A week in the life of a pastor

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Dili, East Timor -- A young woman named Nita had suffered several complications and lost her baby in a difficult premature birth. Doctors in East Timor stopped Nita's hemorrhaging, but she needed a blood transfusion. The woman's blood type was unavailable at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Acy Lodja faced a stressful week. She was asked to plan and organize a wedding, she had family responsibilities, and she had her regular duties as a pastor of the Nazarene church in Dili.

When she received a message from the Nita's brother, Jonio, Tuesday morning asking for prayer, she could have told him she would pray for Nita and leave it there. Instead, Lodja went to the hospital and prayed with the woman and her husband after she dropped her daughter off at school.

It was going to be a very busy week.

Lodja went to East Timor several years ago to serve the Church of the Nazarene. She met her husband in Dili and they married and settled in that city.

Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, north of the Timor Sea. It is divided in two: the independent state of East Timor (officially known as The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) and West Timor, which belongs to the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. The official languages are Tetum and Portuguese, but residents also speak English and Indonesian in work environments.

At the hospital, Lodja learned about Nita's need for blood and she prayed God would help them find matching donors. The baby's funeral was that day, so Lodja and some friends attended the ceremony. Unlike funerals in the West, the burial rituals last most of the day. Lodja stayed almost the whole time with Nita and Jonio's family at the uncle's house. She did not know what to expect.

"It's good to see that the uncle accepted us and showed respect to what Jonio and his brother, Lito, believe about Jesus, because he was the one who got really upset upon learning that Jonio and Lito were baptized," she said.

The following day, Lodja and other Nazarenes searched for donors with blood type O.

"Praise God, we got two youth and two missionaries' friend with this blood type," she said. "I thank Him for all kinds of opportunities to show His love to those around us."

The blood transfusion saved the woman's life.

Having helped the couple, Lodja didn't get to rest from ministry, however. She learned later in the week a mission organization from Brazil would provide Portuguese Bibles for East Timor. The organization donated 5,000 Bibles, and the woman who raised the funds for the project is from a Church of the Nazarene in Brazil.

"It's good to know that our Nazarene brothers and sisters in Brazil are doing something for East Timor," she said.

As the week turned to Saturday, the families for the bride and the groom met at Lodja's house.

"We had to prepare lunch for them. Then in the afternoon we went to clean the church and have it decorated," she said.

A tarp, tables and chairs were placed in the church's yard; the families expected a large number of people to attend the wedding. The rehearsal ended that night with the wedding scheduled for Sunday afternoon following the morning service. Ladies of the church prepared food early Sunday morning, while others made sure everything was ready for the large ceremony.

That's when the clouds rolled in. It rained all afternoon. The storm, however, did not dampen the day. Members of the church made sure the guests and the food stayed dry, and the wedding and reception occurred without a hitch. The celebration finished about 8 p.m. with cleanup ending more than two hours later.

"It was a long day," Lodja said.

She looked forward to some rest, but that didn't happen. On
Monday, she had a day-long meeting about future ministry in East Timor.

"Well, I thought I needed to sleep for the whole week, but just now someone called me and asked me to come to help with their marriage problem," she said the day after her meeting.

But God is faithful, Lodja said, even for the weary.

"I need His wisdom every day to preach His word in all occasions. When giving them counsel about marriage, I definitely need the wisdom from above."

Her limited strength makes it difficult to meet the many different needs in East Timor.

"But I believe in His power," she said. "I just need to make myself available to be used by Him to meet all those needs. To Him be all the glory."