As a teenager I browsed whatever reading materials were left around my home: Sunday newspapers that my father enjoyed; novels that my older brother and sisters considered worthwhile; and religious magazines that my mother read at the end of her busy days.
Fifty years ago I was pastor of an "old Christian" community on Amakusa Island in the far south of Japan. By "old Christian" I mean that a Jesuit missionary, Fr. Luis Almeida, founded the parish in 1566. Then the Tokugawa daimyo government expelled or executed all missionaries.
When I was sixteen years old, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died ten weeks later. Soon afterwards, I dropped out of high school to manage the family farm in order to support my mother and four younger siblings.
In my early days as a missionary in Fiji, I worked mainly among the Hindu Indo-Fijians around the town of Labasa. I was often invited by head teachers of primary schools to explain to their students the meaning of Good Friday and Easter Monday, since both were public holidays.
I still have vivid memories of my first awakening in Lima, Peru, on June 24, 1971. The population all around our mission was made up of thousands of Peruvians from the highlands, who had ventured to the coastal cities looking for a better life for their children.
In the history of human life suffering is what every person will encounter in their lifetime. Not even Jesus, the Son of God, was spared from pain as He too had to suffer to fulfill the plan of the Father for His people.
I started to write these two poems last year during a workshop training on poetry writing in my ministry with asylum seekers.
Ethnic Indian people are traditionally obsessed with matters of pollution and purity. Purity is a central value in the culture. The caste system in India is based on this.
I remember how I silently uttered a prayer to bless me in my desire to become a missionary when Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines in 1985. Years later when I watched a movie about Mother Theresa's life I started to feel remiss about something.