Cynthia is due to give birth in late January. All is going well so far and she is feeling confident. Pray that we find a suitable midwife to help with delivery in Timor Leste.
The bravest girl I know.
A momentous occasion for which I only have a fuzzy photo.
Samuel signed up officially to The Salvation Army and is now ranked as “Soldier” otherwise known as cannon fodder. He is dedicated to serving God whole heartedly as a true soldier of Jesus Christ. We have been “attending” the Grafton Salvation Army for about 10 years. For about 4 years of that time, in fits and bursts, we’ve living in Timor Leste but have still felt connected to this church.
Last week we went to Australia for I think what will be our annual Christmas visit, except that it lasted only 12 days. We got to see some of our rellies and experience the amazingly peaceful, ordered and safe life of Australia. I still find myself very happy to turn on a tap, put a cup under it and get some water to drink. It must be a symbol of the developed world. Cynthia is very pregnant now and I had planned to stick up a photo here of her big belly but a technical hitch stopped me so you’ll just have to imagine a beautiful lady who usually weighs in at 45kg with a big bump sticking out where her tummy is. Now she weighs 59kg – a 30% increase in weight. To the great concern of foreign folk, Cynthia has decided she wants to give birth in Timor Leste. The Timorese are very excited about this. The way they are talking, it seems like the bub might come out with a chocolate skin colour as its basically going to be Timorese! The other event is that Serenity and Israel have stayed back in Australia to spend Christmas and new years with the family. Meal times are very quiet now and we miss them very much.
Ajina, one of the Timorese girls that lived with us, has left to go back home to Liquica. She came from the districts to live with us while attending an English course in Dili. She is a part of Fini Transformasaun and will hopefully assist the group with English lessons in the future.
The Timorese are starting to plant their corn. The rains have come a little late. Some crops were planted several weeks ago and have failed. Most of the seed from the Los Palos project has been sold and distributed and we need to sit down and work out how funds have gone. People are bustling around getting ready for Christmas. They make nativity scenes here on street corners as a community effort so thatching is happening and cans of paint are applied to brighten things up. There is also a shopping spree here just like in Oz. The women like to go to “Myers” for clothes. This is tough for women on the island so our girl, Emmy, is taking “Myers” to them. We’ve given her a $500 loan to buy selected 2nd hand clothes from the markets. These were bundled onto the boat and taken to a couple of villages on the island. The boat pulls up on the beach and she lays out a tarp on the sand in the shade and lays out the clothes in a big pile that the women (and men) rummage through. In a village with no shops except for small home ‘kiosks’ and no roads this becomes a big day out for them. While this is going on Tobias is negotiating short credit arrangements for farmers to get seed and pay later with cash, chickens or fish. With this well researched seed we hope they can grow more food this year. This is Christmas in East Timor.
Note: we are discussing how to build simple tourist cabins on the island to help improve their income base. The long pic shows the land set aside for this. It really is an idyllic beach.
I’ve always thought that a place like East Timor would benefit from regular country Australians showing the Timorese how they do farming next door. This week we had a visit from Nick (Darwin Helicopter Pilot) and his brother Chris (Western Australian, Tug Boat Captain). Great blokes who have their own farms back home. Among the many adventures they had here in their short stay was building a fence out at Los Palos. This is part of a farming project to provide work, accommodation and training opportunities for young people who come into town to go to senior high school. They have been given a piece of land to work and this has been ploughed. It needed a fence before the rains come. Nick, with funds from the Palmerston Baptists, bought 8 rolls of barbed wire, pliers and some other gear for the fence. Then we made the journey out to Los Palos to show them a few tricks. An important part of a barbed wire fence is the strainer post set up in the corners. Chris really took the lead here – showing the boys how it was done using sign language. They set up the two posts, put in a top rail and then wrap thick plain wire diagonally around this – the diagonal has to go the right way for it to work. Then a stick is poked in the middle of the diagonal and spun around to twist up the wire and make it really tight. I really wanted to do the job with tools that Timorese had so the challenge was to tension the wire just using a steel bar as a lever. It worked very well and got the wire very tight. The Timorese boys were very impressed and I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to do it again by themselves. They still have a couple more sides to do so we’ll see how they go. It will be interesting to see if the quality of fencing improves out there as farmers share these skills with others. What we learnt from the Timorese was to use fresh cut poles from the bush so that when you stuck your post in the ground it would come to life, grow bigger and never rot. The tree that grows from this would then produce more poles for another fence in a couple of years.