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Mount Gambier Meets Samaria, Timor Leste

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all peoples! (Psalm 96:3)

Roger Bannister, Alan Clarkson & Gavin & Sandy Megaw travelled to Timor Leste on Friday 7th October as the first working party from the Mt Gambier Presbyterian Church to Timor Leste. 8 wonderful days were spent in the congregation of Samaria which is in the village of Remexio, in the sub-district of Aileu.

“Our arrival was greeted with much excitement from the children – our hands were shaken and the children all bent over our hands and kissed them. A very emotional greeting indeed! Our hearts were lost in those first few minutes!

We were introduced to our interpreter, Celestinos, but immediately he wanted to be called by his ‘nickname’ Dino. Dino is completely self taught in English and has also been teaching English to all the children in the area. We were given time to unpack and make up our bedrooms in our hut. For the coming week we were to live in our little stone hut alongside all the Samaria people.

Our evening meal set the scene for the many meals to come. The women would bring the food into our hut, place it on the table and then they would sit on the far wall on the bench seat with some of the men and children and everyone would watch us eat. It was very important that they watch our enjoyment of their food! Pastor Mario (the village pastor) would join us for most meals as well as Dino, but the onlookers never ate with us until our last night there!

Some of the tasks completed over the course of our week were; a new cement floor was laid in the church office, lessons in how to wire up for 240v, setting up their keyboard & speakers for a more efficient operation and endless English-Tetun lessons.

Over the week God threw many challenges our way! The main one being learning another language! Not only do they speak Tetun, but then their second language is Bahasa Indonesia, third is Portugese and now the children are learning English as their fourth language! And they tend to incorporate the first 3 languages listed into everything they say!! The language barrier can make communication difficult at times, but when all else fails signs and drawings work very well!

Sometimes you don’t always understand at the time why a certain situation happens. But afterwards all is revealed to you by God. We all shared a harrowing experience on the Friday of our week in Samaria. There are really 4 separate stories to the one event, but the outcome of the day was a very special bonding between the four of us and the entire Samaria people. They are beautiful people in spirit & character and their love for all of us shone over that day. We all became closer in our love for the Lord and for each other.

The Monday morning that we had to leave them and head back to Dili was a heart-wrenching day. We hugged…we cried…they cried. We have returned with ideas for how we can help these people in the future and they have since come up with some proposals for us, as to what they need in the future from our church here in Australia. Was the trip successful? Yes, in more ways than one. Nai Maromak Diak (The Lord God is Good)”

(reprinted with permission from Connexions – Growing God’s Family, Newsletter of the Mt Gambier Presbyterian Church; http: //www. mgpc. org. au/connexions_nov_11. pdf)