fun in the sun

Basics 101

This is an excerpt from Ben my husband’s new blog. It has been in the pipeline for a while, he has just found his way through the technological side of publishing a post. ūüôā

lensofben

Following the basics:

A blameless heart… keeping eyes from that which is corrupt… removing oneself from those who are fickle…

Living life is no picnic.

There are potholes, hazards, tripwires… All of these ensure that you watch your step; because each one of those traps will cost you dearly.

At the start, the traps seem harmless. If you stumble over one pothole you can think, ‚ÄėOh, that didn‚Äôt hurt as much as I thought it would‚Äô. And so the next traps don‚Äôt bother you too much. The next time you look up to see what the damage is, you don‚Äôt even recognise what you see; it is complete carnage.

Everything you held dear is destroyed or dismembered because you didn’t care to watch out for the traps.

I have seen many people drop their guard to become popular; drop their guard to be liked or accepted by those who they…

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The word of their testimony

The team from Stirling Source Church in South Australia arrived on our doorstep last Saturday afternoon not knowing what the week ahead might hold for them. Most of the team were seasoned yearly visitors to the Alice, but this year we decided to change things up.

For many of them, it was the first time they shared their testimonies. A few of them felt they didn’t really have much to share, but as they looked over their lives they realised that God had taken them all on a journey, and they could speak of God’s grace and faithfulness on their sometimes difficult and individual paths. As the week progressed, so did their confidence, and people were moved and the

team sharing at the hostel

opportunities for prayer increased.

Never underestimate the power of  your testimony. As said in the book of Revelation

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death

Our testimony is one third of the integral way we overcome the enemy, and the team got an opportunity to see how powerful their testimonies are. People responded with wanting prayer (experiencing God healing people), to others wanting to share parts of

their own stories as well as experiencing people come to salvation and rededicating their lives.

The testimonies were one highlight of an extremely hot and challenging week for the team. Another was their faith in action, doing some yard blitzes for those unable to do so themselves. This was a blessing to the families as they saw people who barely knew them working hard to make their lives easier.

One of t

he ways some of the team ministered to us was when they took time for our children. In particular, Becky and Vanessa who gave up some of their ‘free time’ to play with the boys and teach them sewing. Thanks ladies, this was beautiful.

My prayer for this team is that they will grow in their knowledge and understanding of their God the Father who was willing to lay down his most precious possession for them, his Son, and that this will spur them on to live a life of good works as an outworking of His love in them.stirling team

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Another bus story

Ben (my husband), has done quite a bit of study on building inter-cultural relations and one of the things he has shared with me that has stuck with me: ¬†that they (not quite sure who¬†they¬†is, but let’s just go with experts in the field) say that humour does not cross cultures. You cannot assume that something funny for you will be funny to another people group. Well I suppose that can be said to be true if any media stories are to be taken as truth, where ‘jokes’ have gone wrong when they go off shore, or when I take my Greek friends to see “the Castle” and they give me a strange look and then I go to a live ‘Wog Boys’ ¬†show and they are falling off their chairs laughing whilst I am merely falling asleep.

But I have seen humour cross the cultural barriers when there is friendship. Something happens as you become familiar with people and they let their guard down, and we become playful. Where am I going with all this? Well where I inevitably go, if you talk to me long enough… to the church bus run.

On Sunday, a guy from church (we’ll call him Joel) and I, go on one of the bus runs for our church. Now we more or less pick up the same people every week and have the same conversation every week. We pick up a lot of older ladies from hostels in town (where they are living so they can get to their renal dialysis appointments 3 times a week). Twice a week we have the pleasure of picking up these ladies who most are walker or wheelchair bound and take them to church activities. Every week, they ask where Ben is, and I tell them, he’s waiting for them at church. They then ask where Maku (my youngest boy) is, and I tell them he’s at church waiting for them. And every week it’s the same, except for our random weeks, which I love. Like this Sunday.

Yesterday, we needed to drop off a gentleman on a different side of town than we usually go with our run, and we decided to take him first as the ladies usually like to go for a drive. So we began to travel slightly north, and they begin to say, where you taking us? Darwin? I say yes, and so begins the banter, in which most of them get involved, even the grumpy man at the back who said we were taking too long to get him home for his lunch. They say “the driver man (Joel) can catch us some fish… with a spear. And the man at the back can get us some kangaroo, which he says we can eat raw…” and so it continues…. it was as if the event was really taking place and we were all to be involved including the driver man hitting a goanna which we could cook up.

