News from the Southcotts

  • 22 September 2021
  • Andrew Keene

Hello dear Supporters and Friends 

Firstly, apologies for the delay in news and contact- there has been a lot going on and plenty to process of late. 

Some joyful news! Emma Claire was born 14th June. A healthy 3.62kg but with concerns over clicky hips. An ultrasound at 6 weeks of age showed her to have mild hip dysplasia. At this stage there is no need for treatment, just to wait and see if her ligaments strengthen naturally. She will have another ultrasound when she is 12 weeks old to determine if she needs treatment. 

In the meantime, we have been exploring how we can return to Timor- Emma had her passport ready to go at 6 weeks old. As we worked through the many challenges that COVID continues to present, managing the risks and weighing the costs, we felt God’s peace and an eager desire to return and serve. However, sadly, there have been some significant challenges come up in the last few weeks which have put our return on hold, possibly indefinitely. The big ones are:

  • The extended Sydney lockdown
  • Our application to quarantine in our home in Dili was rejected
  • The new Country Director has chosen to leave due to the increased challenges in program
  • Dili is back in lockdown   

As a result, our return to Timor would now include 2 weeks quarantine in Darwin, potential delays with flight cancelations and then 2 weeks of hotel quarantine in Dili. That’s just getting to Timor!! That already feels an overwhelming task, especially with 4 little children. 

The Dili lockdown that has been in place most of the year was recently lifted, but the Delta variant has been detected and another extended lockdown seems likely. On top of that, the two other families who were serving with us will not be returning as well as the new Country Director now leaving. Burnout was already a concern for us so hearing this news was troubling. Tim would now potentially be the Acting Country Director on top of his Operations Manager, Pilot and various admin roles. All this, while moving and settling a very young family in a developing country during the pandemic. Then there is also the added stress of not being able to return to Australia at ease should the need arise.

Although our heart and desire is to be serving with MAF in Timor, we have decided that we cannot return at this time due to the current circumstances. We had hoped and prayed that the barriers caused by COVID would be able to be managed, and ultimately, be short lived. Sadly, the situation has become more difficult with no end in sight. Making this decision has been very tough and it is hard to make sense of it especially considering all the time, sacrifices, effort and resources spent to get us here. We are experiencing a whole range of emotions including feeling guilty that we cannot be serving at a time when we are needed most. 

We recently had a meeting with MAF management the outcome being that because we are unable to commit to an immediate return to Timor, our contract with MAF will not be renewed. MAF has no other roles for us currently but we are able to apply for a Leave of Absence for up to 12 months. This keeps us connected with MAF and allows Tim to apply for other roles that may come up during that time frame, but there are no guarantees of a suitable position being available. 

Long story short, our future with MAF is uncertain. We will leave this door unlocked by taking a Leave of Absence and see if God leads us through it again, but please pray with us as we cautiously consider God’s leading. We have been in limbo for 18 months since MAF sent us home, trying to return and hoping that things would improve. Living in the unknown has been very draining and we feel we need to be able to settle soon for our family’s sake. 

The reality is that we now need to set up our lives in Australia. Finding somewhere to live and Tim finding work are some of the major challenges we now face and are not made any easier by the lockdowns. Please pray for God’s peace and provision as we head into this rather daunting season.  

We do trust that God has closed this door for a reason and although it feels hard right now, we will look back and in hindsight see how God has been at work- in us and through us. We have been encouraged that God is less concerned with what we do and where we are and is more concerned with who we are becoming. We’re sure there is lots to learn and ask you to pray with us as we go through this transition. We continue to remember Proverbs 16:9- We make our plans, but the Lord directs our path. 

Thankfully, none of this is out of God’s good and sovereign hands. 

We are SO grateful to you our sponsors and supporters who have journeyed with us, encouraged us and been our partners in this mission. THANK YOU! Since we are no longer employed by MAF we no longer receive our living allowance from August onward. As your giving no longer flows through to us, we encourage you to engage with MAF Australia regarding where your donations are now directed. MAF Australia will be sending you a letter outlining options going forward.  

We’re very sad that things seem to have ended this way, but we keep looking up and move forward in faith. It has been an honor serving with you and a blessing to see God at work through us all. We will be in touch if an opportunity to serve with MAF presents itself again. Along with our family, please keep the people of Timor and the MAF program in your prayers during this very challenging time. 

We’re happy to chat anytime (children permitting 😊) if you have any questions or would like to talk things through with us. WhatsApp is the best option due to mobile reception issues.  

Tim- 0434 856 506

Anna- 0431 556 065

Love and blessings,

Tim and Anna (with William, Lily Toby and Emma)