Monday, June 18, 2018

A Day In The Life

I wonder if you are interested in the rhythm of our days here?

4:00-4:30 AM             Get up to face the day, very much the same as in the USA.

4:30 AM                      Our daily prayers

Coffee and catch some news on Al-Jazeera.  It is very interesting to get the 
news from a perspective other than that given in the USA.

5:30 AM or so            Water is turned on. 

We were asked if we could drink the water from the tap.  Gigi & Max, our children, gave us a water filter to use while here and we are very thankful!

The top container is water from the tap first thing in the morning.  You can see why we prefer to filter.  One of our acquaintances here, a native Papua New Guinean

6:00 AM                      Morning prayer, The Divine Office, in the Cathedral

6:30 AM                      Morning Mass, Cathedral

On Wednesday morning we have the option of attending morning Mass for Caritas School at 7:40AM or evening Mass at 5PM in the Cathedral.

7:00 AM or so            Breakfast and more news
                                    Laundry I try to do one load a day, small wash machine and hang dry
Sweep and dust – this could be done every five minutes and there would still be dust

8:00 AM on                Begin the work day

Ron usually meets with his crew and goes over their work day and then spends the rest of the morning supervising, planning, etc.  Ron is learning to understand the workers’ Pisin and picking up some words.

I usually begin working on various projects which are all computer based at this time.  I am working from our home for many reasons and I visit Chancery Office several times throughout the day with questions or to practice my Pisin. 

9:30-10:15 AM           Water is off for the day

10:00–10:30 AM         Sr. Lomero, one of the Caritas (SCG) sisters, comes to the house for about an hour to
                                     practice her English. 

These sisters are from Korea and oversee the Caritas Secondary Technical School which is in its 2nd year and has over 200 students.  This spring they opened their first dormitory to roughly 60 girls.   At first, I thought I should have a ‘plan’ for these visits but I have learned that she loves to talk and is not shy about learning, so I usually let her pick the subject of the day and help her with pronunciation, grammar and meanings.  This works out very well. 

I have learned some of the history of the Caritas Sisters, founded by the Salesians, as well as about Sr. Lomero’s family, how the sisters are now part of her family, her decision to accept the posting to PNG, and, of course, Korean politics.

Noon                            Belo.  Lunch

1:00 PM or so             The afternoon is much like the morning except MUCH HOTTER!

4:00 – 5:00 PM           End of work day.

4:30 PM or so             Water is turned on for the evening.

5:00 PM                      All stores and the market close.

Two days a week, Deacon to be Boniface comes for our lessons in Pisin.  We also are blessed that he shares about PNG culture, about the different tribes located in West New Britain and some of the traditions from his tribe.  We have also heard about his family and his call to the priesthood.   At some time during the evening, we say the Evening Prayers of the Divine Office in our home.

6:00 PM                      Sunset

Bedtime varies but is usually early.  If there is no event at the Cathedral the grounds become very quiet.  Many evenings we listen to the choir practice or just the sounds of the families around us. 
9:15-10:00 PM            Water goes off for the night

If you wonder, Ron and I are lucky in that our housing has a TV and cable.  The cable company is the same company we get our telephone and internet through, not very reliable, and and all are expensive.  Telephone and internet are not purchased monthly like at home; rather, you purchase the number of megabytes you want for the number of days you hope it will last.  I usually top up for 1 month at 1.2 – 5 GB at K68 – K110, roughly $21.28-$34.42, and still have not made it through the month!  Because of this, we have found a spot, Liamo Reef Club, that offers free Wi-Fi and have started trying to spend part of Saturday or Sunday there.  We have heard there are one or two others, so we will be trying those out as well.

As always, we continue to be thankful for those in the USA who pray for us and support us in so many ways.  You are in our prayers as well.

O, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Feasts and Work

Last weekend we celebrated Corpus Christi.  As with most of the masses here, the crowd was huge and the procession outstanding! 

Friday, June 8th, we celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I spent the morning at Caritas Secondary School for the celebration of the 1-year anniversary in Kimbe Diocese.  Mass followed by presentations of poetry, drama and dance by the students.  It is always fun to be with these girls but today I have no pictures to share.

