Mirroring the beautiful morning sunrise, with its rays penetrating through the trees on the hillside amidst the morning mist, was the enthusiasm and anxiety of the 25 youths – 13 boys and 12 girls – as they sang praises in thanksgiving to God during their morning devotion on 4 March 2016. It was a special day for them as guests from Singapore and the local district officials would be witnessing the dedication of the first Methodist hostel in Timor-Leste, Sundermeier Home, by Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup of The Methodist Church in Singapore.
The idea of having a hostel for high school students in Timor-Leste was conceived in 2012. Leaders from Methodist Missions Society (MMS) observed that many students had to walk two to three hours each way, as the only high school for the Ermera District is located in Gleno.
The Home aimed to offer a safe and healthy community where the students could continue their high school education. They would also be able to grow in a Christian environment, emphasising God’s love and sharing His love with one another. This would help them to become mature and responsible citizens and leaders, serving their community and nation.
After acquisition of the land in 2013, construction of the home commenced in January 2015 and was completed in December 2015. It was designed to accommodate up to 40 students. The first group of youths were interviewed and accepted in January 2016.
It was a joyful dedication service, followed by the unveiling of the dedication plaque and planting of a tree to commemorate the event. Mr Johann Senaratna from Hakka Methodist Church sponsored this hostel project. He shared: “I trust that the students would be made to feel very much at home here, and just like in the Christian homes that some of us grew up in, have access to the Gospel and be able to learn about our Lord and Saviour, so that they too in His time would join the family.”
The hostel was named Sundermeier Home to honour Johann’s foster parents, Karl and Marlene Sundermeier. They had served as missionaries in Sri Lanka and Namibia.
Five students shared their testimonies of how good God is, to allow them to experience His love and to continue their high school education. Here are extracts from two students.
Oilnda Madeira (below):
“My father is a farmer and there are eight children in my family. My objective is to study well, learn English and be able to speak good English in future. I also want to improve in my studies so that I can continue my university education. It is my dream to do something good for my family and my community.”
Osorio Alves Madeera Babo:
“Besides learning English I also learn about discipline, obedience and humility. My dream is to become a good person to my friends, my people in the village and community.”
Indeed God is good and is faithful. The closing hymn of the dedication service, ‘Jesus, We Enthrone You’, is very apt as we praise Him and acknowledge His kingship in our lives and the lives of these students residing in Sundermeier Home!
Left: Oilnda Madeira
Middle: The dedication plaque unveiled. Second from left is Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, and third from left is the hostel’s sponsor, Mr Johann Senaratna.
Right: Students from the Home leading in worship at the service.
* for our missionaries Joseph and Grace Mannar as they provide love and care for the children. May God grant them strength, good health and wisdom!
* for the children as they experience God’s presence in their lives, learn to receive His love and to share that love with their families and friends.
* a child through the MMS Student Sponsorship Scheme – visit www.mms.org.sg/sss.html
Photos courtesy of Methodist Missions Society
Noel Tam is a home-based missionary with Methodist Missions Society and the Country Coordinating Officer for Nepal and Timor-Leste. He worships at Pentecost Methodist Church.