Having stayed in East Timor as a Claretian missionary for more than a year now, Fr. Larry V. Miranda, CMF finds the Claretian Mission in East Timor as an exciting mission filled with big challenges, opportunities and possibilities.
Initially, he had to hurdle the challenge of culture especially the language. But through personal study of the language and with his eagerness and interest to relate with the people, he was able to deliver his first homily in the native tongue-Tetum-after three months.
As he encountered the natives of East Timor in the parish of Fohorem and Salele, the more that he was spurred to exercise his missionary zeal towards an integral evangelization. Besides the liturgical activities and Christian formation programs like catechism and youth formation, the basic needs of the people concerned him much. He, therefore, engaged himself into livelihood projects for the people.
In close collaboration with the UN volunteers, he established cooperatives for the fisher folk and for the farmers and also a housing project for the people. Some other livelihood programs for the women and the youth were also set up. While he saw the need for infrastructure projects-rehabilitation and construction of convent, parish church, and chapels-he also found the urgency of human development especially in education. Hence, he was able to put up a primary school funded by the UN.
Intertwined with all these projects is his enduring commitment to engage with the people. He toils with them in varied hard work-in fishing, in farming, in construction. He has a burning spirit and a courageous heart that enables him to cross the rivers, climb the mountains, endure the weather conditions either being soaked under the rain or exposed under the sun, just for him to be with the people in the distant communities and chapels.
Also, to make himself more available for the mission, he sees to it that he takes care of himself since the threat of malaria, dengue and other possible sickness is inevitable.
One may ask: what keeps him moving in this missionary journey? His deep encounter with himself-knowing himself, the person that he is and being true to himself at all times-makes him stand amid the seemingly insurmountable difficulties. His encounter with the poor, the native East Timorese, who share their lives with him deepens his availability and service. His encounter with the missionary community of Claretians with whom he lives in fraternal sharing and love gives him support and inspiration. Moreover, his encounter with God who called him to this missionary life and who continues to be with him gives him the passion and the inner strength to move on in this journey.
Indeed, it is in all these encounters that he finds fulfillment and meaning in his missionary life.
For Fr. Larry, East Timor remains a mission territory where challenges continue to gush forth and where commitment continues to take root.