Priscilla is one of our next-door neighbors.  She is 14 months old and one of the ladies of the Diocese told me she is considered the Diocese Baby.  She is adorable and every time she sees us she comes running with her arms open wide to be picked up and receive hugs.  If our door is open she comes in to visit, which sometimes makes her mother a bit uncomfortable, but the good thing is that she is easy to find.  

On Tuesday of this week, Ron took me to two of the parishes he will be working with on building or maintenance projects.  The first was Mai, the Catechist School where they will be building a chapel.  The grounds are beautiful! 

My Chauffeur
Below is one of the pieces of artwork in the main building which is drawn by Fr. Yarek.    

Jesus, I Trust in You

We then travelled on to Silanga parish where Ron took some measurements for work to be done on a convent to convert it to a duplex for some of the Health Care workers whose homes were damaged in the earthquake.  The drive was lovely but long and the road, the New Britain Highway, is very bumpy.

The bottom pictures overlook one of the palm oil groves along the highway.

Ron and his crew are also busy working on getting the Cathedral grounds ready for construction to begin in July.  The Cathedral roof will be raised and repaired, and some pre-construction work done so that, when funds are available, changes can be made on the interior.  Bishop Bill is meeting with artists in the States for interior art as well.  Today, they worked on pulling down needless light poles, the one pictured below took out an electrical line when it came down.  This was right outside our front door.  
Once construction begins, the vehicle entry in front of our house (actually about 10’ from our front window) will be closed off and the area in front of the Cathedral will become more of a garden setting once construction is finished. 

My projects for the Diocese are more behind the scenes and very tedious.  I must keep reminding myself that Papua New Guinea time is not the same as the US!  If someone says they will get you the information immediately, it might mean 1 week or 6 weeks, who knows for sure?  But, everyone has the best of intentions and part of the problem here is me, in that I still think like an American!  People I have visited with who were Peace Corps Volunteers and past Lay Mission-Helpers assure me this is normal in any country.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ron's Blog of May 20th

Greetings once again from Kimbe, WNB, PNG:

All is well with Karen and I.  We are settled in to our little two bed room.  Did a little cleaning and added some shelving.  It is beginning of the dry season which means it rains every three days or so instead of every day.  It is very hot and humid.  We usually take cold showers in the evening to cool down and remove a layer of sweat and dust. 

The most pleasurable thing for me are the friendly and helpful people.  They are a bit curious as to who we are but after a little more than a month most of the locals know us at least by sight if not by name.  English is spoken by many but the preferred language is Tok Pison.  We are learning it slowly but still not able to converse in it.  Bishop Bill encouraged Deacon-to-be, Boniface, to tutor us in tok pison. 

Boniface completed his seminary studies a few months ago and resides at the Diocese.  The Bishop requires all graduating seminarians to spend a full year at the Diocese so he can get to know them personally.  Boniface and two others, Chris and Joseph, will be ordained as deacons in November and three Deacons who are working in parishes will be ordained the following day.  The Deacons to be teach in the local parish, Catechist school and Cartas school.  They also have liturgical duties at the Cathedral.  Karen and I are blessed to have Boniface helping us with tok pision.  He is an interesting young man who loves music and can be found teaching music to the children and young adults.  He always wears a smile and laughs with regularity; a very happy person.

We have been blessed to get to know Fr. Yarak Wiesnewski, a priest from Poland.  The Bishop says when he offered to send Fr. Yarak to the remote parish of Bariai, Fr. Yarak replied, no electricity, no running water, no problem!  He is charismatic and leads his flock to Jesus Christ with passion.  This parish was without a priest for 45 years prior to Fr. Yarak's arrival. 
He recently made the long journey to Kimbe for the annual Priest retreat.  He brought with him a large contingent of young adults from Bariai and one evening at their gathering he invited Karen and I to join.  He asked that we tell them a bit about ourselves and why we are in PNG.  After a brief talk from us he asked for questions.  A few asked about where we are from and about our families and the work we are doing at Kimbe Diocese.  It was a joyous occasion and we thoroughly enjoyed our brief time with them.

