WHEN I was seven years old, I had a dream. I wanted to be a religious Sister, but I did not know why.
One day, when I was in secondary school, one of my teachers asked me about my goals – what I wanted to be in the future.
Without thinking, I said: “I want to be a nursing nun. I want to take care of patients, to be there for them. When a nurse is with a patient, I think she is warm, thoughtful and compassionate.”
He laughed at me and said, “You have a beautiful dream, but I am not sure if your parents will agree.”
I did not think about whether or not my parents would agree, because I really believed that they would.
In August 1989, with the blessing of my parents, I joined the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in Hokeng on the island of Flores, Indonesia.
It was the day my life changed completely.
At that time, life in a monastery model was not as I had previously imagined.
I started to learn about a life of prayer and community life.
I also learnt about housework, cooking, washing, sewing, and also farming, gardening, and of course, there was more study.
On the one hand, it was really fascinating and enjoyable; but on the other, it was so boring, sad and painful, because I felt I had lost my beloved family, friends and my freedom.
Nevertheless, I believed that my Lord Jesus had a plan for me, so I could meet any difficulty and any challenges of the situation.
After my first vows in 1992, I had an experience of working in St Rafael Hospital in Cancar, Manggarai for two years.
This is one of the hospitals conducted by the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in Flores.
After that, I studied in the Nursing Academy of St Vincent de Paul Hospital in Surabaya on the island of Java. This hospital and academy are also conducted by the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters.
After I graduated as a registered nurse, I returned to St Rafael Hospital to work as a nurse.
It was a great time. I loved my mission. My dream had come true – but not for too long.
After I made my final vows, the Leadership Team in West Flores sent me to study again, this time to study medicine at the Trisakti University in Jakarta, the capital of the Republic of Indonesia.
Deep in my heart, I whispered to Jesus: “If this is your plan, please walk with me. I am only a servant, and a tool in your hands.”
I studied medicine from 2002 to 2009. On graduating as a doctor, I returned to St Rafael Hospital.
St Rafael is a modest hospital with sixty-six beds.
It has a children’s ward, an adult ward, a post-surgical ward and a maternity ward.
Also it has a major and a minor operating theatre.
As well as a laboratory and pharmacy, it offers facilities for physiotherapy and radiology.
The outpatients’ clinic meets the needs of emergency and ongoing care for patients, and provides facilities for visiting opticians and dentists. A
s the size of the hospital indicates, Cancar is a medium-sized town.
Whoever works alone as the resident general practitioner in a hospital is often challenged?
I have learnt a lot from the experienced nurses, the midwife, pharmacist, radiographer, etc.
Especially one of our Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, Sr Reginardis, a senior Sister who came from Germany many years ago, proved to be my dictionary of life when I encountered a difficult or critical situation with a patient.
I am really proud of her, because, out of her life’s wisdom, she always knows the best for every patient.
We also have a good relationship with the specialists in the local Public Hospital, as well as with Organisation of Specialist Surgeons of Australia who come twice a year to share their professional skills in orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat surgery.
I believe that Jesus is with me, blessing me, and the Holy Spirit guides me, and brings to an appropriate result any challenge that I meet.
As I accept the mission to which I have been sent, from the depth of my heart I want to thank the Leadership Team of West Flores for the trust and professional preparation they have given me.
To them, and to our General Leadership Team in Rome and to the Provincial Leadership in Australia, I also want to express my gratitude for the opportunities given me.
Here in Australia, I am able to gain a command of the English language which I need in my professional life at St Rafael Hospital. I am now preparing to return to Indonesia.
I know I have been enriched by sharing life with my Holy Spirit Sisters here in Australia, and I thank them for their love, kindness, and hospitality.
I have been very happy to be a part of this province.
– Holy Spirit Missionary Sister Natalia