On Flores chhildren and teenagers always wear uniforms at school. Regardless whether it is a state or private school. For a week I had the opportunity to visit high school in Hokeng, near Larantuka, in the eastern part of Flores. This SMP (Secondary School) is managed by the sisters - Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS). Near the school there are three dormitories in which young people stay after lessons. Only students who live near the school return to their families after classes. Most of the students come from distant areas and even from other islands such as Adonara and Lembata. However, they usually choose school on Flores, because the level of education here is much better than in their homeland. In addition, in the schools run by sisters there is more discipline and the results of final examinations are also higher. However, only children from wealthier families can afford education in private schools because they need to pay for it.
At the school in Hokeng, the exams took place about the local culture NTT (East Nusa Tenngara which is the southernmost province of Indonesia. It consists of Flores, Sumba, Lembata, Adonara, Solor, etc.). The youth prepared costumes, dances and songs in local languages (bahasa daerah). In every class that I visited, I was greeted with applause and asked for a Lessing. Many questions were asked because I come from an eastern European country - Poland. Students asked in the official language – Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia), but sometimes also in English. Because of the fact that my level of Indonesian is still at the beginner level, I had to answer sometimes in English. Even so, the students immediately liked me and asked for photos.
All the inhabitants of Flores and from the surrounding islands are mostly Catholics. Only a small percentage are followers of Islam or other religions. Therefore, every morning at 5:30 am there was a holy mass, which I celebrated at the SSpS Sisters' convent. Young people sang, played and read the Scriptures during the Eucharist. Not only in the week days, but also on Saturday and Sunday. After the school, the students visited me at the convent in order to interview in Indonesian and English.
I am delighted here in Indonesia with great kindness and friendliness from all people – from students, teachers, sisters, adults. Moreover, I am glad seeing their strong faith and activity in the church. Every missionary in the eastern part of Indonesia (NTT) feels good because he is accepted and well-treated by Indonesians. Even with little knowledge of language and culture, a guest in Indonesia is always welcome like a king. All Indonesians from the youngest to the oldest here look for the Good News and friendship. If only the missionary opens his heart for them, the Indonesian people are also ready to embrace him with love and invite him to rejoice with them.
Prayers of SVD
May the darkness of sin
and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word
and the Spirit of grace
and may the Heart of Jesus live
in the hearts of all people.
(Saint Arnold Janssen)