Missionary Stories

Prayers of Protest

Alberto Viegas was the intern at Imanuel Church when we came back to Timor in 2016. We worked together for 9 months before he went back to school in Indonesia. Alberto has been in Lospalos this month doing some research for his Master’s in Theology. His topic is the church and poverty. For his research, he’s interviewing church members about their lives, work, struggles, and faith. Since Alberto is Timorese, he’s familiar with what life is like here. But after studying theology for the past two years, his perspective has changed. He sees with new eyes. His questions are different. He’s more preoccupied with people’s suffering and the church’s response. He wonders how people interpret their world, their suffering, and their future. He wonders how Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God can kindle a new mission for IPTL’s ministry.

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Being a Worm

“…I am a worm and not human; scorned by others and despised by the people.”

Psalm 22:6

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Advent in Lospalos: Part 4

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Reflection for Advent IV: December 23, 2018

Luke 1:39-55

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Advent in Lospalos Part 3

Reflection for Advent III, Sunday December 16, 2018

Isaiah 12:1-6; Luke 3:7-18

On Thursday of this week we’ll have 40 – 60 youth arriving at Immanuel Church Lospalos for a Christmas youth event. They’ll be coming from the eastern part of Timor-Leste for three days of fellowship, faith development and fun! This generation of Timorese youth is particularly vulnerable. They are, mostly, born after the independence struggle and are therefore somewhat estranged from the identity-shaping power of that time. They are pulled in two directions: traditional culture with its tight social fabric, and the modern world with its insistence on the autonomy of the individual. They have mediocre opportunities for secondary education and an economy with little in the way of employment possibilities.

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Advent in Lospalos: Part 2

Reflection for Advent 2, December 9, 2018

Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

Walking into the Lospalos hospital, we followed a trail of dried blood drops up the stairs, through a hall and across a dirty tile floor to the emergency room. We don’t do x-rays or casts at Clinic Immanuel so a few of us were taking a kid with a broken arm to the government hospital. My colleague put the child on a dingy examination bed. I stepped over some used gauze lying on the floor to hold him while the nurses put on a temporary splint. He had just fallen while playing on the church compound.

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The Annunciation: Advent Reflection

the_annunciation.jpegDuring Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee.  She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary.The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord is with you; you are very special to him.”

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Advent in Lospalos: Part 1

Reflection for Advent 1, December 2, 2018

Psalm 25:1-10; Luke 21:25-36

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m walking up a rocky trail to the house of a family of Immanuel Church. As I get closer, I see a huge blackened pot sitting atop a cooking fire. Smoke from the fire wafts in the breeze and drifts off over the top of a barren hill. The mom comes out to tend the fire. She is likely boiling cassava or taro, both staple foods of Timorese. Meanwhile, about a half dozen scantily clad kids run around playing. Dad is down the hill digging up rocks. The soil here is full of them and before you can plant anything you have to extract them. And that only happens one way: with a crowbar and bare hands.

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When Nature Calls

toilet.jpegLospalos, Timor-Leste

The end of the dry season in Timor-Leste feels a little bit like being in a pressure cooker. From about September through November it gets hotter and more humid until usually sometime in mid-November the clouds finally burst, the rainy season starts, and people get busy planting corn.

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Toilets in Sorolua

We had a great morning in the village of Sorolua, a small village about 45 minutes from Lospalos. Two years ago Clinic Immanuel started a partnership with this village to do health education and some consultation visiting the village monthly for a year and then decreasing frequency. Part of the program included a “healthy home” project and building some toilets. Clinic staff worked with the village chief to figure out how to make the village “open defecation free.” Families that were committed to doing the work (which was all of them!) were provided basic materials: sand, cement, rebar, pipe, toilet seat. The families were responsible to do the work and come up with their own walls and roof. Uniting World of Australia provided the funding and Clinic Immanuel worked with the community and facilitated getting the materials there — not always easy during the rainy season!

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Hopelessness is a Privilege

Lospalos, Timor-Leste

We returned to Lospalos in late September after a good vacation and a month speaking in churches in the U.S. It was refreshing and encouraging for us to connect with so many people interested to learn about what we’re doing in Timor-Leste.

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