Monday, April 26, 2010

After 2 Weeks

The video here shows Nilda in the pink shirt being introduced to a washing machine for the first time.  It was given by a UN worker.  Sometimes her hands hurt from washing the family's clothes with the harsh powder. 

We have been in East Timor for a little over two weeks. This last week has been very difficult for us – probably more emotionally than anything. It is very hard to live in this place. There are many demands, the culture is different and we are finding the climate stiflingly hot. Sometimes it can be very depressing as I feel a little lost and aimless. But God gives us encouragement.

We returned to Atabai (the famed landslide road). This road presents a whole story in itself. On the way, they are working on the road and we have to stop. This is not a 10 minute “sorry for any inconvenience” sort of stop. Its more like a “turn the engine off, put a rock under the wheel, take a drink and a snack and watch them roll rocks down the hill for an hour or so” sort of a stop! After filling the road with several tonnes of rock they tell the excavators above to stop working so the machines below can clear the road. With half a million dollars worth of machinery they have installed a somewhat less than sophisticated communication system comprising of a young man resting under a tree. When he feels the urge he blows loudly on a plastic whistle which is the signal for the guys above to stop. Now it appears that there is one notorious excavator operator above who does not really know what “stop” means. Even when the road was cleared and we were motioned to drive through there were still rocks rolling down. I think I missed the driving lesson about driving through landslides but I’m learning on the go. You approach, wait for a gap in the rolling rocks, say a prayer and then floor it. There’s no other way really. So, after 4 ½ hours we made it to the job. I figured we might as well eat lunch and go home again but we had to put water on the house first. We dropped a 3/4in pipe into a nearby well and ran the line to the house, installed a pump, hand basin and pipes to the “shower”, toilet and sink. We need to return sometime to finish it off. Our little truck went well carrying 20 sacks of cement, 40 sheets of roofing iron, 20 lengths of timber, pipes and other gear – even the kitchen sink! What else does a missionary need?

Cynthia has gone for a couple of drives but is finding the whole truck thing a little daunting. Gear changes are harder and the whole thing is just bigger.

I really want to see lots of water getting to the poor villages. But with each job costing around $2000 how could this possibly be achieved? 500 villages would cost $1,000, 000 and that is just for water to one tap. Then there’s the water for animals, toilets, showers, clothes washing, waste water, irrigation for gardens etc etc And there’s far more than 500 villages. Enter God. I went to a small church today (Sunday). The sermon was about, among other things, justice. I think in my spirit I was moved. The leader asked if I would close in prayer. I thought, stuff it, I’m gonna pray. So I let loose a little and asked that God would find a way to get the millions of dollars moving around Dili somehow to the poor to provide them with water and to find a way for them to receive the Bible. I prayed for justice for the poor. So at the end this guy approaches me from a very large aid organisation saying that they have a bit of a problem in that they cannot spend their budget – they have heaps of money but are having a very difficult time in spending it to do water projects. He asked if I could go and see him at work and indicated that the money is basically endless (millions) if it could be spent appropriately. Just imagine me smiling and getting a little excited if you wish. But, my zeal has been tempered over the years and I am not sure how this will pan out but if nothing else it raises my hopes.

Later today, while picking up Cynthia from Bible study, a young Timorese man who remembered me from 2008 stopped me in the street and asked for Bibles so he could take them to Los Palos (far eastern district) to give to the people as they are all asking for Bibles. I invited him to our house and after a chat, I set him up with contacts and $40 to purchase Bibles. This is very exciting for me and we hope to do a 3 day trip with him in a couple of weeks.

I am still working on setting up a Timorese water business but it is a very frustrating process.

We went to Hera to measure up for shelves and went for a lovely swim on an idyllic tropical beach. All of us put on goggles and swam out to look at the fish and the coral. It was a very nice family time.

