I arrived in Sabah in 1976 to work in Sandakan, and thereafter in Ranau. Four years later, I returned to Kampung Flores Adonara, Indonesia, for a two-month holiday. It was during this holiday, that I met my future wife, Katarina Jawa. When the holiday ended, I returned to Sabah with a promise to marry her three years later.
However, due to negative peer influence and the distraction of worldly pleasures, I did not keep my promise. Instead, Katarina came to Sabah in 1982 to work as a domestic helper. Soon, we resumed our relationship. We finally got married on 6th February 1986. Katarina stopped working after our marriage. I worked in a tyre factory as the sole breadwinner.
Our first child came on 1st November 1986. At that time, we had financial difficulties. We prayed that I’d get a good job, preferably one near a church so that we could be involved in church activities.
On 2nd January 1988, our second child was delivered. Our prayers were finally answered when the Good Shepherd Sisters offered us work at the newly opened convent. In the 12 years that I worked at the convent, my family and I were happy even though the living condition was modest. Our children had an education from kindergarten to secondary school. We noticed that children from other migrant families could not afford to attend school.
We were blessed with another child on 3rd May 1992. We named her Rose Virginie. My fourth child, a boy, arrived in 2000 but God took him home immediately upon his delivery. We received emotional support from the Sisters during this time. For years, we had received many blessings, advice and care from the Good Shepherd Sisters.
At the end of 2000, we returned as a family to our village in Flores during the school holidays. At about the same time, the Sisters had relocated the convent to Likas. The new convent was smaller and did not need a gardener, so we could not go with them. However, the Sisters helped to ensure that we had an income by working at the old convent premises under the management of the Bishop. Although we worked for the Bishop for six years from 2001 to 2006, we felt closely connected with the Good Shepherd Sisters still as they came to visit us often, and assisted us with food and money. And I would go over to work the garden at Likas for half a day, twice a month.
In 2002, we received bad news that the government did not approve the student passes of migrant children. We had no choice but to send our children back to Indonesia to complete their education. When our eldest child entered university, we were short of money. We prayed to God to send help with our child’s university fees. We need to send at least one to university. Our second child was highly unlikely to have a chance of a university education, given our family’s financial circumstances. We can’t afford to pay for two, I remember telling my family. We prayed fervently for help to come.
Again, God answered our prayers through the Good Shepherd Sisters. In 2006, the Sisters offered me a job in Kuala Lumpur. We accepted their offer readily. A long process followed, which required us to return to Indonesia to apply for a new visa at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta, and also to undergo a medical checkup. We managed to get both done in one and a half months. Finally, on 5 May 2007, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur to begin work at Villamaria Good Shepherd Kindergarten.
As it turned out, our second child managed to get into the university. Our third child is now in Secondary 4. All these were made possible by God who answered our prayers through the Good Shepherd Sisters. My family had been through many ups and downs, and encountered many challenges. We believed all these were part of “the way of God”.
God is so good to us and continues to bless and secure our family through the care of the Good Shepherd Sisters as our employer. We are thankful to the Good Shepherd Sisters for their constant prayers and care for our family all these years.
Originally written in Bahasa Malaysia in 2009