One of our team leaders serving on the Indian Ocean Islands shares how her TIMO experience fortifies her current ministry.
Although my TIMO experience now seems like a lifetime ago, I have without a doubt been forever shaped by it. It was an incredibly hard two years, and most days I felt like I was floundering way beyond my depth. I certainly spent much of it far beyond my comfort zone. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
TIMO set me up for the long haul, and the value it places on language and culture learning, being a life long learner, simple living, living among those we seek to reach, and working as a team, still shape my thinking and ministry today.
I quickly learned that TIMO sets a high bar in all these areas – that first week we learned that language learning would continue, and even more importantly we discovered that language learning happens in the context of relationships. Our first full day set the pattern for us of learning two or three new phrases, practising them till they’d stuck, then heading out the door to try them out on the first 20 people we found who would listen to us. These days, as leadership responsibilities squeeze my time, I struggle to focus on language. After over 10 years on the islands I’m competent, but I still have so far to go and, as TIMO grads, we never stop learning!
Starting out right
Each time, coming back for my second and third terms I decided to do homestays, not because I particularly wanted to, but because TIMO had taught me their value. I learnt how starting out right makes all the difference and that anything worth having is going to cost you your comfort!
Of course, ultimately your team leaders can make or break your TIMO experience. Ours poured their time and energy into us – and it’s only in retrospect that I’ve come to realise how much of themselves they gave. We are a product of their sacrifice and service. They challenged and comforted us, modelled to and taught us, and pushed us beyond ourselves. At the beginning, we needed them just to survive, both physically and spiritually, but they were also the ones who showed us the way beyond survival to thriving in what can often be a challenging and hard place.
On the islands we now all work in teams, recognising that we cannot do this work alone. To stay here long term we need one another. Together we achieve goals we couldn’t do alone, we sustain and fortify one another’s faith, and our unity is part of our witness. And together we remember those verses we each learned during our first week on the islands, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’. Pray with us that the harvest would come this year!