NOTRE DAME OF JOLO FOR GIRLS RETREAT

August 27 – 28, 2011

               Retreat of 54 Catholic Teachers of the NOTRE DAME OF JOLO FOR GIRLS with SR. MA. SELDITA C. TIOROSIO, OP, School administrator and FR. RAMON SALIBAY, O.P. as a Retreat master.

 

 

GREETINGS FROM OKINAWA

Greetings from Okinawa, Japan.  Konnichiwa!

We arrived at Okinawa Sept. 14 via Taipei. The welcoming climate of the receiving community is genuinely warm and jovial. Literally and metaphorically we TAKE
OFF OUR SHOES AND PUT ON THE HOST’S SLIPPERS as we enter a new “territory”…

Aliens, yes we are… although I am oftentimes mistaken as Japanese. People talk to me in Japanese and I awkwardly respond with a smiley-bow.

Everything here is Japanese, even computers! It took time for me to decipher commands and icons in their desk top. Everything seems to be secured, including the cyberspace. They have an exclusive Japanese system of networking. Only 3G phones can access the roaming but can’t be use in Japan communication. To get a cell phone we need to have at least 3 months residency as registered aliens and should have a bank account to pay for the communication plan. Long distance calls cost a lot.

We are now starting the language study. The two – (Rochelle and Terry) are officially enrolled as full time students; I am just an “itinerant student” borrowing their textbooks.  This is very much urgent for us to learn especially – reading Japanese (Hiragana-Katakana-Kanji alphabets)! We use the ‘hit and miss’ principle in operating household equipments. It took me an hour to wash one towel in their washing machine using this method; decided to do my traditional way of washing.  We have to suffer the consequences of being “illiterate” such as eating burnt toast, buying the wrong food, drinking the wrong coffee and tea and many more…

While on language study for a year, we are staying with the Dominican Sisters (all Japs aging 65-85, with 1 struggling and over-stressed forty something Filipina migrant-Dominican). We are billeted on the third floor of the Sisters’ building with a quite swanky hotel-accommodation.  They run this one and only catholic elite school in Okinawa from Nursery to Senior High school; 99 % of the student population are non-Catholics. Sisters’ hospitality overflows and acknowledge with multiple bowings  Duomo arigato gozaimasu!

Abp.Orlando Quevedo, OMI- was our first guest – who also visited parishes with quite a good number of Filipinos; also visited Miyako, our ‘home base’ after the language study.

We are still waiting for an internet service; meanwhile we are at the mercy of available time and space to use the computer at the Sisters’ community hall.

This week we are to explore [with a Filipina nun] possible travel tips in the City:  walking and taking short-cuts, bus rides, monorail rides. We shall also explore cheaper stores and keep watch of sales every now and then.  Oct. 4 – we go to the Bishop’s residence to meet all the clergy and diocesan pastoral agents – “reporting for official recognition”, I guess!

So far…we are able to manage ourselves by being perceptively “alert” of what is new and different; minimize judging and comparing with our own experiences back home;  have fun with our awkwardness in entering into a new way of life; struggling to listen/seeking to understand  even to the sound of silence; tasting the unknown food and sipping the finest sake (Japanese wine), and praying-stuttering with them at the Eucharistic celebration in their own language. An interesting adventure of the heart and soul!

I personally pray for patience and understanding to what I perceive as boring and obvious.. ..that I may not judge from a stereo-typed criteria, and humble enough to accept being at the ‘margins’ of the mainstream of a dominant life here in Okinawa.  Amen.
Nothing escapes God’s loving Embrace.

Stella-Marie R. Llerin, O.N.D.