Missionary Stories

A Test of Faith

              Seven youth from Lospalos recently spent two days traveling to a spring youth event that was attended by 70 youth of our partner church here, the Protestant Church in Timor-Leste.  During the two nights spent in the village of Beasu, evil spirits struck all five of the Lospalos girls who went.  Some had stomach pains, minor tremors, and brief moments of dissociation.  Two girls had hysterical outbursts and had to be physically restrained for up to two hours. Afterwards, the girls claimed to have no recollection of what had happened to them, what they said or did.

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Faith in Service

It’s 4:00 AM on a Sunday morning and Pastor Rojerio is waiting for a bus in the darkness beside a dirt road.  He is on his way to the congregation where he has been assigned.  Because he is committed he’ll get on the bus sometime before 5:00 and arrive at the small congregation a couple hours later.  There, he’ll lead a simple service, following which he’ll wait for another bus to return to Lospalos, getting home by late afternoon.

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Opportunities for Humility

“Every day is another opportunity for humility.”  This is a (very) small joke I share with friends—a lot.  But it’s also true.  My work as a Mission Co-worker in Thailand has involved constant cross-cultural communication—or lack thereof.  I fear that I make mistakes more often than I realize.

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Reflection on the First Two Months in Sumba

I am a retired United Church of Christ minister, serving the Sekolah Tinggi Teologi of the Christian Church of Sumba (STT/GKS) in Lewa, Indonesia, as a Global Ministries Volunteer with the United Church of Christ and Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.

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Thoughts on Concluding in Sri Lanka

How do you describe 2 years of life in Sri Lanka as volunteer missionaries? A lifetime in American culture gave us assumptions and habits that make us as different to and from Sri Lankans as they and their culture are different to and from us. That was an ever-present lesson, one that made us constantly grateful for the patience of people who created a space of acceptance and love where we shared ‘citizenship.’ We all accepted that cultural differences challenged all of us.

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World Health Day 2018

World Health Day is April 7. What does it look like to be working in a church partner-supported clinic in Lospalos, East Timor, in 2018?

Including myself, Clinic Imanuel Lospalos is staffed with six women. Amena Cristovao was trained at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota, as a medical laboratory technician. She is now responsible for managing the clinic TB program, from making the sputum smears, identifying positive cases through microscopy, ensuring patients get medicines daily for 6 months, ensuring our clinic’s medicine and lab supplies don’t run out, leading monthly peer group meetings for TB patients, and providing one-on-one and large group education on the disease. Amena is the only Timorese staff with formal training in health care.

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Planting Water, Rebuilding Temples

It’s not every year the tropical rains drench, and drench some more, but this is one of those years. And when the rains transform pah meto (dry land, the Timorese name for this island) from crusty, hot brown to lush and steamy shades of green, it’s easy to forget that water was once sacred. Oral tradition suggests that in a pre-Christian era, Timorese treated large banyan trees and the natural springs their roots guarded with the respect reserved for holy space. Such trees, I’ve heard, were actually targeted by Christians to be hacked down to break their powerful hold over “heathens.”  Traditional prayers and rituals asking the sky god for rain are but a faded memory. The cultural destruction wrought by early 20th century Christian piety in West Timor included the destruction of traditional values that protected the environment and sought to sustain ecological balance. Although some in Evangelical Church of West Timor Synod (GMIT) acknowledge, regret, and seek to redress this legacy, recapturing sacredness, once it’s been destroyed, is a challenge.

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Be BOLD. Be BRAVE. Be HOPE.

joani1.jpgI decided to title this newsletter Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Hope, because for the past months this is what India has been teaching me to be.

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News From the Beloved Land

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.

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It Takes Courage

In her seminal work, Texts of Terror (Fortress Press, 1984), Phyllis Trible gives us stories, a methodology, and a perspective for engaging with the Bible in ways that challenge us to admit: “Sad stories do not have happy endings” (p. 2). For example, Hagar is a woman of many “firsts”.

Hagar is a pivotal figure in biblical theology. She is the first person in scripture whom a divine messenger visits and the only person who dares to name the deity . . .[S]he is the first woman to bear a child [outside of Genesis 1-11], . . .the first woman to hear an annunciation, the only one to receive a divine promise of descendants, and the first to weep for her dying child. (p. 28)

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