My name is Nathan, in this reflection I will tell you about my experience in carrying out immersion activities at the Baktiluhur orphanage that specifically cater for children with special needs who do not have a family or whose families leave their children. Proverbs 19:17 which reads “Whoever is merciful to a weak person, agrees with God, who will repay his actions.” Teaches us to always love weak people who in the context of this reflection are children of the Baktiluhur orphanage. As a hard-working person, I don’t even have childcare experience. However, I intend to serve children with special needs with all my heart and learn to care and love others who are weak and marginalized.
My story starts from Gubeng station where I prepare to leave for East Blitar. My heart at that time felt anxious and worried because I knew that I was faced with something I had never done before. Actually, I never registered to take part in this Baktiluhur orphanage, instead I enrolled in the cm novices with my friends. During the location distribution, my heart was shocked to get the orphanage until I cried in my own heart. But at least there are still my friends who don’t enter the novitiate who end up with me.
When I arrived at Baktiluhur, I was welcomed by the sisters who were taking care of the orphanage. They are Sr. Ani, Sr. Martina, and Sr.ella. They then show the room where I will stay for the next four days. The orphan I first met was named Bibit. He who first welcomed me at the orphanage gate. As far as I know, Bibit has a Redman abnormality which is mental decline. She looks happy to see me with my friends. We also entertain Bibit and treat her like a friend. I also thought, maybe working in an orphanage was not as bad as I imagined.
The second day brought new enthusiasm to us. We had to get up at half past 4 in the morning to take a shower and get ready because the orphans got up at two in the morning and had finished taking a shower at four in the morning. We serve children breakfast from five in the morning until six in the morning. After that, we attended the Church Mass at seven in the morning. The church there looks beautiful and well-maintained. However, not too many people. After mass, we have to entertain the children who go to school at the orphanage because at that time the school is having a party for children. When the party started, we welcomed the arrival of the students from the Diponegoro High School who held the party. The party went smoothly, the children were laughing and dancing while playing games with students from Diponegoro High School. After the party, we help school teachers to clean up the classes used for the party. Then, we rest and get ready for the evening activities. Today is a very tiring day but, I feel less useful especially in matters of caring for children when the party takes place. I can’t imagine the level of fatigue experienced by my friends who have been happy to serve children. Night arrived, me and my Catholic friends had to take an environmental prayer before resting.
The next day, after getting ready in the morning as usual, we shared the tasks. Some wash clothes, write captions on the back of photos of orphanage children, and some accompany school children in front of the school. I was assigned to write the caption behind the photo. I can’t write well so I can only think of a caption which my friend will later write. When I looked at the photos, I saw happiness emitted from their sweet smiles. I also thought, why can’t I be happy to run my life like those who every day have to live their lives with their mental condition. After completing our respective duties, we plucked mango from the mango tree found around the orphanage area. We initially only got raw mango and it tastes bitter. But after the direction from the sisters, we could get ripe and sweet mango. I feel I found happiness in the simplicity of picking this mango. Unexpectedly, we got a visit from Father Didit during the day. Father Didit, Romo Tetra, and Mr. Heri came to inspect the activities that we did while taking part in the orphanage. We chatted with them with excitement while sharing stories and pencit that we made. Afternoon arrived, me and three of my male friends were told to wash the motorbike belonging to the sisters who had not been washed for a long time. We were not diligent in washing the motorbike so we were forced to hand over this task to female friends. After that, we followed the sisters to plant peanuts in the fields. When we tapped, our beans found a snake that was silent under a banana tree. The farmer field expelled him very bravely. We planted beans by making holes using pointed bamboo and stepping on the ground around the hole to cover it. When I was making a hole, there is a friend of mine whose head was hit by bamboo. We laughed out loud because of her carelessness. At night, we followed an adoration service to honor the Blessed Sacrament. We participated in the mass in earnest because we wanted to glorify the name of God who was at the church’s holy altar.
On the fourth day, we agreed to get up at three because we felt sorry for the sisters who had to get up at two in the morning. While waiting for the kids to go home from school, my friends and I washed our clothes while there was time to spare and the women picked mango to eat. We usually do not wash with our hands but, this time we have to wash our clothes with rubbing and soaked many times. After washing, we help the sisters to clean the environment around the orphanage. At that time, I cleaned the dining room with one of my fellow friends. Then, we all attended mass in the chapel of the orphanage. After mass, we talked with Father Franz, the priest who was leading the mass. This day made us feel mentally exhausted because at that time the sisters were in a bad mood. So we feel guilty for maybe doing something that is not pleasing to the sisters. In the afternoon, I bathed the orphanage children and helped the sisters cook the dishes later tonight. The night arrived, we took part in the Mass for the last time using Javanese. We did not understand any of the words spoken by the priest during the mass even though we were born in Surabaya. The Mass is an experience that I will not forget as a sign of universal Catholicism by mingling with the local culture of East Blitar village.
We develop a habit that we run every night while in an orphanage, that is, satay or its length in the shade. In this activity we pray and sing spiritual songs which are already Christian culture because the majority of us are Christians. However, we also carry out Catholic activities such as mass every evening at six o’clock, environmental prayers in people’s homes, and rosary prayers in the chapel of the orphanage. I felt comfortable following all of these activities even though I had the habit of worshiping two religions. There is nothing wrong with mingling with other religions after all, we worship the same God, Jesus Christ.
On the last night at the orphanage, we discussed the things we wanted to give to the orphanage because tomorrow was the last day we took part in the immersion activities at the orphanage. Finally we decided to give our pocket money voluntarily with the amount we set each. We also shared our experiences during this immersion activity while talking and praying together. We discussed until half past two in the morning because since this last night, we were free to share with each other even though we only slept one and a half hours.
On the last day, we went through the morning routine as usual and incidentally at that time the children went to school to take report cards. So we have time to pack and clean each of our rooms. When it was nine o’clock, we talked with the sisters one last time while sharing experiences and impressions during this immersion activity. After taking pictures, we left to take a bag of mangoes as souvenirs. I will not forget how beautiful the experience that I got at the orphanage. Starting from the first come until when I go home I have served the children gladly I did not regret it at all even though my efforts were still less productive than my friends.