by Jolyn Tey
A diverse team, with one heart and spirit – to bring the Lord’s glory into the land of Timor Leste.
From left – front row: Charlotte, Jolyn, Lay Leng, Sharon, Ps Patsy, Ai Kit (Gideonite); back row: Dovyn, Muliana, Quek, Stephen, Jong Jong
Day 1 & 2 – A Journey starting with Faith
“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
We stepped into the departure gate on a high note, claiming Pastor Kim Meng’s word for us. It didn’t take long for us to arrive at Dili, where we were greeted with the smiles of Pastor Catherine. We thankfully cleared the customs with ease, moved out in our respective vehicles, and headed towards Faith House, where we settled in and prepared ourselves for the long journey the next day.
Waking up fresh the next day, we loaded up and got ready for what’s to come. We set off in the three cars which we prayed hard would serve us well till the end. Off we went, setting off with Faith, from Faith House.
The journey was bumpy, and full of (pothole) surprises. I stared out of the windows of Pastor Catherine’s car, completely overwhelmed and marvelled by the view – vast mountains, clear blue oceans and the endless sky. I was wowed by the creativity of our great God.
Thankfully, after a ten-hour drive, we arrived at Dream Centre, Viqueque, safe and well. After sorting out all the medicine and logistics for the mobile clinic, we fed our rumbling stomachs. We then headed back to the motel to juice up for the next day.
Day 3 – Everyone Counts
Despite being abruptly awoken by the rooster countless times throughout the night,, we gathered round the breakfast table, eager to commence our day with praise and worship unto the Lord.
“Have I fought a good fight? Will I ever have a good fight?” These questions echoed in my mind after devotion and breakfast. I wasn’t ready to answer my own questions, but I was all pumped up to head out to the villages to serve the Timorese.
We headed down to Horoquan and set up our first clinic. Before long, large crowds poured in to seek medical consultation from Dr Stephen and Dr Jong Jong. It took awhile to familiarise ourselves with the roles. Nevertheless, we were deeply honoured to be able to serve and bring smiles to the Timorese.
We headed over to Buicarin after lunch, where dozens of people flowed in. Then came a man, with a tennis ball-sized lump on his back. He was hopeful that Dr Stephen would extract it for him. After a little preparation, we had ourselves a makeshift operating theatre (OT).
Here’s a sharing from Lay Leng, who took on an important role during the course of the procedure:
“Here I stood, in the OT. It was a simple, dusty and dimly-lit wooden hut, with no windows, fan or air-conditioning, just a door left slightly ajar for a little ambient lighting and ventilation.
Dr Stephen made a fine incision across the protruding lump on the Timorese’s back. With much confidence, precision and skill, he moved his skilful fingers under the patient’s skin to remove fatty tissues. Almost immediately, the worrying lump on his back vanished.
I had the privilege to watch this procedure up-close not because I was the assistant nurse, nor was I a medical officer under the tutelage of this fine professor. I recognised that my role was simple yet important – holding onto a torchlight, illuminating the affected area so that the doctor had enough light to proceed with the procedure, as well as fanning the doctor so his perspiration and soaked t-shirt would not interfere with the amazing work he was doing.
I thank God for the opportunity to be on this team, who performed this miraculous procedure. I felt God’s abundant love for the Timorese and am so honoured and humbled to be part of God’s extension of love. Throughout the procedure, the doctor, assisting nurse, runner and I prayed in our hearts profusely for God’s guidance and grace to flow. God came through. The procedure was a success, our faith strengthened and our God was glorified.”
It was a seemingly simple procedure for Dr Stephen, but it brought so much peace and comfort for the Timorese man. As he emerged from the OT, there was relief in his smile. It will take at least six more months before the next medical mission team arrives in Buicarin for a follow-up, but we believe God will take care of him and that he has been filled with His love.
We packed up in Buicarin on a high. As we took a last look at the sealed bag of extracted tissues, it reminded us of our victory, and a reflection of the Lord’s glory.
Day 4 – Vision Fulfilled
We set off on an hour’s drive towards Fatudere after breakfast and devotion.
How often do we hold onto and claim a vision God has put in us? And as time passes, do we lose some hope that we will see it fulfilled?
Almost 20 years ago, in 1999, our Lord showed one of our teammates, Sharon, a vision. That she would be teaching a group of dark-complexioned children using a stick, on dirt floor. “All this time, I thought it was India. I was all ready to be sent there by our church, but it did not happen.”
It was a public holiday. We pulled up opposite a school, set up our mobile clinic, and started ‘business’ as usual. The children who were playing in the vicinity quickly gathered around to check out what we were doing, as adults streamed in for consultation. We mobilised our children-lovers before the commotion could overwhelm conversation between the doctors and patients.
With the limited Tetum that Sharon and Dovyn could converse in, there wasn’t much elaborate games they could play. Nevertheless, the duo was very patient and caught the attention of the young children.
I watched from a distance as they brought smiles and laughter to the children. I have never been a fan of children, but I was captivated by the joy on their faces. An hour or two passed before we were exhausted with fun and games, and settled for simple English lessons. We picked up the nearest stick we could find and started drawing the alphabets on the ground.
That moment, God showed Sharon the vision again and said, “Sharon, this is what I showed you. You have been obedient and faithful. Here I am. I have brought you here with me, when you least expected it.”
It etched on my heart, when Sharon was sharing her account, “Lord, I will hold on to the vision you showed me, earnestly pray and guard your promise from the evil one. And on the day of fulfillment, may Your name be glorified.”