Now to you reading this, ¬†you may say where is the humour in this… Maybe it’s not hysterics, but it is playful, banter, imagination, fun… crossing all sorts of boundaries, cultural, age, gender and it worked. There was not one of us on that bus that wasn’t smiling and enjoying the story… It was a wonderful experience of humour crossing boundaries where it ‘should’ not apparently. I love being a part of these times. Stories that are really ‘you had to be there’ sort of stories, but one’s that convince me of this: that¬†love is what crosses all boundaries that are in our way. And where there is true love (that only God can give) for the people you come into contact with, no matter how hard and daunting it can sometimes be, good things happen and people’s barriers begin to come down… and true friendship begins and deepens.

Bus run

Some of the people we pick up on the bus

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how beautiful…are the feet that bring good news

Sunday morning

Sunday morning

Kids Club

Kids Club

Youth group

Youth group

From time to time we have teams that visit Alice Springs and bunk down at our home for a week. Last week 18 young people descended on us- affectionately known as ‘Seaton Mob’. Lots of new faces, including Tom, who has seen the miracles of God flowing in his life, in particular over the last year where he has been recovering from being hit by a truck, whilst riding his bicycle. He really is a walking, talking, laughing (and what a laugh that is:-) ) miracle.
The team was headed up by Sam, a fella who quietly and confidently led the team, even though at times he had no idea what he was getting himself into…
This year saw many changes. In the past outreach teams main focus has been to run kids programs. This time around we wanted to see if there was a way of reaching whole families, and encourage the people in our congregation, as well as do some street outreach- singing and prayer.
The team sung in a few of the hostels that we have relationships with through church and the response at those places was fantastic from both the residents and the staff. The people were so happy to have the team sing for them and were encouraged by their prayers for them. One person even shared how last year he was prayed for and was healed.
There were healings happening when the team were praying this year as well!
What brought me great joy was when the team took our youth out to Telegraph Station and played some games and had a BBQ tea. There were a couple of our guys who chose to start following Jesus that night- priceless.
The kids club was good too. Due to some technical difficulties, the team had to show their flexibility and run the program outside. And to their credit, they held the 40+ children’s attention for an hour. Well done team!
Ben and I love to see young people come and give of their time and grow in confidence with growing and sharing their faith. When I was a young teen, not that long ago really ;-), a Pastor was willing to give me a go sharing my faith and just giving things a go, and he put me in good stead for where I am at today. He birthed a passion in me that couldn’t even be put out when I detoured off the path for a while, and it was that seed planted in me then, that ultimately brought me back on the narrow road as Jesus so calls it. It is our hope that these times in Alice can be the same for these young adventurers. That they are spurred on to go deeper in God, not be satisfied with the status quo, that they will stand out and stand up for righteousness and injustice and be passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, not just with their lips but with their lives as well.

The first day some of the team were quite timid when they went out on the streets, but by the end some of the girls were so excited that they might have another opportunity to pray with someone. Just beautiful. They even learnt a chorus in Pitjantjatjara, which according to someone in the know, was “deadly”- that means good :-).

Our church were blessed by the time they spent here. (Must mention Jill Daly and Bethany’s food was exceptional once again- wasn’t it Joel?)

Things didn’t always go to plan (but when¬†do¬†they in Alice?) and we faced some opposition, but I do believe it was a fruitful time. I know our family were blessed and laughed a lot and danced a little, bring on the Bollywood.
Look forward to the next team (after hopefully some sleep ;-)) and seeing what God has in store for us and them.
The verse that springs to mind as I think on this team and the others that come our way… “How¬†beautiful on¬†the¬†mountains¬†are¬†the¬†feet¬†of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” Isaiah 52:7.

Todd Mall

Todd Mall

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The Vibe

The CrossI was asked what my favourite part of the Easter weekend was…. I have to admit, I found it hard to find ‘my favourite’, it was a really special weekend… so I replied with the only thing that I felt would express it truly: it was ‘the vibe’ of the thing (coined beautifully in the movie ‘the Castle”:-) ).

The whole weekend was about the church being a family, being the church. The services were great: filled with people singing and dancing and artwork that was unbelievable, but everyone who wanted to be involved, could be. And there was such an excitement and anticipation in almost everyone that was there. Love was just oozing out of the place. Even those that like to be grumpy, couldn’t help themselves but smile a couple of times at least.

Were the items perfect? No. Did it run smoothly? No But we had 4 year olds to 70+ year olds getting up and expressing their love for their Saviour Jesus. And it brought tears to my eyes.

The fellowship that weekend was special also. We had lots of unplanned get togethers that were just pure fun. Picnics, BBQs, cricket, walks, Maccas and it was just beautiful. Old and new friends. People we had never met before to family.

