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The Dela people live in Indonesia, an island nation in Asia that has been troubled by political and religious unrest for the last several years. The Dela are one of several language groups that live together on the small island of Rote in well-defined areas established by historic kings. The Dela live at the western extremity of the complex dialect chain, which extends down the island.
One of the Dela people's basic foods is a sweet, milky drink, nirah, that comes from a special variety of lontar palm. The people tap the palm during the five months of dry season each year, drinking the nirah directly and also making it into sugar.
The people grow gardens during the wet season, catch fish, and raise pigs, goats, sheep and water buffalo.
They use horses for transportation, and have begun to grow and sell seaweed, used in food and cosmetic products.
Traders introduced the people of Rote to Christianity in the 1700s. Impressed by the Christian religion, three rulers went to the larger, more populated island of Java to investigate it further. There they became Christians. When they returned to their island, they brought a copy of the Bible, written in the trade language. They set up schools and taught people to read. Soon Christianity spread throughout the island. The Dela people are proud of their faith and their churches but still do not have God's Word in their own language. Pastors use the Indonesian language Bible in services.