This week seems to have been the same monotonous run of work, keeping Timorese employed, supplying Bibles, fielding new requests, fixing things that have broken and managing sickness and injuries. Seems a bit boring but I’ll try to pull out some interesting stories.
The girls discovered straw hats.
One story is a Nigerian Doctor who called me a bit out of the blue to ask for help to build a shed for his plastic bottle recycling plant so he can earn money to support his Epilepsy treatment and advocacy organisation. Make sense? He’s a big man with a big heart. I’ll see if I can find time to see him this week. He has 40 tonnes of bottles stacked up – mountains! Did you know that they sell for 50c a kilo? While meeting me at home, he got to check out Cynthia who was suffering a fever and tonsillitis. Also, he’s part of a small local church and was very happy to receive a box of scriptures giving me the same expression I’ve heard so often, “Wow we’ve been wanting to find scriptures in Tetun for so long but didn’t know where to get them. This is amazing!”
I was also helping folks to buy all their gear for a good solar system for their library in the mountains – a bit of an art to assemble a workable system in this country. At the end of the day we dropped off their gear at Ahisaun (a disability centre) and I just happened to be introduced as the man who distributes Bibles to a Catholic priest there who works in Hata-bulico (quite remote mountain town). He is from an Indonesian island called Flores. He was very keen to get some Bibles so he followed me home and I gave him 50 New Testaments and some other scriptures for his Bible study groups including one of the precious last remaining copies of Genesis (the only OT scripture available). It turns out that his name is in the epilogue of the New Testament as one of the Priests who checked the translation. This is an important connection for me to ensure I can continue buying Bibles from the Catholic distributor without getting too hassled.
Padre Adriano from Flores, working in the mountains of Hata-bulico
The following night, at the markets, I met a girl working with PALMS (Catholic volunteer agency) who seemed rather desperate to build a fence in ... Hatabulico! Small world. The problem they face is that animals are getting to the village spring and they want to protect it as well as their vegetable gardens. I’m hoping I can help them with a bamboo fence. I am so wrapped in bamboo! There are three things you need here to grow a garden, three things to secure food for your family – 1. A good water supply, 2. A good fence, and 3. A willing heart to work. If you can help the Timorese with these three fundamental things then they can grow good gardens. We packed up from the markets to come home to find the truck had died yet again. After a couple of hours I called my mate, Anen, who came and wobbled a piece of wire in the engine bay where a fuse should have been and had the truck started in 2 minutes flat. I rumbled into home after 1 am. The vehicles are a bit of a drama – three flat tyres this week and the accelerator cable snapped on the Suzuki. Last week, the brakes on the truck started smoking and I had to reset one side including pulling apart the slave cylinder. Still struggling with it.
Started building the chook pen this week as a demonstration concept on how to keep chooks more in a more viable way. 6ft fence made from ... bamboo! I have taught boys who have taught other boys who now work for me making fences.
Finalised drawings for submission to government for the new conference centre for the Nazarene Church. We hope to get them water this week and then start on their land drainage problem because the rains have just started. (Our ‘you-beaut’ all-natural thatched roof leaks, doh!)
Saturday, October 15, 2011
We saw the movie Rango the other day. It was pirated, but that’s all they sell in the shops in this country. I hope that this blog may entice a couple of people to pay to see the movie and hence I will justify my pirated copy through free advertisement. Anyway, although the thing is a little quirky, I found myself associating with the character – Rango. I mean, I am just a little odd, I have walked into a world in which the “source of societal discontentment” is often water and then I pretend that I am the man who can save the day even though I have little idea of how to do it. There is a sinister side to the water and ultimately there is evil lurking around the corner, controlling the water, oppressing the people and strangling their crops. To save the day you have to eyeball the evil and make your stand even though you know you are dealing with a very powerful figure. I’m sure I will die one day, probably from infection. Funny movie but very real. Of course this all only makes sense with God in the background, weaving his magic, revealing his power.
These are garden beds put in by the Nazarene church youth in an attempt to get some income. These are full of dead vegies – hope that dried up when their bore failed. Its now late into the dry season and their bore was not bashed down far enough. I am trying to help them get the bore down further. Just on the quiet, I’ve never done boring work before. The farm I grew up on relied on a spring further up the hill and the water came down by gravity. But now, in true naive style I have been dubbed the expert. We employed a guy to do the work but the chain on the pulley he uses to pull up the bore pipe snapped and he has given up. I bought a three tonne pulley (block and endless chain type) and with a bit of grunting in the bottom of the dry well with a Timorese and 200 mozzies we somehow managed to pull out the pipe.
The simple way to make a bore in this country is to bash a 40mm diameter steel pipe into the ground as far as you can. Then pull out the pipe however you can and clean out the dirt stuck inside. Repeat this process until you hit water – preferably in a sandy layer. Then pull out the pipe, clean it one last time and bash the bottom end flat into a “spear” shape. You cut some grooves just above the spear end to let water seep in and then bash the pipe into the ground to stay. Because this bore pipe did not go far enough down we had to cut off the spear and bash it down and add another length to the pipe with a joiner. This is where I made my fatal flaw. I didn’t tighten the join up properly. We bashed the join about 2.4m down into the ground and the join came apart. Now our options are to bash a whole new pipe or, if brave and dumb enough, climb down the bottom of the well and try to dig down to the join put a chain on it and pull it out. It is possible, so long as the whole thing doesn’t collapse. Save on burial costs I suppose. Perhaps some heroes are just idiots who happened to survive.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
They say that Soibada was once planned to be the capital of East Timor. It is right in the heart of the country and is home to the national sanctuary for Mary, the mother of Jesus. In its hay day it was the centre of excellence and the main training centre for Priests. Many famous folks like Jose Ramos Horta spent schooling days here.
My family in ruins!Those days are gone now and the town is left with the ancient ruins of a bygone era. There is an incredible feel as you wander through the deserted old stone buildings. The Timorese boys led us into dark and dusty rooms with the old relics of the church. One boy motioned to a body under a blanket and said in all seriousness, “That’s the dead lady.” Cautiously I lifted up the blanket to find a statue of Jesus, crucified. I was surprised – perhaps a little horrified. That here in this place after such teaching, they still didn’t know who had died for them.
In Soibada, there is a children’s home which we visited with our friends – Darren and Celeste, and Josh, Josiah and Renee. A couple of lovely nuns here look after around 40 kids. Darren and Celeste brought up a heap of stationary for the kids and checked out the laptops that they brought last time they were up. We were able to give some women’s sanitary pads from Cynthia’s sewing room kindly donated by funds from friends of Celeste (she’s been busy fundraising in Melbourne). I also got to take them around 70 scriptures and share a story with the kids on the gospel of Mark. The juice was running so I got the kids to act out some scenes which they really enjoyed. I walked around with Sister Mary, one of the nuns and asked what their needs were. She said that water was very difficult for them. There are lots of issues surrounding their water difficulty. We found two potential sites to dig for water but unfortunately these sites were sacred and couldn’t be touched. It was looking grim when Sister Mary finally mentioned that they have a little problem with their kitchen in that when they sweep the floor a puddle of water forms always in the same spot coming from underneath the concrete. This is downhill from a potential spring – it would be funny if God heard Sister Mary’s heart and gave them water right there in their kitchen. I am not sure though if I will ever get back to help them with their water problem. Many issues like this don’t have a quick fix. It is better to walk with them over time to truly know the problem and give more time to help them through it. Never the less it was great to be there and encourage them in their ministry and see how they operate. I pray that God looks kindly on this children’s home and blesses Mary’s heart.