It’s unbelievable that today the 12th of September 2016 marks exactly two years of our presence in Taiwan as Consolata Missionaries. We can’t thank God enough for His faithfulness and care to us during these two challenging and yet interesting years. On the 12th of September 2014 was to be our most memorable day for being the FOUNDATION DAY of the Consolata Missionaries’ New Mission in Taiwan. Meanwhile for the entire Congregation it might have just been an additional Missionary opening to the Continent of Asia; for the three PIONEERS (Frs. Eugenio, Piero and Mathews) it meant a complete new beginning, a new birth, a jump into the unknow world, a beginning with unclear future. This date become for us like a time of new “baptism” that required a substantial amount of humility and patience since it was clear that we were all completely ignorant of the new reality at hand.
Upon arrival at the airport we immediately realized that all was strange and different. We were reduced to mere “children” who could not read and understand a thing. We were to be lead to the Bishop’s residence in Hsinchu Diocese which was to become our new home until this day when we now jubilantly celebrate two years of presence. We recall some of the significant areas that marked our stay here during the past two years:
This was the first “cultural shock” that we cannot afford to forget. Just one day after our arrival, the Bishop called us to his office where we would be given new names. To make the matter worse, our Congregation as well as our Founder too were to be “re-baptized”. Now, this was just but crazy to us! The question was: What was wrong with our names? What about the name of our Congregation and of the Founder? Why had we to be given new names? Well, as I did explain this issue in one of my previous articles, the reason is simple. Chinese is written using CHARACTERS and not LETTERS. Therefore, for our names to be pronounced in Chinese, they must be transformed into existing characters (that have meaning and probably related to some existing Chinese names). That being the case, we all left the office with new names which we would neither read nor write, leave alone pronouncing them.
Honestly speaking, if there is anything like MYSTERY, then I believe during these two years God has just done it in us once again. At the beginning of the Chinese language study, we all thought that it wasn’t possible to learn it. Well, truth be said: this language is a hard nut to crack! But here we are, two year down the line, comfortably celebrating Mass in Chinese as well as sustaining some simple conversation with people. This is just unbelievable to us! Having said that, do not think that we are done yet. At the end of this month we shall graduate from the two years language course, but that does not mean a mastery of the language; in fact as that foreigners living here keep telling us: Learning Chinese language is a life-long journey! That means that we are merely at the beginning. Prays for us.
Oh God! If the Chinese language has been complicated for us to learn, the Chinese culture is probably double the measure. This is an area where we have to be extra patient with a great sense of HUMILITY. I really cant dare to say anything about the Taiwanese-Chinese culture because we honestly need a lot of time to keep learning and appreciating this unknown world for us.
All in all, there are many things that have happened during the two years but on this day, the most important thing to us is to say a BIG THANK to God as well as to the entire Consolata Family that have accompanied us with prayers and support until today. We also want to sincerely thank our host Bishop as well as the local Church who have made us feel at home. We ask for your prayers especially as we begin the third year in this wonderful land and mission.