Frank Hanrahan: Frank Hanrahan’s CommUNITY News no. 2

Frank at Palms' Orientation Course in Mulgoa
Dear Friends,

I’ve been a bit slow on letter-writing lately, so here goes finally. I haven’t finalised flights for my trip home yet. I got quotes and times from Air Niugini two weeks ago for the 25th May. Justine from Caritas has been here for a couple of weeks and was going to check other flights, but the computer was playing up here, so she was going to try later. I’ll let you know when I finalise details. I only got two weeks off at Christmas, so should be entitled to a couple more then. No, the bushfire didn’t affect any of our family, but were around Daylesford for a while, only about 40 km from home. It was certainly a terrible day for Victoria and many families.

We had a bit of drama here about 1 1/2 weeks ago when Ben parted company with the Diocese. He was the experienced carpenter who has been with me from the start.

Ben travelled all the way back from Banaro in the back of the ute and when we got back I suggested we both go to the office to which he replied “I’m going home.” By the time I went to my flat and had a cuppa and back down to the Office, Ben had already been and gone. I think he must have said that I’d sacked him, which I didn’t, as I wouldn’t have the right to do so. Anyway Sister told him if this hadn’t happened he would have only been there another week anyway.

We worked on the church and stopped the water pouring in…

Last week went pretty well – I picked them up on Monday 2.5 kms up the road from here (Lazarus and Victor, that is – they both live up in the hills, inland from there). We worked on the Banaro Church and have stopped the water pouring in with a new gutter and lots of new sheets of masonite behind the altar. They are both improving and are keen to learn. It’s a happier team now too.

We completed the Church a few weeks ago. The locals have to put the weaved palm leaves on the exterior now to match the school buildings next door. They are also supposed to get sand for the floor.

There is a serious war going on in the area we are working. The people from Manam Island who we built the church for at Asuramba are fighting with the people in the village just past where we are working now – there was no school on last week at Banaro as the villagers must think its too dangerous for the kids. It all started months ago when three youths from the village belted an old man from Manam Island and he died. A schoolteacher who we had met at Asaramba got killed with a home-made gun last week. There’s nothing in the papers about it, so I hope some of the things I’ve heard are not right.

Lazarus and Victor are keen to learn and are always improving.

19/4/09

A map of Madang Province
When I last wrote I mentioned that Ben the experienced carpenter is no longer with us. We miss his experience but it’s a happier workplace since he went. Lazarus and Victor are a bit inexperienced but are always improving. We will go close to finishing the second Church this week – that’s the one which had been sitting there half-finished for a year or so. The parishioners have been helping us quite a bit – better than in any of the other parishes.

Our next job is over on Kar Kar Island. It will be a long job as there are two houses to renovate and one is nearly eaten away by white ants. It’s a 3/4 hour car trip and a 3/4 hour speed-boat trip across. The materials will have to be loaded on to a bigger slow boat so it will be a lot of organising. I’ve told the Bishop it’s a job for a building firm but there’s no changing his mind.

Signing off for now,
Frank Hanrahan

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The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. - Rumi