Monday, March 25, 2013

A village called Railuli

IMGP1941 Finally, after 8 months of waiting, a large shipment of Bibles has arrived in Timor-Leste!  Both publishers, the Catholics and Wycliffe Bible Translators, have brought scriptures into the country so distribution can recommence.  About 150 scriptures have gone out in the last week to young people, teachers and distributors.  Many, many Timorese love to get their hands on a Bible as they believe in God but don't have access to any scriptures. 
On Saturday, we went out to the mountains to visit a village.  Its about 20km as the crow flies but took us about 3 hours to get there, mainly because some shorter roads were washed out in the wet season.  The main task was to inspect an area to extend a water system.  My ability to survey systems has been radically improved by using a smart phone with GPS.  This allows pretty accurate calculation of the location, distance between important points and change in altitude.  The information can be mapped in Google Earth where we can show the layout of the houses and where joins, taps and tanks will be. 
Standing at the spring where water flows along split bamboo into an old drum.
I also go armed with prices of standard items such as the cost and length of a roll of polypipe and the associated fittings.  We measure the water at different locations using a stopwatch and a bottle measured to 1 litre.  This system will serve about 16 homes with about 120 people.  A minimum requirement from Government is that each household gets 30 litres per day for their drinking, cooking, washing and bathing needs (do you think your household of 8 could handle that?)  The current source supplies around 3 litres of water per minute which should amply provide these needs as well as extra water for vegetable gardens.  I am encouraging the community to come up with half the cost of the supplies as well as provide the labour to dig trenches.  Each household will need to contribute $25 for the 400m long system.  I believe its very important to get them to contribute because not only does it demonstrate that they are serious about doing this but they also learn the importance of setting aside some of their money for water.  In the past, the main function of money was to settle wedding and funeral arrangements.  Thousands of dollars go into these ceremonies every year while Timor-Leste is reported to have the highest rate of stunting in the world.
While we were in the village we also got to hand out some Bibles and encourage them to read it each day and pray.  At the risk of sounding cliché, its my firm belief that a simple walk with Jesus is the first and most fundamental step in solving the problems that these people face.  I shared this message with them in the house of a man who was murdered with a machete a couple of months back over a money lending issue.  There are some very beautiful things about village life but also many difficulties.   A very sick man had been suffering from a high fever and some sort of kidney infection (blood in the urine).  Its a long walk out of this village so they asked if I could take him to hospital in Dili.  The track to his house was a bit washed out but we were able to get down to him and back out again with a prayer and a troop carrier (toughest car in the world – thanks to Seeds of Life for the lend).
I hope you have a great week, that fresh water flows freely for you at a place not too far away and that you have a Bible to read, should you want to do so.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A land of milk and honey

2013-03-12 21.09.21 (600 x 450) A family is well and looking forward to a visit to Australia in April.  We think about baked things – anything that comes out of an oven because we don’t have one.  We also think about fresh milk.  Here we still have a traditional breakfast of cereal like muesli, corn flakes or weetbix and for milk we have UHT Milk.  Fresh milk is difficult to get and may cost around $6/L.  Right now Timor Leste has also run out of UHT milk so we are rationing our last box.  We like a bit of honey on our breakfast too.  The local honey is usually too fermented so Serenity and Israel tease dad about his “no drinking alcohol” promise to The Salvation Army.  We think we’ve got a good supply now.  It doesn’t taste so bad even though it comes packaged in a stubby.

We’ve been working hard to try to do the paperwork to take Xakira to Australia.  This includes applying for her to become an Australian citizen.  You might be pleased to know she officially became an Australian Citizen on the 8th of March.  They must be lowering the standard in Oz because she still doesn’t know how to play cricket, she can’t speak a word of English and she doesn’t have a fancy education.  It must’ve been her good looks.  Unfortunately I dont have too many pictures of Xakira but we’ll try to remedy that soon.  Citizenship Xakira smallUntil then, here’s a few random events over the past week:

The girls in the sewing room got a task of sewing 500 special bags for drying corn for research in Seeds of Life.

Samuel desk – a bit cluttered as he tries to wire up a special system for measuring weather in a remote location.  It worked in the office but success in the field still proves ellusive.

2013-02-27 14.43.45 The sunset is swinging back up north again which means we see some sensational artwork as the sun sets into the ocean.

2013-03-12 19.05.22

Tobias, Israel (being shy) and Samuel in the boat assisting with a preliminary bathymetric survey (sea depth) off the end of the runway.  We’re using a GPS, depth sounder, lap top and some mapping software.  Its an effort to demonstrate that the runway could feasibly be extended into the sea rather than cut off access to our village.  (We must leave the outcome in God’s hands)

2013-03-02 10.39.14

We see plenty of strange and what you might call dangerous activities here.  Its an OH&S nightmare from an Australian perspective.  One topic is towing vehicles.  Timorese are never really big on using rope so they tend to tow a vehicle with whatever they can find.  You even find motorbikes towing motorbikes!  You wonder what the police are doing and if they allow it?  Well the pic here shows a police motorbike that has stopped working.  The policeman is getting towed by another policeman using a piece of string that looks a lot like a lace out of their boots!

motor bike tow (566 x 408)

We are always thankful to God for his provision and keeping us safe and so healthy lately.  Pray that Bibles or scriptures of any sort could come into the country because, unlike UHT milk, we haven’t been able to get decent amounts of scriptures since August last year.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Born to be Wild

Pastor Samuel with some of the boys and their corn field in the background.

Click play to begin the film.
We have had the pleasure of a visit from Nick, a helicopter pilot from Darwin.  While he was here he was also able to take a 3 wheeled motorbike to Los Palos to deliver to Pastor Samuel.  This was an epic 8 hour journey on rough roads.  The Nazarene Church in Los Palos will use this vehicle to assist them in their ministry taking teams to house churches, take youth out to the farm to work the fields and be available to move supplies such as the harvest, manure, building materials and groceries (not all at the same time though).  This 3 wheeler has a tray on the back which is about 1m wide by 1.4m long, all the sides drop down and the whole thing can tilt up to tip out a load.  It can take about 6-8 Timorese on the back.  We hope that it will be very useful for them.  Our sincere thanks to God and The Salvation Army in Parramatta Corps.
Nick testing the beast before the journey to Los Palos
Helping the boys clear around the fence at the corn field in Los Palos