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Friday, September 13, 2013

Be thankful!

DS /st
Paitan : Sr. Veronica Kandaung fsic, the Diocesan Catechetical Coordinator together with Anna Teresa and Sharon Tan from the Diocesan Youth Office visited Kg. Sulit, Paitan last 4th to 8th September 2013. It took us five hours to reach Kg. Sulit from Sandakan. Most of the villagers are Christian. Apart from the chapel, there is a kindergarten run by Sr. Dorothy Laudi fsic with the help of two teachers, Lily and Cathlyn. We were indeed honored to have them as our foster family for 5 days.
We arrived Kg. Sulit, Paitan on 4th September at around 9.00 PM.  It was pitch dark as the place has no electricity supply. We were told that it has been almost a week since it last rained. The villagers depended on rain water for their daily use (cooking and drinking) and as such water supply is pretty low. We were reminded to be prudent in using water collected from the rain.
On the second day, we took the opportunity to spend some time with the children. Unlike the children in the city, these children do not spend their time in front of the TV 24/7. They do not have internet access neither do they have video games. The children mingle well with each other, spending time playing games, trekking, swimming and collecting fruits and vegetables. There are no barriers between them. They are all friends with each other within the community which is far different from kids in the city. We gathered them and prayed together. We taught them some new action songs and we played some games with them. We were deeply impacted by the simplicity of their lives.
The following day, on 6th September we went to Kg. Pulau some 30 minutes drive from the main road. It was a very challenging drive to reach Aunty Miming's house. She is the local catechist.  As we arrived, we saw a small chapel beside it and according to her, the chapel is always full when there is a prayer service or mass however, they still need faith formation to help them to deepen their faith.

For the last two days, we spend our time at Kg. Sulit. Every day, we would see children jumping into the pond to cool themselves from the hot and dry weather. Fathers would bring their children for hunting as it is a norm for the villagers.  Others would be out in their small palm oil plots clearing and harvesting. Mothers and children would usually sit leisurely at the veranda engaged in their own activity. In the late afternoon, we could see families at the river bank, washing their clothes and taking their shower.
On the last day, 8th September we attended the communion service at the chapel which was packed. Sr. Veronica fsic, shared that following Jesus must have priority over everything. We must not let the love for family, friends or possessions be higher than our love for God. As good Christian disciples, we have to decide to put Jesus in the centre of our lives. There is no turning back in following Jesus. We need to follow through His plan. She thanked everyone for the great hospitality offered to us during our stay in Kg. Sulit.

The five days in Kg. Sulit has given  us the opportunity to look at life at a different perspective. Living in a city or in a small town, we are provided with electricity and clean running water. Internet too, has become one of our basic necessity. These three things are a "must-have" for us. Even for us, we were pretty panicky when our phones ran out of battery. We walked around the chapel to find signal for our phones to gain access to the internet. We felt something was missing when we were not able to log into our fb or chat with our friends on Whatsapp. Without these three things, we are like fish without water. We are lucky to have electricity and clean running water, but have we ever been thankful for having all these? With all the blessings, yet we still complaint.

Be quiet for a while and give thanks to the Lord for everything He has given us. "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" - 2 Corinthians 9:15 The good and the bad, we are lucky to have all the things that help us feel comfortable living in this world. Let us not forget to pray for those who do not have all the basic needs, those living in the margins. Resolve to extend a hand to reach out to those in need especially during this Year of Faith. 

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