Monday, August 6, 2018

Technical Day

Welcome to Caritas Technical Secondary School First Technical Day - Open House in Kimbe, PNG, July 29, 2018

The day showcased the Technical skills of our students, or I should say, the potential skills. It did not magically happen. The first Caritas Technical Secondary School in PNG is in the Capital city of Port Moresby (POM for short) and they just completed their 26th year while Kimbe is only 2 years old and this was our first. The students really didn’t have a real idea what they were doing. A video presentation was given to them of the POM Technical Day held a few weeks earlier and two teachers were flown in from POM to help teach the Technical skills in one week- then the students were supposed to practice.

They learned such skills as how to set a table, how to decorate a table, napkin folding, cake decorating, fruit carving, floral arrangement and dress me up. Then competitions were held to find the best students and then they performed such tasks on stage in front of their peers and parents and, of course, the judges.

Dress me up was the most interesting. There was one bolt of fabric and using only pins, they were to pin it on the student model in less than 15 minutes. They were beautiful. Not sure who won the competitions, but it really didn’t matter, what mattered was that both parents and fellow students were amazed to see such activities on stage.

Besides the competitions, we also had our student choir, dance group, drama, and my favorite part was the Queen walk, students representing their village by wearing and describing their tribal outfits. I was in charge of drama and my grade 11 students put on a play called ‘Love Letter to the World’ about St. Mother Teresa’s life. It was good and Brother Boniface wrote an original song, but in the future, the drama will be a comedy. It would seem more fitting for an open house. 

We held this event in our brand new gymnasium that is still not complete - but worked well for our venue. The first two weeks of term 3 were set aside for Technical Day activities and no real academics were taught. Some teachers tried, but soon gave up because the students’ minds were on their activities. I just decided to make my activities fun while still teaching the English language- just not using their textbooks. I had each class write a fourth verse of their Caritas hymn to represent their individual classes. And had them find words using each letter in CARITAS that would describe their class. Then had them design something around the words.  I just thought of the first two weeks as play weeks. Each class displayed their class projects around the perimeter of the gym.

Overall the day was successful because the parents and students were amazed. Many never saw a production like it and I’m sure these same parents will promote Caritas to potential students and our school will grow. Now it’s back to academics.

One sad note, Bishop Bill had a relapse of his stoke and had to be airlifted to POM. From there, he will be airlifted to Australia, then back to America for a complete recovery. I want him to return - I have 2 and1/2 years left...  Please keep him in your prayers.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. I pray for you in return. Please comment and let me know about you.

God bless.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pilgrimage to Rabaul

I just returned from an amazing 6 day pilgrimage to Rabaul. Karen and I were invited to join Sr Bernadette for her 50th year jubilee of her MSA novitiate community Sisters. Ron was invited to but did not come. We left on the 4th of July with Ron taking us to Ullamona to meet the boat. We stayed overnight in an old convent. No electricity and no running water. There was a youth retreat there also and they were singing beautifully in many of the 800 languages that represent PNG.

The next morning we got on a dinghy at 4:30 am and took off. There were 11 adults and one child. We stopped at an island for some fish and another island to meet Sr Bernadette’s mother then off to Rabaul. The water was choppy and wet and the dinghy so uncomfortable, but we made it. We were met by Fr Paul who showed us Rabaul and it was clean. Very nice.

Sr Bernadette is the niece of the Cardinal of PNG, so we stayed at his family residence in Rabaul and met his family. His home was somewhat modern by PNG standards and somewhat comfortable. His family lives in their own homes on his property and their homes would be considered primitive vs American houses, but located in a beautiful spot near the ocean with lush vegetation and the family were very charming.

Friday we went to the Sisters of Mercy 50 year jubilee of their novitiate community. It began with a Mass, then lunch, then speeches and then dances and boy did those Sisters have fun.