Here is a portion of a letter he wrote to his friends back home:

Dear Friends
As you know after 45 years of “Kilenge Rule” our parish is independent again because we got own priest!   I am 20th October 2017th to Bomai and 24th March was officially introduced by Bishop who visited us in Kudeai and celebrated 85-Jubilee Mass. Governor Muthuuel Sasindra was present.

Working in Bariai is grate adventure and pleasure but always challenging things!  Priest house have no water supply, there is no electricity in none of the 10 churches or 25 schools including Gloster High School.  We do not have car or dingi.  But we don’t give up.

“Fatima Processio” in November and December made overwhelming effect:  200 baptisms, 150 first communions, 100 weddings in church and 20.0103 Kina donation. These money were used to buy 2 engeens and now youths are cutting tree to produce huge boat and use to send 100 youngsters on pilgrimage:  “Bariai – Kimbe – Ulamuna – Rabaul” and visit Blessed Peter Torot grave and so many historic places as Vunapope Cathedral, Minor Seminary, MSC, FMI Sisters, Vunabosco, etc.

This pilgrimage and other activities we do in 2018 are inspired by Pope Francis who proclaimed a “Year of Youths and Vocation Discernment”.  We already did two trips to Kimbe with 60 and 88 youths consequently. Good people always support our limited needs!

We were short in food and petrol but happy with witnessing priestly ordinations in January and Vocation Workshop in March! Average experience 3 or 4 drum petrol and 2 bells of rice daily which makes 2000Kina for petrol and 2000Kina for rice (two weeks program).  Thank you to these activities our youth is lazy to drink alcohols and smoke marihuana faight, still, adultery slowly will disappear. 

Some of youths will be inspired to join seminary or monastery but most will be encouraged to go forward getting education, make business and happy Christian families!
It is our goal and intention!

As young boy I was once in deep crises and some good priests in my native Poland were showing me the way in the dark tunnel of communism!
There is no communism in PNG but we do experience deep poverty which make people angry, drunked or embraced by faight, drugs, adultery.

God Bless
Fr. Yarek – Parish Priest Bariai”

His English is a little rough but I think you can all get the grasp of what he is communicating.

I also want to introduce you to four men I work with on construction projects, Victor, Karol, Israel and Johnny.  These guys have worked off and on for the dioceses the past four or five years.  They had not worked for several months until just recently.  They are a pleasure to work with.  Victor and Karol are the most experienced and skilled in carpentry and general building skills.  Israel and Johnny are a bit younger and learning the trades working with Victor and Karol.

Our first project together was redoing a kitchen in the Priest house.  Since then we have completed several smaller jobs including a new roof for the radio Maria equipment building which is about a half mile from parish grounds up a very steep hill.   The picture above is the completed roof with the “boys”.  We are now building shelving in four offices which are for the Catholic Health Services Administration and minor clinical services.  Five employees in total with a lot of visitors each week.  We are moving them from an office across the grounds which is in need of repair.  Their old office will be refurbished into living quarters or another office; to be determined. 

There are many projects at the diocese grounds and at every parish as most buildings are quite old and maintenance has not been a priority.  I will keep you post on other jobs as we are able to work on them.  Funds are limited so we must prioritize and hope for funding.

My number one job as diocesan property manager is to visit every parish (19) and document and prioritize their building and maintenance.  The first parish we visited in Kailia, a remote village accessible only by boat, has an immediate need for a water pump to lift water from the large rain barrel to a smaller roof top tank to provide gravity fed water to the priest house.  Currently carrying water by bucket and facilities are not used.  This house also needs a solar system to provide basic electrical for lights, outlets and the water pump. 

Our boss, Bishop Bill, is in Pittsburg for some very well deserved rest and medical appointments.  He will be away for two months returning late July.  He is already missed and gone only 6 days.

That’s all for now.  You are all in our prayers that God will be generous to each of you.  Please pray for us and all the people of Kimbe, West New Britain, PNG.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In Country Six Weeks

We have now been in country for 6 weeks!  (as of May 5)  We are very slowly adjusting to the heat if one ever adjusts completely!  After all, even the people born here suffer!  The days it rains are slightly better because at least it cools off a bit.  We are told we are now in the dry season and it still rains at least twice a week and not just gentle rain showers but downpours.  We are also becoming accustomed to earthquake tremors several times a week. 

