Settling In

We have been in Timor Leste for a little over six months now. We left Duluth, Minnesota in early August to follow a calling to serve with the Protestant Church of Timor Leste (IPTL) with our five year old daughter, Hannah in tow. After six months the challenges of moving to a new culture have eased and we have all adjusted to living in one of Southeast Asia's newest and least developed countries.

We have been in Timor Leste for a little over six months now.  We left Duluth, Minnesota in early August to follow a calling to serve with the Protestant Church of Timor Leste (IPTL) with our five year old daughter, Hannah in tow.  After six months the challenges of moving to a new culture have eased and we have all adjusted to living in one of Southeast Asia's newest and least developed countries.

We live in Lospalos, the largest town in eastern Timor Leste.  Although only about 120 miles from Dili, the capitol city, Lospalos is a 5 hour drive due to poor road conditions.  The local population is about 25,000 but many more live in surrounding villages.  In the rainy season, some villages are inaccessible.  Heavy rains regularly cause rivers to rise, washing out dirt roads, or making them practically impassible.  For much of the eastern part of Timor, Lospalos is the primary access point to shops with packaged and bulk food, imported household goods, public transportation (bus) and medical care.

Monica has been working at Immanuel Clinic, providing primary medicine care with a team of six Timorese staff who are all from the district.  Of the clinic staff, only one has formal nursing training and, fortunately, also speaks a little English.  The other staff provides basic laboratory services (malaria and tuberculosis screenings), administer the national TB program, manage the pharmacy, and perform administrative duties.  All the staff speaks at least three languages and serve as translators for Monica, whose knowledge of a single Timorese language, Tetum, is not yet complete, nor is it alone adequate to serve a population with such a diversity of languages.  Nevertheless, Monica is proud to know how to say "diarrhea", "fever", and "worms", (along with some other medical terms) in four languages to date!

Immanuel Clinic in Lospalos has provided primary health care since 1991.  The clinic is a ministry of the Protestant Church of Timor Leste which is an ecumenical partner of Global Ministries.  As a private clinic providing services and medicines at no cost to patients, Immanuel Clinic relies on international support from Global Ministries and other partners to maintain its ministry to the people of Lospalos.  As one of only a few health facilities in the district, the Timorese Ministry of Health also provides some support for the clinic.  Still, as in most developing countries, even with local and international support, essential medicines and basic necessities like water, electricity, paper, and plastic medicine bags are often in short supply.

Tom teaches English to a class of about 20 students and helps provide worship leadership in surrounding village churches.  In the entire Lospalos region there is only one ordained pastor, so on Sunday morning 5 lay leaders walk, ride motorcycles, or drive to surrounding villages to worship and connect with church members living outside Lospalos.

Our English class is focused on practical speaking and writing skills.  The students began their studies in October.  Below are two short homework assignments that show their progress and also give a glimpse into the lives of people in Timor.

The Life of a Fisherman

Asala is a member of the IPTL church in Teno, a fishing village an hour away from Lospalos.  He comes to Lospalos during the week to study English with us and help his younger sister with children and farm work.  Below is his reflection about his life as a fisherman.

"The good time to fish is at night because at night we can get many fish.  Frequently, we also go fishing in the morning, but sometimes we must care to prepare the tools of the fishing because it is very important like hook, rope, dragnet, oar, petromax, and a special boat.  In the sea we shall be up against many problems like the wind, the wave, the rain, and also the flow but it isn't a new one for us.  As fishermen we are already invulnerable/immune from that, but we must be careful because sometimes weather is good and sometimes not.  In my life the sea is like a bank for us because from it we can get money to support the family needs.  We go out at 8:00 and come back at 6:00 in the morning."

Mary is from Kupang, Indonesia (the western end of the island of Timor) and is a member of Immanuel Church in Lospalos.  Mary is a seminary graduate and will soon be an ordained pastor in the IPTL.  In addition to her pastoral work, like many Timorese, she is also a farmer.  Below is her description of how to plant corn.

"Before I plant corn fist of all I must clean my garden.  After cleaning, I must wait for rain because if it does not rain, I cannot plant corn.  At the same time while I wait for rain I prepare seed corn, and when it rains I plant.  Usually after I plant, I weed and clean my garden because in the garden, there are too many weeds.  After cleaning I wait for crops to harvest my corn."

Our daughter Hannah is almost six now and has made lots of friends and is just about fluent in Tetum already.  She recently started Kindergarten at the local school and is very excited about the birth of her brother or sister any day now!

Tom and Monica Liddle

East Timor

Simon Walter Liddle, was born in Lospalos, Timor Leste on February 15, 2010, exactly 6 years after his sister.

Tom and Monica Liddle serve with the Protestant Church of East Timor.  Tom serves as a facilitator for church programs; teaching English and helping with worship leadership in village churches.  Monica works as a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in Immanuel Clinic Lospalos, which is run by the FUSONA, the relief and development wing of the IPTL. Monica's appointment is supported by One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS).

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