After six months in Indonesia, I had to go abroad to get a new visa. This is a normal process that applies to all missionaries. Now a missionary cannot obtain a work permit in Indonesia, but only a tourist visa. Due to the fact that Timor Leste has been an independent country for almost 20 years, and the distance from the island of Flores to Timor is relatively close, I went by plane to Kupang, the capital of NTT (Sunda Islands).
In Kupang, which is now rapidly growing town, I was waiting for a flight to Atambua which is a city near to the border with East Timor. I could visit the kindergarten, high school and clinic run by the SSpS Sisters. As always, children and youth greeted me with great joy. I could also do shopping here, because there are a lot of supermarkets like in the Western countries. After a few days, I flew to the central part of the island, and from there I moped by car to the border with Timor Leste.
Timor Leste gained independence on May 20, 2002. This country is constantly struggling with several problems. People live here differently than in neighboring Indonesia. Domestic and farm animals move freely around the area. Nobody keeps them in the pens. When driving a car, you must be careful not to drive into a cow, goat, dog, pig, or the chickens crossing the road. The main road through the country is being renovated due to heavy rains and mudslides. It drags on for years. Renovation works and business in Timor are mainly carried out by the Chinese people. There is poverty in the country, but the local currency is still the US dollar.
I came to the capital city Dili on Friday and waited for a new entry visa to Indonesia. The city is crowded, and the locals speak their language 'tetum', in addition the Portuguese language is used, and sometimes Indonesian and English. There are many new religious communities, but the majority of consecrated people still come from Indonesia. The SVD missionaries are also well-known here because during the fights for independence they helped escapees. There are currently over 20 postulants who are educated in the capital. Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit have a novitiate house in a nearby town called Hera. Because it is outside the city, the temperature and air is much nicer than in Dili.
On the way back I stayed for a week in Kefamenan. It is a small town, but you can get full education from kindergarten to university there. People from Timor are very hospitable and friendly. Their faith and openess encourage me to stay in this part of Indonesia. Moreover, there are many tasty fruit and the landscape is beautiful. It was difficult for me to leave Timor because I made good relationships here. In six months, I will go again to meet with my new friends, and at the same time renew my visa for the next period of my stay in Indonesia.
Prayers of SVD
May the darkness of sin
and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word
and the Spirit of grace
and may the Heart of Jesus live
in the hearts of all people.
(Saint Arnold Janssen)