Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I like curves. Domes, arches, waves - I don't think we were made to live in square boxes. Somehow, though, we think its cheaper and more efficient to make straight lines. We think that a bed wont fit well into a circular room. So we put a square bed into a square room and then hop into bed with our curvey body. Strange.
So I hope from now on I can put a curve at least somewhere into every building I build. We are experimenting with a curved roof in the training centre for the main training room. My Timorese mate, Anen, somehow continues to take my crazy ideas in his stride and together we weld up a curved set of 'rafters' or roof members.

I was asked how I knew it would be strong enough. I replied that once it was built we would get up on top and jump around a bit and see if it wobbles. Its a non-technical approach but it might work.
My curved trusses are 200mm wide using 1" (25mm) gal steel water pipe. This was flexible enough to bend around in a curve by itself. 4 lengths are curved and welded to some zig-zag 10mm reo-bar steel. Then for the purlins that hold the roof sheeting, 2 C-channel 100mm steel lengths are welded together and slid in and attached to the 'trusses'.  East Timor Roofing, in Baucau, kindly agreed to curve their zincalume sheeting to a 12m metre radius. The whole thing is a bit of a pig to put together but it is a bit fun.
The main training room getting a curved roof

I have been known to do dumber things in the past. We once built a dome sort of home out of straw bales. One of my many mistakes in that particular venture was that I sourced local straw bales from a soy bean farm. 

Building our first home with curves - its basically a dome. On the left is a sleeping arch.

The fatal flaw was that there were small soy beans mixed within the bales. The mice thought these were very yummy and proceeded to eat our house. Drat.

It had a skylight using helicopter grade perspex. It was coated with local clay mixed with hydrated lime and Clarence river sand. Part of the house had a grass roof. We had solar panels and carried water from the river. Israel is about 2, and Serenity 8.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Weather stations

In one of my worlds I help the Ministry of Agriculture with weather stations and climate research.
I'm testing a new mapping technique which I thought I would put up here.

This shows all the weather stations MAF/SoL operate (well at least plan to operate).
The little map makes it all so easy but when I view it my mind starts thinking back to history, adventures and future possibilities. Here's some picks of the crew and I out at Loes Agriculture research station upgrading sensors to the weather station.

A weather station installed on a Government Agriculture Research station.

Measuring down to install the soil moisture metre.

Sensors - wind speed, solar radiation, rain, wind direction, temperature,humidity, soil temps and soil moisture. These are all sampled every minute and the data logged into the box (with wires) every 15 minutes.

The team - some local friends from the Timorese Govt as well as a couple from German and Portuguese organisations.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Testing the filter

The whole family has now gone back to Oz as Samuel attended the TropAg Conference in Brisbane.
We used this opportunity to bring two water filters to Australia. I've been hoping for more than 12 months to get the ceramic filter tested for its ability to stop bacteria getting through. After a number of attempts, I decided the best way was just to do it myself. Surprisingly, there do not seem to be many laboratories set up for this sort of thing.

Setting up the water filter in the lab

Richmond Water Laboratories in Lismore were willing to have a go and they were very helpful and friendly. I had to go down town, buy a plastic container and carve a hole in it to set up the filter. They will put in some highly contaminated water (like from a sewerage system) and run it through the filter. This is referred to as testing "total coliform" - or all the bugs in the water. Then they will take a sample after it has passed through the filter and incubate on petrie dishes to see if any colonies grow. I hope it works or else I'm back to the drawing board on water filtration for Timor.

