SISTER Shanty Joseph knows only too well how challenging it can be to take the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ to the remote areas of the country.
Sr Shanty is from India and serves with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MSI). She is based in Port Moresby as the provincial secretary of the MSI.
She went to Araimiri in Gulf in 2018. Looking back, she cherishes the experience as “something to be treasured for life”.
“The life spent mostly with pristine nature – black sandy beaches, swaying sago palms and coconut trees. And above all, the innocence of tiny tots.
“As I reminisce my life, I feel elated that I got a chance to work in a remote area where people are unassuming and free from hustle and bustle of life.”
She recalls the days spent with people, students, teachers and children, days spent in teaching and learning.
“I wonder sometimes to see the poverty of missionaries in the diocese of Kerema and the yearning of people to know more about Jesus Christ.”
There are 11 parishes in the diocese of Kerema but “sad to say only seven parish priests”.
“(They) travel on foot (through) the rugged mountains and valleys of East Kerema and cross the rough sea and gales of west Kerema to (preach) the good news of Jesus.”
Sr Shanty reckons it is one of the most challenging and remote places where originally MSC missionaries had set foot, followed by the Salesians.
The Salesians celebrated their 40 years of presence at Araimiri on June 13, 2020.
“It is a challenge for me to count the myriads of blessings that God has been bestowing upon the people of Gulf, the less privileged province in the country both educationally and developmentally.
“ God sent many angels on our way to nurture us both spiritually and physically. I did experience the same in the mission and experienced God tangibly in all walks of my life.”
“The mission is extensive, but the labourers are few.”
She thanks Sister Elizabeth who has been doing her best with her missionary zeal visiting the sub stations, preparing many people for sacraments and starting Sunday school for children.
Sr Shanty arrived in Gulf in 2018.
“The Salesians took care of us and provided us with all we needed. I gratefully acknowledge the providence of God which was very evident at the initial stages of our stay as we were new to the culture and people.
“God sent many angels on our way to nurture us both spiritually and physically. Psalm 91:11 has deep impact on my life: God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go.
“I did experience the same in the mission and experienced God tangibly in all walks of my life.”
Araimiri daily offered Sr Shanty and others new challenges and hope.
“That was indeed true as I stepped into the school with new responsibility. Lack of teachers, disciplinary issues, lack of communication, troubles from neighbouring communities are added tasks.
“The motivating factor is our students are innovative, supportive and enthusiastic to learn and have dreams in life. One needs to expect the unexpected as we welcome each new day at Araimiri.
“I did experience the unseen hands of God in the midst of storm and calm and he was ever faithful to me.”
Sr Shanty is grateful to Araimiri for imparting to her how to take life as it comes and be patient with all odds.
“The simple people taught me, inspired me and challenged me how to be humble and enjoy daily joys of life.”
She believes in what has been said about “the true value of anything is understood not when it is with you but when it is away from you”.
“It is undeniably true as I recall the past two and half years of my stay at Araimiri.”
An unforgettable experience indeed for a servant of God.