Papua New Guinea
by fr.elie,msp (12.25.07)
Originally Posted on Feb. 15, 2008
Past is part of our life. We look back at it to learn with gratitude to God for that formation cleansing. I dont have regret of what happened to us. Perhaps, God has hidden agenda to each of us which until now I can’t fathom yet. I can’t also blame my fellow exodians for that historic event. At least we bravely made history thereby becoming part of the Church’s History.
I dont know where I would start my sharing. Living here in Papua New Guinea as missionary is both sweet and sour. It’s sweet because I am proud to work as missionary amongst its people. I am proud that I am still here sharing the gift of our Filipino faith that we received from God through the missionaries who Christianized our country. When I had a vacation in the Philippines, people asked me, ‘where are you assigned as priest?’, I always proudly said,’PNG’ as in Papua New Guinea. People would respond, ‘you are great and a tough missionary’. Those comments fattened my heart, lightened my feelings and made me proud walking around.
It’s sour because living in this country as missionary is difficult and tough. It’s difficult because malaria often knocks me down. Malaria is terrible here. If it attacks, I need to stay in bed for one week which makes me so weak to the bone. I become weaker since nobody will cook food for me. I do everything myself here. I need to crawl going to kitchen in order to survive. I dont want to die here in PNG alone without the knowledge of my family. Sometimes, with terrible attack, I felt as if I was already dying. It leads me to cry with self-pity and I ask myself, ‘why God sends me here?’ In every attack I had, I always gave thanks to God for giving me a share of resurrection.
Mission life is challenging and humbling experience. At one time, I visited a remote village, which is part of my parish, and it took me seven days walking in the jungle. I crossed rivers unmindful of the danger with crocodiles. I just hid my fear. I firmly held onto the tree-roots so as not to fall down to the deep cliff. I just needed to slip down through the bush track. When I noticed that something had bitten my legs, I found out that it was bush leeches sucking my blood. Physically tired and weak upon reaching the village, I was relieved by the warm welcome afforded to me by the community people, as if I were their king. Young women danced without bras and only grass skirts to cover their bodies’ sensitive parts. This truly made my fatigue instantly disappear. God surely did it for me, hehehe.
It really is a humbling experience because I need to respect their culture. I thought I already had the mastery of their national language. But I am always awakened to the reality that I am an alien here especially in times when I have to be with people in the remote areas, who speak in different dialects. I felt I really needed an interpreter to communicate to them the word of God during sacramental celebrations. Indeed, I felt sometimes useless. But God is so good that he sends interpreter so that His word will be translated and transmitted to many.
My mission here has made me realize the great contribution of the religious missionaries in my own country. They too left their own countries and spend their lives there for the sake of the gospel and for the kingdom of God. Truly, I admired the missionaries in our country who made sacrifices so that we have strong faith in God today. These missionaries are my inspiration in spending my own life here. I believe that it is my turn now to do the same in this country in gratitude to God for the gift of faith we have received.
God bless you.