Israel found his dream car in Yamba - a Morris Minor. Its shorter than him!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lino and the Ambassador

My good friend Lino, the humble corn farmer, has been on a long journey. He lives in a small village in Lautem, the eastern most  district of Timor-Leste. He’s what we call “salt of the earth” with “a heart of gold.” He’s ready to have a go at most things I throw at him even though he is really not sure how its going to turn out. But it seems that God continues to bless him. Recently, the Australian Embassy contacted Seeds of Life (SoL) and said the Australian Ambassador is going out to Los Palos and wants to see a farmers group. Lino’s group, Buras Hamutuk (Grow Well Together), have now become the third largest corn seed producers in the country and so SoL suggested he goes and visits Lino! So they borrowed the neighbour’s biggest tarp, and a few special tables and table cloths and plates. They went and dug up extra sweet potato, cassava and peanuts to make a special morning tea. The one hour visit from the Ambassador was going to be a big do.


The Ambassador and other important people meet with Lino’s group under the tarp.


Sharing morning tea with the Ambassador.

Lino now has some cool tech to show off: 2000L silos, seed packing equipment, drums for seed storage, shelling machines, planting tools, grinder, seed screen, flour sifter, rust proof fencing and a husking tool. Some of these were new to SoL as we generally experiment ourselves before taking to the big organisation.


A couple of Timorese checkout the table (behind) displaying tecnhology and produce from Buras Hamutuk.

It was a very successful visit and I think the Ambassador was very impressed with the work that they were doing.


The Ambassador has worked hard to learn how to speak Tetun reasonably well. 

But there is also another side to Lino and his wife Atina that perhaps none of the fancy folks there found out about. If you take the time to listen to their hearts without any fanfare or expectations you find a couple that long to serve God.

In fact Atina would like to become a pastor but Lino worries about how to handle the work load of the farm and making sure there’s enough food on the table. They end up trying to balance both – the farmer’s group and the ministry.

DSCN1028 (912 x 684)

Lino in the morning, managing construction of the group’s seed warehouse.

DSCN0905 (912 x 684)

In the afternoon they are off to the villages to teach children Bible stories.

Its a tough load and they have their hard times and are currently worried about a second miscarriage this year. Atina has just come to Dili to do some more training. But things have taken a toll and she found herself last night in the National Hospital. We went and picked her up today and brought her to our home here to try to feed her up, and most importantly, get her to drink enough clean water. We pray for Lino and Atina, that God would give them good health and show them what He would have them do.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Set in Concrete

Now we have a solid concrete roof over the sewing room, kitchen and shop of the training centre. It was a massive job which I think we were all a bit nervous about. We couldn’t bring ourselves to throw $300/m3 at it so we got lots of young men to mix up the concrete by hand.


They mix it up dry on a round pad of concrete then add in the water. It goes into barrows which they push up a specially made ramp to the second floor. IMG_1356

I am a fan of screed boards so we made an 8m screed by screwing 2 long lengths of C-channel steel together. This gets moved back and forth over the concrete to flatten it out.


I think it worked real well with 2 of us working the 8m screed and managing to trowel off as we went along.


Amau is the man, a rare guy who works from his heart. He often has a technique which he is definitely sure is right until I come along and suggest a completely new alternative – we usually strike some compromise in the middle. We worked hard all day screeding the slab.


The outer edge has a row of 400 x 200 x 200 concrete blocks which have been cut away on the inside. They were not laid so straight so we temporarily screwed C-channel steel along the edge to make the formwork.


Anen (head builder) inspects the finished job. Not perfect but it should hold.


It certainly makes downstairs look more homely. Here’s the kitchen with wiring for lights, fan and power in the slab and walls (ok, that’s revolutionary in this world!)


And the Taj Mahal from outside. This is the downstairs 1/3 with all the heavy bits done. Now we’ll peck away at bringing it to lock up while getting the next section done. Hopefully sometime soon the girls from Bele Kria can move in to a better space. Thanks so much for those who’ve helped us get this far, God bless you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Set in Titanium

This year is our 20th year of being married. We got engaged a little too young, at 19 and 17 years old but we’ve stuck together with most of the credit going to Cynthia. Its been a tough 20 years I think and we both could do with a bit of a break. I hope that we can go another 20 years or 40 years – that would probably do though. As you can see from the photo, Cynthia is still as beautiful as ever.


