough to do whatever God asks of me?
PrayerLord of all hopefulness, give hope to those who feel abandoned by the world. Help us to be hope to others. Amen.
HopeAction! Find and read a story of hope on CAFODs website.
GenerosityThe generosity of our supporters pays for St Monicas clinic where Patience and Peace were born.
Blessing says, Thank you for giving money to this clinic. We are so grateful for your help. My babies would have died without medical treatment. You received without charge, give without charge.(Matthew 10:8) Reflection Main page
Previous slide Main pageReflectionSt Ambrose said, It is not from your own possessions that you give alms to the poor, you are just restoring to them what is theirs by right.
Do I really think that what I have is mine and mine only? Is there anything I have that didnt involve someone along the way giving something up? Do I always expect a return for my generosity?
PrayerFather, you did not count the cost when you sent your Son for us. When I give, help me not to count the cost. Amen.
GenerosityAction!Be radical! Perform a random act of kindness today.
Preparation Reflection Main pageBlessing says,I gave birth to my babies at St Monicas health centre when I was just seven months pregnant. I had decided not to give birth at home in case there was an emergency, but had no idea I would go into labour so early. A voice cries in the wilderness: prepare a way for the Lord. (Matthew 3:3)
Previous slide Main pageReflectionJohn the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Mary prepared for his birth.
How am I preparing to celebrate Jesus birth at Christmas?
PrayerGiver of all good things, help me to prepare to make this Christmas a time of giving, more than one of receiving. Amen.
PreparationAction!Buy a World Gift yourself or suggest that your class or a group of friends club together to buy one.
Reflection Main pageIn many parts of Blessings country, Nigeria, people struggle to get enough water.
In Mabudi village, in an area called Langtang South, our partners provide tanks to catch rainwater and filters to keep water clean.Let the wilderness and the dry lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom. (Isaiah 35:1)Water for life
Water for life Previous slide Main pageReflectionEvery year during the dry season we have the same problem. It is like waking up in the middle of a nightmare that doesnt end, says Simi Martin, 22, from Mabudi.
Due to poverty and climate change, 864 million people in our world have no access to safe drinking water. What am I doing to help?
PrayerLife-giving Spirit of God, may my actions help to make streams flow in dry lands. Give me determination to do all I can to combat climate change, for the sake of the poorest in our world. Amen.
Action! Walk or cycle somewhere instead of taking a bus or asking for a lift.
Protecting life Reflection Main pageBlessing says, Without this clinic I would not have survived childbirth Other women that have gone into early labour have not been so lucky.
In Nigeria, 94 in every 1,000 children die in the first year of life compared to four in the UK.
Sometimes this happens because people cant get medical care. It is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost. (Matthew 18:12)
Previous slide Main pageReflectionTwo thousand years ago giving birth was dangerous. In many countries it still is. In the Millennium Development Goals, the UK, and the rest of the world, promised to improve the health of mothers and babies by 2015. These goals are not on track to be met. Like Elizabeth and Mary, all mothers should be able to wait in joyful hope (not fear) for the arrival of their babies. This Advent, how can I help the UK stay faithful to our Millennium promises?
PrayerMary our mother, be close to all who nurse mothers and babies in the developing world. Pray with us that world leaders will do everything needed to fulfil their promises. Amen.Protecting lifeAction!Find out about Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
Thanksgiving Reflection Main pageBlessing says, I will never be able to tell Sr Teclar how grateful I am for her help. She has given me faith in people again. Bless the Lord, my soul, and remember all his kindnesses.(Psalm 103:2)