Why is it called a city of “a thousand ojek”? Because these motorcycle taxis are the main transportation for the people; public transportation such as buses and city transportation are very rare; they can be ‘counted by fingers’. The city has a rich history with the most ancient “Keraton” (Palace for the King of Buton) Fortress in the world. Most of the people of Baubau work as crafts men / weavers of cloth with its special Touch of Buton. This is the hallmark and the pride of the Baubau people in general which they continue to preserve from one generation to the next. As a sign of respect and admiration to the local culture, the regulation was made that on every Thursday this Buton Touch cloth must be worn by all levels of society from elementary to high school students, teachers, employees and all the agencies.
In general, the indigenous people of Baubau are very open to accept new arrivals; they are friendly, polite and like to give help. That is what we felt from our arrival until now. At the beginning, our presence came under the "public spotlight" because the only religious congregation in Baubau is the FMM; it is something new and strange to them. As time goes on, as we often attend and engage in various activities such as Idulfitri (Muslim feast), different kinds of meetings at the office of the Education Authorities, cooperation with religious leaders, also with the police department to give donations of food to Moslem orphanages, attending weddings etc., they become accustomed to our presence. There was an interesting experience, when the four of us attended the 74th Indonesian Independence Day ceremony in the public square. Suddenly a woman wearing hijab whom we did not yet know, respectfully came to us and asked to take a picture with us. She called us sisters. For us this was truly an extraordinary experience. Apparently, God works through various meetings and opportunities.
Unlike among Catholics who have known religious, our presence was surprising. The only Catholic Church in Baubau made an impression as our meeting place. So it's easy to get to know each other. In every spiritual activity, only certain people get involved. Most Catholics in Baubau are migrants from Flores (East Nusa Tenggara), Tanah Toraja (South Sulawesi), and Chinese from Surabaya (East Java). Brotherhood within the Church in Baubau feels very tight. It’s like a spider's web, the history of their marriage relationships bind them to become family. Our collaboration with the local faithful in the Church society is well established. We are involved and take part in conducting worship both in the Church and in the district. Together with the Parish Priest we visit stations at least once a month, teach catechumens, join the parish choir team, as well as hold social service activities with the team of doctors, going to the stations and various other places outside the city of Baubau.
Carrying out a mission in Baubau for us, especially for me personally, is a very special blessing. But this does not mean that everything runs smoothly. The challenges that we face sometimes are gruelling. It's not easy to start something new; we can say that it all starts from zero. But this has also given us courage to keep going and fight. Adjustment to people with sensitive personalities, vulnerable to hurt, becomes a struggle for us to speak more carefully. This is where Generative Speaking and Generative Listening take an important role. Even though we have been in Baubau for almost five years, we continue to improve ourselves to be able to present and show the loving face of Christ in their midst. Faithfulness in prayer life, community life, mutual trust and support are the main assets in this matter. This is a noble mission that must be carried out sincerely and honestly. Hopefully this valuable experience of faith will further enable us to continue to be transformed.
May the meaning of our presence through pastoral, social and educational services truly be felt by people here. May our presence be a blessing to those we meet in our daily lives. United in the spirit of Mama Passion… “Like Christ, we want to approach everyone with a humble heart, ready to learn and to receive as much as to give, with his attitude of respect, acceptance of persons, openness and service”. (Const art 39).
Margaretha Murjinem, fmm