For this auspicious occasion we ordered some special rings to replace some plain silver ones we’ve been wearing.


These were done by titaniumringsforever and they did an awesome job. Cynthia and I look mild but when it comes to possibly the only thing we’ll have stuck on our bodies for any length of time we get very fussy. The folks who made the rings were very patient. Cynthia’s has “filigree” which is fancy carving with a few stones: amethyst (engagement), ruby (grandma) and diamond (a girls best friend). Mine has a tree bark sort of look (?) with a feather engraved (??). Inside we had engraved “bind us together”. And if you place one inside the other, line the diamond up with the feather and hold them up to the fire light then some fancy writing shows up saying … just kidding.

the couple

20 years ago.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kaiyil Leonardo Bacon


More sensible minds have prevailed to the relief of most friends and family. Still, we just had to have a difficult name. So our son is called Kaiyil Leonardo Bacon. What is it with this generation? Whatever happened to names like John and Mark and Thomas?

3-image3 01-IMG_1368

Kaiyil is doing very well and I am very thankful to God. He squirms and burps and exudes other less exemplary semi-solids. But things look normal on the whole. The name Kaiyil is a corrupted form of a less known Hebrew word in the Bible meaning something like “valiant”, or strong or wealthy. Someone of khah’-yil could be thought of as a person of force. Cue Yoda going, “The force in this one strong is!” I am currently working through the book of Ruth with a Timorese friend and this word of valor is used to describe Boaz. He is a noble and respected man in the village of Bethlehem who ends up marrying the beautiful young Ruth from another country in order to redeem a widow’s family. Boaz also describes Ruth as a woman of valor as she has left her country to stick by her widowed mother-in-law. Kaiyil was born near the ocean which is called Kai in some island language. So Kaiyil it is. Leonardo has always been a bit of a hero of mine in terms of creativity of mind.


Incidentally, Kaiyil is currently stateless. He is born in a country which does not recognise his citizenship because his parents are Australian. Yet he is also not an Australian because he was not born there. We must apply for naturalisation for him to be called an Australian citizen, then apply for a passport before he can leave Timor-Leste. Just another quirk of the bureaucratic world we live in. Why? What is the point of making international travel illegal? Why is this world some sort of global dictatorship? Of course, I am speaking not for Kaiyil but for the many babies his age born into other nations who may not successfully find a safe place to call home. I give my son to God and hope that Kaiyil will serve Him valiantly to make this world a more peaceful place.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

It’s a boy!

This morning Cynthia gave birth to a handsome baby boy. She began with contractions around 2am which really got going by 3am. By 3.30 the kids decided to shift downstairs to the office as they didn’t want to hear mum in pain and Cynthia moved into our upstairs living area. We were grateful to have Lauren staying with us (as planned) who was our nurse. I don’t think many births are easy and this one certainly wasn’t but Cynthia did very well with no pain killers.  The bub eased out at 4.51am with no tearing or other dramas, thanks so much to God.  The placenta took some time to come but Lauren really helped with that and there was very little blood loss. The lad weighed in at 3.67kg which is somewhere around 8 pounds. 


The bub born today in mum’s arms – Cynthia glowing as usual

I think that’s covered most of the important bits for the women readers amongst us.  He’s sort of long, a bit squished with a reddish tinge and a bit of fluff on top for hair.  He doesn’t cry much yet and seems fairly happy with himself and the world around him – I hope he likes it.


just the most adorable baby ever … sort of

Serenity is not sure about all the fuss and why you’d want to have another pooey responsibility.  Israel has been very excited and very glad to have a baby brother.  Xakira is happy but still a little unsure what its all about.  Cynthia is very relieved and I am happy that the bub is out because Cynthia was struggling to waddle around.  He’s pretty sweet.

“Know that the Lord, He is God!  It is He who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

Ps 100:3


Quality father and son time - doing what guys do best

As usual we have no name yet but the pressure is on.  He needs to be named, then Timorese birth certificate, naturalised as Australian and then a passport before he can see family in Oz (hopefully in November).

