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.

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

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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!