Category Archives: Living Stories

PLAIN RICE AND KFC FRIED CHICKEN by Monica Lee

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I didn’t plan a teaching career in a kindergarten.  My interest and passion have always been in the arts.  I spent two and a half years developing this interest.  Unfortunately, I had to put an end to this pursuit owing to some personal commitments.  So I went into teaching instead.  There is a significant experience I would like to share during my short stint of service in the Good Shepherd ministries.
In August 2007, a group of us, Mariaville staff and family members, were given an opportunity to travel to Sabah as part of an annual trip.  I took along my two younger sons, then aged seven and eight respectively.  We spent the most memorable and educational days in one of the Sabah villages.

There were approximately 100 children that we met at the village.  They were from poor families.  What really caught my attention was an episode witnessed over lunch.  The children were noisily, but happily, tucking into their lunch boxes containing plain rice and two pieces of KFC fried chicken.  However, we observed that several children ate only the rice.  We were curious and wanted to understand their behaviour.  “Why did they not want to eat the fried chicken?  Was it not to their taste and liking?”  I asked one of the staff members in Sabah.  We found out that they had wanted to bring the fried chicken home to share with their family members at dinner.  This tells a lot about the children’s love and generosity for their family despite their financial hardship and circumstances.

This touching experience taught my children and me to look at life from different perspectives.  For my sons, they had learnt a valuable lesson on the value of money and about sharing.  For me, the lesson is about loving and valuing my family.

I thank the Good Shepherd mission for these precious lessons which have definitely made a vast difference in my life.

 

 

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THE CALL TO SERVE by Christina Angeline Joseph

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It was through Sr. Mercy Daniel that I first came into contact with the Good Shepherd Sisters.  That was 17 years ago.  She was giving a session to the catechism teachers at my parish.  I had attended many vocation camps with other congregations but had never heard of the Good Shepherd Sisters.

Out of curiosity, I decided to volunteer at the crisis centre now known as the Rose Virginie Good Shepherd Centre.  I knew that as a volunteer I would not be able to do anything much, but I always held on to the words of Mother Teresa, “Do small things with great love.”  After a while, I started to enjoy spending time with the ladies at the centre.  Little did they know that I was learning so much from them!  I never imagined that through the years, I would become a part of something very much bigger.

The opportunity to get to know the Good Shepherd Congregation, and what made them different, came when I was employed as a kindergarten teacher at Mariaville Kindergarten by Sr. Patricia Lim.  I have to admit that where I had worked previously, there was no vision to begin with.  I did not know where the organisation was heading, nor was there a sense of mission.  However, during the past eight years at Mariaville, I have grown to understand that teaching children is part of my mission.

A very personal and striking thing that I want to share is dinner time with my husband.  We would sit down at the dinner table and I would share with him the little “happenings” in my classroom.  This routine has become such an important part of our lives, so much so that if I kept quiet, my husband would ask, “What did the children do today?”  Whenever I share with him about the children, I realise how much they mean to me.  What makes this place different from the previous kindergarten?  Actually, I know the answer.  I’m not just working and waiting for my pay cheque every month; I can somehow feel the Good Shepherd charism in Mariaville Kindergarten that makes me want to be a part of the children’s lives.

As I write this, it gives me great joy to realise how much I love what I am doing.  I enjoy getting up in the morning, knowing there is so much I can do for the children under my care.  I am reminded of the words of St. Mary Euphrasia, “God blesses you visibly; each day there are new benefits, let us give thanks to God.”  They help me to do better each day, and to practise the values that the Good Shepherd family has taught me.

Looking back at my journey as a volunteer of the Rose Virginie Centre and as a staff of Mariaville Kindergarten, I can see that I have grown spiritually.  I’m able to respect and show compassion to each individual, adult or child.  I have learnt to give of myself unconditionally.

I thank God for the call to serve in these ministries of the Good Shepherd Sisters.  I am grateful to Sr. Helena and Sr. Dorothy who have constantly given me much support and many opportunities to serve in both ministries.

 

CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY FOR TWO by Petrus Manoch & Katarina Jawa

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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

 

 

HOOK, LINE AND SINKER! by Gloria Bon

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Thirty-one years ago, when my family moved to the vicinity of Ampang, my children and I became regulars at the Chapel in Madonna Heights for the Sunday Mass.  My interaction with the Sisters then was an occasional “Good Morning.”  Little did I know that I was “spotted” by them.