Naming a person is a very awkward responsibility.  It seems like you make a random stab at something that takes your fancy which impacts a person for the rest of their lives.  I’ve got an inkling for “Krispin” which is a valid Timorese name – known to be a Christian martyr around 300AD.  More temperate minds will most likely prevail but I thought its ultimate destiny as “Krispy” would be really cool.

Friday, August 28, 2015

About to Burst


Cynthia is still in one piece but any day now she is about to burst.  We’ve got a couple of midwives down on the south coast ready to come over to help (although the journey between us and them is around 6 hours!).  Cynthia’s being doing a bit of nesting and has prepared a “How to give birth for dummies” instruction sheet for me.

Some other random things…

A nice visit from two folks from America, Jason and Ashley, who’ve come across the ocean to share God’s love with the Timorese.  They also painted our dining table and bedroom. 


And we bent up a cool little hook which is our Timorese version of a husking hook to take the husk off the corn in the field.  Its off to get tested in Los Palos.


Jason sports a new weapon against poverty.

Its made of 6mm steel and wraps around behind the forearm and is strapped on with rag.  The idea is that if it works then anyone can make it.

I snapped this one of Serenity the other day…

2015-08-22 16.25.23

Serenity goes shopping at the local plaza – for her, like any 15yo, its all about the look.

And we got a surprise visit from Sipri, my Salvo brother in training to be an officer.  He’s been doing his practical placement in Kupang which is the capital city on the western half of the island in Indonesia.  He got a few days off and came over to see his family.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dirty Water

Two of the great challenges for any city is to bring clean water to all its citizens and to take dirty water away.  It takes good leadership from the top and cooperation, ingenuity and determination from the bottom.

Here in Dili there are still many drains full of stagnate, dirty water.  I visited my friend in a middle class suburb the other day and noticed slimy water coming up through their front drive and running down into the drain by the road. 

2015-08-14 13.25.32

The open drain outside my friend’s home in Dili.

As it was the dry season I asked where the water was coming from.  They responded that it was just like that especially if they use the bathroom – that is, it was actually raw sewage running down their driveway which they would walk through each day before entering the house.  These were clean people who looked after their family well but right beneath their noses was this urk.  So I whipped out my circular saw with concrete cutter, cut a trench in their slab and gave directions and cash on how to put in an absorption trench. 

2015-08-14 13.24.50

Digging the absorption trench to receive water from the septic tank.

This one is about 5m long, 60cm wide, 80cm deep, filled with 20-40mm stone and running the length is a 100mm PVC pipe with holes cut in it to get the septic tank water absorbing into the ground.  The whole job was knocked off for about $80.



500 Years of the Catholic Church in Timor-Leste

This year is also the 500th anniversary of the Catholic Church coming to Timor-Leste.  There were many celebrations and even the head of state of the Vatican flew in for the occasion. There is a very strong link between the Timorese people and the Catholic Church and thousands turned out for the special ceremonies. 

2015-08-14 18.23.08

The main 4 lane road packed with the faithful.

A main event was escorting the “Youth Cross” and its friend “Maria Peregrina”. 


2015-08-14 18.22.35

The Youth Cross on the right.

2015-08-14 18.22.52

With Maria Peregrina protected in a glass box.

The Youth Cross, originally inspired to draw young people to Jesus, has taken on a life of its own and with special Tais (local cloth) and a golden head piece it appears remarkably similar to a sacred pole dressed up as what could be understood to be a witch-doctor or local spiritual leader (similar to the gentleman in the above photo on the left).  Mary statues are generally pretty and peaceful and lovingly adored.  They make a suitable and comfortable couple to symbolise Timorese religion. 

