ALBEIT hearing many stories, Fr Gastel as a newly ordained priest found literally no clue to help him to navigate the strange people with strange customs and languages, whom he met for the first time arriving in North Borneo.
Besides having to “deal” with the authorities, school or otherwise, and the students and parents, the lay faithful, he has the opportunity to discover that the mission has also mysteriously touched other lives.
There was a non-Catholic “orang tua” in Limbahau, Papar, who knows his way about and knows everyone; he became an invaluable help for Father in finding his way about, and knowing who exactly to deal with.
In Papar, a non-Catholic Chinese shop-owner would only accept “small payments” from Father for stuff that he bought for the school boarders, for the students’ footballs, and generally for the school.
A friendship was struck with a district officer who was a Catholic in Tuaran. He was helpful and useful to St John, particularly in the usage of the town ‘padang’.
In Tuaran, Fr Gastel befriended a Bajau Moslem, who gave his pony to Father for rides without any charge, which was quite rare.
Through St John’s efforts to promote ‘boxing’ as a sport and entertainment, not only St John’s boys had benefited from it by learning discipline and building of relationship, it had also helped charitable organizations, agricultural research stations, blind centres, etc. to raise proceeds for their causes, while at the same time, the school benefited from donations on the side line. – CS