Saturday we went on our pilgrimage to celebrate the Feast of Blessed Peter To Rot - he was a catechist who was martyred for his faith in the 40's. We saw the cave where he got the holy water for baptisms and we visited his burial site. Again we began with a Mass and lunch and dances. Also there were at least 5,000 youth there for a youth conference. The church is located on a hill so we watched as the youth streamed into the church property from 3 different directions. The numbers were incredible. One group from  Kimbe walked all the way to Rabaul from Ullamona.  It took us 5-6 hours to get to Rabaul, it took them 3-4 days and they were going to walk back. There were three of our students among them and they enjoyed the walk. They have a very enthusiastic Polish priest who walked with them.

Sunday, Fr Paul took us to the cathedral where he officiated Mass and then we walked around the  grounds. After Mass, we joined the MSA Sisters for prayers and lunch. Delightful.  Fr Paul took us to the hot springs located beneath an active volcano that still has steam coming out its top. The place was very remote and not many people who lived there all their lives have ever visited.

Fr Paul described the difference between the tribal system, the clan, the family from his perspective.  He enjoyed explaining his culture and his laugh was infectious, especially when we brought up a few customs from the past (for example: eating missionaries - before we left America, some people were worried about us becoming victims to that particular custom.) He assured us that it is in the past. I'm glad to hear that.

Monday we got up to catch the boat at 4 am, but no boat. No boat at 5 am , or 6 or 7,8,9,10 or 11. By 12 noon the water was already too rough- so we cancelled. I didn't mind, we had an in-service training that week- so I called Sr Florentina and let her know. I had a relaxing Monday at the Cardinals residence with his family (lots of children).  Their uncle even called from Rome to make sure we were well taken care of. Can you imagine??

We got home today after getting up at 4 am again and leaving before daylight. Beautiful! Got back to Kimbe in time for in-service training on Wednesday and went to a staff retreat on Friday at a local hotel with lunch and a swimming pool. How nice. Term three started on Monday, July 16.

Bishop Bill was in LA in July and had the opportunity to meet my sister Debbie and my priest, Fr Michael, of St Bartholomew church. I'm so glad they met. We look forward to having the Bishop return to Kimbe on or around July 25. 

At Caritas Technical Secondary School, we are busy putting together a Technical day open house on July 29. It will be held in our new gymnasium on a real stage. My class will be doing a drama called "Love Letter to the World ' - a story of Mother Teresa. It will be a musical play.

God bless every one of you and know you are in my prayers. Please comment- I'd love to read words of encouragement, questions you might have or friendly suggestions are encouraged too. Ok - Bye till next time...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Vocation Talks

There is a shortage of religious around the world and it is the same here in Kimbe. There are not enough Priests or religious for the entire parish

The Caritas Sisters want to share their message of a religious vocation with all the young women of the Diocese of Kimbe. They started at the Cathedral and the turnout was big. A video was shown followed by personal testimonies from the Sisters. Did you know that Sister Sara wanted 10 children before becoming a Sister- now she has 213+.

May 19 - A royal wedding was taking place in England and since I didn't have a TV to watch the event, I was trying to find an alternative. I was even thinking of crashing on the Bishop's couch - since he was in America- and watch it there. (Bishop, if you are reading this, it was only a thought), but God is truly awesome and a better offer came along.

Early Sunday morning (5:30 am PNG time) at about the same time as the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan, I traveled with the Sisters two hours away to the village of Salango. The countryside of PNG is really beautiful with its palm trees, rivers, lakes and mountains in the background. We passed grass huts, houses on stilts, and small villages of huts similar to what we saw traveling on the water with the Bishop when we first arrived.

We arrived at the church. Prince Harry and Meghan might have gotten married in front of millions, but we were also given a celebrity welcome. Fr Gabriel met us and we were escorted to our seats. Fr Gabriel was very passionate in his sermon on this Pentecostal Sunday- something we don't see in Kimbe where he is very soft spoken. We were all a little surprised to hear his passionate homily. It was wonderful.  I didn't know every word he said - 90% was in Pidgin, but I heard his message perfectly. Strange how that is...

After mass, the Sisters invited all the young ladies starting in the 9th grade up to the age of 30 to hear their vocation speech.

