Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dallying in Dili

For the next week I will be a guest in the world's newest nation - East Timor. How does one best prepare for such an experience?

Physical preparation is one thing. You organise the vaccinations and medications and pack clothes suited to the climate. There is social and intellectual preparation too. Mine has included reading about East Timor's history, and about what the country offers to visitors. I've had conversations with several people who've recently worked in East Timor. I've visited the East Timor Association, and learned a few choice words. I've gathered educational and music resources to share with those we encounter, I've listened to indigenous music, and sought information and advice about significant social issues facing the country.

And yet, I don't feel completely prepared.

How can I be? My world is nothing like the one I am about to enter in the 'poorest country in Asia'.

At this moment I'm sitting in Darwin airport. It is 4:11am and I can't sleep. It's too cold in here for one thing, but it's 26 degrees outside. Floor sleeping, even under newspaper to minimise the fluorescent lighting, has never come easily to me. I notice two of my companions have managed to drop off. We arrived here at midnight and our flight into Dili takes off at 6.30am, so I have some time on my hands.

Time in limbo. Time to stew over things.

We are a party of four and we're visiting to continue building relationships with people at the Hosana Church in Dili. Its an undertaking my congregation in Melbourne has decided to pursue. We're also helping fund a 'resource centre' that is currently focused on computers skills, music teaching and English. Along the way our little band of travellers will focus a little on music, share what we know, and take songs and wisdom home with us.

What I learn over the next week will probably change me. I expect it will be impossible to be unmoved.

Think of me. Of us. And I will keep you posted.

Perhaps by week's end I will understand how I might have better equipped myself for this adventure.

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