Rain, glorious rain! It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in our living room basking in a cool breeze and watching rain pour off our corrugated iron roof.
It’s a welcome sight and a delightful experience. We’re about six weeks late on the rainy season this year. Usually, by November, the rain has begun and people are busy planting corn, eagerly anticipating a harvest a couple months later. The late rainy season meant that we had a really hot December. Food is also scarce for many, as gardens have long dried up.
Early this month we were in Baucau for a 5-day Christmas youth event. We had 80 kids from Lospalos, Baucau, Viqueque, and Dili. Each day we had a mix of faith formation and educational activities, as well as socializing and fun. Despite the heat and humidity, it was a good experience. A highlight was the play Monica and Hannah wrote. The topic was HIV and sexual health. The play portrayed young women and men from rural East Timor getting caught up in a prostitution ring in the capital city Dili. The protagonist eventually was diagnosed with HIV. Timorese are big fans of drama, so the play provoked a lot of conversation and questions.
Christmas Eve service at Immanuel Church was packed as usual. Here in Lospalos the youth largely run the service which is unlike any other service we have during the year. Mostly, our services are what you’d find in a Presbyterian Church in 1800s America: a Capela singing, preaching, and prayers. But Christmas is an energetic revival with various performances, songs, and dances. Hannah was part of a singing group and Simon was in several dances. I had a low-key role this year running the projector which had the words to the songs.
On Christmas Day, Monica and I went down to the church in the village of Teno. This is a small, rural congregation with an average Sunday attendance of about 20. There I led worship and baptized 12 kids and confirmed 3. It was something else! After worship, we went to three different homes for celebrations. Each home had a feast of rice, fish, beef, pork, and vegetables. We even had champagne! The families were delighted and grateful. What a blessing it is to be a minister of the gospel.
Just this afternoon we attended a lunch at Amena Da Costa’s house. Amena is the Clinic Imanuel coordinator and has been a recipient of a GM scholarship. With GM’s help, she has finished her bachelor’s in public health. Amena is the first person in her family to get a college education and she is truly grateful for the financial assistance of Global Ministries and the moral support Monica has given her over the past few years.
As always, we are thankful for your interest and support of our ministry alongside the Timorese people. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Tom and Monica Liddle serve with the Protestant Church of East Timor (IPTL). Mission Co-worker appointments are made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.