In the meantime, I was surrounded by children who smiled, their eyes wide and friendly. Some wanted to touch me, my hair and some even wanted to hug me. Sister Lamaro was just as popular with her camera and friendly personality. She took pictures and they loved it. I felt a little like a celebrity in that village of PNG. 

What made this trip so special is that it is the home village of our own Brother Boniface. His Aunties and nephew and nieces wanted their pictures taken and I showed them to him on Tuesday morning. I guess there are nine villages with the church in the middle. I didn't visit his actual village, but only the church. I guess I need to take another trip soon with him and my fellow missionaries.

We made it back to Kimbe despite a tire that was threatening to blow at any minute. Traveling with the Sisters was a nice experience- all to do the Lords' work. We had egg and cheese sandwiches in the morning and Korean noodles soup for lunch. They sang their morning prayers comfortably in Korean - I didn't mind - I prayed along with them. They slept on the way home.  

The next Sunday, we traveled beyond Salango to the town of Biala. The priest didn't know we were coming, but welcomed us. There were only a handful of people when we arrived, but was again packed when mass began. They danced up the aisle with the Holy Bible before the gospel was read and again for the offertory. Beautiful! 

Biala is located near the ocean. After the vocational talk, we went to the international school and picked up some of our traveling companions at their staff house. It was a house I had in mind before I arrived in Kimbe. Beautiful vegetation surrounded each house with a porch and pathways leading to the school and a nice view of the ocean. Sister Sara said that sometime in the future the housing at Caritas will be similar. (Sigh - someday) We ended our day with lunch at a Korean friend’s who happens to own a grocery store in that town.

The only downside to the trip was the transportation. The school bus was not working right so the Sisters asked a District School Official to take us. He rented a land cruiser and took his family who sat up front. The car was big enough but the seats in back were so uncomfortable and the roads were full of potholes. So we were jostled around and arrived home aching and exhausted. But, the journey was successful and the company delightful. I'm now ready for my next adventure. God, we pray for more young people to join the religious community in PNG.

A vocation Saturday was held on June 8 at Caritas Technical Secondary School for all interested girls from Kimbe, Solanga and Biala and about 60 girls attended. Ten came from Biala and stayed overnight. Hopefully a few may pursue a vocation with the Sisters.

Today, June 23, the Provincial Mother of the Caritas Convent is coming from Korea to visit the Sisters in Kimbe. There are three lovely PNG candidates who are interested in becoming a Sister and the Provincial Mother will help decide their future. Their names are Ester, Ada and Rose - please keep them in your prayers as they continue to discern their futures.

Thank you again for your support and prayers for my mission. God is helping me enjoy my mission here and I am lucky and blessed to be surrounded by supportive people here in Kimbe, from my church, and around the world. I pray for you daily.

God bless till my next message. Bye.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

National Catholic Teachers' Day

National Catholic Teachers’ Day celebrating St. John Baptist De La Salle, the Patron Saint of teachers, is on May 15. The Diocese celebrated the day on Friday May 18th.  Our staff were given special yellow t-shirts to commentate the special day. 

Mass was to begin at 8am at the cathedral. We were to meet at 7:30 in the staff room and walk over together. At 5 minutes to 8 - we were still in the staff room and the cathedral is at least a 15 minute walk. No one was in any hurry, but my American mind is going crazy because mass begins in 5 minutes and no one was going anywhere. Finally, the school bus pulls up (small 12 passenger van in the US) and takes a few teachers and half of the school choir who were going with us to sing their designated songs. The bus dropped us off and went back for the second half.

Everyone from Caritas showed up, as well as students and teachers from other schools, but no priest. Evidently, the priest assigned forgot and was not even in the area. The parish priests already said the 6:30 mass, someone from another sub-parish was called and we had to wait for his arrival. The 8 am mass began at around 9:15 - normal PNG time. His message was very good despite his late arrival.

After mass, we headed back to the school where the students had special plans in store for us. I was escorted to my home room where my students presented me with my first merriblouse- a dress and undercloth typical of what women of PNG wear in this day and age. The merriblouse is really pretty with purple flowers on white fabric. The undercloth was a purple lap lap. 

