The team that went on the mission trip to Kampung Sulit in Paitan, Sabah.

By Eva Glenn Robert and the team

Nov 14 2020

Twelve university students were totally cut off from the outside world for several days when they went on a mission journey deep into Sabah. No electricity, no internet access. And they got closer to God, as they spent time praying and making rosaries with a Catholic community in Kg Sulit, Paitan which is in the district of Beluran. This is their story.

PAITAN – Our gathering point was Nuluhon Garden Retreat Centre, Inanam for a three-day-two-night briefing. The student leaders orientated the first-timers on the purpose, challenges and spiritual habits they would experience during the mission. Anthony Lim, Daniel Kong and Sergius Ramday from the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (LJCCC) taught us practical ways of praying over people and shared how the Holy Spirit worked through them as the first Catholic missionaries to Paitan more than 30 years ago. It was a very inspiring start to the mission trip!

When we arrived in Paitan, Sr Dorothy Laudi (Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception – FSIC) welcomed us very warmly and we felt at home almost instantly. We stayed in the hostel together with the high school students and Sr Dorothy’s helpers, Willie and Johnson (who will enter Montfort Training Centre next year).

We were so happy to experience the daily life of the people despite not having electricity and internet connection. During the mission, we practised media fast to allow us to live in solidarity with the people we were serving. Without this distraction, we were brought much closer together and was more aware of God’s presence with us throughout the mission.

Assigned to work in groups, we learned the value of teamwork. We helped Sr Dorothy arrange and document the donated books for the hostel library and helped paint the kindergartens in two villages (while abiding by the COVID-19 SOPs!). On the second week of mission, we got a chance to meet the students and led them in praise and worship and to make rosaries.

The youths who were mostly in secondary school, were very interested during our sharing sessions and asked many questions especially regarding higher-level studies. Their questions made us realise that, to improve the way of living for this future generation in Paitan, education is important.

Elreena from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai was grateful. “It was an eye opening and challenging experience for me since this mission brought me out of my comfort zone. Yet being able to see Jesus’ presence through the people we served here was worth it.” Throughout the mission, the moments together taught us the real meaning of authentic friendships. Bonds deepened especially through the daily post-dinner personal testimonies.

Danny Tan from the university’s Kuala Lumpur campus reflected: “No matter where we live, no matter what our social status is, at a spiritual level, we are really more alike than different.” Every testimony touched hearts and impacted us greatly as we saw how our merciful God has changed our lives.

The mission trip ended with a debriefing at Kundasang by Deacon Adrian Ng who flew in from Kuala Lumpur. During the debriefing, Deacon Adrian guided us to share our wonderful mission experience and empowered us to discern our calling in life especially the vocation to serve God’s people. We realised that there is much to be done for the development of these communities in Sabah. Poverty, injustice and lack of opportunities must be addressed with compassion and through the application of the Gospel.

This mission trip really motivated us to become great ambassadors of Christ by seeking knowledge so that we can serve the community in the future.

The mission trip to Kg Sulit, Paitan under the Diocese of Sandakan involved 12 Catholic university students from across Malaysia. It was organised by the past participants of FOCUS Missions and the team was led by Eva Cabrini (UTHM) with Aldy Henry (UteM), Kevin Noel (UTM KL) and Eva Glenn (UiTM SA) under the supervision of Deacon Adrian Ng and Sr Dorothy, FSIC. The students were from: UTMKL, UTMJB, UTHM Batu Pahat, UiTM Shah Alam, UiTM Jasin, UiTM Lendu, UTeM Melaka, Polytechnic Pasir Gudang and Polytechnic KK]. Journey With Us Asia