News from the Beloved Land (Timor-Leste)

Submitted by Rev. Tom Liddle who, along with his wife Monica and children Hannah and Simon, is a missionary in East Timor

Happy 2018!

I saw a woman on the main street of Lospalos selling vegetables the other day.  She was crouched on the sidewalk beside a bucket of jackfruit, selling big pieces of the sticky, succulent fruit for a quarter.  Her smile was as bright as ever despite the hard life she leads as a subsistence farmer.  She greeted me warmly and insisted on giving me some jackfruit for Simon.  I accepted gratefully.

There is a scabies epidemic in Timor.  In the last quarter of 2017 almost 20% of Clinic Immanuel patients had it and Clinic Immanuel is the only place in Lospalos that has medicine for treating it.  We were in a warung (small restaurant) today and met two nurses from Iliomar (2 hours away) and they said they are treating scabies with guava and tamarind leaves, made into a tea, then used for bathing, 2 or 3 times a day until better.  The nurses thought the treatment was working ok, and really, there is no option other than locally available traditional medicines.  Research on herbal medicines in Timor is needed.

On Christmas day I baptized 8 people at an IPTL church in the seaside village of Teno.  What a joyful occasion!  The church had a party afterwards serving homemade cake and Timor coffee – delightful Christmas breakfast.

Commentators say Timor-Leste’s government is teetering on the edge of collapse.  After the July election, no single party won a majority of seats in parliament so the president formed a minority government.  Unfortunately, the opposition coalition took “oppostion” literally and opposed everything the minority proposed, including a budget.  So the Prime Minister in turn decided not to convene parliament anymore.  So there you have it: Timor’s version of a government shut down.  Politicians more invested in ego struggles than the needs of the people.  Conversely, the people are going on with their lives and there seems to be little threat of civil unrest.  Praise the Lord!

We had a great vacation after Christmas that included a few days hiking in the mountain town of Maubisse and a few days relaxing on Timor-Leste’s unique Atauru Island.  Atauru has the highest marine biodiversity in the world.  Snorkeling was amazing.  One day a local fisherman took us out on a skiff to see a school of dolphins up close.

Hannah is now back to her homeschooling and is into doing craft projects these days.  She has recently designated the jazz classic So What by Miles Davis as the Liddle family theme song, so we must be doing something right as parents.  Simon is still on break for another couple weeks before starting 2nd grade.

People started planting corn before Christmas and it’s looking good in some places but failing miserably in others.  We are thus reminded of the tenuous reality of being a small farmer in a rural area.

The Peace of Christ be with you all.

Tom Liddle, Lospalos