I wish you could have all joined us for this time. This weekend was all about our church remembering who Jesus is and why he did what he did. His cause was outworked implicitly and explicitly throughout the entire weekend that Jesus came to give life, and not just life, but life to the full… abundant, full, joyful, in relationship with Him, and His people.

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Beautiful dance on Good Friday- Lead me to the Cross

Karen and Rosie

Karen and Rosie

BBQ and cricket funBBQ and cricket fun

DSCF9220Some of the kids singing a Pitjantjatjara chorus

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The choir. These ladies are just amazing at singing. Felt privileged to have the chance to hear them sing

Sunday Resurrection Dance. The boys even cut loose with some break dancing :-)

Sunday Resurrection Dance. The boys even cut loose with some break dancing ūüôā

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At the young people's Bible Study we had a foot washing just like Jesus did with his disciples at His last meal before the cross

At the young people’s Bible Study we had a foot washing just like Jesus did with his disciples at His last meal before the cross

We shared a passover meal together at Bible Study Thursday night

We shared a passover meal together at Bible Study Thursday night

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The boys helped do the background for the cross

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Some more pics of our Glen Helen stay

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Glen Helen

After a busy few months we were blessed by some wonderful people who sent us away for a night to Glen Helen Resort. It was lovely to be out of mobile range and just enjoy some family time. Our boys enjoyed the much needed time to explore and have their parents to themselves. We had a fantastic time, played monopoly, cards and explored and enjoyed the terrain. I thought I would share some photos of our trip. Probably one of the greatest things I am missing about the terrain is being within easy access to a beach, so I suppose this was the next best thing. Sitting on the sand, closing my eyes, in the warmth of the sun I could (almost)ūüôā feel a gentle sea breeze… and the boys got to splash in the biggest body of water we had seen in a few months… We also explored Ormiston Gorge where we got to experience a dingo up closer than Josiah would like. The cave that the boys found went a lot deeper than we first thought. Josiah wanted to live there ūüôā it was nice and warm.

Look close and you can see the cave the boys climbed up to and in

Elijah and Josiah in the cave entrance

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Trip to Indulkana

Footy in the bush

When I was a little girl my family would go to a little community called Kyogle where some friends lived and we would stay and play. Travelling into Indulkana gave me a trip down memory lane. Not that the terrain looked the same. It was the set out of the town, but more it was the¬†smiles on the children’s faces. They reminded me of my friends smiles, the little girl in me wanted to go and run and play with them.

Indulkana is a community in South Australia, a¬†couple of hours¬†south of the Northern Territory border. It is set on a hill with beautiful views into a valley and overlooking other hills. The first thing you notice when entering the town is the footy field. Not the lush green field that most of you would be used to seeing, but this beautiful red earth ground. When the fellas kick the ball the dust goes flying into the air with the ball. The¬†community has a store in the centre, a school, and a small church with a large open-air space with 2 sails above¬†the “stage area”.

I came on this trip with my mum, and friend Sarah who was from here and all her family were very happy to see her. Just over a month ago, Sarah’s aunty Angkuna, was in hospital and Sarah and Sarah’s brother and I went to visit her. She was quite sick and had just had her appendix out. I had the privilege of praying with Angkuna and brought her in a Pitjantjara Bible when I next visited. I did not get to see her again before she left for home, but a couple of weeks ago Sarah had said that Angkuna had asked if I would come down to Indulkana and see her. Sarah keen always to go for a trip home (she is in Alice Springs because she needs dialysis 3 times a week) said she would take me, so we made our plans. I had no idea what awaited me.

When I arrived it was footy time and just like the Barossa, the whole town turns out to the game and everyone parks around the footy field and (because the wind was so cold) most people sat in their cars and tooted when their team got a goal whilst the little kids mucked around on the sidelines. And at quarter the fellas walk

¬†¬†in to the huddle to hear what the coach has to say whilst the little kids get a quick kick on the field…. the similarities were amusing to me- football is a culture all of its own and has the same language no matter where you are it seems…

Sarah had bought some fizzy drink and chips for the grandkids so we found them and delivered them and were able to give some beanies and jumpers that some lovely ladies in Tasmania had made. It was lovely to meet Sarah’s son and daughter. And one of the grandchildren is what I imagine Sarah would have looked like when she was younger. Cute locks. Beautiful smile. Cheeky eyes.

We then went in search of Angkuna.

When Angkuna saw me she moved quickly at me and¬†gave me a huge hug. I didn’t know how she would respond to me whether it would be a shy smile or shake my hand or a look of who are you? so when I was grabbed into a big hug and then she was holding my hand and smiling at me I was overwhelmed. It was lovely to feel loved and remembered. We went and she showed us the old church platform that she said was built a long time ago and said she used to sing and read from there.

