Things have been a bit of a whirlwind lately; hence the lack of blogging or facebook posts. Here’s a quick update! Sorry if it’s lacking in stories… Believe me, there are plenty!
Christmas around Igreja Immanuel Lospalos lasted at least a full week with kids rehearsing everyday, crews cleaning the grounds and doing food preparation. This year of course there were two services, both Christmas eve and the following day. I made visits to rural congregations and did services there as well.
After Christmas the Liddles headed off to the mountain village of Maubisse for a few days rest with American friends Pam, Curt and their two kids. We hiked, played games, watched movies and ate simple food. Now we’re back in Lospalos gearing up for a new year and doing laundry.
2016 was a year of transition for our family. Hannah finished 6th grade, Simon finished kindergarten and half way through the year we packed up and moved back to East Timor! It’s been a difficult but meaningful 6 months. Getting re-engaged with our ministry in Lospalos has been filled with joy and – predictably — challenges. Neither Monica or I really know what to say about this. It’s sort of beyond words but I’ll try anyway: It’s beautiful… It’s hard… It’s hopeful… It’s discouraging… It’s inspiring… It’s aggravating… I could go on but I think you get the point.
We continue to be struck by how difficult life is for many of our Timorese friends. Basic things like accessing health care, medicine and education is complicated at best. Economic prospects in Timor are shaky and youth seem to be picking up on this. Hope seems more important and more lacking than ever. Walter Brueggemann says “the pastoral task of the prophet is to restore hope.” Somewhere else he writes that all ministry is about helping people imagine a different future – one with hope. We’re trying to do that; for ourselves and those we serve. But it’s a challenge here as I know it is in the U.S. right now. We think of all of you and the ambiguity, fear and unease that seems to characterize American life right now.
Hannah says she wants to learn at least one new language this year. That gives me hope. Simon is learning Tetun and when we share what we’re thankful for in the evening he always says the same thing: “everything.” That gives me hope. We’ve had a huge turn out of people in church the past few weeks and that gives me hope. The congregation here has been torn apart over various conflicts and lack of leadership over the past 4 years. Things seem to be looking up. That gives me hope as well.
What does 2017 hold for us? Who knows! Monica will continue her work in the clinic. That is unfolding in new directions as Uniting World of Australia, the main funder, wants to shift to more of a health education model. I’ve been appointed to serve as a regional pastor for all the congregations in Lautem District so I’m going to be busy with pastoral ministry locally as well as coordinating with Synod leadership on some continuing education stuff for IPTL pastors and lay leaders.
Simon is starting at the Portuguese school in January. Hannah is continuing her studies at home and loving the freedom and creativity that comes with homeschooling. We’re all looking forward to our upcoming visit to Atauru Island, part of East Timor, in February to celebrate the kids birthdays.
Well, I hope that gives you a bit of a sense of how things are for the Liddles! We continue to be grateful for your support and prayers.
Love to all,