Posts Tagged With: death

Part 2. Mysteries, Emotional Rollercoasters and Flickers of Hope

(Please note there are pictures of deceased people here)

I lost a friend. She was 27 years old. She passed away on the 3rd of July 2014. I wanted to write earlier, but couldn’t. It makes me so sad. My malpa wiru (good friend).

We had some laughs, her and I. Most at my expense. šŸ™‚

I met her just after we moved to Alice Springs. She had come in to Alice as she was quite sick and was having some tests done. She was married and had a small beautiful boy. They all turned up at church one day after getting on one of our church busses. She gave her life to Jesus and became a part of God’s family. She lived a long way away, but I saw her again and again over the next couple of years when she would come in from community mostly to visit the hospital. She would always be wearing a bandanna and had the most beautiful smile. Each time she came in I would get to know her a little better, but it wasn’t until about 4 months ago when she came in for her second last trip here that I got to know her a lot better. We would talk of her home, of her family and of her love for Jesus. She wanted to share her story, of how God had changed her life. I did not know at that time of how sick she really was or how much her life hadĀ changed. I thought that she had caught pneumonia and had just taken a while to recoup. I prayed with her often, and even shared her story at her request to a church we spoke at in Adelaide. She was really standing for her faith and it appeared she was getting physically stronger every day. She missed her family terribly and couldn’t wait to be discharged from hospital so she could return home.

She went home, but it was a short lived visit. Within a couple of weeks she was back, with what was to be her last time. This time, the doctors said that this was it. They called the family in. Her mum stayed with her. She had visits from many friends and family. I would go in, often with another friend from church and we would sing together and pray and read the Bible. It was good practice for me to read from her PitjantjatjaraĀ Bible. She would help me read the words, until she got too tired and breathless and then she would just listen.

She urged me to share her story. She wanted people to know that Jesus was the true way. That He was real and how much her life had changed. One day when I was visiting, a lady was there that had known her for a long time. She was a remote nurse and had a lot to do with my friend’s care. I prayed with my friend as I did every time I visited and when we finished the nurse had tears in her eyes. She asked me if I could see her outside for a moment. When out there, she shared how my friend used to be very angry and volatile and an extremely difficult patient, but approximately 2 years ago, she began to see a change in her. Until now where she had seen a major change in her temperament and the way she dealt with people. She said she was certain it was due to my friend becoming a Christian. How wonderful it was to hear the testimony from this lady. She said she had first thought it was because she was being the best nurse, but she quickly realised that this was a profound change. She was not the only one to tell me this.

I had a social worker pull me aside and tell me the same thing a few days later. They could not attribute it to anything else. When I talked to her later about it and she went all shy with me and asked how I found out, I explained it was because she was now shining Jesus so much, that it had changed her so much that even people who didn’t believe in Him could see the difference in her and had to declare it as nothing short of a miracle (or at least something they couldn’t deny).

We were praying for a miracle, but I know she was ready to go home to heaven. She liked me to read the verse about there being (pika wiya) no more pain, no more tears. She made me promise I would tell others of her hope in Jesus, of the life to come if we believe in Him, of how she changed. I promised I would. She wanted to write her story, but sadly she never got to finish. She began, but got too weak.

Friends are hard to come by in this place, but she became my friend. We were from different worlds in some ways and yet we understood one another. The day she said ‘I used to say you were my friend, but now I call you my sister’ I will treasure that for the rest of my life. I pray for her family. In particular her husband and young son. They are wonderful people andĀ areĀ grieving so much.

I did not get to attend her funeral as I would have liked, my son was in hospital and I was with him. I have been holding back the grief of her loss until now as I would find it hard to cope with that and with all that was happening with my son. But it is time now. Time to share what she asked me to. Time to cry. Time to say goodbye.

She was a strong lady in spirit and her body just couldn’t keep up. I don’t understand why God chooses to heal some people and not others. I don’t know why she couldn’t stay here on this earth, but I do know I will see her again. She is with her little girl who she lost when the girl was 1 year old. She missed her terribly. I know she is finally in no pain and having no more suffering. I know she would be singing the song she was given just before she passed away and her smile would be so big as she is in the arms of her saviour. I miss her. As I do the many friends we have lost since arriving here.

The verse she had displayed in her hospital room was fitting for her then and for us now: ‘Be strong and courageous, for I am with you’.

