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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mission Trip To Kampung Tawanan, Paitan (Diocese of Sandakan)

Sandakan : Twelve members of the Catholic Campus Ministry of Melaka-Johor Diocese (Majodi) embarked on a 10-day mission trip to the Paitan Missionary Area of Sandakan from the 22nd - 31st July. The mission field trip, led by Sharon Lee, the Coordinator of the Campus ministry was accompanied by their Spiritual Director, Fr Matthew Bun, the Parish Priest of St Elizabeth's Church, Kota Tinggi.
The team arrived Sandakan from Paitan, some 4-hour drive, on the evening of 31st July. They attended the bi-monthly diocesan staff mass yesterday morning, 1st August at the Chapel of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, presided over by Bishop Julius and con celebrated by Fr Matthew.
In his introductory note, Bishop Julius gave an insight to the life of the Saint of the day, St Alphonsus, the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. A lawyer turned priest, went through untold difficulties and trials in his effort to establish the Congregation. The founding was his glory yet it was also his cross.
The prelate, in his homily said that it is not easy to preach to those who are nearest to us yet necessary. The current situation calls us to be more proactive in reaching out to the young people who are vulnerable, easily influenced and led astray. We need to work within to strengthen the faith of those close to us.
Preaching is not merely by words but more onto creating an environment that people can see in us the strong faith that we professed. We need an atmosphere of joyful prayer and a community filled with God's love. By this people would be attracted to the way we live just like the early Christians, people were drawn to the community on how they love one another.
He called on the young people to emulate the courage and determination of St Alphonsus to have the zeal to present the Lord to others in the midst of challenges.
The mission team with Bishop Julius (seated centre), Sharon Lee (seated 2nd left) and Fr Matthew (seated 5th left)

Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee, the mission leader, in a brief interview shared of her 10-day experience in Paitan.

We thank and praise the Lord for the opportunity granted to the Campus Ministry to do mission work in Paitan. Through His grace, we have wonderful people assisting and accompanying us throughout our mission
I was extremely thrilled to be part of the mission trip to Paitan. We prepared ourselves, spiritually and physically well ahead, several months before the mission. Our team was assigned to assist in constructing a new double-storey wooden 'Tadika' at Kampung Tawanan, a mission post established in the late 80's.
The ground floor of the 20' by 30' structure would serve as an assembly and activity hall while the first floor would be the classroom. Together with a few local skilled carpenters, we worked all out to ensure that the building could be completed within the said time frame.
The basic structure of the new tadika in Tawanan
We failed to accomplish our dream. We could only put up the basic structure within the 10-day period. Much is needed to complete the building for the local children; the roofing, walling and flooring.
However, our thoughts are not the same as His thoughts and our ways are not His. We expect things to fall in place according to our plan but God knows better and changes our course.
Exposure trips to other chapels and tadikas in Paitan
We cherish the wonderful ways God led us through certain situations. Along the way we learned to lean on one another in tough times. We have grown much closer and our relationship bond has been strengthened. The experience has also taught us that proper planning, initial groundwork preparation and wider participation are the key to any successful project. We learned to rely on God for all things happen only in His time.

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