Frances Scurfield: Frances Scurfield’s CommUNITY News no. 1

People of Kundiawa in traditional dress
Dear all,

The community at Mingende mission is a wonderful assortment of nationalities and cultures. Initially I was surprised at the number of expats but as I am learning, there were lots more in the past years. Many have retired, some have returned to their homelands and some have gone to other mission countries. I was surprised at the number of national priests, deacons and seminarians.

I could not get my head around all the names of all the outer parishes – there are 18 and they all have at least 6 outstations, and also all the priests’ and seminarians’ names for several weeks. I found a map of the diocese and made the connection of priests and parishes and had this in the office to help me.

The Kundiawa Diocesan office where I work is actually situated 13 km from Kundiawa (a town of about 8000 people, with one bank, several small supermarkets, several wholesalers of grocery goods, provincial offices, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Muslim and Anglican communities, a police station, several small primary schools of various denominations, one hospital and an airstrip with 3 services a week), at a small community called Mingende.

Mingende is nestled at the foot of a huge mountain range in the highlands and the scenery is different and breathtaking every day, with the mist in the valleys, cloud on the mountain tops and very rarely, a clear view of all.

Accountability is a huge problem in PNG so I really believe my calling was guided from above.

Frances Scurfield in Kundiawa
My work in the diocesan office is made difficult with a lot of communication problems. Our phones were out for eight weeks because of a power surge in February, before someone came to repair them. Many weeks we have no phone. At 7:30 am on a two-way radio we have contact with all the parishes, some of which only have generator power for a few hours a day.

I was to introduce MYOB to the diocesan office but could not start any training because of a medical condition of the staff member. In the meantime I had the opportunity to attend a finance meeting in Port Moresby. The idea of having all the offices on MYOB was to allow greater flexibility of staff movement and employment. I am not convinced MYOB is the right system for PNG but will work with both systems until the end of the year and decide which one to use.

We have now started training at the office where one national Sister works with a local girl at the reception desk. The bigger job now is to try and coordinate all the diocesan schools to come through the main office and try to eliminate the lack of accountability.

My financial work here in the Catholic Diocese has been added to, with the financial control of the Callan Service and Christian Blind Mission (CBM) partnership with the diocese. Accountability is a huge problem in PNG so I really believe my calling at this time was guided from above, because I had doubts of the value of my office skills here in a third world country. The expansion of diocese work to Callan Services and the CBM work will add another dimension to my work in bringing about the PALMS’ vision of building just, sustainable and interdependent lifestyles for many people, including the disabled. Callan Services are training volunteers, catechists, teachers, community based rehabilitation workers to pick up hearing and sight problems and other disabilities in their fields of contact.

Some were lying in the corner of their bush home, never going out and not having contact with other people.

Some of the people that Callan Services and CBM are helping by providing wheelchairs, crutches, cataract operations, glasses etc. were enduring a very tough time before contact with our partnership. Some were lying in the corner of their bush home, never going outside and not having contact with other people.

Because I am living in the Mission station I have limited contact with ordinary village life. Slowly I am making contact with the wider community and my desire will be to have close contact with some families and travel the journey of my time in Mingende along with them, sharing both cultures. The people are so welcoming and the children are so beautiful I feel humbled with their warmth towards me.

I’ll finish now and pray you receive this letter soon!!!

God bless you all,
Frances

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If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But, if you have come
because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. - Lilla Watson