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!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Blessings


As we make final preparations for leaving for PNG in March 15, we wanted to share this wonderful thought.  We pray that we will be blessings to those we meet during our mission. 
 

Jesus, I surrender to you, take care of everything.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Work Permit Approved


February 2018

We have received word that our work permits have been approved in Papua New Guinea!  Our tentative departure date is mid-March.  We thank everyone for their prayers during the time of preparation and waiting.  You have been in our prayers as well.

Of course, we must admit to some frustration during the wait period, however, we have come to believe it was all part of God’s plan.  A friend’s brother died unexpectedly in late December and we were able to help her during the first few weeks in a variety of ways.  As well, we have helped (we hope) Lay Mission-Helpers and Mission Doctors Association in doing some maintenance at the Mission House.  Of course, we have also used the time to pray and reflect!

We are excited to begin the next leg of our journey as we ask:  Stay with us, Lord, on our journey.
O Jesus, we surrender ourselves to you, take care of everything!

Monday, December 18, 2017

December 2017

We officially completed training with a retreat at Mary & Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes and were commissioned on Sunday, December 10th during Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Los Angeles.  The Mass was beautiful and was followed by a great Christmas party attended by family, friends and fellow LMH volunteer and staff.  All in all, a wonderful day.
We are sad to announce we will not be leaving in January as planned and hoped for as there have been some VISA issues.  However, prayers are that February will see us begin our journey. 
In the meantime, we are staying at the Mission House in Los Angeles.  There are some projects that are keeping us busy and, we hope, will be helpful to LMH.

We wish everyone a Blessed Advent and Christmas Season. 


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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Reflection and Thanksgiving

As we near the end of training for Lay Mission-Helpers, it is time for reflection and thanksgiving.

We look back on the year as one of momentous decisions made with prayer and discernment.
More importantly, we are thankful for our family and friends. 

We thank our children and grandchildren for the love, support, excitement and enthusiasm they have shared with us throughout this year.   They have helped make this process one of joy while sharing some of the sadness we feel at leaving them for three years.  Our sisters and their families, as well as dear friends who are like family, have been indispensable, sharing love and laughter; just letting us know they are with us. We are thankful for our great nephew, Jonas, who has adopted us as his missionaries for Awana. 

The priests and so many friends in our lives have been very important and have walked with us on our journey to this point and, we know, will continue to hold us in their prayers. 

We are also thankful for the past Lay Mission-Helpers who have held us in their prayers, for the LMH staff, those who have taught the classes and for Patti Wetzel who has shared her life with us these past few months at the Mission House.  We also thank Fr. Anthony, Fr Alan and the parishioners of St. John the Evangelist for their warm welcome and support.

God has blessed us so abundantly and we thank Him for the wonderful people he has placed in our lives.  They will all be in our prayers for the months and years to come.


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