On July 1st, we got to visit the TIMO team. We are partnering with AIM to use their program known as TIMO, which stands for Training in Ministry Outreach. It is a program in which a team lives as closely as possible to the group they are trying to reach. If the target group lives in huts, the TIMO team will probably not live in huts, but will have a style of house that is not unusual in the area and they will live very simply. If the target group lives in a city, the team members will live in housing similar to what their target group lives in (apartments, small houses, etc.) and will probably have appliances (or not if their target group doesn't). The TIMO teams have focused mainly on rural areas, but are moving into city and more settled areas as well. In brief, the team lives as closely to the people as possible, follows a missions study curriculum, and immediately gets to practice what they're learning. It's missions training on location.
I'm serving as the TIMO Program Coordinator and John is the Vernacular Language Learning Coordinator, so when we saw there were some empty seats on one of the planes, we took advantage of it to visit the team on location. It turns out with our diesel engine Cessna 180's, it's cheaper to fly that far than to take our car and have to pay mileage and gas. Not to mention it takes a fraction of the time!
I always enjoy seeing things from the air that you normally see from the ground. Seeing things in toy-size versions always reminds me of my relative insignificance in the grand scheme of things.
Our team has two families, three single ladies, and the team leaders and their family living in close proximity to each other, reaching those who are living and dying without ever having heard the gospel. They are truly reaching those who live where Christ is least known.
Each unit lives in a very simple house. They haul in water from a well, just like all their neighbors. During the rainy season, they have a system set up to collect water from the rain troughs.
They have no refrigerators and only have a one-burner cooker. One of the units has a solar cooker. Their houses are small, but adequate and are set up to get a beautiful cross-breeze. That's a real life-saver as they have no electricity, so therefore no fans or air-conditioners. Can I remind you that at certain times of the year, 115 degrees is not unusual?
They all seem to be doing really well. It took them all awhile to figure out how much longer house-hold chores take to do when you're living "pioneer" style. Doing laundry by hand especially takes a long time. Because of the constantly swirling dust, it's hard to keep the houses clean, but you also learn to live with a certain amount of dust. Of course, the house is so small it doesn't take long to clean, either! Learning to cook with only one burner is a challenge, too. Think of how many meals you cook that require two to three pots or an oven!
Now that they've gotten their daily living routines down, they are all starting to really focus on language learning. This is language learning without a teacher, so it involves a lot of listening, sign language, and .... frustration. But if you think about it, it's how kids learn a language, so it's not impossible. It does take time, though, and it's hard feeling like a one-year old when you've got important things to tell people!
All of the team members mentioned that the best thing about being on the TIMO is their host families, the people among whom they live. They have opened their hearts and homes to them even though they have no language in common. They already feel part of their families and are looking forward to building deeper relationships with them.
The team leaders are working really hard to help everybody settle in and to get a routine going of team days, weekends-out, etc. I think that as everybody becomes more independent the work load will settle down for them, but it's a lot right now. They are really doing a spectacular job, though.
Our day went so fast and it was already time to head back to the airport. We realized about then that we probably should have planned an overnight trip! We still hadn't spent a lot of time with the team leaders, but we got to talk a lot with them on the hour trip back to town.
On the way back we had to fly up really high to get over storm clouds that were building. We also flew a bit south to go around the storm.
I felt like my breathing was a bit shallow, but I had no idea until we landed that we had been up 13,200 ft. It was 48 degrees up there, so the fresh air was really nice! We saw a second storm off in the distance and even got to see a rainbow from that.
We landed just before the second storm we had seen hit.
We really only got the edge of it, and didn't get that much rain. It's been over two weeks since we've had a good rain here in the capital city and we desperately need more soon!
It was a great day and we were so happy it all worked out for us to go.