Indonesia is a distant and overseas country. So different from European countries that we know from our travels. There is only a rainy and dry season. The main Indonesian food is rice which is served three times a day. The skin color of the inhabitants is characteristic for Asian, not Europe people.
Nevertheless, Indonesia fascinates not only with the beauty of landscape but also because of the friendly smile of its citizens. This smile is not an artificial one, but flows straight from the heart. After a few months stay in the eastern part of Indonesia, and more precisely on Flores island, I can testify it. I meet here with a smile full of kindness at every place and in every meeting. Obviously, it is not easy for Indonesians to share a smile. For they work very hard as farmers, fishermen, and simple craftsmen. But whenever I meet with them, they show me their smiling face.
This smile accompanies me in every place where I live - at the seminary where I learn the Indonesian language; in the monasteries in which I celebrate the holy Eucharist; in churches and chapels to which I go every Sunday. Also in the simple houses where I am invited for a dinner. The smile does not disappear from the faces of children and youths whom I meet in the primary and secondary schools. As soon as I arrive in the classroom, the children show their joy immediately. Whenever they can talk to me, they are glad and satisfied. On the photos which we take together, I can notice their smiling faces.
In the area of the Major Seminary in Ledalero, there are many new religious communities and formation houses. The land on the island of Flores is fertile both in tropical fruit such as mango, bananas, papayas, attorney, as well as in multicolored flowers. Similarly in the spiritual field - the Catholic Church enjoys God's blessing and abundance of vocations for consecrated life here. Therefore, I see the happy faces of the aspirants, postulants, juniorists in the women's monasteries, as well as candidates for the priesthood in minor and major seminaries. Near Ledalero, there is the room of Saint John Paul II, in which the Pope stayed during his pilgrimage to Indonesia. This holy Pope is also smiling because he sees how the Church is growing.
A smile appears on my face as a natural response to the cordiality of the local people. I try to share the joy of missionary and priestly vocation, and thus to serve all Indonesians. I would like to share my joy and send a "smile from the heart" to all friends in my homeland. Let the smile not disappear from your hearts, because you take part in the missionary work. It brings good results in all parts of the world, but especially in Asia - on Flores island in Indonesia.
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)