First Letter of a Redemptorist Foreign Missionary in Dalat
This is the first update from
Dalat. Tito, myself and Brendan left
We had community meetings for two days with Brendan. It
was clarified that, although the Dalat mission was started by the Mill Hills
and taken over by the Redemptorist Vice-Province of Ipoh, it is now a joint
mission of three units: The Vice-Province of Ipoh, the
After one week since our arrival, we got down to some
serious study of Melanau. We decided to study it first because it is the
language of our parish. When we have a grasp of this, we will move on to
We are not far from the equator. Dalat is still surrounded by thick forests and big/small rivers. The whole place in one big swamp. So, the humidity is very high. The bishop offered us air conditioners. But, we decided as a community not to receive the offer. We told the bishop that the majority of the people in the kempungs (villages) have no air conditioning. We are getting used to the heat and the humidity. There is a respite at night, it can get quite cool. I wake up early to do my karate and Shibasi in the cool of the morning. There is a symphony of beautiful birds just beside our church where I do my morning exercises. I saw two big lizards (“halo” in Cebuano) jumping from one tree to the next. Tito was entertained by two monkeys playing on a rambutan tree just outside our Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Some of the people still go hunting in the forest. We have tasted wild pig meat — “dao nyem” Melanau for very tasty! We have had sago worms twice. At the first try, Tito got allergy rashes. So he is keeping away from it. He got consoled when one of the altar boys told him that he and other Melanau people are also allergic to sago worms. They are cultured. A sago trunk is skinned and allowed to rot. The worms grow. They are gathered and fried straight, without adding water, spices, cooking oil or anything. It fries in its own oil. It is very fatty, high in cholesterol. It is a delicacy, so it is expensive. The first one we tried was bought for RM 25 (25 ringgits) per kilo. A Malaysian ringgit is more or less P15.00. So, it would come to about P325 Philippine pesos per kilo. The first time I took it, I found it hard to get rid of the fatty feeling in my mouth even after brushing my teeth, and the fatty, queasy feeling in my stomach. At the second time, I did better. I guess it is a question of getting used to it. Otherwise, the rest of the food is similar to ours, more spicy, and influenced heavily by the Chinese. Chinese and Malay/Melanau style, morning breakfast is usually noodles.
Our Internet is not working properly, so for e-mail, we have to walk to one of the two Internet cafes in Dalat. The situation got worse two days ago when lightning hit our telephone line. We do not have cable TV. There is no movie house. We take these conveniences for granted. But Dalat is an oversized village, with 10 outlying villages to comprise our parish. The facilities are limited. There is a floating store that excited Tito — the only SM mall available here! We are happy with what we have, part of God’s will and His/Her Mission. There is a lot of work to be done. We will tell you more after our sessions with Msgr. Ramon. At the sessions with him, we hope to come up with a united vision of the kind of Redemptorist community we want to live here in Dalat, and a unified vision of our apostolic thrust.
Gerry, I was hoping to update you on our sessions with Ramon, which just ended one hour ago (time of writing now is , Oct. 22). I will leave this update to the next month. We are now returning to Dalat because meetings with the people are waiting for us. Let me just say that our four days with Ramon were great. We are ready to build our C.Ss.R. community and the B.E.C. of the Melanau people.
Regards and God bless.
2nd Letter of a Foreign Missionary in Dalat
I’ll pick up this update from
the time Ramon finished facilitating our community building process last
October 18-23. The sharing was rather deep. We got off to a good start. About
a month later, we had our first regular monthly recollection and meeting as a
new international community. One of the major decisions we made is the
following. We will make the vocations ministry as one of the priorities of
the community. All of us will be actively involved. As openers, Patrick has agreed to make a
short video, some posters and brochures about our mission in Dalat/Sarawak.
He will start working on it by January 2005, and target to have the materials
ready by Easter. Then, we will start campaigning all over
A week after the sessions with Ramon, Patrick and I
joined the bishops and clergy of the Dioceses of Kutching, Sibu and Miri for
a five-day retreat. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know the
bishops and clergy of this region of
In the middle of November, Tito and I had to get out of
Meanwhile, we continue with our study of the Melanau language and culture. I was invited to a cultural Melanau wedding, a traditional and non-Christian ceremony. My interest was to observe what symbols might be integrated into a Christian-Melanau wedding. Towards the end of January 2005, Fr. Edmund, C.Ss.R. of Indonesia, who holds a doctorate in missiology, will guide us in our efforts to integrate the local culture into the expressions of our faith, and help us look at different approaches to mission. Meanwhile, our little efforts at inculturation continues. For instance, the Litany of the Saints on All Saints Day chanted to the rhythm of local gongs and drums, with the tune of the response “Pray for us” based on a native, high-pitched chanting was very moving.
The parish church will be having the nine-day Advent reflection and Mass before Christmas. This is in place of our Misa de Gallo, and is celebrated at Meanwhile, Tito and myself are going to hold more or less the same Advent reflection and Mass in the five out-stations/kempungs whose distance prevents the people from attending the novena in the parish church. We will do a triduum per Kempung. We will live with the people for at least nine full days, without getting back to the parish center. Four of these distant kempungs still have no electricity and running water. This nine-day outreach will give us a chance to get to know the language and local culture better. In some places Tito and I will be together, in others, we will be separate. The youth of the parish church will also be involved, as a kind of mission outreach for them. We are both excited bout this first “missionary venture.” We will tell you more about it at the next update. We will also share with you our first experience of Christmas in Dalat, in the Church by the River. A BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO ALL from Tito, Willy Pat and myself.
— Fr. Emy Maningo, C.Ss.R.