Friday, July 29, 2011

A bamboo fence

DSCN3249 Since I am a bit of a hippy at heart, I am always trying to steer my construction toward environmentally sustainable practices.  Its not puritan by any means and you may one day even see me with a chainsaw in my hand.  In Los Palos, they have a pressing need for food.  Samuel and Uli, the Pastors of a youth church, take in as many people as they can feed which is not a lot on a meagre $70 per month allowance.  They have an excellent patch of land but if they try to grow vegies some hungry person or animal ends up eating it before they do.  This means the land lays fallow and unproductive.  The challenge was to build the cheapest and most achievable fence possible with what we had.  It also had to be strong enough and tall enough to keep out children and goats from the garden.  That way they could harvest their food and give it to those who really needed it.  So we … ok, I came up with a bamboo fence design – I’ll take the credit, that way if it doesn’t work, you know who to blame.
First we dug a trench down 20cm deep and 20cm wide.  DSCN3212  DSCN3204

Then we fill it with cement and rock – ok the cement came from Indonesia but the limestone rock was onsite and the sand came from a local river.  Spot  the flying rock from Keith’s hand.
We shoved in some bamboo poles about 1.8m long into the trench about every 2m.  DSCN3226The Timorese know which poles are good for posts, in this case its ‘red bamboo’ (I know to the untrained eye they look green, you might have to use your imagination)  The bottles are an idea for protecting the top of the bamboo from filling with water. 

Then we split a different type of bamboo in half for the horizontal fence rails.  This is easier than you may think – if you have a good machete, and a good eye.  But once you’ve got the split going it tends to run along the grain and pop apart.
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Then we cut more bamboo at 1.8m and split it up into strips about 4cm.  We nailed the pickets onto the rails with 5cm flat head nails and bent them over on the back.  Some pre-drilling goes down well.  DSCN3232
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Then sections are carried to the poles to be screwed on with … wait for it … my little trade secret … roofing screws!  These screws bore their own hole into the bamboo without it splitting and hang on real tight – sensational!DSCN3247DSCN3250
Don’t tell anyone else about this.  I think bamboo is the next big thing that’s going to happen to Australia.  Just as soon as I finish mucking around in East Timor I’ll come and grow some bamboo in oz and make a mint off picket fences.
Ok, out of my instruction mode, we had a great time in Los Palos with the locals.  Uli and Cynthia had lots of long D&M’s and got to know each other real well.  It was a great soul time for them both (And I just thought they were sitting around not doing anything important?!)  We finally finished the last of the tiling a year after starting the building.  Credit must go to Sylvia for the long hours she put in grouting and cleaning.
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We also finished building their shed walls, got the rafters and battens on the shed and provided funding for the iron which the Timorese will happily put on later. 
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And all this in 3 days of action.  A big thanks to Alan Kent from Leongatha Salvation Army Corps and Sylvia, Keith and Lynise from Tweed Heads Salvation Army Corps who had the courage to come to East Timor and give of their time, talents and money to help make this a reality. 
It was a great time in Los Palos and a real boost to the youth – they’re finally seeing a bit of action.  This sort of work gives them hope and lifts their spirits.  They are the real heroes.
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 DSCN3001       They are the ones going around their community telling others about God and how great he is and what he has done for them.  There are many testimonies of how God how freed them from abuse, violence, disease and evil spirits.  There are many testimonies about how God meets their daily needs.  And I must testify too, to the way God has provided for us, watched over us and kept us safe.  I thank Him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To Los Palos

The full day journey to Los Palos passes through a wide variety of landscapes. Most of them quite stunning.  Its just as well, because the road is so bad at times that its hard to call it a road.  Especially as its “The highway” from east to west…  Imagine the backroads..:)  DSCF2615  DSCF2651 Anyway, we pass some beautiful coast lines, bare rocky mountains, scrublands, swamps, forest, and desert like moonscapes.  We have some “piku” on the roof, which we picked up on the way.  We bought it to help make some fencing at the Nazarene youth centre in Los Palos.  We also planned to finish some tiling and work on a shed roof.
(note: piku is made from the stems of palm leaves, threaded together to make a board)
I thought it may be interesting to see a few of the more “unlikely in western society” sights…. A young bullock meandering across the road, a bus, fully loaded.  The guys hanging out the doors have to hang on for at least 3 hours on this bus route, and a kid lounging on top of a truck…
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And then the picture!!!! ok, so its blurry and indistinct BUT!!!
We saw our first huge Timorese crocodile.  Our visitor Alan spotted it as we drove along, so we turned around to get a closer look.  Of course Samuel was attempting to creep up on it (all 4m of it) but thankfully it heard him coming and sank underwater and floated away.  It was a little disconcerting, but at least they aren't as abundant as NT.  And they are rare further west near Dili.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Liquisa solar install


