A New Missionary Adventure: Duc in Altum!
Dear Religious Family,
From the beautiful place called “The Last Paradise,” we wanted to share a few of the graces received in the last few months as we prepared for our new mission in Papua New Guinea, along with the joyful news that we have finally reached our mission. In the beginning of 2019, in the International Juniorate House of Studies in Italy, we received our destinos to come to Papua New Guinea, and that’s when our new missionary adventure began. For one of us, it was our first mission ever and all the emotion and excitement that entails, but the other was already an expert in the adventure, having spent 10 years already in the mission. To wrap up our final year of formation, St. Joseph provided all we needed for our whole class to pilgrimage to Spain, Lourdes, and Fatima to beg for the graces we would need for our upcoming adventure. We began the visa process by filling out paperwork, going to doctor visits, and completing all we needed to get our visas. Next, God gave us the chance to visit Argentina, the birthplace of our Religious Family. We are very thankful to have been able to see all the places where we first began, to be welcomed home to each community that we visited, and to fall more in love with the charism gifted to our founder. The spirit of hospitality shined through the charity of each member of our religious family along the way. Our next step was to go back home to visit our families for a time before we headed to the other side of the world. Providentially, Our Lord planned for us to arrive to Rome to await our documents just in time to experience the IVE Meeting. This was another blessing to strengthen our love for our Religious Family and spirit of the missions; seeing our missionaries and the people from all over the world brought with it the grace of a deep unity in our charism.
After 7 months of waiting, we finally had our visas in hand and were ready to depart for the mission. The only possible problem was that we had many other things in our hands as well, with suitcases full for the mission. We prayed many novenas to St. Joseph to protect us and help us along our way during the trip from Rome to Papua New Guinea. As all things were going smoothly, we could feel his paternal protection over us. We hit our first bump on our second (of three!) flights, trying to leave Singapore. After waiting 14 hours in the airport, we were very tired yet anxiously joyful to finally arrive to the capital of Papua. However, in the last 2 hours before boarding the plane, we were told that we wouldn’t be able to bring with us all that we had brought along for the mission because it was too much weight, and we didn’t have enough money to pay for the excess baggage. After praying to St. Joseph to touch the hearts of the employees to help us in some way, we were running out of options. God wanted us to truly trust in His Providence. At the last minute, when we were ready to leave behind many of the donations, we turned to the other register to see if there was anyone around to possibly help carry some baggage. By then, everyone had already dropped their luggage and left to board the plane. There was only one couple left standing there who had already checked their bags and were trying to change their seats, so we asked if they could help us in any way. That is when St. Joseph stepped in and touched the heart of the only man left to help us. This generous Papuan offered to pay for all our luggage to make it to our final destination. We questioned his offer because the fee was a very large amount. He reassured us, “Yes sister, I can pay for everything. You are coming to help my country, so I want to help you.” Later, we found out that this generous man of St. Joseph is a Papuan Politician from the interior of the country.
After 7 months of waiting for our visa, 21 hours in 3 different airplanes, and the generous help of God’s grace to prepare us both physically and spiritually, we arrived in Vanimo, PNG. We were greeted with the warm smiles of both the sisters and the girls from our home as well as many songs, hugs, and flowers. After a very short time in the mission, we now understand why it is called Paradise because the detailed work of God’s creative hand shines brightly in a place so hidden from our “modern” world. The sight of the jungle with its lush, green trees and colorful flowers enwraps the view of the blue bay as the white waves gently brush the shoreline. At night the choirs of bugs sing under the moonlight evening until the rising of the sun brings with it a different choir, this time of tropical birds. So now, dear religious family, we entrust ourselves and the fruits of our new mission to your prayers, knowing that we are always united in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the missionary adventure. Our Lady Queen of Paradise…pray for us!
In Christ and Mary,
Sr. Mary Altar of Sacrifice and Sr. María Espejo de Paciencia, Missionaries in PNG