It is safe to say when you live in many corners of the world like Timor, that you begin to automatically expect the unexpected… that was the certainly the case for us today as we headed to church!
It was a rushed preparation for church today, with Sam knocking on our bedroom door at 8.25 asking if we were awake yet! We had slept in, while he had got himself dressed, made his bed and had entertained himself until he decided we needed waking up. With church starting at 9am, Sam’s timing was great as we showered, dressed and ate breakfast on super speed.
As we headed to church, we were reminded that it was Palm Sunday, as the roads were lined with Timorese people returning from Mass, carrying palm branches. The reminder of the special occasion continued as we attempted to turn left down the major road that runs through the city of Dili. A policemen was standing on the corner directing traffic, as the two lane major road had become a single lane in each way on one side the road, while the other half of the road had become a parking lot of motorbikes and cars for people attending church. You realise just how large the percentage of the population attend a Catholic Church, when the City’s major road is half blocked because of people’s attendance at Mass. So Route A for how to get to church didn’t work! Next plan? This is where having a good sense of direction AND a good knowledge of the back streets of Dili can be useful.
Our church was also having a special celebration today, as the missionary who had led our Pastor to faith was visiting from America. So church was being held in a local hotel, with a special lunch afterwards. So after being detoured away from where we needed to go for church, we planned a Route B in our minds, to go around the block and approach the hotel from the south. Easy! Until we began travelling down that road, only to discover cars in front of us turning around. Hmmm. A little further down the road we saw a trap and chairs set up, an indication of a funeral ceremony in progress. Roads are often blocked for these ceremonies and so detouring for a funeral is common when driving in Dili.
Route C, keep going east until we found another road that heads back to the major arterial road through Dili. The road where the policeman had originally been directing traffic, and approach the Hotel from the North this time, avoiding all the traffic from the Catholic Church, as hopefully we were too far east for it to be a problem! Route C worked and we arrived at church safe and sound, although considerably later than we expected! On a normal Sunday morning it would take 5 minutes from our home to this Hotel. But with all the challenges it took about 20 minutes today.
As we drove we decided that this was “Timor Typical” to always be prepared for the unexpected, especially when running late for church! Church was a great time of worship, with a beautiful Trumpet solo of “Because He lives” and teaching. After church it was time for lunch. The pastor explained the location for lunch in Tetun, and at such speed that I was a bit confused with what I was hearing. I thought I had heard that we were having lunch at a petrol station. So I approached the Pastor’s wife after the service to clarify the directions of where to go. In a very “Timor typical” fashion we were told to head to the big roundabout on Banana Road (Yes that is actually the name of the road) and continue on towards the new bridge, and the fuel station on the left is where we would eat. Okay then!
So we headed to the car, offering to take some people from church with us, the pastor’s wife suggested we take three young teenage girls with us. That was easy and we headed to our car, but then I realised I was struggling to communicate again. Another “Timor typical” moment! The three young ladies we had in our car were all deaf and attend the deaf school our church runs. How do you make small talk and be polite when you have limited sign language? We are all learning bits of sign from being a part of this church, but I wanted to say more than hello, thank you or Jesus! Some of the signs i can easily remember. I could sign for them the “wheels on the bus” or “Jesus loves me” like I do at Hera, but that wasn’t really the welcoming conversation I needed. So in a moment of brilliance I got out a pen and paper! “My name is Kim” I was able to write in Tetun. They each wrote their names for me and we smiled at each other. I then told them Sam’s name and Jason’s name, and I was able to do the sign for aeroplane to go with Jason’s name…. as Jason arrived to the car for us to go!
Yes lunch was in a restaurant at the side of a fuel station. As I realised that we eat in fuel stations often in Australia on Highways and such, but somehow the location of this restaurant seemed unusual to me. A yummy combination of asian food and noodles was presented for us to eat and we shared a time of fellowship together. While most people headed back to the hotel for another service, we headed home for naps. After a busy week for our family, Jason traveling to Cairns and back, and then in meetings all week and Kim solo parenting and homeschooling, we needed some down time. Our trip home from church was boringly uneventful, with us even managing to find our favorite brand of bottled water, just around the corner from lunch. (We don’t drink tap water here, but instead buy large 20 litre bottles of water, which we put into one of those water coolers that you see on American TV shows. Not all brands of bottle water are the same, so it can be a challenge to find brands that are bug free or chlorine taste free!)
There are lots of way to describe the unpredictability of life here… it adds spontaneity to our lives, it makes us laugh but it also increases our stress levels and often causes frustration… “Timor Typical”… expect the unexpected… you’ll never know what you are gonna get…