So it seems, even the City of God has its challenges.  May God help us both at the top and the bottom to make changes. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Death has a win

If you fight – I suppose you must be prepared to lose … sometimes.  Well, we lost this round.  I was soaring on visionary wings with these chickens, that is, until they all died.  All 10 chickens are dead.  We were taking it to the next level by bringing in a rooster and 4 laying hens.  Unknown to us, the rooster was carrying a lethal disease (possibly Newcastles Disease).  He died within 2 days and then slowly the rest of the flock died.  It was so sad to see and I will spare you the pictures of crippled chickens. The four laying hens turned out to be old battery chooks who, being vaccinated, are blissfully enjoying their new life without competition and not doing much egg laying at all.  So now we must begin again to rebuild a flock and try to breed up some nice laying chickens.  But its hard to get back up again after such a loss.  Its another component to a very long list that sheds light on why these people are poor.  In Australia, we’d probably have such lethal sicknesses under control. But here, poor folks with few assets lose all their precious chooks in one hit.  I am very sad.

As we wallow together in avian misery, I might as well recount another loss.  Mauk Moruk, the “rebel” leader has been killed.  He was leading a group that was demanding that the government stand down and had a fair number of armed (and unarmed) followers. The police and military were closing in on him and apparently he did not want to give in and was killed in the shoot out. His body is yet to be buried.  There is lots of talk about who will do what now.  Farmers in the east want freedom to go out and work their fields since being in lock down for the last few months or more.  I hope and pray that things will calm down so we can all get on with the fight for a better life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Help Needed


In The Salvation Army, pointing to the sky is our way of saluting, saying hallelujah and giving glory to God.  So in the above picture you could take it as a two-handed salute or it could also be me pointing to the top of the building which has no slab on it.  Its probably both.  When I find myself in a jam I tend to say “Hallelujah!”  Its like saying, “Drat, I’ve stuffed it up again, now how is God going to get me out of this one?”  But let me cut to the chase, can you help?  I need about $10,000USD to get this slab on the top of this section.  That will take steel, plywood, gravel, cement and other things as well as Timorese labour.  Once that is done, we can put some doors and windows on, tiles in the sewing room and try to get the girls some space to sew.  There are no overheads on this project.  I cover all the admin and ra ra.  Any money donated goes straight into raw materials and Timorese labour.  A lot of it local too.  The gravel comes out of the river 100m away (paying the river guys and trucks) and the blocks are pressed in the neighbouring village.  The wood to support the slab comes from the palm forest just down the along the beach from our place.  Actually, Tobias was bringing the support poles along the beach by boat but things went wrong and the boat rolled.  Tobias was bruised but ok.  The motor is not so good.  The roof of the boat was once again demolished.  He’s spending hours cleaning out salt water and sand.  I’ve been giving him a couple of lessons on the carburettor and replacing the water impeller which died trying to pump sand.  Just dumb stuff I gotta do to lay a suspended slab.  Hallelujah!


Tobias with the boat motor apart and feeling quite down about the whole affair.


Posts from the palm forest waiting to hold up formwork for a slab – quite oblivious to Tobias’s feelings



Some work begins on setting up formwork.  Plywood goes on top, steel, then the concrete is poured.



Forming up a concrete post.


If you’d like to contribute we have a few ways:

Through The Salvation Army in Australia:

Account name: The Salvation Army (NSW) Property Trust
Bank: Westpac Banking Corporation
BSB: 032005
Account No.: 000495
Swift Code : WPACAU2S
Note: The remittance should include "Timor Donation" & Donor’s details

Direct to our Australian Account:

Account name: Samuel and Cynthia Bacon

Bank: Teachers Mutual Bank

BSB: 812170

Account No.: 14670

Include “Timor Donation” in the details

Direct to our Timor Leste Account:

If you happen to work in US dollars, you could send it in USD straight to our account in TL which operates in that currency:

Account name: Samuel Bacon

Bank: ANZ

Branch: Dili


Account No.: 1012119641030

Include “Timor Donation” in the details, and you could send us an email as we don’t yet get statements from this bank.


God bless.