Saturday, August 15, 2015

LDS Charities First Week in Timor-Leste

Getting LDS Charities established in a new country is a wonderful and exciting opportunity!  Elder and Sister Johnson, the new LDS Charities volunteer couple, have been working to set up their apartment and establish the LDS Charities office in their apartment.  We have become a little more familiar with Dili, the capitol of Timor-Leste, and have been meeting with possible NGO (non-government organizations) partners. There are so many wonderful people here doing amazing work.

We met with Palmira Pires, Executive Director of East Timor Development Agency and discussed possible opportunities with her organization.

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) Country Manager Torrey Peace (center) met with us and shared their vision, goals and objectives in the humanitarian work they do in Timor-Leste.
Torrey Peace, center, Country Manager of Catholic Relief Services
We’ve been in touch with Sister Aurora, a Catholic nun, who is setting up an appointment with us to learn about the history of the Catholic Church in Timor-Leste and how they have been a sustaining power of hope in the lives of so many people over the years.

We met Brother Chong Jong, an LDS member living here in Dili, and his son Robert.  We met in their comfortable home and had a tour of their expansive chive garden in the backyard. The garden is the fruit of Mrs. Jong’s hard work as she supplies chives to many distributors throughout Dili. We also met his other son Robin, who happens to own the furniture store where the Johnsons are buying their office furniture.  The Jong’s are very nice and we look forward to getting to know them better.

Robert (red shirt) and his father Brother Chong Jong (pictured center)
 We spent a morning visiting the famous Cristo Rei statue.  The air was cool when we started, but the sun soon was beating down without mercy and we were grateful for whatever shade we could find.  It was quiet and peaceful, and the spot has a wonderful overlook of the city of Dili.

Today we visited the Disabled Association of Timor-Leste (ADTL).  It was very hard to find – we are at the mercy of the taxi driver’s knowledge of where things are.  ADTL is not a prime tourist spot, and Timor-Leste does not operate with addresses or even street names.  You just have to know where things are!
Disabled Association of Timor-Leste
Finding the NGO Forum was even harder.  It took quite a bit of work for our taxi driver to try to find it, asking multiple people, driving around in circles, and finally we just got out of the taxi and started walking.  We knew we were close, and someone from the Ministry of Health knew for sure where it was and steered us in the right direction.

Coming up – a meeting with USAID and hopefully the Rotary Club.  It’s been a busy week!  Now time for a P-Day – a walk to the beach and maybe even a swim in the pool!  A well-deserved break!

The walk to the beach was so interesting - we passed through a local neighborhood through a dusty narrow alley on the way there and enjoyed seeing the traditional homes... the people were so friendly and we were greeted with many a "Bom Dia" -  "good day" in Portuguese.

The neighborhood vegetable stand

The local mall - we passed several of these stores on our walk.

Doesn't everyone use a Gremlin for a footbridge?  Getting in an afternoon siesta in the shade...

Elder and Sister Johnson on the beach

 Senior missions are great!  A lot of hard work, but also many phenomenal experiences that can't be duplicated any other way. What a joy to serve the Lord wherever He calls. We are so happy that LDS Charities is getting established in Timor-Leste.  We love Timor-Leste!


  1. I am a member of the church who will be in Timor Leste next week. We are coming with a group to do some humanitarian aid in Baucau. I will be bringing a Book of Mormon in Portuguese. I served in Brasil so we will see how helpful the Portuguese is. We will be in Dili for a short time. I would love to hear more about Timor Leste. Keep up the good work..

  2. So great to hear from you! What NGO are you working with! How exciting to have members of the Church join up in Dili!!

    My husband and I were only in Dili for a couple of weeks.We are back in Hong Kong now. But Elder and Sister Johnson who are humanitarian missionaries for LDS Charities are on the ground in Dili, and would be happy to welcome you and your group!

    Elder Johnson is the official group leader for the LDS group on Sundays. They have sacrament meeting at 10:00 am, and they have it in their home, at #93 JL Villa, in Dili.​ No one knows the street name though, but it is near Landmark Plaza, which taxi drivers know where that is. It is the street just west of Landmark Plaza. Once on the street, it is the second driveway on the right which takes you to JL Villa Apartments. You can call the Johnsons with their local number: 7739-6836. Country code is +670.

    Their email is:

    LDS Charities just barely arrived in Timor-Leste. We have met a lot of NGO's for potential partners in humanitarian work. Maybe your organization can help the Johnsons with some good connections!

    We are all very excited about the work in Timor-Leste.

    Thanks for contacting us!!!

    Sister Deborah Coffey

  3. I stumbled across your blog tonight as I write a talk for church about our experiences in the church while living overseas. We were stationed in Dili from 2003-2004 with the US Embassy. At that time there were two young families with the Embassy that were LDS (6 of us total), and we were the sole members on the island. Reading up on the arrival of Elder and Sister Johnson has warmed my heart this evening! Timor-Leste is a special country that has always held such a special place in our hearts. Such an amazing, happy population with such a bright future. Looking at the pictures of the beautiful Timorese people, the tais, and even the photo of shopping at Leader brought back so many fond memories! So much help is needed there, and I am thrilled to see the church offering assistance and sending in missionaries. We have moved all over Asia since East Timor (currently in China), but our precious experiences in East Timor have always held such a strong, special place in my heart!

  4. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! We love Timor-Leste! We are so grateful LDS Charities can be there. And we are grateful for people like your family who helped hold things together all those years. Now the country has an official presence there - thank you for being part of Timor-Leste's history!