Poor Israel does not yet use a snorkel so he takes a big breath and plonks his face in the water to see as much as he can before running out of breath – it is very funny to watch the poor little fella. Cynthia is also getting quite comfortable with snorkelling and Serenity enjoys going out to the deeper water for the bigger fish. We also checked out the water project at Beraka. Darryll and I installed it a year ago very quickly and I am very happy to say it still works. The water still flows and they say it comes out of the tap all year – even through the dry season. Thanks to those who supported that project. I will send some photos sometime. We wanted to check a water project at Sidara which was supported by Grafton Salvos about 5 years ago but the river was up and there is no bridge. They say that with the big rains a section was washed away so we’ll have to check it out later.

We'll put up some pictures later - internet is really slow in Dili at the moment and it seems hotmail has not been working in this country for the last 2 days.

May God bless you all, don’t forget to pray for us if you do that sort of thing. Write us a note if you want as we don’t hear from many folks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

After one week

After one week (trying to take it easy) things are already shaping up to be busy.

Some opportunities and things to do:

- Book shelves for school in Hera

- Water project for mission ladies in Atabai – hopefully providing fresh water to neighbouring houses

- Starting Timorese water business (very difficult) in an attempt to tap into the Governments millions of dollars (highly unlikely)

- Possible coastal development to assist another Timorese family

- Teaching maths to Ag scientists – a paying job!

- Assisting investment in a scrap metal business that supports an epilepsy program

- Developing a student work booklet for the gospel of Mark as an education resource.

We ended up buying the truck and went snorkelling with friends and family.

A little story – on the way to survey the Atabai project we drove through an interesting looking roadworks site on a very steep slope/cliff that dropped a 100m or so down to the ocean. I made the comment that I wouldn’t like to drive through here during road works as the rocks above looked very loose. So ofcourse, on the way back they are doing road works. There was a stop/go sign of sorts which comprised of a couple of young boys sitting by the road waving us on. A large loader was just moving rocks off the road and pushing them down the cliff. He cleared the road and we moved forward only to find that excavators working above us were rolling down rocks ahead of us. The slope above us was very steep and cliff like. Things were starting to look a little dodgey. Then two cars pulled up behind us. The excavators continued their work and I wasn’t entirely sure that they knew we were down below. I hopped out to assess the situation to find that dirt and rock was beginning to come down toward the cars behind. I motioned our car forward but the road ahead was littered with large rock. The two cars behind panicked (as you do), passed us and figured they’d take their chances on the fresh landslide ahead rather than the looming landslide to their side. I hopped back in the car and there was not much else for our driver to do except panic and try to follow. Unfortunately, the driver was a missionary lady, not trained in rally driving. “We can’t make it! The car is two small! The rocks too large!” She was crying out in her broken English. But not to worry, she had two male back seat drivers who egged her on as if their lives depended on it (in their most coaxing way). And, hey presto, we bounced our way through and lived to tell the story. It probably wasn’t as dramatic as all that but I reckon it makes for a good story.  Check out the video below.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Hi guys,
Well its 5 days into our arrival and we think we have found what Samuel considers the perfect bomb truck - its a dual cab toyota that allows all the family to get in the cab as well as carry some serious gear around including poly pipe, tank, cement and a team of people.  What do you think?  What sort of trouble could Samuel get into with this?  For those of you who are long term Bacon followers you might remember the last car we had caught on fire and the car before that seemed to get us involved in some sort of stolen vehicle/mafia fiasco.  Stay tuned.

Samuel putting mozzie screens on the windows of our home - bit of a life and death sort of business when it comes to mozzies.  Note the Salvation Army shield - we finally got the Salvos into East Timor (Well this is as good as it gets)

Our Accomodation

 Our landlord have been building again!

When we arrived in 2008, we rented his 4 newest rooms built with concrete.  While we were there, he built an extra room beside which became the kitchen and indoor bathroom (upper-class)
Towards the end of our time there, he began a room on top of the kitchen/bathroom.

Now he has built another 2 storey space beside that, and we are living in those newest 4 rooms. 2 bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen/bathroom and living space downstairs.

