Letters of Life

Seven Days in Timor Leste (Part 3): Parting Shots

Almost paradise.

Almost paradise.

Save the best for last.

There’s more to Timor Leste than most of the world knows right now.

It’s a third world country, remote, often overlooked because it’s at the edge of the eastern archipelago of Indonesian islands. It’s not a must-go destination even for the intrepid among us. Mongolia, Peru and the Galapagos Islands are still the more glamourous exotic names to drop if one were going on an adventure.

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And so the waters that swirl in the coastal lagoons are azure and pristine, the black sand beaches are deserted, no touts approach to hawk beads and shells, it’s the way things were possibly at the beginning.

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The cool hill town of Maubisse (mao-bissie). Hills and low mountains form the backbone of Timor Leste.

The cool hill town of Maubisse (mao-bissie). Hills and low mountains form the backbone of Timor Leste.

At the market in the center of Maubisse.

At the market in the center of Maubisse.

A village boy obligingly climbs an avocado tree and easily plucks 20 for us. Approx. US$3 for all.

A village boy obligingly climbs an avocado tree and easily plucks 20 for us. Approx. US$3 for all.

A boy shows us his catch of the day: A bumphead parrot fish.

A boy shows us his catch of the day: A bumphead parrot fish.

The absence of travellers and heavy usage means no worn patches on the pristine the hills and ridges of Timor Leste which are clothed in a blanket of soft green grass.

The absence of travellers and heavy usage means no worn patches on the pristine the hills and ridges of Timor Leste which are clothed in a blanket of soft green grass.

This is the last of a three-part series of images on Timor Leste. The insights and revelations, the lessons I learned, will appear on this site in the weeks to come. I’m glad I said yes to this adventure, yes to going to a strange place with people I didn’t know, yes to learning that being in the mission field doesn’t require one’s voice if one has lost it, and of course, it doesn’t require a wide repertoire of songs, even if we think the people will benefit from singing our favourite hymns.

It’s smiling at the children, drawing butterflies on a crumpled bit of paper, making friends, learning their songs, learning their language, and being able to let go of our preconceived notions of what it means to ‘be a witness’ or to ‘share the gospel’, whatever that means. It never is what we think it is, or will be, because God always has different ideas up His sleeve.

With me, it was about speaking less and learning that words weren’t everything. With God, it’s not about the words, for words get in the way more often than we realise.

Maybe just being there, being able to be there, was all it took for Him to take over.

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