Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heading Home

We have just a few days in East Timor left.  We are looking forward to heading back to Australia although the feelings are a bit mixed.  It has been a very hard time for us in the last month or so.  We look to God to give us strength and wisdom. 

Thanks for those who post a comment - we do read them its just we dont know how to respond.

Cynthia continues to get requests in her sewing group.  The latest one being a set of cloth books for literacy in a library in Gleno.  Very exciting but the range of materials here is limited to cheap, plasticky stuff (I once worked as a fashion designer in France so I should know).

The party by the Church is lingering on - it seems they just love to dance the night away.  The main show moved to the next suburb.  It was stormed by a not very smart machete wielding drunk who took a swipe at a few peolpe for some reason.  Then he took off leaving his very new looking car behind to get completely trashed by the mob that was there for the mass cum dance thing.  A few different riot police gangs showed up along with some Timorese Police - decked out in full black with balaclavas and a rifle with scope they looked more like assassins than peace keepers.  I hoped this would partially justify my anger at the strange arrangement around the Youth Cross but the Timorese logic seemed to flow in quite the opposite direction as they began to think that the solution to all this would be to block the road with bigger logs.  Oh well. 

I am finding it really hard to get men to work in construction.  Makes it hard to feel sorry for some people who cry poor.  But God has been kind and gracious with us, especially me and my attempt to save the world before the end of the week.  I wonder if He finds it amusing.  I have dropped just about everything to try to get these investment units done which should provide income for a couple of poor families.  My work team seems to dwindle every day but we press on and with just 4 days left we have hope that we might just make it.  I still need to install my home made solar hot water system and install two solar systems, finish off the waste water, earthworks, touch up, windows, blah blah blah.  I will try to post a pic of the finished product.  I will also try to get out to Beraka and do a few other things  along the way (yeah right)

Israel loves his new found skill of riding a push bike. He loves burning around the sea side tracks.  Serenity is really coming along with her reading and starting to read books for her own enjoyment rather than for school.  Woohoo!

I'm pretty tired, I think I'll go home now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking a Stand

Getting about on the island with Graham and co.

It has been a difficult time for us over the last two weeks. There has been a rather bewildering event put on by the Catholic Church. I like to believe the best about the Church but sometimes my faith gets a little stretched in that area.

Without warning the road to our house was blocked for two weeks for the Youth Cross. This is a special timber cross about 1.8m high that started its journey soon after the infamous 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. Briefly, a young man was shot in a main Church ground in Dili by some pro-Indonesian forces in 1991. The burial was massive and many pro-independence Timorese used the event to make a protest against Indonesia. The riot squad was brought in and they opened fire on many innocent people. Within the crowd were a few brave reporters who braved the blood, shot footage of the whole thing and buried their rolls of film in the cemetery. They returned later, dug up the rolls and sent the awful images around the world. This created widespread publicity for the plight of East Timor and could be seen as the beginning of the end of Indonesian rule in the country. Fast forward 20 years and we have this memorial cross that has taken on a life of its own. All the major martial arts groups are given the role of protecting this thing taking turns around the clock. They took it upon themselves to close the road and threaten any vehicle trying to enter. Beside the cross a round stone altar was built. In this was erected a sacred pole. In the lead up to the cross arriving the elders performed various rituals including sacrificing a goat, a cow and a pig. I didn’t see all of these sacrifices but I presumed they took place because the fresh bones of these animals decorate the pole. All this is set up on the grounds of the sweet little Catholic Chapel next to our house. A pretty good program has been running each night to encourage the young people to seek peace, consider how they fit within the mission of the Church and how they might improve their lives and their community. Then the priests, nuns and youth workers leave and let the young people have a dance party all night with the large amplifiers and sound gear set up for the Church. This has been going on every night for two weeks.

I have a major issue with mixing sacrifices, altars and ancestor worship with Church functions but I thought that this was not the time or place to say something. I am not sure if this is right. I also have serious concerns about the Church asking martial arts gangs to guard a Church function but I chose to be quiet on that as well. But when they decide to block the road and blast the night away for two weeks I think that perhaps they are going a little too far even in the lower realms of human sanity. So Supersam, bald and short as I am, decided to take a stand. I started with the boys themselves, went on to the community, then the leaders, the village chief, the secretary of the martial arts alliance (if you’re thinking some timid pen pusher you’ve got another thing coming, this guy is a night owl and the meeting took place at dawn, he is the second in command) and then on to the UN police. All we wanted was freedom during the day to enter our home with our vehicle without fear of intimidation and the freedom at night to sleep. Seems as though it was a little too much to ask. But at least we got access a few times to run our various projects and we got through it all without physical injury.  Just this morning Cynthia got so angry about the noise she started climbing ladders at 7.30am pulling down their tarps and shifting their amps while they all slept.  They all seemed to accept that after over two weeks it was time the party stopped - she's my hero.

