Sundermeier Home is located in a cool, green valley nestled between the mountains of Ermera District in Timor-Leste. Located near the district’s only secondary school, it enables young boys and girls from remote villages to finish their education. These are children who are poor and stay very far from their school. The Home offers a safe and healthy ‘home away from home’ for students between the ages of 15 and 18.
As we enter the third year of operations, it seems timely to reflect on what has been achieved so far, and what lies ahead in this ministry journey.
Methodist Missions Society (MMS) missionaries Joseph and Grace Mannar from Bedok Methodist Church have been providing care and supervision for these students since the Home opened in 2016. Most parents would agree that raising a teenager presents a unique set of challenges, so just imagine having 30 of them under one roof at the same time!
After raising three sons of their own, the Mannars left the comforts of Singapore to offer love, patience, and guidance to these Timorese youths. Known affectionately as “Papa Joe” and “Mama Grace”, they equip the students through Bible study, house worship, and training in basic life skills.
Regular visits by Methodist church teams, including those from the TRACKERS programme, supplement the academic, social, and spiritual instruction at the Home, ensuring holistic development of the youths.
Over the past year, there were several occasions when disruptions to the town water supply caused severe shortages of water for bathing, drinking, and food preparation at the Home. By God’s grace, MMS received a donation from a member of the Methodist community in Singapore that enabled us to dig a well and install a water pump (pic above). The students now enjoy a bountiful supply of clean, fresh water sufficient to meet all their daily needs!
In addition to limited water supply in many areas, Timorese suffer from one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. This negatively affects their health and ability to concentrate and develop academically. As an MMS missionary from Aldersgate Methodist Church, I started the ‘Good Soil Project’ at Sundermeier Home to help address this situation.
Over the past year, I have been teaching the students Biblical principles of farming, along with practical techniques such as using organic mulch in composting, and returning nutrients to the soil through crop rotation. With assistance from Ms Susan Eng from All Saints Presbyterian Church in Singapore, the students and I are turning land at the Home into a fertile farm (pic below). The fruits and vegetables we grow provide better nutrition and help make this ministry more financially sustainable.
As we’ve journeyed with these youths, we can see the hand of God at work within them. Last year, a local church in Dili collaborated with MMS missionaries to conduct a weekend camp for children at Sundermeier Home. The resident students actively supported the event by leading sports and other programmes for the children.
Recently, two of the resident students successfully graduated from secondary school and are preparing for the next chapter in their lives. Tommy has enrolled in a university in Dili, and Atoy is planning to pursue his studies as soon as he saves enough money for tuition. Both continue to regularly attend church and grow in their faith. With God’s help and provision, we will reach out to more families through our agricultural training and medical outreach.
What’s next? In 2019, we plan to increase the student intake to 40 boys and girls. The primary goal will continue to be discipling and equipping these students to become mature Christians, productive citizens, and future leaders. With the increased operating costs, we prayerfully seek your support through our MMS Student Sponsorship Scheme (SSS). Your contribution will go a long way in helping these children.
Please pray that Sundermeier Home will shine forth as a beacon of light and hope, reflecting God’s love and grace throughout the community and surrounding villages in Timor-Leste.
Rudy Wong –
is a missionary with the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) serving in Timor-Leste. His ministry focuses on Community Development through agriculture, health and nutrition. His home church is Aldersgate Methodist Church.
Photos courtesy of the Methodist Missions Society