Just Because You Haven’t Heard of It, Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Important
Sixteen years ago, East Timor was the world’s newest nation, voting for independence after twenty-five years of occupation by Indonesian (of which the remainder of the island is a part) and four centuries of Portuguese rule before that. A million people live in this tiny, mountainous land, the majority in the rugged rural areas.
With a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and midwife training as well, Dr. Monica Liddle discovered an opportunity to volunteer in the capital city Dili in 2003. While Monica provided medical care, her husband Tom used his carpentry skills repairing and improving well-worn clinic buildings. As the Liddles themselves describe, “We found ourselves here in March 2003. Just months before, we hadn’t heard of this tiny half-island nation in Southeast Asia. But the Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili, the capital city, turned out to be an ideal location for us at the time…. Despite the tropical heat and the daily confrontation with so much suffering we witnessed in the clinic, we felt strangely at home in this place.”
Nine weeks turned out not to be enough. Having learned of a partnership between the Global Ministries of the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Protestant Church of East Timor (IPTL), they write, “As an experiment in international life and work, we returned to East Timor as Global Ministries short-term volunteers in 2008. In the village of Triloka, we had the feeling that we had somehow come home.”
Monica and Tom returned to East Timor in 2009 for a three-year assignment with their 5-year-old daughter and, within six months, their newborn son. Committed to rural development, Monica served in a rural clinic, while Tom expanded his work to supporting rural pastors and development initiatives.
The Liddles have been back in Minnesota the past three years where Monica has continued in health care while Tom completed a seminary degree. Dr. Monica and Rev. Tom Liddle, with Hannah and Simon, are eager to return to this tiny island nation, a place they hadn’t even heard of just a dozen or so years ago.
On Sunday, October 25, we will hear from Dr. Liddle in 10:00 a.m. worship, and in a “2nd Hour” presentation following, about their upcoming return to East Timor, by invitation of the IPTL and appointment by Global Ministries. Their work will continue to weave together health care, empowerment, rural development, pastoral ministries, and justice. Their return depends upon when they are able to secure funding for their support, but they are making good progress toward the goal. A generous matching grant from our Minnesota Conference of the UCC is spurring giving along.
To learn more about the Liddles and their work in East Timor, click here, and to offer your financial support if you wish, go to the donation site for Global Ministries and specify your gift for the Liddles in East Timor. Above all, join us October 25 to hear of important, life-giving work in a place you may never have heard of.