We headed to the lavatory after lunch, a short walking distance away from our clinic. We heard it was built specially for guests like ourselves. We were halfway to the lavatory, when we saw a teenager dash out from behind us towards where we were headed for, unlocked the lavatory, which looked just washed, and filled the bucket with water for our use.
“Aww, that’s sweet,” I thought. That instant, I realised in my smooth-sailing life, perhaps God has sent countless angels before me to iron the path straight for me, and yet many times, I take things for granted. It was a much needed wakeup call indeed.
We packed up awhile after, visited a beach, and headed for house visit. We were blessed by the hospitality of Pastor Catherine’s friends, with freshly harvested pomelo. He also shared with us that a pomelo tree takes 25 years to bear fruit, that’s 25 years of love, care and watering.
We rounded off the day with a last house visit, where we were greeted by a cute 100-year old lady, whom Pastor Catherine, Dr Stephen and Dr Jong Jong had formed a close bond and relationship with.
Day 5 – True Power comes from the Lord
I reluctantly awoke from my slumber, in hopes of prolonging my experience here. This day would mark the last day of our service at Viqueque, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to leave.
Nevertheless, shortly after our usual morning rituals, we set off for Luca, where patients started streaming in. A mother came with her little boy who had a bump, the size of a 50-cent coin on his head, and requested Dr Stephen to ‘cut it out’ for him.
Screams, wails and earnest pleas echoed off the walls of the little dark room. I stood behind the little boy’s mum and held up a torchlight while she desperately tried to hold her boy seated still in her arms. No amount of candy in Dovyn’s hands could distract the boy from the uncertainty going on above his head, where he could not see.
The boy struggled with all his might to wriggle out of his mum’s arms, who was supposed to be someone he could trust. The fear of the unknown terrified him, even before Dr Stephen could inject anaesthesia into him. It had to be done, so Dr Stephen managed it the best he could, while the rest of us sang in an attempt to calm the boy down.
My heart broke. That very instant, I struggled to hold back my tears as God impressed upon my heart, “Remember awhile back, when you were desperately questioning me on why you had to go through that painful trial, and you struggled very hard with me about it? That was me trying to remove your ‘lump’ to make you whole again.”
“I’m sorry God, I should never have doubted you. Thank you.”
With a lollipop in his mouth, the little boy looked wounded but victorious, coming out of the ‘operating room’ with a bandage on his head.
We arrived refreshed at Church Luca, ready to get the clinic going again after being served fresh coconut from the local Pastor. After consultation, we prayed for healing over some of the patients, packed up and converted the clinic back into a church.
There, we were blessed by Pastor Catherine’s sharing on anointing to the locals and prayed with one another. We did not understand Tetum, and they were not fluent in English, but we understood the power granted to us by Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. So, declare and pray that we will use this gift mightily, with wisdom, to spread the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. It was a wonderful experience and the presence of the Lord was with us.
Day 6-8 – Dare to Dream
We packed up and set off for Dili, bidding farewell to the roosters that tormented us throughout our stay in Viqueque. Thank God for the grace, mercy and will He instilled in us, to not make them our meals.
On our way back, we stopped by Manatuto, where Dovyn met a teenager whose ambition is to be a lawyer. Through this brief encounter, and Dovyn’s sharing, we were greatly encouraged.
“He knew the uphill task of becoming one but he was determined to work hard and be a lawyer in the future. That belief in himself reminded me that I can dream again, that I shouldn’t be held back by my past setbacks and be bold and dream big. God gave me this sense of hope and it was really what I needed in this season. I am still finding out the dream God has for me, but until then I’ll continue seeking Him till I get my answer.”
Throughout the journey towards Dili, our faith was constantly tested, with mechanical hiccups occurring to two of our three cars. By the time we arrived back at Faith House, car 2 had one of its headlight blown out, very much looking like a motorcycle in the dark, while car 3 had been through tyre issues, broken window guard, as well as the smell of burning rubber in the car.
Nevertheless, thank God we were able to bring back the cars intact, as well as ourselves.
The next day, we headed to Branca’s clinic, where we were privileged to serve in the clinic alongside the locals.
Branca took us to a piece of land that was given to her by the locals, where she dreamed of building a hospital to serve and bless the locals. We had the honour of interceding and praying over the land, as well as Branca. We are all extremely excited to see how this plot of land will transform under the guidance of our Lord Almighty.
Then we went to the mandatory Cristo Rei, where we were blessed to catch the sunset by the beach.
With that, our trip came to an end. We headed to the airport the next day after a short shopping trip. We had a lot of fun with one another, and most of all, we enjoyed the Lord’s presence with us.
Till next time, Timor.
Before I sign off from the report, we would like to take this chance to thank Pastor Catherine and Ai Kit.
Pastor Catherine: Thank you for taking time and effort to conceptualise some issues to help us better understand the local culture, and the motivation behind your instructions. Your numerous stories inspire us to walk closer with God. Looking at the way you interact with the Timorese, and the way they trust you, it touches our heart dearly.
Ai Kit: Thank you for modelling the heart of service, for the Timorese and also towards Pastor Catherine. Joy, respect and sincerity flows from your heart as you serve. The Lord will definitely show and lead you in this journey as you seek Him with all your heart.
Your love and sacrifices for the nation of Timor Leste, coupled with your obedience and faithfulness to the Lord’s calling, continue to inspire and challenge us to step out of our comfort zone to serve.
May our Lord Almighty continue to bless you and enlarge your territory. We pray that His hand will always be upon you and your works, granting you favour, protection and grace in your mission. We thank God for the both of you.