We were escorted by our students to the chapel for a variety of dances from each class.  The day included gifts presented to the teachers by their students. Each homeroom provided food for their class matron and students and my class did not disappoint. Chicken and rice, sausages, fried sago, fruit and chocolate cake for dessert. Yum!

The day ended with another cake presented to us by Sister Sara. Nice!

All in all, it was a wonderful day and I'm already looking forward to celebrating it again next year.

Thank you to all for your support and prayers for my mission. I feel lucky to work with a great staff and wonderful students. I pray for you daily too. God bless until the next message.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Two Bishops

Happy Mothers’ Day was celebrated here in Kimbe on Sunday May 13, but Kimbe had another celebration that day at the Diocese. Mass was celebrated by two Bishops that morning. Our own Bishop Bill Fey and a newly ordained Bishop Frances Meli, J.C.L, D.D. who was initially ordained as a priest in the Kimbe Diocese and returned to Kimbe for a mass and a huge celebration in his honor that took up most of the day. The celebration included traditional dances that were lively and joyous and I know God was present for this glorious occasion.

The day began with the 8 a.m. mass that started outside. The clergy and Bishops were escorted by warriors in traditional dress, women in both native and traditional Kimbe dress, drums drumming away, spears present ( yes, real spears) making the progression worth standing in the already hot sun.

There were way over a thousand people - from all parts of the Kimbe Diocese there to celebrate this special day. The cathedral was packed and every window occupied by hundreds more who were outside looking in. I was lucky enough to follow the Sisters to a designated area up front reserved especially for the Sisters and the three missionaries. The sing-sing (music) was harmonized by all and the offertory was again accompanied by another set of warriors who danced (not sure this is the right word) their way to the altar, the offertory gifts following behind.

After mass, a buffet was laid out in honor of the new Bishop. The table had taro, coconut, both eating and sweet bananas, chicken, rice, other vegetables, cucumbers, sausages, fruit, and again some mummu pig and so much more. I will describe the mummu pig in my food blog coming soon. Yum!

There was a special cake decorated by the students and the Sisters of Caritas (my school) for the Bishop with a special song sang to him by the different congregation of Sisters from the Kimbe Diocese. They were led by my student, Sr Bernadette.

The buffet was followed by celebrations representing almost every parish in the diocese who either sang, said a prayer or danced in celebration of the new Bishop. Gifts were given as well which included money, food, and other traditional items the Bishop may need. (Bishop Fey left after the buffet to do some last minute work before leaving for the US the next day.) I loved it- it is so different and so traditional. I stayed to almost the end.

Bishop Frances will be over one of the most difficult diocese to work at in PNG. His diocese is on and in the surrounding area of the PNG-Indonesia border and can only be accessed comfortably by air. I'm sure you can hike through the jungle, but I did say comfortably. I'm expecting the people of that area will welcome him with as much pageantry as he received in Kimbe. It would be interesting to visit him sometime and his diocese. Please pray for him as he begins his Service in that area.

Thank you for your support and prayers. I feel very comfortable here. I really enjoy my students, my fellow teachers, the religious community and everyone in-between. God bless each and every one of you. I will pray for you in return. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Culture Day at School

Caritas Technical Secondary School is run by the Caritas Sisters whose order originated in South Korea under the founder Don Bosco.  
Danita and Sr. Sarah
I am teaching English to 9th graders and literature to 11th graders. I am also temporarily teaching Personal Development, but a new science teacher will be taking over that class. Because I am temporarily teaching that class, I was at liberty to teach any chapter- so I naturally found the New Guinea Culture Identity and am asking the students to teach me about their culture. Fascinating!! For those who know my background, I remember being in school and writing and presenting about the Amish for teachers who knew nothing about them. No wonder I would get "A's" and now I know how those teachers felt.

I asked the class to present 5 items that represent their culture. They naturally formed groups with others who come from the same region of PNG and have a similar culture. Their presentation was on Friday and both of my 9th grade classes joined together for their presentations. We were able to reserve the chapel room and a few other classes joined us. My fellow missionary, Karen Srajer, was able to join me and take pictures. 

