The morning of the Diaconate Ordination we were devastated by the news that Bishop Bill passed away the night before of Covid. It was ironic that on the program for Brother Boniface's ordination, Bishop Bill's favorite song in pidgin was printed on the back of the program. (Maria, Oh mama...). God is good. I was looking forward to visiting Bishop Bill in Pennsylvania when I visited my hometown in Ohio. I planned on taking him to visit my hometown. Shucks, another opportunity lost... How sad.
The Diaconate Ordination of Brother Boniface was held on another beautiful morning, Thursday, January 25th, and it was so beautiful to watch.I sat right behind his parents and family. I didn't have my camera because electricity was limited and my battery was too low. It was in the priest house being charged, but I wish I could have taken a picture of the back of Boniface’s mother and two sisters who were dressed in beautiful bilas made of the various natural materials of plants and flowers representing their village. I was able to take a picture of Bonaface’s mother, but a picture of all three was another lost opportunity. Shucks.
That Friday we left after mass and breakfast- back on the boats, back to the village of Turuk. Again, it took us all day as we stopped again at various island villages along the way for the villages to welcome the Bishop and his entourage. We were again welcomed with food, sing-sings and introductions from the villagers themselves. It seemed these villages already knew Fr Lucas from previous visits because the children welcomed him with exuberant anticipation. We made it to Turuk at sundown, just in time to walk to the river for a wash-wash before going back to the convent for the night. The next morning we were to travel at 3 am back to Nut (pronounced Noot), but we didn't actually get on the road till around 6:30 am (PNG time). We then traveled again by boat back to Garu and then another one and a half hours back to the Diocese of Kimbe.
Overall, the experience was a rare opportunity to peek into the land of the unexpected, a paradise so remote that I felt so lucky to have this amazing opportunity to experience and to meet the wonderful villagers along the way and explore their lifestyle so unlike my own. I will truly miss these moments, but they will live in my memory and my heart forever.
On Wednesday January 27, we celebrated a requiem mass for Bishop Bill, then celebrated a kai-kai dinner for the first anniversary of Bishop John Bosco Aurums installation.The next week, I visited my 'home' village of Vavua and stayed with Fr Bennet. I will miss my adopted 'home village' and I thank the villagers, especially the children for their welcome hospitality. I only had one day that I could actually go into the water, but then was met with rain every day that lasted the entire day. Despite the rain, I will always have Vavua in my heart forever as I prepare to return home.
Now I am packing and making my final plans for departure on March 3, leaving PNG behind. It is so hard to say goodbye. (Note – flight was cancelled and rescheduled for March 10th)
Please continue to pray for me as I pray for you. Feel free to leave comments below. Goodbye for now from Kimbe, PNG. See you soon at home in the US.