Friday, November 23, 2012

Drums and Seed to Atauro

Drums on boat 1 The planting season is almost here in Timor Leste.  Farmers have been working hard to prepare their land for the rains and they are finally starting to come.  Farmers rely on these wet season rains to come every year so they can grow their corn and rice to feed their families for the rest of the year.  Some of the corn seed from the Los Palos project has come to Dili and will be taken to the island of Atauro.  This will be the first season that the islanders will get to grow the improved variety of corn researched by Seeds of Life.  We are also distributing drums donated by Mission Aviation Fellowship to the farmers to store the corn.  Farmers will pay $10 per drum and $5 for a 5kg bag of seed.  This payment could also be made to the skipper via a catch of fish.  Hence, we have the scene on our beach of sacks of corn seed, 44 gallon drums and an old fridge in our boat.  Tobias, the skipper puts ice in the fridge so he can bring fish back to Dili to sell.  This is a market driven approach to development work where the farmer, the transporter, the ice maker, the skipper, the fish monger and many others all play a role in lifting the economy of the country.  The bloke like me works to make all the connections and to inspire them that it can actually happen.  It has to be financially supported to some extent initially but we hope in time that they will find the way to make it happen themselves.

I hope the corn grows well this year.

Drums on boat 2

Friday, November 16, 2012

Setting a Church on Fire

2012-10-28 08.31.24  Recently we went to a church service that was a little hot. They started around 8am in the morning but in the tropical heat of Timor Leste we all got hot and sweaty pretty quickly. The elderly men and women found it particularly hard. But this was not a church service to miss. The week before, someone had decided to burn the church building down. They had been threatening to do it for quite some time and now it was done. Now all that was left was the concrete floor and the chairs that were saved from the fire. The Church at Sidara had bravely persevered through years of taunting and threats. Over the last year or so, the group was finally starting to be accepted by the wider community as a legitimate gathering of people just wanting to follow Jesus. I remember back in 2004 seeing Branca go up to the village with her medical kit in her hand bag to treat the people. Back then she sat on the foundations of a small clinic being built to do her work. Now there is a thriving centre with the clinic, birthing centre and preschool. Only the church building was built out of thatching and bush materials. After the fire, the burnt poles were chopped down and the floor swept ready for the Sunday service. There was a real feeling of solidarity and never-say-die. When the service was over the men began to talk over the details of rebuilding. This will be a challenge. Decisions will need to be made about materials, quality, dimensions etc and I think these decisions are difficult for any group in any part of the world. Pray that God’s Spirit would carry them long after the smell of ash has gone and the hard work of rebuilding has begun. If you’re a member of a church somewhere that has nice things like carpet, electricity and perhaps even a kitchen then whisper a quiet thanks to God for these things and pray that He would set your Church on fire.

2012-10-28 08.31.40