It has been a long time we received visitors on this island. This year, however, our Lenten season was specially blessed with three visits at the same time; the Mother General of our Congregation and her entourage, the Master of the Order with his entourage and Fr Felicíssimo. With gratitude to God for this time of grace, we share our latest news with you all, especially those who have always shown much interest in knowing what is happening in our little world.
For our visitors during the period, it was a golden opportunity to experience our life and work more closely and to share a little of our daily struggles. It was an opportunity to receive the affection of the children, to know the suffering of our people, to taste the fruits of the season (heat and rain) and to experience the lack of electricity and water. The torrential rains of March are always very strong and they do much damage on our mountainous island. They do not bring flood but mud, the kind of mud that makes driving along the roads a little more risky and uncomfortable.
Due to the rains and its effects, the visit of fr Bruno Cadore was an adventure. From the airport, fr Ruben took him and his companion, fr Gerard Timoner, the Socius for Asia-Pacific straight to Hatudo mission, on the other side of the Island. Under heavy rains and haze and in the dark, fr Rubem who was the driver could hardly see the road. Although fr Rubem was familiar with the road, the visibility was so poor that he had to ask his passengers (fr Bruno and fr Gerard), “Where is the road?” Everyone was anxious. Fr Gerard thought to himself; if the experienced driver cannot see the road anymore because of poor visibility, what are we going to do? How do we get the Master of the Order away from here and safely back to Santa Sabina? Thanks be to God, everything went well at the end.
For fr Bruno, this was a unique opportunity to experience our life and mission. According to him, the next day when he was returning along the same road, but this time in daylight, he could see how curvy, steep and dangerous the road was. For him, that is how our life is. For us to find the road and to know where we are going, we must discover and appreciate our own reality, we must appreciate the reality of those the Lord has placed in our lives and then we must follow through.
Although the visit of fr Bruno was very brief, it provided us moments of joy and communion. He came to encourage us in our mission and also to remind us of the Dominican family to which we all belong.
East Timor is neither a powerful or rich country. However, with the mandate from the Lord to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth, we have come to offer a presence among the people and in it, we will experience the new life that the Lord has promised us. Despite all the challenges, there is a general fulfilment and satisfaction. We are expanding our field of work with the people, who in turn show us much love and appreciation. To be part of this mystery of God’s Providence is a grace for us.
These past days, we have had anniversary celebrations both among the sisters (Silver Jubilee of Sr Maria Elisa) and the friars (Golden Jubliee of fr Emanuel). The same day, we also had the 24 hours for the Lord. It was a day of prayer and a joyful experience for the communities, our Mother General and her entourage. It was an opportunity to remember the many wonders the Lord has accomplished in our lives. As it was the feast of the Annunciation, Mother reminded us of the Magnificat of Our Lady and the words of the angel to Mary; “Rejoice! Do not be afraid. The Holy Spirit will descend upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”.
Together as a Dominican family, we had two rich days of evaluation of the quality of our consecrated life, moderated by Fr Felicissimo. In his wisdom, he reminded us that it is necessary for us to always live our religious life daily with joy and to feel the joyful fatigue of those who have given their lives for others.
Fr Bruno ended his reflection with us in these words:
“Some think they are in control of life but they are not. Others think superiors are in control of their lives, but they are not. Let us appreciate the drivers who have to drive on these difficult roads. In doing this however, they help us to understand our way to Jesus – the difficulties and the challenges. And the way Jesus leads us is the way of the cross.”
May the Lord grant us the grace to follow him on this road!
Do have a blessed holy week and a happy Easter!
Sr Maria Elisa, op - Remexio, East Timor (April 2017)
(13 April 2017)