Our little kitchen has a small fridge, a gas cooktop on an old desk, a tap and a sink which sometimes holds water.
The photo to the right was taken in 2008

 The new living space -with tiles and hand stencilled wall decoration.  Straight ahead is the kitchen, through which you access the bathroom.  (On the right, you cant see it in the photo, is an open window directly to our neighbours living space!  The kids have fun peeking through it.)

The staircase - lovely and tiled!  Only problem is the steps are all irregular heights - generally too tall!   Oh and the idea of a landing....Do you really need one?  Just step across the stairs.   I would hate for one of us to break a leg from these.  Please pray for safety!  Perhaps one day we may suggest  rebuilding them with a landing at the top.
Upstairs is our bedroom which has a lovely big wndow facing the coast.  (Unfortunately the trees block any view or breeze... :(  )
And to the left of the stairs is Serenity's bedroom/schoolroom.  We may need to install some insulation as the roofing iron makes it pretty hot inside...

Our bathroom area has two parts.  The older part with a water storage tank (Mozzie breeding facility).  The newer fancy bathroom has a real shower that works, with hot water during the day - the pipes must be exposed to the sun.

The "upper class" sit-on-toilet, lacks a bit of  beauty..

A good scrub helped a little but not as much as i would like.  I think I'll have to buy some dreaded bleach and give it another try.
I think a toilet seat, and a working cistern with a lid would significantly improve the whole look.

First a holiday!

Well, Samuel really tried hard to do nothing much, and spend lots of time together as a family.  The heat is very oppressive, so we spent the first 2-3 days sleeping, swimming, eating.
We have been swimming at least once a day, often twice.  Its so lovely in the water - I wish we could conduct all our life while floating there! :)  Also our lovely neighbours have been cooking lunch and dinner for us, and sometimes buying us some of the small loaves of bread for breakfast (a child walks around the village selling them in the morning.)  So it has been a pretty decent holiday for us.

The other kids have been a little shy, but gradually they are warming up again, and they love the fact that they can go swimming with us!

Israel was very excited to help the kids cut up the Tali for pig food.  Its a palm tree trunk.  (Dont worry, those large knifes are blunter than butter knives.)

Like I said Samuel really has been relaxing and enjoying himself, but we have had lots of friends to catch up with and each of them have put in requests already!
On our first day, we had a few first aid issues to assist with.  At least 3 members of our family group have had an eye infection.  So Samuel fixed up a bike and rode to a chemist to get some antibiotic eye drops.  While he was out and about, he visited Esperance (Hope in Portuguese) - The christian mission WEC.   He was able to speak a young nurse (who happened to be there), about another neighbour who is suffering from a swollen stomach and feet.  Most likely a damaged liver, as he is an alcoholic. There is not much to be done for him, although increasing his protein intake will assist balance the fluid.
While at Esoerance, Samuel also gave some technical support as they were having trouble with their data projector which they use for their children's program.

He also checked out a few trucks and was happy to find some available for $5000- $9000.

Arrival Day!

We have arrived in East Timor! I have to say that this air trip was the least stressful of any so far… We breezed through checkins and customs etc, even with a screw in Samuel’s pocket (they saw the funny side) and Israel’s water damaged passport (not even a mention!! Praise be to God).

Samuel took a photo as we flyed over the island - on the point is the statue of Christ.

We had a lovely welcome at Dili airport by Brad (MAF pilot) and his two gorgeous daughters – Emily and Brianna, who were very excited to have Serenity around again. They chatted and giggled all the way to where we are living.

Samuel tried to do a map using google earth.  But it doesnt show any reference points for you.  Oh well...

Our address goes something like this: (mind you don’t try it on a parcel;)

Maun Samuel ho Mana Cynthia,
(Big brother Samuel and big sister Cynthia)
Malai hela iha Beto Tasi,
((The) foreigners that live at Beto Tasi)
Ba Maun Je nia uma.
(At big brother je’s house.)

