‘Sisters, your god is great!’

By Sister Bernardisa Pacis SSpS

Sister Bernadisa (2nd from right) with fellow SSpS Sister and their helper in their apartment

Sister Bernardisa, from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, went to India in 1961. Her community of the MissionCongregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit live in Kolkota (formerly ‘Calcutta’), near the motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity where the remains of Blessed Teresa of Kolkota are kept.

When I objected to a 200 kilowatt generator shed being built in the corner just below my bedroom window in Nihon Apartments, my complaints fell on deaf ears. For two years we put up with vibrations, air pollution and deafening noise every time the generator was turned on during ‘brown-outs.’ I finally met with the Apartments committee members. The response? ‘No way out. To transfer the generator to another place would prove very expensive.’

One Sunday morning at 9:45 I heard cracking, like stones being thrown on the asbestos roof of the shed of the generator. Then there was a roaring sound, two thick pillars of smoke emitting flames – then a huge fire, only two meters away from where I stood. FIRE! I rushed to my bedroom to gather important files, the money box and a few clothes. I went in back and forth pulling whatever was valuable. My last attempt was met with smoke and the fire outside the windows was raging and soaring. Thank God the windows were closed. I alerted our two young sisters in the next room where they were reviewing for an examination the following day. They stood there, stunned for a while, before finally rushing downstairs. I followed and saw a despairing crowd outside.

It was a blessing that it was a Sunday morning. Our men folk were at home. They took command of the situation, throwing buckets of water and sand on the fire, though it continued to rage. The fire brigade was called but was delayed. Then God ‘crashed’ into our midst in our helplessness. From the clear blue morning sky came rain – a most unexpected phenomenon! All - Hindus and Muslims - shouted: ‘THANK YOU, GOD! SISTERS, YOUR GOD IS GREAT!’ I stood motionless in the eerie silence, overcome by this divine intervention. Indeed, this was a God-experience.

After a while the firefighters arrived and brought the fire under control. Our neighbours brought us back to our flat. The fire didn’t break through our windowpanes but left them cracked all over. Layers of soot had settled in every nook and corner. We then gathered in our small prayer room to thank God for His protection.

As I look back, I realize more and more that this fire was a divine incident. Our mixed Hindu and Muslim community here in Nihon Apartments, although rich in many ways, showed how God-conscious they are. They kept telling us time and again:

· ‘Sisters, your God is great! He truly loves you.’

· ‘To signal that He is in command, He sent rain from a clear blue sky.’

· ‘You pray very often and so God protected you.’

What men could not do, ie, transfer the generator, God did in a few minutes. Soon after, the badly damaged generator was moved from our corner for repair and later to a more accessible, visible place. God is great!