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Monday morning I left for the island of Atauro (Ata-oo-roh, I still don’t think I can really say that word right). It is difficult to explain what it means to get to this island and back especially during this time they call the windy season. I went down to a certain beach in Dili and found the ‘boat’ Dunalva was using. Dunalva is a dynamic, Brazilian missionary hoping to build a preschool on the island. The boats are like enlarged open canoes with outriggers. They are based on a dug-out log with planks extended up the sides and driven by a very nice looking 15Hp Yamaha. After waiting a rather disorganised 2 hrs we finally ‘board’ and go about 200m where we pass an incoming boat waving to us to turn back in rather persuasive gestures. It appears that the sea is too rough and the Timorese who just crossed the sea were looking a few shades paler than their normal coffee-coloured skin. Its great to have access to the latest weather update. After 4 hrs the skipper figures the sea should be ok and we set out as a small fleet of about 5 canoes working on the theory that if one gets into trouble the others should be able to help. I’m not sure about the logic on this but I think it runs deep in our human psyche that if things are going to go bad we want company. Dunalva didn’t come (she is a very brave lady), so I headed off with a bunch of strangers to an unknown destination to people I’d never met before. It turns out that the voyage wasn’t so bad, so to speak. We passed a whale snorting along, a large pod of dolphins doing their tricks and I will never fathom how the flying fish work. Its not just an elongated jump and glide sort of thing. These guys are really flying – up to 100m following the contour of the sea and making turns. God is amazing. On a small boat you really feel connected with the sea. Strange how beauty is found on the edge of danger. I finally reach my destination, introduce myself and meet the local pastor who leads me through a cassava patch to some land where they want to build a preschool. As we discuss the building design and the lay of the land, I get the feeling that the planning stage is at a point of disarray. I tell him to come the following day with the local men and to make sure they bring some digging tools and machetes so we can talk, decide and start. Nothing like a bit of action.
|a prayer to start|
|discussing plans in the board room|
The following day we pray, talk, set out the foundations and begin to dig. Dunalva arrived from a rather high sea (poor thing). I figure I can head home now that they know what to do. The method for returning is to wake up at 1 am and go down to a certain beach where the canoes should come from another village and head back to Dili. But alas the sea is too high. I try again the following morning, praying earnestly to God and missing my family. One boat finally glides in from the dark at 3.30 am and we set out for the mainland under a rising moon leaving a trail of jewels in the sea (otherwise known as phosphorescence – nice touch, God). The plan is to return in a couple of weeks with a couple of successive teams of men from churches in WA to build the walls and roof with the locals.
|the team at Atauro with Brazilians, Adenise and Dunalva|
|Cynth and some ladies learning to sew|
May God give you a good week and keep you safe.
“You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox.” Psalm 92:10
(Well it meant something to me at the time, did you know that ‘wild ox’ here is really the unicorn, check it out in the King Jim)