Saturday, September 29, 2012

Liquidoe School gets a big boost

School done

After a long time of plugging along, the school final got a big boost thanks to the effort of 3 guys from the Gold Coast:  Rob, Mat and Pelay.  Rob is a carpenter, Mat a roofer and Pelay also works in construction.  They made a top team.  The job was to try to bring the school building up to lock-up stage in an effort to start using it.  They raised funds to pay for materials and loaded up a yellow dump truck to get up the mountain.  Its not far from Dili, maybe 30km, but it took them over 3 hours to do the journey.  That should help you understand the terrain.  As it was a single cab taking other Timorese, the guys had to sit up on top of sheets of reo laid over the top of the truck – we gave them a mattress to make this bit a little more comfortable.  One of the big bonuses of this team was that Rob speaks Indonesian which reduces the need for me to sort out as much stuff for them.  The guys were able to lay the slab for the 20x6m building, close in walls with mesh, put on doors, seal off windows and make a little loo.

 Mixing concrete  School guys at work

the loo Battery drill

Samuel hard at work on the left.  Rob with samuel’s battery drill – an old ryobi hot wired to a car battery (we were desperate).

We had a bit of an issue with some of the locals being angry about the work taking place.  I hope that this can be sorted out.  Please pray for Mateus, safety and the school.  The next plan was to get the school furnished.  After finishing up this work, I got a call from Jill in HIAM Health with a large load of school desks.  She set aside 130 chairs and tables, some filing cabinets, teachers desks and notice boards as well as stationary supplies.  These were trucked up a couple of days ago.   Just another one of God’s miracles – its like its a daily occurrence here.  He still amazes me.  Mateus says he has 125 kids now.

As an aside, I have been panning a reroof of the local Catholic Church in our village.  It was in desperate need of doing.  I have found that due to all the needs around the country that I often overlook my own village.  They are actually better off than many mountain folks so I tend to put them down the priority ladder.  Anyway, it came time to do something before the next wet.  We ordered the material and God ordered the skill.  I didn’t know that Rob’s mate, Mat was a professional roofer!  They came back from Liquidoe with a couple of days to spare and thats all it took to get a professional finish on the Church roof.  It looks sensational – Mat did a great job! 

Church roof 1

Church roof 2

We thank the guys for coming and being so generous and caring and the spiritual input they had into our lives and the lives of the Timorese.

West Atekru

Recently, my good mate Rohan and I went on a trip to the island of Atauro off the north coast of Dili.  It was a place I had not been to before and was keen for a bit of adventure.  The good thing about Rohan is that he is very gullible and seems to be able to cope with any disaster that we can fall into.  The unfortunate thing about Rohan is that is name is a Tetun word which could be translated variously as “the left over bit at the end”.  So it became the butt of a few jokes.  We took our boat to get over to the island.  It was great to get a bit of use out of it myself rather than packing off other people.  Unfortunately, since the roll over, Tobias (the skipper) had not quite got the carby cleaned and the boat konked out close to the southern cliffs of the island.  It was a very strong current there which was going in the same direction we were going which was nice and later Ro was able to get the boat into a massive eddy by the cliffs when we thought we should slow down.  We sort of fixed the problem with the motor enough to pull into the next village where I got to swim some Bibles ashore – the Bibles faired well but I swallowed rather too much water in the effort.  Here the locals showed us a cave.  They were way too scared to go in.  Down the back of the cavern was a tiny entrance into another cavern where we found a bat colony and a truck load of bat poo which would make awesome fertiliser if only the locals could be brave enough to get it out.

After Tobias put the carby back together we got around to Atekru which would be our base village where Emmy’s dad and mum live.  We arranged some canoes here and took off the next day for a paddle down the coast glad to leave the motor behind.  These are dugout canoes made from a log with some planks on the side to make it bigger.  It has outriggers on the side made of bamboo.  We brought a piece of cotton for sleeping which we could use to rig up a simple sail.  Atauro is a beautiful tropical island with lovely people.  We paddled past a village or two until we found a mostly deserted beach with a few rock caves to choose from to sleep in.  Some boys came out of the mountains and got talking to us.  They were surprised, I think, that we paddled there in small canoes as most foreigners they’d talked to here were Australian soldiers who came in helicopters out of the sky and landed in the field nearby.  They said that they would not offer them coconuts because the soldiers came quickly from Dili and had full bellies and they would soon return.  But they figured that Aussies who’d paddled there in a small canoe must surely be thirsty and therefore it was only fitting that they should be given a coconut.  Without further a-do, the youngest fellow was sent up the palm and dropped 4 coconuts.  It was true we were very thirsty but 4 coconuts was too much but they wouldn’t share in eating them so we saved them for the meal later.  It actually meant we had bowls to eat out of which we’d forgotten to bring.  We had time for snorkelling, walking and cliff climbing – well, we thought we had time.  The sun had other ideas and ran away before we could get off the cliffs leaving us doing the final descent by tree roots in darkness.  We returned to Atekru the next day with a stop in the bay to do an awesome snorkel (northern end of bay) along the drop off being pulled along by our canoe and its little sail.  That night I got to participate in a small youth conference where the local churches were wrapping up a week of youth events.  I had brought a bunch of scriptures for the occasion and handed them out to youth selected by the leaders – it was a bit auspicious, us having white skin and all. 

