It’s been about 3 months now since I got back from a STOMP in East Timor. What in the world is a STOMP?!? They are WEC’s Short Term Overseas Mission Programs, through going on one of these trips it gives you a taste of what mission is like in the field. They can be for a few weeks, like mine, or up to two years. Here’s a link for 2019’s trips.
One of the common questions I got asked leading up to the trip and then after is, So why East Timor?
As part of being a WEC Mission Intern you have the chance to be part of one of the STOMP trips. In March 2018 when I got the list of STOMP trips I was looking at going to a different country. But as He often does, throughout the year God revealed He had other plans. One of the major reasons for going was that more and more God was convicting me of serving long-term as a missionary and East Timor was a potential place to do this. Missions has been on my heart ever since my first overseas trip (I share a little bit about that here), but I thought it was something I’d do in about five years’ time. Over the course of the year God revealed that He was actually putting it into progress now. And going to East Timor was my next step of obedience.
There were two more major things that really interested me about East Timor. Firstly, the country is filled with young people – I’m talking 40% of the population under the age of fifteen. And do you know what one of the favourite parts of my week is in Australia? Youth Group. Well, here is a country that is overflowing with young people who desperately need to be shown Christ’s love.
Secondly, there is a great need for health care. As one of the poorest and youngest countries in the area, communicable diseases such as TB and HIV are extremely prevalent. There is a need for better health care, health education and policies. As this is my area of interest and study, the realities of their health needs struck my heart.
I’ve heard it said that you find your purpose where your passions and your skills line up, and I experienced that for myself in East Timor.
But I didn’t go into the trip thinking we’d be saving these people.
At university we studied and discussed whether volunteer short term trips were beneficial or not. I’ve heard numerous accounts of voluntourism causing more problems than help, and more than ever I was cautious about signing up for the trip.
On Sunday 14th of October, Lauren and I boarded a plane to Sydney to meet up with the rest of the team, before flying out early the next morning. During the flight, I spent time with God voicing my concerns with Him and praying that this wouldn’t be the dreaded terrible short-term trip. He led me to this passage that Paul quotes in Romans 10:15 from Isaiah 52:7. “How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news”. My prayer was that we would be a blessing to the team and locals and be bearers of joy. I felt convicted, and finally at peace, that we’d been sent out by God and our communities for this time to bring good news, the best news. And what a joy that is!
More and more God is revealing to me that obedience is what He desires from us. That to simply follow is the greatest thing we can do for His Kingdom. For me that looked like listening to His voice and getting on a plane to East Timor, but for you it might look completely different depending on what God has placed in your heart. Imagine how beautiful your life would look if you were daily stepping out in obedience in every area of your life!
“… in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.” – 1 Peter 4:2
Like to know more? I’d love to be able to answer any questions about STOMPs, East Timor or cross cultural mission. Click here for more.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey!