It’s been a busy two months in Timor! We go back and forth between feeling totally at home, like we never left Lospalos, and wondering where on earth we are. It’s a confusing but natural part of making the transition to living in a culture so different from our own.
A few months ago I read a devotional that spoke of the spiritual journey as “liminal space.” Liminal space is that experience of being on a threshold or a boundary between two places. It’s a “space” in which certainties crumble and ambiguities abound. In some ways it’s an uncomfortable “space” to occupy, but it’s also one that is ripe with personal and spiritual growth – if one can hold paradoxical realities together. For us, East Timor is just such a space.
We arrived in Dili on June 22nd and were warmly welcomed by our good friends and Global Ministries partners in the Protestant Church in East Timor (Igreja Protestante Timor Lorosa’e or IPTL). IPTL’s General Assembly was the next week. Hard to beat a straight week of church meetings! But it was a great opportunity to get going on our language skills again and to network with church members from all over East Timor. By the end of the week important issues of church life had been discussed and a new Synod leadership team was in place.
These initial weeks in Lospalos we’ve been busy fixing up our residence in the back of Immanuel Clinic, reconnecting with old friends, and collaborating with the staff of Clinic Immanuel to develop a project proposal for a community health promotion program. Another highlight was the welcome home party for Amena Cristovao, who was with us for 4 years in the United States studying laboratory technology. It’s great to see her back at work in the clinic!
Hannah and Simon are doing well but have had their moments of homesickness. Yet, Hannah especially has enjoyed reconnecting with her old buddies and is pretty much fluent in Tetun again. Unfortunately Simon has yet to find some friends his age, but thankfully intergenerational play is much more common in Timor than in the U.S., so Simon has been included by a lot of Hannah’s friends.
Monica has been busy in the clinic seeing patients and Tom has begun doing pastoral work. He did a wedding and baptism on August 28th and is enjoying visiting Immanuel Church members through their weekly home worship tradition.
On the downside, both of us have been sick. Tom got it first: a nasty bout of bronchitis and body aches right after we got to Lospalos. Shortly after it hit Monica, though she is now recovering.
We are enjoying a lot of quality family time, cooking together, playing games and, starting a couple weeks ago, homeschooling the kids in the afternoon. There’s no doubt that challenges abound. In our ministry, and in balancing home with work, as well as finding creative ways to help the kids thrive, we have room to grow and your prayers are welcome. And yet we are thankful to God – and you, our supporters -- for the opportunity to be here on your behalf.
Tom and Monica Liddle serve with the Protestant Church of East Timor. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.”