Setting out at six o'clock in a truck carrying twenty-three teachers is not everyone's idea of a break from the routine. We did this for a three-day reflection and sharing recently. St. Mary's Catholic Primary School Timbunge was the peaceful venue along the mighty 1126 kilometre-long Sepik River. Collecting food, batteries and fuel for the 3-hour journey at Wewak came first, then the 2-hour boat trip, which included a dug-out canoe. Despite the cramped conditions, there was excitement about the venture a "mission" to meet some remote Lasallian teachers at Timbunge.
The school, founded by pioneer Divine Word Missionaries (SVD's) in the early 1950's, was the venue for an enriching program, designed by Aloysius Jalapuin. It focused on our teaching journey in life, and significant points in that of St. John Baptist, our patron saint. Josh Moish introduced or re-introduced the Patron Saint of Teachers to us. Josh in his simple and quiet manner, took the participants into history and into the founding years of the Lasallians mission in France in the 16th Century.
The next five sessions were facilitated by Aloysius following a prayerful process of -firstly - reflecting on a significant time in De La Salle's life, then listening to De La Salle' words, and meditating on the Word of God. Time followed for reflecting on one's own life by journaling, and open sharing sessions. The process was a spiritual enriching exercise. It was a wonderful experience to remind Lasallian teachers that their journey in life as teachers is a prayerful calling, to do God's will for the children in their schools and classrooms.
I sincerely thank these Lasallians who talked about their life's journey. Listening to these stories, made me personally appreciate their dedication, and admire their boldness to stand up for what is right and just for the vulnerable children in the schools. Let us continue to pray for Lasallians and especially for the lone Lasallian teacher, teaching in a rural and remote school somewhere in Papua New Guinea. Their stories continue to inspire us.