All Diocesan priests, deacons and deacons to be were at retreat the last week of April.  It was good to visit with Fr. Nixon and Deacon Chris from Kaliai and Fr. Yarek from Bariai. 

Everything seems to be settling in to some degree.  There are still some questions as to what exactly Ron and I will be doing but Ron has had the pleasure of travelling to several of the closer parishes and has begun his assessments of parish buildings, schools and health centers.  He has also done some work on the Libori House on the Diocesan grounds which is where the priests reside when they are in Kimbe.  Currently, he is beginning to work on the Health Center on the grounds as well. 

I have been working on the financial side of things, trying to figure out GST tax refunds, etc.  Every item purchased has a 10% sales tax, there are no income taxes in PNG, and the Church may request refunds of a certain amount of the taxes they have paid on purchases.  These forms have not been filed for several years.  I have several ready for the Bishop to carry to Port Moresby on May 14 and we are hoping for a very healthy refund!

Recently, the Caritas Sisters asked me if I would work with one of the sisters on her English, so I have had the pleasure of working with Sr. Lomero three days a week.  Sr. Lomero came directly from South Korea with no English other than reading and writing.  When she reads something aloud she does very well, but in every day speaking she gets confused and slips back into Korean.  I am blessed because she tries so hard and in the process she is sharing some of her culture with me as well as some of her personal history. 
As always, we continue to be thankful for those in the USA who pray for us and support us in so many ways.  You are in our prayers as well.

O, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

Monday, April 9, 2018

News From Ron

Arrived in Port Moresby, Capital of PNG, on 21 March.  It was a direct flight from LAX.  We spent the afternoon and evening at the Capuchin Monastery and left the next day for Kimbe arriving around noon.  Bishop Bill picked us up and delivered us to our new home on the Kimbe Diocese campus. 

The next day, Friday, we headed for a remote village, Kaliai by Bishop’s Toyota pickup, an hour ride through Palm plantation and then on a banana boat, dingy, with 60 hp out board motor.  Cargo, Bishop, Karen, one deacon, two seminarians, the operator, helper and me.  Seven souls and a load of cargo, not sure but believe we were overweight.  After five hours of being beaten up by rough seas we arrived in Kaliai which was our home for the next three nights.  Rustic is the best description.  We slept in the Priest house which included an office, kitchen, dining and living room, three bedrooms and two baths.  Somehow we survived with no running water or lights.  I was so proud of Karen, the city girl, did not complain and made the best. 

Next day we launched the dingy for a 2.5 hours to arrive in Bariai another small village.  Bishop Bill and Fr. Yarek, a Polish Priest recently assigned as Pastor, administered Confirmation to more than 300 children and adults.

Upon our arrival at the Diocese campus in Kimbe we were greeted by local parishioners with songs and greetings.  They decorated us with flowers.  It was very heartwarming welcome to our new home by our new friends.  Likewise our arrival at Kaliai we were greeted in a similar fashion.  Although we were included I am certain it was more for Bishop Bill than us.  Our fellow Lay Mission-Helper, Danita Kurtz from Long Beach, traveled with us.  Palm Sunday was celebrated in Kaliai, most beautiful ceremony.  The rustic church, St. Theresa the Little Flower, in need of maintenance and expansion was packed with people sitting on the grass around the church.  

One of my new responsibilities is to visit each parish in the diocese, 19 in all, and document condition and needs.  After lunch I walked the grounds taking pictures, estimating building size and condition.  The parish grounds includes the priest house, church, school and health center building.  All of these in need of repair and a couple buildings need demolishing.  The villagers will be a large part of the labor force, just not sure of their capabilities.  The newest building was built in early 70's and there is no apparent maintenance, just fix as it breaks.  The health center is in great need of a new building and restoration of the existing.  Distance is a big issue and the fact the only way to access the village is by water further complicates the building and maintenance.

