"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Build My People, Build My Nation"

Our LDS Charities exploratory trip to Timor-Leste was largely to meet with government and NGO (non-government organizations) agencies to learn more about the work they are doing that might coincide well with LDS Charities.  We wanted to know what kind of needs there are and how LDS Charities can help.

Our first meetings were with the Australian and United States Embassies.  They were very welcoming to LDSC and shared recommendations and possible contacts for us. 

We next met with the East Timor Development Agency, which we blogged about in our previous post.  They have a most powerful logo. 

The logo shows a picture of a clay pot with a crocodile on it (no – that is not a gecko, I was told!!)  The crocodile is important to Timor-Leste tradition. It was a crocodile that made the island, the story goes, and there are salt-water crocodiles that line the coast (this is for reals).  So this pot on the logo – it was broken in many pieces, representing the warring factions and various tribes of the country, but is now held together by nationalism and an independent country. The matrix of dots and lines in the circle surrounding it represents the many organizations, initiatives and agencies coming together to form a network of support to help develop and grow the country. The three colors behind the logo represent the colors of the flag of the resistance movement that led the country to freedom. Below the logo are the Tetum words:
“Build my people.  Build my nation.”

And that’s just what they are doing. And what LDS Charities wants to do too. 

We visited the Centro Nacional de Reabilitação,  (CNR) – the National Rehabilitation Center. They work with the Ministry of Health to prepare wheelchairs for the disabled, and were happy to hear of our wheelchair initiatives. 

This little wheelchair-bound girl outside the office caught my eye and I couldn't help but stop and try to bring a smile to her face.

We visited the tais market. Tais (pronounced “ties”) is a traditional woven cloth made solely by women in Timor-Leste, with dyes authentically made from local bark, flowers, and other natural substances to produce the vibrant colors.  Each tribe has its own unique Tais pattern and colors, not unlike Scottish kilts. 

Tais showing the Timorese flag in the background

A single tais can take from several days up to a year to create, depending on the complexity of design and colors used.

One of our grandsons wanted to donate some toys to the children of Timor-Leste when he found out we were going there. Time to stop and give a couple of toy cars to some boys at the market. At first they were shy, but it ended up being quite a scene once everyone got the hang of it!  

Timor-Leste is a Christian nation, 96% Catholic. In 1996, the Indonesian government commissioned the 27 meter statue of Cristo Rei (Christ, the King),
Elder Coffey climbs up to the Cristo Rei statue
made up of 27 copper sections, (Timor-Leste was the 27th province of Indonesia) as a gift to the people. At the time, Timor-Leste was still considered a province of Indonesia, and the gift was a recognition of the 20th year of its integration into Indonesia from previous Portuguese occupation. This gift, even amidst the years of struggle, invasion and annihilation

There are 597 steps to reach the top. In case you want to try it.  The view is worth it - just try doing it in as cool of a time of year as possible.  (July is the coolest month - highs are only around 88 degrees or so.)

Elder and Sister Coffey with Tino Mac.  Cristo Rei is in the background.
We still have well over 100 steps to go to the top.

View from Cristo Rei, with Dili, the capital, in the far background

And the sunsets are gorgeous.  People come from all over just to watch the sunset. It's amazing how quickly we fell in love with Timor-Leste. What a blessing for LDS Charities to be able to be a part of the wonders of the Land of Discovery.

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