Term three has ended and I had a free week off and no real plans. I wasn’t looking forward to a week alone, but surprises were in store. The week started on Sunday when I was finally able to get Sr. Benedict, one of the first PNG Sisters of Caritas, out of the convent. She finally got the permission she needed to go swimming on Sunday and from her happy dance and ear to ear smile, she was looking forward to it. We planned to swim and have a mumu lunch at the Franciscan Retreat House with Sr. Benedict, the candidates, my fellow missionaries, the MSC Sisters and the Brothers.
But, sadly, it was not meant to be as planned- it rained throughout the night and into the morning and not the quick thunderstorm that comes, blows its fury and leaves, oh no, it had to be the California downpour that goes on forever.
I walked to church in the rain not very happy with God – Sr. Benedict’s one day off and it just had to rain? Really? We all decided to wait till noon. The mumu was ready despite the rain- so instead of gathering on the beach (at the retreat house) - we ate at the convent at the Diocese - not my choice of venue. It finally decided to stop raining and we all piled in the truck and went swimming anyway. It was for a short time before nightfall, but Sr. Benedict was very happy and that’s what counted.
It was probably a good thing that I didn’t go away for the week. I adopted a kitten and named it Kimbe. That same Sunday evening, trying to avoid the security dog, one of the Sister candidates picked Kimbe up. Scared, Kimbe jumped down onto the rocks below and hurt itself. I had to carry it inside. It was injured- could not walk and was crying like a kitten. For the majority of the week, I had to baby it -bring the food and water to him and very delicately, pick it up and lay it down on a tray to do its business- the poor thing was crying the whole time. I could find no veterinarian anywhere in Kimbe and was told that cats are resilient and have 9 lives. By the end of the week, it was walking again - slowly - carefully. If a cat has 9 lives, I think this kitten is on life number 4. It is almost running again- I think I can breathe again.
But it was my week off and if I didn’t get out of Kimbe, I might be on life 4 myself! At last, Sr. Bernadette invited me for an overnight trip to Valoka and I happily said yes and thank you! On Thursday after morning Mass, I had breakfast with Sr. Mary Agnes and her niece, my grade 11 student, Veronica. I was then escorted to the public motor vehicle (pmv) and I was on my way.
Valoka is so close to Kimbe but yet so far down a road so full of potholes and uneven pavement and still flooded from recent rains. The lurch of the public motor vehicle (usually vans that pack people inside - the original Uber without bottled water or a/c or comfort) made my stomach queazy with the stop and go as the driver tried avoiding whatever is or is not on the road. The ocean peaked every so often through the abundance of trees and bush houses built on stilts along the way. We made it to the convent situated conveniently next to the church and across the street from the Catholic hospital. Electric poles were piled in a neat bundle along the tree line waiting for their turn to be wired and attached to the village. The village apparently has been waiting for about two years- or the job will be finished within two years - not sure which, but it still means no electricity. The town generators come on every night between 6 - 9 pm and anything that needs electricity must be done within that 3 hour time period.
Sr. Bernadette, Sr. Anita and Sr. Martha warmly welcomed me with fresh ripe mangoes from their own tree. Yum! Behind their newer convent is an older cookhouse left behind by the German Sisters and filled with antiques. It would make a really nice museum- but the roof needs to be fixed and the building could be used again.
Sr. Bernadette and I walked the quiet roadway where a car every so often broke the unique sounds of the countryside- trees swaying in the breeze, ocean waves lapping against the shore, birds singing their daily tune and insects buzzing away. We visited families she knew and met many school children along the way.
Fr. Joe, an African priest from Ghana, welcomed me on Friday and offered Sr. Bernadette and I a ride back to Kimbe. The decision was easy - either Fr. Joe or a PMV - so I gave up the idea of swimming in the ocean across the street and took the ride home instead. Fr. Joe is delightful, open and warm and navigated that horrible road rather well. We visited Hoskins Secondary School on the way where Fr. Joe said Mass for the 10th and 12th Grade students taking their final exams the next week.
Saturday, we went to the small village of Dagi where we celebrated the feast day of Archangel Michael. We had Mass in the cutest church I’ve seen yet here in The Kimbe area. The Mass had dancing participants up the aisle, followed by a celebration of dance, songs, a mumu lunch (yum) and all the trimmings and other festivities. Sr. Bernadette was surrounded, like always, by extended family that I enjoyed meeting. We were given a place of honor to sit up on the announcer’s platform. All in all, an enjoyable day.
I am now currently teaching during term 4 which is heading fast toward my own long holiday in December when my twin sister, Debbie, will join me. Please pray for safety as we journey forward.
Bishop Bill is expected back at the end of October. Thank you for all your prayers- it seems he is recovering well from his stroke.
Now I say so-long until my next blog. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. Please know that I am praying for you in return.
Love and God bless from PNG.