The other day we got a chance to help move a small solar system in Liquica.  It had belonged to a Singaporean missionary who had been working in East Timor for about 5 years.  Part of his work was to run a computer and printing business where people could come and type up a document and print it.  What set his business apart from others was that he could guarantee electricity so that even during the daily blackouts students could still print their work.  He has donated this system along with the printers and two laptops to a Timorese lady who wants to continue the business.  As the business could not afford to rent they are moving it into their house and hoping to build a small building later.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nautilus 63 – Fishing in East Timor

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Late last year we acquired an excellent fibreglass fishing boat with a near new 15Hp Yamaha motor. 
We have a two-fold purpose for this:
1. Provide Samuel with transport to various places on Atauro Island where he assists some communities
2. Start-up a small fishing business with a local fisherman
There is a 3km deep channel just off the coast of Dili which holds some promise of bringing in big fish.  The locals fish with fishing line wrapped around a piece of wood or in shallow areas with nets.  We think there is potential for the locals to be taught how to fish for the bigger fish out in deep water and make a decent wage.  What we are looking for is someone who knows how to fish to come and show them how its done and set them up with some tackle.  We can provide very affordable accommodation for someone to come to East Timor for a week for the express purpose of going fishing.  Or a group of fishermen could get together and come over on a fishing trip to help teach the Timorese. 
You know the old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  I now give you the opportunity to act.
Please contact us for more details if you’re interested:

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Sonrei House

Well, The place has a name, and even a sign!
  DSCF2594  So first, of course, some details about the name… (pronounced sun-ray)
We have combined English and Tetun to make our own new word :) The obvious meaning is sunray!  Then the word rei in Tetun can mean kiss, so it also means sun kissed.  Rei also means king. On the other side of Dili is a large statue of Jesus and the place is called Christo Rei (Christ the King).  So Sonrei also can mean son of God the King.
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We really hit the ground running, welcoming our first visitors on Friday morning after moving in Thursday afternoon.  The house felt full and happy, and coped really well.  (Mind you there are still a few little things that need work!  Are buildings ever really finished?) They felt very privileged to be the first visitors, and we were blessed with their friendliness, generosity and awesome humour!  For Madagascar fans, one guest entertained everyone with a perfect king Julian impersonation.  Serenity was a real sweety and translated for the group on a few occasions. And israel and 5 yr old Josiah had great times together! 
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Our outdoor dining room is just lovely.  We all love hanging out there with the cool sea breezes and ocean view.  We plan to get Bellekria to sew some cushions for the concrete seats running around the sides.  And of course one day we hope to have some hammocks swinging!!  With 14 people our little six person table wasn't enough, so at 6am the morning the group were to arrive, Samuel was building an extra 8-10 person table. 
  DSCF2528DSCF2525     This is the door from upstairs out to the verandah.  In the sea just north of East Timor, lies a very deep channel (3km).  Apparently blue whales swim through here, amongst other whales, dolphins and the odd American submarine.  Samuel designed a blue whale tail cutout in the door to let some light through.  As they installed the door, Serenity and I were enjoying the view, and guess what?  We were sure we saw a whale swimming past!!  Honest!  (It may have been shadows on the waves….)
Storage!! Storage everywhere!!  In the days before moving Samuel stayed up late building a large desk/book shelf for the office, and a set of shelves for our clothes.  Which meant that as we moved in things could go straight into place rather than fill the floor with boxes!!  The only lack was Samuels store room, which meant that all his tools and pipes and electrical gear was spread over the office floor.  So yesterday the guys all pitched in for a quick build shelf.  I was hovering ready to throw boxes onto the shelves as soon as they were screwed in place!  Ta Da!!!DSCN2623DSCN2625 DSCN2622