Having a chat in the car out of the cold

¬† She was sad that they no longer met there. I was so frustrated that I didn’t know the language well. She was talking to¬†us in language and English so I was picking up what I could. Thank God that I had learnt some words from Sam who has been teaching our family Pitjantjara and he also¬†loaned me a dictionary so I have been working through their Bible learning words. This helped, but I felt so inadequate, but Sarah was a good help to me. We prayed together.

Suddenly as quickly as it started, somehow without any conversation, it was done. Angkuna went. Sarah said we were finished. Mum and my original plan was to only go Saturday, sit with them, share and then head back  in the morning on Sunday, but they had thought differently. That was enough for today. Sarah said as we were driving to Marla that we were expected back tomorrow. So we went to Marla for the night. (this is a town 1/2 hr down the road where we were staying). Sarah came with us and so we had a good night playing cards, her laughing at me trying to speak Pitjantjara, watching TV and drooling over cooking shows and hearing some stories from Sarah of her younger wilder days as well as her worries of her family.

The next morning after we had breakfast we headed back to Indulkana where Angkuna was waiting for us with her family around a

¬†campfire. When I got there I was handed¬†a little boy whom I wasn’t¬†told¬†his name until later (¬†because when a person dies that you are named after the family do not like to mention their name¬†for a time and¬†the little boy¬†was named after his father who had just died recently.)¬†He was a cute little kid and was pointing out all the dogs to me. We then headed over to a visiting evangelist, Binyi and his wife from Ernabella. They shared in song and then he preached a word that we are to stand firm in the faith and be strong in the Lord. It was wonderful to worship with brothers and sisters in the Lord and meet some other people I hadn’t met but felt they knew me because when Angkuna arrived home she gave the Bible I gave to her in hospital to another lady. She too hugged me and sat me down next to her. I was once again given the baby and the young kids who were playing soccer in the middle of the service (my sort of church service ūüôā came over and would sit with me and smile and touch my hair and hug me and then go and play again. Ladies were also talking with my mum and holding her hand and singing with her. We really enjoyed the service. I knew it was getting late, and with no phone service i was unable to tell Ben I was ok and he was expecting me home before dark, so I tried to leave, but I was told that first we needed to go to the cemetery.

Sarah wanted to visit the grave of one of her brothers, but also the community was holding an unveiling ceremony, which I suppose is like a memorial service in our culture. Those family that were unable to make the funeral were able to pay their tributes and evangelist Binyi was able to share a very encouraging message that in our Father’s house are many rooms, and that Jesus goes to prepare a place for us. I was so moved by the way that we were invited to take part and that they included us in this special event. The wife of the man who had died (also her young daughter 7 years old) had died in an accident, she came and led me to their grave and stood holding my hand. They all shake hands with one another as a sign of being with them in their grief. It was a sad but beautiful event I felt honoured to witness and in a small way be a part of.

I got to talk with the minister there (who also¬† teaches the young people footy:-) ). He said that about 8 years ago, the community were in a special spot spiritually and within a matter of a month I think he said that they wrote 120 songs! I have one of the double CD’s of that time and they are beautiful and anointed songs.

All in all¬†it was a great experience. I enjoyed getting to know new people. I got to experience things I had never experienced even some food that’ll I’ll need to ask what the name of it is. But most of all I got to see God at work.

As we were leaving the town, two ladies flagged me down and one was the lady that had received the Bible from Angkuna. She said “Palya¬†malpa wiru” which means see you good friend. And I really felt like I had met a good friend. We traveled on, and a reminder that we were out bush saw a family of wild pigs. I stopped to get¬† a photo but then they started coming at the car so I only got a photo whilst driving away :-).
I have other things that happened, but this is the gist. The other things are to be told in person. I’m looking forward to my next trip there.

Wild Pigs

My prayer is that we were a light and an encouragement, and that I will have opportunities again to learn as much as I did on this trip and see my new friends again.

I apologise there are not many photos of the gatherings, I didn’t feel like it would have been appropriate except for the one’s where I was able to ask like with Sarah and Angkuna, so you will have to use your imagination (just think lots of red dirt ūüôā ).

