Fr Luan Visits Hatubesilolon for Village Feast Day

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Fr Luan shares his latest experience of visiting the village of Hatubesilolon - a recently established pastoral visit that the friars visit monthly:

Fr Luan with people of the village of Hatubesilolon

So many things have happened in this last week at our friary here in Tibar. Firstly, Fr. Fernando returned to Portugal last Tuesday to take up his new appointment as provincial minister after many years of service in the Timor mission. He worked tirelessly to implant the Capuchin Order in Timor. If he wasn’t out visiting the local people, religious, priests or at a meeting, he meticulously looked after the gardens, watering the papaya or cassava (mandioca). I think his heart very much belongs here in East Timor.

I was also busy with a visit to Hatubesilolon, which is a small village up in the mountain about 20 km from Tibar. The road to this village is inaccessible by car during the rainy season (and even during the dry season). The car can only go to a certain part and then walking is the only way to reach the village. Fr. Fernando established the pastoral visit to Hatubesilolon only 2 or 3 years ago. Once a month all of us go there to visit the people. It takes 1.5 hours to walk.

Part of the road to Hatubesilolon

Normally one of the student brothers gives catechism class, while the priest hears confession. This is then followed by the celebration of the Eucharist. Hatubesilolon is a small village that has about 30 families. It sits on the top of the hill and is surrounded by hills and valleys. One can see Tibar from this village. The villagers have to fetch water from down in the valley. It would take them 1 or 2 hours to reach there to get water. The people grow corn, cassava, sweet potatoes and some vegetables. They also keep pigs, chickens and goats.

Fr Luan's bathroom

I went to Hatubesilolon this week on the occasion of the feast day of their patron saint, Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth (in Tetum ‘Liurai Feto’ i.e. King or Chief woman). There was a triduum leading into the feast day. Fr. Fernando went there in one afternoon celebrating Mass and then at night showed a movie 'Jesus of Nazareth', Part I (3hrs long). He slept there overnight. There is a little room beside the chapel which is kept for the visiting priest. The following morning he celebrated the Eucharist. I also did the same thing.

The villagers are very hospitable. They prepare everything: food, sleeping quarters (bed, mattress and mosquito net), bathroom and toilet!). It is quite cool on the mountain both at night and early in the morning. After evening Mass people gathered outside to dance their traditional dance. I also tried to dance. Once it was dark I showed the film. We had to carry everything in - the laptop, projector and speakers. It is a blessing that there is electricity! The film finished around 10.30pm. I got tired and retired to bed but the villagers went outside and continued dancing and chatting. They played music until 5am the next day. I struggled to sleep with loud music!

The people danced for most of the night...

... and also the next day!