By Postulant Paul Paiara
My name is Paul Paiara. I come from Papua New Guinea. Last April 19 to 29, 2017 I joined the immersion program or bABBAd in Madridejos, Bantayan Island, Cebu. It was a very helpful opportunity for me as young Salesian Postulant to experience communing with a Filipino family. This particular experience led me to enrich my Salesian Youth Spirituality (SYS) by immersing with the people in the rural community. It was a wonderful and memorable experience that helped develop my awareness of social realities in the rural setting.
I felt nervous when I first met my foster-mother in her home,. That was my most difficult moment since she did not know how to speak English. But somehow, her son Edward and two little granddaughters knew English so I started communicating with them. On the first day, I felt uncomfortable and uneasy to adopt into a new culture, including food, language, behavior, etc. But there was this short interesting passage written in our booklet that said “When you enter another culture, another religion take off your shoes, for you are treading on Holy Ground, lest you forget God has been there before your arrival.” This really gave me the strength and courage to face the challenges in the days to come. It told me to forget myself and put myself into the new family situation.
As days went by, I started to put myself into their shoes. I adjusted and felt part of the family enjoying the new culture, language and food. The family treated me as their very special guest. I was well respected not only in the family but also in the community. Whenever I went around, people greeted me with a smile and respect. I wanted be part of the family so I appreciated how the meals were prepared and joined eagerly in doing some household tasks like sweeping, washing plates, cleaning the comfort room and many others. These usual activities enabled me to participate better and acquired the family values and their spirit because I felt I had not enjoyed life like this with my own family, because I was always away from home.
The program really helped me to realize the importance of the family and family values. I consider this to be one of my most memorable experience.
I consider this opportunity very timely because this year the Rector Major, in line with the Pope and the whole Church, invited all Salesian settings to reflect on the theme of the family. In his Strenna for 2017 he wrote: the family as a place of life, the family as a school of Life and Love.” Therefore, from the bottom of my heart, I recommend that organizers continue to carry out this program. It helped me a lot in my human development, particularly assisting me to be more transparent in relating with others.
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the following: Fr. Mel Racelis, SDB, Rector of Don Bosco Formation Center (DBFC), and Fr. Al Añano, SDB, for allowing me together with two (2) other Papuan Postulants to join bABBad; Fr. Arvin Abatayo, SDB, FIS SALVO Coordinator, and all the facilitators most especially to Karen Castigador and Christine Umpad, Head Facilitators, who worked hard to make this wonderful bABBAd immersion program possible and safe.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for all your abundant blessings upon us. Continue to protect from the evil one and guide with your comforting hand everyone, especially those coming from broken families. Amen.”