Back to Garden of Hope

Early this year Sylvia Jacobs, her granddaughter Myrabelle, Nateeka White and I had the great privilege to be able to return to Garden of Hope Ministries/Gleno in the mountains of Timor Leste – or in Myrabelle’s case, to visit with them for the first time.


I made an over-night detour via a more remote mountain village called Matata to catch up with some very dear friends there and to meet with the local pastor and mayor who wanted to discuss the plans to open a small preschool in their community. The need was great, resources and a potential location were available, a local woman had been receiving training, but they lacked the funds for wages, consumables and other ongoing costs. If and how we can be involved, remains to be seen…

The Gleno Valley - Reading to the Kindy kids
The Gleno Valley – home to GoH        /      Director Clementina reading to Kindy kids

Our time in Gleno began with a weekend of hanging out with the large family at pastor’s house, sharing over food, cooking together and going to the river for a swim with the kids, the young and not so young…

A year had passed since pastor Agostinho finished his Agronomy degree but there are still great uncertainties about when/whether he can graduate. The university demands a huge amount of $$$ from each graduand to be allowed to receive their certificate and most students just don’t have that sort of money. Pastor has managed to pay a deposit but the date for the ceremony keeps changing because of ongoing meetings, negotiations and because there aren’t enough students that have paid. Hearing about this kind of seemingly unjust situation makes my emotions fluctuate between sad and “mad” and I am glad for the example that Pastor Agostinho is to me as he continues to trust in Jesus to provide and to make a way…

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After the swim in the Gleno River           /           Cooking with Teeki, Efi and Bella

On Sunday we shared in song, prayer and God’s Word. We also brought greetings from God’s family in Australia. In the afternoon we went to visit members of the extended family – crossing little creeks, dodging feisty goats and cattle along the narrow sometimes slippery path as we went single file and eventually reached the small hut in the middle of maize and cabbage fields. Two families share this humble home – four adults and five children. I have no doubt that it would be tough to live here but everyone still exuded such joy and delight in being part of a caring community. The only expressed urgent wish was to be able to save up $150 for more sheets of iron to fix the leaking roof…

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Pastor Agostinho sharing God’s Word   /      a humble but usually happy home

The new school year had just begun. As always, teachers and kindy students were still learning which was each child’s “real” name and which was their “play”-name. Some new students also liked their mum or older sibling close – at least for a few days… and there were the usual spectators outside the kindy classroom until the novelty wears off and everyone settles into the new routine.

Two of our “old” kindy teachers have moved to a new remote preschool that is operated by the government. The remoteness and poorly equipped facility will provide many challenges but these two teachers have gained many years of experience and training through working at Garden of Hope and are just the right people for the job. We will miss these ladies but it is wonderful to know that we can share the fruit of what is happening at “our” school.

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Going to outside play (big sister hugs) /    Uni student Abina doing prac at GoH


Elke Graham

(Garden of Hope Sponsorship Publicity & Communication)

Here is a printable copy of this newsletter – Dear Sponsors and friends – 2017.06.11

Below is a short film about our visit…



4 thoughts on “Back to Garden of Hope

  1. A humbling account and a joyful video. Loved the music on the video. Loved all the detail in the newsletter, including comments about goats etc. 🙂 Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement :-). It was a bit of a challenge to condense the whole visit into a a few paragraphs and a 5 minute film.

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