The kids have been suffering from some tropical diseases such as fever and boils. We put our Community Development worker back to 1 day a week. The people from Maquili have put in a proposal for a small business making coconut oil but its ringing with warning bells so I probably won’t go ahead with it at this stage.

Cynthia: “Sewing project, busy, only Sinta and me. Starting a second experienced sewer this week, arranging everything so Sinta can manage it while we are in Australia. Had many problems with treadles, Got to a point where both were unusable, and it was a black out so we couldn’t use the electric machines. Samuel spared some of his time to do a big overhaul on them and tightened up a number of loose bolts, and re-aligned some pins, so at the moment they run lovely! Praise God!
Delivered our first bulk order to an NGO. (Unfortunately, they were not yet able to pay us which puts a rather large dampener on the excitement of the delivery.) Sinta was very amazed to see the invoice come to $215! (Mind you Samuel took me to buy more fabric supplies and he insisted I spend up) So $240 of fabric is sitting under our table and getting sewn into bags etc.

The mending jobs keep coming in with up to 6 jobs a day. With each of those bringing in $1-2 plus with sales of bags we are easily covering expenses and Sintas wages with a small profit.

Who would of thought we could start an enterprise that runs at a profit within 2 months?

Not me! I give thanks to God for all the gifts that enabled it to start, and for finding such a suitable employee.”

I have had to put most of our work on hold to complete the beach front units. I have been working very hard on this in the midst of all the aforementioned dramas. The evil spirits really know how to put up a fight. But I know a good bloke who once made a stand and died in the effort. When all seemed lost he came back to life. I’m holding out for a miracle from him.

We have drawn up a chart of our structure which I will endeavour to get on this blog.  It shows the different things we are involved in, hope you can read it and if you cant I am sure it looks impressive:
We are returning back to Oz on October 30.  Thats just over a week away.  Those who are familiar with my stupidity will know that I will be working myself to the bone.  Predestination - gotta love it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thanks so much!

Perhaps a strange thing to write on our blog but we have just checked our bank account and found a few sneaky folks have slipped us some more donations.  We want to thankyou so much for your help and we pray that we will use this money faithfully and wisely.


A team from Darwin arrives

After a jam packed 2 weeks it is hard to know how to keep you up to date with all that has been going on. So we will do it by brief points:

A team of 5 people came from a Baptist Church in Darwin – Crossroads Christian Church? (I think I got that name wrong, how embarrassing.) In 10 days they did 4 main jobs:

1. A reno job on the office of Wycliffe Bible Translators – the poor bloke was trying to translate the Bible in a dark little room stuffed with boxes. So the boys put in shelves, gave it a lick of paint, installed a large fluoro light and delivered some new furniture – a desk, comfy chair and pin board. Sr Carlos is very happy and it gives him a lift in his work.

Nick, James and Graham - hot sweaty in the office with Sr Carlos the Bible translator and his wife.
2. Trip to the island of Atauro (cue wicked laugh – ‘Aha,ha,ha,ha,haaa’) very nice big boat going over. We checked in on Dunalva’s Preschool building project which deserves far more time than I am putting into it. They are up to the walls. She is so brave and I wish I could get out there with my tools. We then walked several km’s around the rocky coastline with 70 odd scriptures in our packs to visit Maquili. We discussed a small development project with them. They want to buy a coconut shredding machine to make oil to sell. It’s a big vision involving pigs and biogas (my pet subject). The boys are happy to enter a microfinance arrangement with them if they can come up with a decent business plan. This will take the place of my chook pen idea. Oh, well. We returned on a dawn voyage in a small boat that regular visitors to this blog know only too well. The novel thing this time was that we actually got the boat driver to deliver us right to our beach front from the island. Very cool, shame you weren’t there.

3. Finishing work on the Los Palos Youth Training Centre – the guys finished some tiling, tidied up the electrical work, installed the waste water plumbing, doors, kitchen bench top and even found time to make a very cool cob (mud and straw) oven to assist in cooking. Its an experiment (like our whole life) based on the Patsari oven for poor communities in Mexico. We’ll send some cool pics when we get them.

4. Installing an insulated ceiling with fans!!!! for Cynthia’s sewing room. Woohoo.

As well as all this, the team has been very encouraging for us as a family. The 12 yr old boy and 17 year old girl had a great time with our kids. Inlcude 2-3 days travel time and you can imagine it was hectic. Whats new.

Cynthia is selling more bags than her sewing group can make. She just received her first order of 100 cloth pads for women through HIAM Health. Woohoo.

God bless,