So we live at Beto Tasi.(pronounced bet-orr, tassy)

Oh what a feeling for me to return, it washed away all my fears and doubts. Seeing them all and greeting them, sitting around their table to eat fresh mandarins, bananas, small bread loaves and fried peanuts. Along with the standard black coffee, of which I tried to drink almost half the cup to compensate for being awake for most of the previous night.

Samuel chatted with Maun je for a few hours, and we were both surprised at how much of the language we could understand. Thank God, we have not forgotten much.

Little Israel just grabbed the first toy he saw and started playing. His little friends were at school when we arrived. Serenity soon caught up with her friends and we all had a quick dip in the ocean to refresh ourselves.

UN helicopters! Israel couldnt stop looking at all the planes and helicopters.... 
 The rest of the day has been unpacking and sleeping in shifts

Friday, April 9, 2010

A few hours in Darwin (airport)

This may be my last chance to use our personal internet access....Its about 2:15am Darwin time, or about 2:50am for our bodies.  We have set up camp in the sleepy Darwin airport.  I (Cynthia) was able to get ~2 hours sleep on the plane Praise God!.  As for Israel he fell asleep as soon as the plane levelled off at 11000km.  Serenity had a fitful sleep the whole trip.  Poor Samuel didnt sleep a wink - too hyped up? or just that he got absorbed in a good book?  Anyway the three of them are sleeping now.  We have about 3.5 hours before we need to check in for the Airnorth flight to Dili.
 Israel was so excited he was literally jumping around.
 Just landed, a bit bleary eyed...
 Home sweet home!

In flight

We have finally made it to the airport.  Of course, the car just had to die today!  It completely stopped leaving us stranded at Ulmarra on the highway.  Thanks so much to an angel (aka Cynth's dad who came to our rescue).  We bought a new battery and filter and threw in a bit of clean diesel, gave it a tow down the road and we were off again. (Having lost a precious 2 hours and $230 on a very busy day ... Praise the Lord!)  So we have rushed around heaps but are now sitting in the airport and about to leave so what's packed in our bag is what we are taking and I think its going to be a bit of a surprise at the other end as to what actually made it in our bags.  Thanks to so many who have contributed to make this possible.  Thanks to Steve and Leila of Grafton Paddle Sports who sourced some cheap mossie nets to hand out and to Ken Halgarth from Maclean chemist who gave us a generous discount on medical supplies.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mayhem and Tranquility

1 sleep to go!

My brain is in overload... take this, do that, go there, see them, pay this, ring him, don't forget to.... ah...  um...what was it again?

These are some of the more positive things i can look forward to...
Peaceful sunsets admiring Gods gorgeous exterior colour schemes, sifting through pastel coloured pebbles, making small piles of white ones, finding the odd shell, watching the hand dug outrigger canoes land after a days fishing, chatting with fellow foreigners who may be visiting the beach, watching Serenity and Israel play for hours with the kids from next door.   
Also have to mention the lovely neighbours, the constant supply of fresh tropical fruits available (including yummy coconuts picked by the young boys next door whenever we request one).
Hmmm sounds nice hey.. 
I might just keep these thoughts forefront at the moment. ;)
A piece of tranquility.

Friday, April 2, 2010

6 days to go!

Oh Dear!
It really does seem that as time runs out, things to do increase.  I wonder if its a scientific rule? -
time > = activities < = 1 stressed body! :)

We are enjoying a few days with family here at Mum and Dads.  We have had one of mums brothers and his wife here which has been lovely, as we don't see each other a great deal.  My sister also arrived yesterday, and two other aunts will be here today. We have a couple of birthdays to celebrate over this weekend.

Samuel has been very busy (what else can i expect really?).
He spent 4+ days in Lismore this past week, and will be working there tomorrow (Saturday), and next Tuesday/Wednesday.  I am hoping he wont have much to do on Thursday - The day we drive up to Brisbane!
Ive been reasonably busy too.  We had a few good days of (Rainbow Road) school, trying to knock off a few workbooks with Serenity, so we can carry less over to East timor.  I've also re-sorted our gear for the 3rd time in the last 2 months.