They say that Soibada was once planned to be the capital of East Timor. It is right in the heart of the country and is home to the national sanctuary for Mary, the mother of Jesus. In its hay day it was the centre of excellence and the main training centre for Priests. Many famous folks like Jose Ramos Horta spent schooling days here.
My family in ruins!Those days are gone now and the town is left with the ancient ruins of a bygone era. There is an incredible feel as you wander through the deserted old stone buildings. The Timorese boys led us into dark and dusty rooms with the old relics of the church. One boy motioned to a body under a blanket and said in all seriousness, “That’s the dead lady.” Cautiously I lifted up the blanket to find a statue of Jesus, crucified. I was surprised – perhaps a little horrified. That here in this place after such teaching, they still didn’t know who had died for them.
In Soibada, there is a children’s home which we visited with our friends – Darren and Celeste, and Josh, Josiah and Renee. A couple of lovely nuns here look after around 40 kids. Darren and Celeste brought up a heap of stationary for the kids and checked out the laptops that they brought last time they were up. We were able to give some women’s sanitary pads from Cynthia’s sewing room kindly donated by funds from friends of Celeste (she’s been busy fundraising in Melbourne). I also got to take them around 70 scriptures and share a story with the kids on the gospel of Mark. The juice was running so I got the kids to act out some scenes which they really enjoyed. I walked around with Sister Mary, one of the nuns and asked what their needs were. She said that water was very difficult for them. There are lots of issues surrounding their water difficulty. We found two potential sites to dig for water but unfortunately these sites were sacred and couldn’t be touched. It was looking grim when Sister Mary finally mentioned that they have a little problem with their kitchen in that when they sweep the floor a puddle of water forms always in the same spot coming from underneath the concrete. This is downhill from a potential spring – it would be funny if God heard Sister Mary’s heart and gave them water right there in their kitchen. I am not sure though if I will ever get back to help them with their water problem. Many issues like this don’t have a quick fix. It is better to walk with them over time to truly know the problem and give more time to help them through it. Never the less it was great to be there and encourage them in their ministry and see how they operate. I pray that God looks kindly on this children’s home and blesses Mary’s heart.