After another long boat ride we arrived back in Kimbe on Monday.  Karen and I spent the day unpacking and I did a little grocery shopping.  Our kitchen is very small and in need of cleaning.  Spent considerable time attempting to clean to discover much of the stains were not lifting.  Spent Saturday sanding and painting the kitchen walls and cabinets.  Next project is to build upper shelves for storage, currently no upper cabinet shelving.  Floor is bad and we will deal with it soon.  Just as in Kaliai, the Kimbe buildings are in need of varying degrees of maintenance; added to my to do list.  

The Bishop, Vicar General and I met with a local engineer/builder who is working from architectural plans, developed a plan to replace the sanctuary of the Cathedral.  A much needed improvement as the current roof leaks and is in sad condition.  Our hope is the construction will begin in a couple months or sooner and complete in eight to twelve months.  The Bishop has been working on funding and it looks as if the funds received and committed will be sufficient for the construction phase. The Bishop will be travelling for the next three months so it looks as if Fr. Gabriel, Vicar General, who is a native of PNG and a most gentle person, will be managing the new construction.

Fr. Gabriel, Dcn. Simon and I travelled to Ulamona a small village about four hours north.  Father gave a talk to a group from seven area parishes and I spent the time inspecting and documenting the buildings and grounds, much work needed.  On the way we stopped so I could inspect the buildings at Silanga and on the return trip we stopped at the small parish in Bialla to document and inspect.  Same general condition as the others. 

I have visited 5 of the 19 parishes.  More travel over the next few weeks.  Then we will build a master plan and begin the much need maintenance and repair.  Please pray that funding will be made available.

Life in PNG is a much slower pace than back home in the U.S.  However, taking care of necessities, groceries, laundry, etc. takes much more of our day.  The language is officially English but in Kimbe and the remote villages tok pisin is most widely spoken with some English. Tok pisin is influenced by English, German and local languages. Moning = morning, avinun=good afternoon, pikinini = child, meri = woman, man = man, mammeri = people, kaikai = to eat or food, guri = earthquake (experienced four or five since arrival and the village Ulamona sits at the foot of the largest active volcano in PNG).  I am not totally longlong = crazy but close.  We need merimeri = mercy.  

Please pray for us as we are praying for you. May God bless you a guide you in your daily lives.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Not In Kansas Anymore

Dorothy, you aren’t in Kansas anymore!
We finally made it to Kimbe, Papua New Guinea last Thursday.  We were met with a beautiful welcome from the community including music, dancing and flowers.  After a whirlwind tour of the Diocese grounds, Kimbe and a beautiful dinner with Bishop Bill, Fr. Gabriel and Danita Kurtz, we prepared to leave on Friday for a visit to parishes:  Kiliai and Bariai. 

Immediately following mass on Friday morning, we piled into Bishop’s vehicle for a one-hour ride through palm plantations and forests.  Absolutely stunning.  

Finally, arrived at a small village on the south coast and loaded onto a banana boat for a 5-hour trip to our first stop: Kiliai parish.  We stayed at this parish for the weekend but on Saturday morning back into the boat for another 2-hour ride to Kudeai which is an outpost of the Bariai parish.  The afternoon was spent at Confirmation Mass for over 300! 

Palm Sunday was in Kaliai and was beautiful.  The afternoon included a short trip to one of the small islands for fun in the waves. 

We returned to Kimbe on Monday and are now settling in and preparing to begin in earnest next week.  All of us came back with sunburns.  There is absolutely no way to put enough suntan lotion on this white skin to avoid burning!  Danita and I escaped the worst of it, though.  Ron’s legs burned terribly and for the past couple of days he has been moving in pain.  Today they began the blistering process, so we are hoping the end is near.  The dear Sisters at Caritas shared some Aloe lotion with the 3 of us so I believe that has helped.

We attend morning prayer in Tok Pisin followed by morning mass either in Tok Pisin or English.  Today, though, we joined the staff and students at Caritas Secondary School for morning mass and then were invited to morning repast with the Sisters. 

This week we have been ‘setting up house’.  You know, the things you always have to do when you move into a new place.  Today included setting up a bank account and shopping for items still needed.  We are still trying to figure out the internet situation and the banking was a definite experience! 

O Jesus, we surrender ourselves to you, take care of everything!