Since you last heard from us we’ve entered what we call the “three-shower-a day season.” This morning I woke up at 5:00 AM as I always do, and it was 86 degrees! The humidity comes later in the day. As the dry season gives way to the rainy season, the heat and humidity build until, it seems, one day something “pops” and down comes the rain. Then we get daily breaks of coolish, rainy weather, flowers start to bloom and things get green again. It’s really quite a lovely seasonal transition, but this end of the dry season is rough!
Simon finished up school last week. He did first, second and third grade in a Timorese public school, learning in Tetum and Portuguese. What a guy! And he made a lot of good friends along the way too. In preparation for our return to America in a few months, Hannah just finished reading George Orwell’s 1984. It stimulated quite a few good conversations about the meaning of freedom, the prevalence of propaganda and the danger of authoritarian rule. Monica has on her playwright hat again. She and Hannah are working on another drama for our Christmas youth gathering. The topic is teen sexual health and HIV. Timorese youth love drama so it should be great, although I’m sure some of the parents might squirm a bit.
Today I did a funeral for a woman in her mid 80s. As always it was a sacred honor to officiate at such an occasion. Family and friends gathered for four days of eating, socializing and grieving together while keeping a 24-hour vigil with the body of the deceased. Then, today, we held a worship service that started in the home and moved to the gravesite, finishing there with stories, prayers, hymns and a proclamation of the gospel.
Last Sunday was a unique occasion at Imanuel Church. I looked out at the congregation at one point, and there sat Linda, a middle-aged, mentally ill woman who wanders Lospalos brandishing a knife. In times past, Linda has thrown rocks through windows, shown up at all hours of the day or night for meals and slept on the veranda of Clinic Imanuel. When she has come to the clinic for consultation in recent months, her demeanor is milder. Now, before leaving, she bows her head and prays. She is living with a church member, and perhaps the stability of having a “home” is all the difference we see.
Early in the month we had an unexpected trip to Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia. To make a long story short, we had to leave and re-enter the country for our visa. This involved a 12-hour, nail-biting bus ride from Dili to Kupang. Once there, we had a much needed but unplanned 5-day break, enjoying some more modern delights this Indonesian city has to offer.
This will be our fourth Christmas here in Lospalos; we admit that we still miss the snow during this season. This year, December will include a trip to Dili, a youth event, and various Christmas services in the rural congregations. As always we are thankful for your interest in our ministry here with the Timorese people.
Advent Blessings, Tom and Monica