By Sister Lawrence Habetz, O. Carm.
It seems like yesterday that Sisters Mailyn Batocabe and Remedios Natonton arrived in Timor-Leste July 18, 2013 to found our new mission as prescribed by Chapter 2013. From Sheila and my conversations with them while in the Philippines those ﬁrst few months were diﬃcult, living out of their suitcases, with no permanent residence.
At the Regional Assembly Sister Mai expressed gratitude to the Sisters for sending them to Timor-Leste. While they had many crossroads and questions, they felt the support and prayers of the Sisters and Carmelite Brothers. As Mai said, “We will continue and move forward.”
Learning the Tetum language, adjusting to food (like papaya leaves) and times for meals (late breakfast, 2 p.m. lunch, 8-9 p.m. dinner) were challenges. She reported on the blessing of the new convent. They began pastoral ministry in four villages with family visits and they are teaching Catechetics and English. Remy is teaching the alphabet to four-year-olds.
The Carmelite Brothers recruited and recommended the aspirants (who, as of May 31, are postulants). They speak Portuguese and Tetum. Monday is “English” day. Remy is teaching them Tagalog. Remy says, “Not sure why I said ‘yes,’ but because of prayers I made it in Timor-Leste. My assignment in Aurora was the best preparation for Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste is the future.”
Remy has planted a garden behind the convent and they share the produce with the neighbors who gave them chickens and vegetables.
Water has oil and rust so they need water tablets and need to “fetch” water when their well went dry due to lack of rain. Remy said, “you need to be open and ﬂexible” and Mai said,” you need four P’s to be a missionary: Prayer, Perseverance, Prudence and Patience.
She taught us the tetum word “hing lay” meaning “to wait.” We say to you, Mai and Remy, “We are most grateful for the sacriﬁces you made to establish the Sisters of Mount Carmel in Timor-Leste. Happy Anniversary!