169km Walk to Bl Daswa
By Mmachuba Innocentia Phasha – It was 6:00 at Burgersdorp church. I realised that I was the only woman in our group of five who were going to make the walking pilgrimage of 169km to Our Lady of the Assumption church in Nweli, the shrine of Bl Benedict Tshimangadzo Daswa.
I sat and watched them. A word spoke to me and said “Quit!”, but my heart said “Do it!”. I said a short quiet prayer — and said: “Let’s go!”
So I set off with my fellow walking pilgrims: Fr Wilfred Okali AJ (our spiritual director and companion on this pilgrimage), Hudson Shingange, Oupa Mboweni and Collen Hlatswayo.
At about 30km, I realised I had not eaten since I woke up, but I was not hungry. I had a 500ml bottle of water with me. I drank the water and walked on to Giyani, a journey which took us 11 hours and 25 minutes, covering about 110km.
Upon our arrival my legs were swollen and painful, but the courage was there. I wanted to continue on this journey. Someone was compelling me to carry on.
My belief was strong and I thanked God for the strength and I asked for more power. It was not easy, but because of my belief I managed.
After spending the night at the home of Gloria Mativandlela of Giyani parish, we continued with our mission the following morning, from Giyani to Malamulele. At this point of the pilgrimage we were joined by Bongani Mativandlela, a seminarian from Giyani parish.
Our muscles could not take the strain anymore, but we asked Bl Daswa to pray for us so that we might fulfil our promise.
And, indeed, we made it to Holy Rosary School, just before Malamulele, where some Catholic parishioners and Sisters had been waiting for us since morning, just to see these pilgrims from Ngwabitsi parish.
They welcomed us and gave us water and biscuits, since we did not want a heavy meal.
We prayed the novena with them. It was 15:00 and we continued with our pilgrimage to Malamulele, where we were welcomed and congratulated by Catholics and non-Catholics.
The next day at 6:00, after prayers, we continued our pilgrimage to Nweli. We arrived at noon.
Our legs would not have taken us further but through the power of God we reached our destination.
We spent some time in quiet prayer in front of the tomb of Bl Daswa. We concluded our walking pilgrimage with a Mass of thanksgiving and gratitude, realising that it is by the grace of God that we were able to make it to this place — and that through the intercession of Bl Daswa, what seemed impossible became a reality.
This experience taught me that a pilgrimage is about sacrifice. It has made me a strong and believing woman.
Through our Bl Tshimangadzo Benedict Daswa and the prayers from our Church members we made it to Thohoyandou, where we spent the night.
All thanks to the following families: Mativandlela in Giyani, Mahunsi in Malamulele-Xigalo, Machaba in Thohoyandou, and Nembambula in Shayandima who hosted us. And not forgetting Chris Mphaphuli from Thohoyandou parish!
May the good Lord bless you with more and more and may Bl Tshimangadzo Benedict Daswa intercede for your needs.
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