There is a school mass every Wednesday morning at 7:40 (the only day I can sleep in a little bit). Fr. Michael and my fellow St. Bartholomew parishioners, can you believe I attend mass at 6:30 am almost every morning? It's actually a highlight of my day. Mayra- there is even singing at all the masses here.  (English on Monday and Friday and 6:30 Sunday morning) (Pidgin on Tuesday and Thursday and 8 am Sunday morning). English at the school mass on Wednesday. On Wednesday, my home room class were responsible for the songs sung and prayers said during the mass. During the offertory, they did a native dance to music up the aisle led by Sister Bernadette, a student in my class.

Saturday, the school students and their parents and other volunteers helped clean up the city of Kimbe. The cleanathon began at 6 am. (To take advantage of a 'cooler ' morning and finished with a sausage sizzler fundraiser at the school. It was successful (but 6 am on a Saturday?) Oh well.

Next week is a week vacation for the students, the staff have to be here to plan our next term. The next term begins April 23 and lasts for 10 weeks. The students will then have a two week break.

I like my classes. The students are respectful. They stand and greet me when I enter the room. I'm known here as Ms. Danita.

Bishop Bill is in Port Morseby this week attending a Bishop Conference for PNG. Sisters Sara and Florentina were able to go and decorate the hall where 70 Bishops representing PNG and the Solomon Islands will have mass and have meetings. The pictures they took are remarkable.

I encourage you to check out my fellow missionaries blog (Ron and Karen Srajer) as well to get another view of our mission journey.  Their blog address is:

If you want to send me anything, please send it to the following address:

Danita Kurtz
Catholic Diocese of Kimbe
P.O.Box 182
Kimbe 621 West New Britain
Papua New Guinea.

Have a wonderful day and I will be back to you soon.

God Bless all of you. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

The church had over a thousand plus people at the Good Friday Service, Holy Saturday Vigil and Sunday morning mass. It was raining Friday night and people stood outside under umbrellas looking through the window. All services were beautiful- no organ, no instruments - maybe an occasional guitar, but their voices harmonized well together and everyone sings from the heart.

There were around 76 baptisms during the Saturday night vigil. The majority were babies (so there was a delightful chorus of wailing going on up front) and 7 adults. After the Saturday night vigil mass, the Sisters were jubilant giving out Easter goodies, singing - very nice.

I walked to church on Sunday morning so I could put my Easter treats in Ron and Karen's fridge- didn't want them melting. The church was packed again, but somehow we were escorted right up front. The mass was wonderful again- the offering had dancing women escorting the gifts with Sister Benedict (Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart) leading the way with leaves and flowers adorning their outfits.

After mass, I had breakfast with Ron and Karen, then the Bishop picked us up and took us swimming in the ocean. It was a little ways outside of Kimbe where the sun was shining, but when we got to the Franciscan retreat center, rain was threatening and when we got to the ocean, we went in and watched as the rain approached. To get to and from the ocean, you walked a path through the jungle till it opens to the ocean. The water is warm and cold at the same time, depending on where you stood. If it's cold, walk a little ways and you are warm again. But the downpour started and we were soaked returning on the path through the jungle leading back to the retreat center.

We returned back to Kimbe, had a bowl of ice cream and the Bishop gave me a ride home. Marilyn, my neighbor and fellow teacher, and I were then invited to a student’s place for a BBQ. I wasn't going to pass on this opportunity to meet people from PNG. The BBQ was plentiful- chicken, 2-3 types of sausages, beef, 2 types of greens, cooked banana and a few foods I didn't know the names of. Delicious.  The families are originally from the Highlands (The Hagan) but were recruited to work in Kimbe. I noticed no one uses napkins- so wanted to see what they do with their hands after eating with them. Still not sure...

All in all, I enjoyed Holy Week and now it's Monday- Easter Boxing Day and a national holiday. It rained the whole day. Tomorrow I begin teaching... please pray for me. 

Technical Day

Welcome to Caritas Technical Secondary School First Technical Day - Open House in Kimbe, PNG, July 29, 2018 The day showcased the Tech...