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school fun

more affectionately known as Elijah

looking mean huh ūüôā

Today our house was very cold indeed so I decided that baking was definitely on the agenda (don’t you love the organisational skills oozing out of me. So whilst we preheated the oven (for a good half hour:-) we did our maths and English at the dining room table as that was closest to the oven and therefore the warmest.
The boys were doing great at their work and we made cupcakes with the littlest mess I have seen in a long time… nice. While the cupcakes cooked Elijah had a plan (as he always does) we could do face painting… so our day has now consisted of cooking and imagining and now they are playing together pretending to be the super heroes and villians they created and got me to make their faces like… aaah it’s been a great morning. Trying to remember this and savour these moments.

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Seaton Mob

One day short of two weeks ago our first outreach team arrived on our doorstep. A team of energetic teens and some wonderful leaders, not to mention a superb cook and a quirky bus driver. We didn’t know quite what to expect. What will we do with all these teenagers at our place for a week and how our boys will handle the onslaught of so many people invading their territory, but it was more than a pleasant surprise: it was wonderful.

Some of the team had been many times before, but for about 8 of them it was their first time. One girl was only 11 (i think, maybe 12) and so she looked a little wide-eyed at times.

So what does an outreach team do? Well our church in Alice Springs is a part of many other larger churches around Australia (not to mention other parts of the world). And these churches send teams to churches in Central Australia and beyond, to run kids clubs or street ministry and give our regular ministry team a break on the Sunday so they get a chance to be ministered to. Depending on the team coming and their strengths usually shapes some of the things they do, but they all get stretched whether they are old hat or not.

Back to our team from Seaton Christian Family Centre (and two fellas from Hobart CfC). They came in single file carrying their swags and all but one with a big grin ready for action.

They went around to different parts of Alice to invite kids to the Kids Club they would be running over the next few days and then set up ready to begin. I had the pleasure of being a part of one of the bus runs out to the town camps past the gap. It was a time when I could get to know a part of the team and also form relationship with the kids that came on the bus.

Photo by Jill Daly

By the end of the week we had over 50 kids coming along, and then we ran a BBQ by the Todd River on the Saturday night. The team were great. Some of the ones who had been shy and reserved at the start of the week were talking with people and inviting them to come and have a free feed and a chat. It was great to see people asking for prayer and wanting to talk about Jesus.

Sunday morning, we got to see some faces from the BBQ the night before as they turned up for our regular service. It was great to see the outreach team full of young teens so keen to serve people regardless of their background. Some of the team shared testimonies, some sung, others helped out at Sunday School or handed around communion, but they were all involved. It was lovely.

It wasn’t all work and no play. We had a nice time in Todd Mall shopping, and watched the sunset at Anzac Hill and cut hair and tattooed their skin (ok not permanent, don’t get alarmed)- some talented artists in our midst I must say.

Pastor Tim did a great job of keeping everyone together and dealt with minor hiccups so effectively you hardly noticed they were happening.

If I had to share my feelings about having the team here, I would say I was a tad ambivalent. I was encouraged to see young people want to serve. I was impressed by their behaviour (can’t say I would have been able to say the same at their ageJ). I was touched by how God was working in their lives and in the lives of the people they met. I laughed more than I have in a while, and made some new friends which is always a bonus.

When they left however, I was saddened. Although encouraged that the team would come all this way to¬†support us and the church family here in Alice, I suddenly felt just how far we are away from everyone. And I felt the most isolated I have since we arrived. They came and had fun and ministered, and left. We came, have fun, minister… and stay. Not that I want to go. I just maybe got a glimpse of what people were meaning when they looked at us in a strange way when we said we were coming out here. The silence was a little disconcerting for me the day the team left. I was exhausted but had really enjoyed the fellowship.

Now before any of you get any ideas that I am in crisis and start your worrying, I am fine. Actually it was good for me. Good to remember the call. Good to take stock. Good to be thankful for my church family here, and not take friendships for granted.

And so you know, our boys enjoyed the team and were treated so well. Josiah although a tad nervous even warmed to them.

My prayer for the people that came on the outreach team is that they would not just have a ‚Äúcamp experience‚ÄĚ that is so exciting when they first get that touch, or rush of excitement and then fade into a nostalgic memory. But one that becomes embedded in them. That it will be the start of a deeper walk with their Creator. That as they walk on from here into their ‚Äėnormal‚ÄĚ lives that the voice of God won‚Äôt be drowned out, but they will listen and respond quicker and more obediently every time. That they will throw off and get rid of the things in their lives that hinder them and that they will run with all their might with the ultimate prize in their eyesight. Not earthly treasures but the ones that are worth more than gold… eternal treasures.¬† I pray that they have the boldness and strength to do it, even if it is not the popular thing to do.

If you came on the outreach team and are reading this, then thank you for a wonderful experience. We hopefully will see you again up here, but if not here then down in Adelaide some time.

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