Dear Family and friends, we would like to share with you the joy we had on this past 22nd of October when we finished and blessed a Library for our beloved mission here in Vánimo, Papua New Guinea, and in this way we also want again to give thanks to God and to all who have helped us bring this project to fruition.
The idea for the Library came about a number of years ago when the children and youth of the parish kept coming and knocking at the door of our house asking if we had books they could read. We began making photocopies of books in Indonesia, later we were able to put a small bookshelf in each chapel with devotional books for use during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Later, during a mission appeal in the USA we came to know a woman by the name if Jeannine Landry, who generously offered, along with her husband and other families in New Hampshire, to send us books for the library. Again and again we tried to dissuade her because we know it is not easy to send parcels to Papua, not only is it costly, but also, many letters and parcels never arrive. However non e of this could put them off and they insisted on sending us
books. And so it happened that after a large wait, they sent the first books, and good books!
We also received more donations from Australia and we are currently awaiting a container (also from Australia) with more than 2000 books for our library.
Here, people speak “pidgin” and their own tribal languages and dialects, however, many know English too, especially the children and youth because school is taught in English. That is why we can see how much they enjoy reading books, whether that is because here, unlike other places, most people do not have TV, radio or internet; or simply because they are more sensitive and therefore could enjoy with other things. All of these things urged us to go ahead with the project. For our part we could see the good of having good reading…like food for the soul which refreshes and reminds us of the truths which we must not forget, which calls to the hearts of the youth to great ideals and in general enriches the culture.
And so it was that, at the start of this year, having received help from the “Mission appeals” via our superiors, we began to reconstruct the building which had been set aside for the library. The building is only 20 metres from our house and also on the grounds of one of the schools which falls under our parish. For the construction we had four carpenters and many others who began to come and work with us every day. For example, on Sunday after Mass in the villages nearby it would be announced that the priests needed gravel to help to prepare the cement and so when the women would go to the river to wash clothes they would fill a bag with sand/gravel and we would pass by in a truck to pick it up; At other times when we were short of hands we simply had to go to the village and look for a some youth who were happy, at a moment’s notice, to jump in the truck and help us to go find rocks, gravel and other things to mix cement….it was also providential that an older woman, a neighbour and a friend of mine ‘Mama Paula’ had years before been taught by a missionary to work and set up the seminary library, and so, she with other volunteers came to order and categorise the books.
And so providentially everything seemed to be falling into place, we didn’t have to force anything, which was better because things seemed to be coming together almost spontaneously, and the difficulties we had didn’t discouraged us, but rather we overcame with a little effort and sacrifice of everybody working together, and we can say that for us it was clear that God was behind this, and therefore the merit is again only for Him, and for this we want to give thanks to Him, Who never forgets his little ones and from Whom we receive each and every good. We also give thanks to St John Paul II, through whom we began this work.
There is so much to tell about the construction of the building and the way we use to get the materials; also about the day of the inauguration, the Mass with the Bishop, the blessing of the library, the voyage of the bust of JPII, the feasting and the joy of the people. You will simply have to imagine it! I will limit myself to say that the people were overjoyed with the name we gave to the library and for the monument which we place, and even more when they recalled that St John Paul II was the first and only Pope who has visited this land, and not only once, but three times!
We do not want to finish without mentioning “St Michael Primary School” and Liz, from Australia who have donated more than 2000 books; also we have to give thanks to Mons. Robert Fuhrman who, along with Joseph McSweeny from New Yersey USA, donated solar panels and equipment for solar power so that we can have light in the library despite being in an area without electricity; we want also to mention Mr. and Mrs. Davino who collaborated from New Jersey USA; and finally we give thanks to “Aktion Unsere Spende” from Switzerland who over the years has supported us, IVE missionaries, here in Papua New Guinea.
We commend ourselves and this mission to your prayers, pray that this work which we have begun may bear much fruit among these people whom God has commended to our care.
Fr. Martín M. Prado, IVE.