In 1999, I was invited to some “serious sessions” together with a group of close friends.  I began to learn about the life of St. Mary Euphrasia and her work.  We were expected to chalk up a minimum percentage of attendance for the monthly meetings before we could be invited to be a Lay Associate.  I thought, “Am I worthy?  What does that mean to me?”  Initially, I was reluctant to accept the invitation.  For some unknown reason, I made a last minute decision to give it a try.  From then on, there was no turning back.  I developed a close relationship with the Sisters, assisting them whenever, and in whatever ways I could.

I started out by being their debt collector!  The Sisters operated a sewing “business” to supply school uniforms to schools.  There were outstanding sums of money due to them by several schools.  Wearing a skin as thick as the school uniforms, I parked myself often enough in those schools until the management had no choice but to pay up!  The entire debt collection took close to a year of work.  The experience taught me that patience and perseverance do pay, literally!  Naturally, I experienced a great sense of satisfaction and achievement.  It was mission accomplished!

Not long after, I was “spotted” once more.  This time, I was offered to take up the position of principal of Maryvale Kindergarten.  It was supposed to be a temporary appointment.  As it turned out, I remained the principal for close to nine years until its closure at the end of 2007.  Throughout that period, there was always a voice telling me that I should stay with the kindergarten.  I was “hooked”.  Challenges and struggles were aplenty each school day.  Nonetheless, I also felt a sense of fulfilment when positive changes were achieved.  Furthermore, I had tons of opportunities, big and small, to share the Good Shepherd mission and values to the teachers, administrative staff, children and the parents as well.

My most memorable experience was the 3-day outreach project organised by the teachers and staff to serve 174 poor and marginalised children from 17 villages in Tenghilan, Sabah.  That was in 2004.  The joy on the faces of the children spoke of the love they experienced by our presence.

In November 2005, I was “spotted” yet again.  I was asked to be the contact person for the Justice, Peace and Solidarity in Mission (JPSM) Office.  “What on earth is that?”  I had asked.  A visit to the Social Justice Office in Melbourne cleared up my ignorance.  Four months down the road, in March 2006, the JPSM Office for the province was set up at Madonna Heights.  I was “hooked” once again.  Together with the Good Shepherd people, I strive for social justice, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

As a lay partner in the Good Shepherd mission, I have experienced the warmth, love compassion and life-giving spirit of the Good Shepherd Himself.  I thank the Sisters for the many opportunities given to me to share in their mission.  I must admit that I fell for it – hook, line and sinker!

A CLOTHES PEG by Wendy Carvalho Chin

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I was recently asked to find something that symbolises my role in the Good Shepherd mission.

After some reflection, the idea of being a ‘connector’ came to me.  As I surveyed the surroundings, I spotted a clothes peg.  Right away, I identified it as a symbol of my role in the mission.  You may ask, “Why a clothes peg?”  Just as a clothes peg is used to keep clothes from being blown away, my role in keeping the accounts for PKGS (Sabah) helps to keep good intentions and projects from being blown away too!  It would be a great pity if this happened due to poor financial management, inaccurate book-keeping, and lack of accountability.

I am able to connect accounting and financial management to mission work when the funds are responsibly accounted for.  Because most of our funds come from donors and benefactors, we have a huge responsibility to account for every cent we receive.  When we are able to put figures to mission work, it makes the work of my colleagues, whose duty it is to obtain funding for ministries, a lot easier!

With proper and professional accounts-keeping and reporting, our ministry will be perceived as professional in our work.  Consequently, this gives greater confidence and will attract bigger corporate benefactors, which means better funding for our projects.  In turn, we can reach out to more people in need.

Just as a car without petrol is useless, good intentions and ideas without funds will be fruitless!  They will remain just good intentions!  Although I may not be in the forefront to carry out direct mission work, I feel that my role in keeping proper accounts is, nevertheless, just as needed and important.  I am one of the pieces in the big jigsaw puzzle of the Good Shepherd mission.  I have come to realise that it is not by chance that I am part of the Good Shepherd family.  It is God who has chosen and called me by name.  He knows the mission needed a clothes peg as well!

May the name of the Lord be praised!