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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Timor-Leste -- meeting #1

We had our first meeting on the upcoming Timor-Leste trip in church. The agenda of the day was to get more information and pray about the trip. We spent the first half hour being briefed by our team leader, Ruth. The remainder of the time was spent on Bible devotion and prayer.

Some information that I learned:
  • Ruth has been in contact with the main organisation, LoveSingapore, to learn more about how we can help.
  • She has also been in contact with the other churches that are sending teams to Timor-Leste.
  • We'll be travelling with teams from at least three other churches. Altogether, there'll be about 30 people travelling at the same time, though not to the same village.
  • The village that we will be focussing on is in the town of Laquica (hope I got the spelling correct).
  • A village comprises about 10-15 clusters, with each cluster's population at about 100 people. Each village has a headman, who is the main point of contact.
  • We will be primarily on an exploratory, "recce" trip to find out what the church can do.
  • Timor-Leste is about 92% Catholic and 5% Protestant. Unfortunately, the Catholics are living in the Dark Ages, i.e. only priests have access to Bibles, and non-Catholics are hated to the point of physical abuse. Catholic villages that associate with Protestants may also be vilified.
  • As a result, we are unlikely to conduct any evangelism. Rather, we will provide humanitarian aid.
  • There are few to no Singaporean missionaries who have any "success stories" to tell, i.e. so far, all of the trips have been exploratory in nature. We are all pioneers, so to speak.
  • The Timorese apparently look up to Singaporeans because we're a small nation that has prospered greatly.
  • Due to the wars, women outnumber men greatly.
  • Due to the low state of health, infant mortality is at about 50 per 1,000, and the average age is 20.
  • The population stands at under one million people in a land area estimated at 20 times the size of Singapore.
  • We fly on Monday (April 18th) evening, spend the night in Bali, then fly into Dili on Tuesday morning. We fly straight home from Dili on Friday.
When asked for our reasons to be in this mission trip, I admitted that I had no real spiritual reason for going. For me, it is mostly to see what is "out there" and experience a way of life that is so far removed from what we have in Singapore. The others joked that I may not have a spiritual reason now, but may have a spiritual result after the trip. We'll just have to wait and see.

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