The next day we made an attempt on the highest peak in the island.  The island is probably only 10km across maximum but had a mountain of 1000m (3300ft) and we were starting from the sea.  We didn’t have offers of guides to go with us as it was considered too ambitious a climb.  No worries, Ro and I are old hands with the 1:25000 topo map and a compass.  This time we had a GPS too and we tracked the climb which I might show you one day.  We got pretty scratched up and a little off track but some Timorese along the way soon found us, supplied us with coconuts (as we must have been thirsty  - which we were) and showed us some paths to get us back on track.  We made the summit about 2pm and stopped for lunch.  The descent was very steep and spectacularly rugged.  We dropped into a sharp ravine and followed the beautifully carved rocky creek down the mountain.  Soon the sun began to run away and we got out on a ridge to find some desperate farming activity in the dry, rugged conditions.  We passed a farmers shack that seemed to suggest severely stunted development especially given the bed inside was barely 4 foot long.  Of course, as tradition would have it, the last few hundred meters was done in the dark with a bit of help from the Timorese and we finally met up with Emmy and Tobias who had come around in the boat.  We slept there in Maker that night and took off for home early the next morning to recover from the adventure.  Thanks heaps for a mate like Ro to enjoy such a journey with.

PS On return I met an experienced hiker in Dili who said he’d made 5 attempts on the summit and still hadn’t made it.  Perhaps we just got lucky.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Family Visit

20-DSCF2480  We were blessed to have Graham, Lynelle and Arlene (Cynthia’s father, mother and sister) come to visit us recently for three weeks. This is the first time our family has visited us not including 2004 we when we first came to Timor with my sister Eliza. It was great to be able to share our lives with them so they could get a real feel for what our life is like rather than just sitting there reading some blog. Now they know how much Samuel is embellishing the adventure and how much we leave out.

03-DSCF1988 Graham did grandpa things with the kids as well as help out with odd jobs and tasks around the house. One of these was to make an experimental seed sorting screen which17-DSCF2431 meant a lot of hole drilling. The Timorese can use this to sort out corn seed that is too small and then package up the good quality seed for distribution and sales. Its another small step forward for this country – taking care of good seed in order to get good crops for the next year. Since Graham’s prototype we have employed a Timorese to make ten more which have been sold for distribution to Community Seed Producer Groups within Seeds of Life.



Lynelle did grandma things with the kids. She spent a lot of time in the garden and taught our Timorese girls and Samuel her special composting technique – her key concept seemed to be “a good cooking compost” and worked hard to get it warm. We are still turning it over. Lynelle also spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals and experimenting with the new breadmaker that they brought over (woohoo).


Arlene did lots of cool aunty things with the kids. Arlene also has a flair for cooking, or is it ‘chef-ing’? She got the full Timorese experience being pretty sick a couple of times.


We took them on a tour to Los Palos and back so they could see the sights of Timor and some of our work with Pastor Samuel. This included a snorkel at the famous K41 and a night at Baucau. Here we discovered an old Portuguese ruin in some secluded bay which I’m sure someone else knows about but it was fun to find without being told it existed. 25-DSCF254024-DSCF2562 We went on to Los Palos and talked corn and building projects and Church work. We also stopped in at a little village called Luro where Samuel has been asked by a small community to help them get water from a spring (envisage a puddle – but its all they have and hope to supply 20 houses from it). Samuel is measuring the flow by timing how long it takes to fill a 5L bucket and multiplying this out to find out how much water comes out each day.

Thankyou very much to Graham, Lynelle and Arlene for coming over and being a family to us and sharing our lives.

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Photos in this group from top:  Arlene and Serenity inspect a marlin brought in by a small dugout canoe, Israel tempts the crocs at a lake near Liquica, Lynelle inspects baskets at Maubara, drying sheaves of rice cut by hand with a sickle, spiritual house at the eastern end of East Timor, Graham inspects the new youth accommodation in Los Palos, two beauties walk through the garden, checking out the corn mill, inspecting the new sewing room freshly painted.