One of the things she had written in her journal

One of the things she had written in her journal

Bronnie, me and our friend

Bronnie, me and our friend

My friend and I

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My friend Mrs Bennett

(Please note that this post contains pictures of deceased people)

Perspective. One of the main things I have gained since moving to Alice. We all look from one perspective or another, but I’m talking about eternal perspective. If here, we lose sight of the eternal perspective, life can become quite depressing at times. Another friend of ours has passed away.

My friend Mrs Bennett. She loved to sing and loved our Jesus. She loved her family and would provide for them however she could. She was always weaving baskets when I saw her at Topsy. She has left behind some wonderful friends who are missing her so much. Mrs Bennett was the first one to introduce our family to the ‘Orange book’. Although Mrs Bennett would more readily sing from the Ć½ellow’ book(Ngaanyatjarra), she was very happy to have the orange book which she brought out for us to sing. This is a Pitjantjatjara Ā hymn book and is a wonderful treasure to our ladies. I have had the privilege of singing with the ladies on occasion some of the songs out of this book and the sound is at times heavenly.

Mrs Bennett came on some road trips with us and would teach us to sing songs or tell Maku to quieten down šŸ™‚ She couldn’t believe how much he liked to talk.

Mrs Bennett and Maku

Mrs Bennett and Maku

Our little boy Maku (Zion) when he heard it was near the time for her to go to be with Jesus was inconsolable. He wept and would not go see her. He didn’t want her to die. But he had a chat on the phone with her once he calmed down and the smile on her face was priceless. My oldest boy Elijah accompanied me in to the hospital to say goodbye to her and she held our hands so tightly. So happy to introduce us to her family who were by her bedside. She introduced Ben to everyone as her teacher. This greatly touched and humbled Ben. She sang nearly right up to the time she went to meet Jesus. They recorded her singing one last time. She was flying back home to Warakuna to see her family and say her goodbyes there but made it to 20mins out from home.

The ladies that stay at Topsy Smith Hostel were great for reminding me of our eternal perspective. The hymns they chose that Thursday for our regular sing-a-long were all about children of a heavenly King and Home with thee and how good heaven will be.

Zion was also good for me in keeping my perspective. He cried and cried, but once he had Ā he said she is with Jesus now and feeling all better. Today he drew a picture of her and him with a disco ball above them, because now she can dance. Just love this kid. He asks questions about her sickness and why she had to die, but he has such a natural conversation about it that death is just a part of life…

We have become acquainted with much sorrow, but we are more and more aware of the joy on the other side, and this is just a glimpse of what is to come. This time on earth is so fleeting, that it makes some other stuff that seemed so important before be seen from aĀ new perspective, a better perspective, an eternal perspective.

Bless you all as you read this. My prayer for you all today is that you will be reminded of the eternal perspective and this will give you new vigour for life. To forgive more readily, live for others and not just ourselves,take risks, follow the call of God and live life to the full… for that is wha

Singing in choir with Mrs Bennett and others
Singing in choir with Mrs Bennett and others

t our Jesus came to give us, life and that to the full!Ā 

One of the baskets she made

One of the baskets she made

zion

Zion’s painting of Mrs and Bennett and him and the disco ball for dancing šŸ™‚

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Rupert (Wapa-wapa) Goodwin

(Please note that this post contains pictures of deceased persons).

Last week, another friend of ours passed away. I remember one day when we had not long arrived and one of my friend’s mumĀ just said ‘you will know grief well around here’. How true and sad that statement is. Once again, this man was close to little maku (my youngest) who prayed for him daily and wanted to go in to say goodbye before Mr Goodwin got to go and be with Jesus. Zion had a dream the night before Mr Goodwin passed away that the angel of death had come, which was interesting.

Rupert knew the stories of the Bible very well and loved to share Ā them, actually he just loved to share any kind of story. Especially stories about when he was a ranger. I’ll never forget the first time I went into his home in Indulkana and the first thing he wanted me to see was the picture of him as a much younger and handsome (his words :-)) man standing with Uluru behind him. It was a fantastic shot and it had been used as an advertisement for tourism. He would talk all day with us if we had the time, and in particular my father and Ben spent countless hours with him having a great chat and prayer.

Rupert had a tough life, but it was a story of survival from start to finish, and he never lost his sense of humour. Rupert was one of the first people we met when we arrived in Alice and was probably the quickest person to warm to us as a family apart from his sister, Sarah. (She passed away last year and you can read about itĀ  hereĀ in earlier posts on this site also here). He had a love for Hawaiian shirts and cowboy hats with bright feathers. One day I will share the story of his sister rescuing him when he was a baby.

He treasured his wife Yula and his children. He carried a photo of Yula around in his wallet and would show anyone he could and say and show how beautiful his wife was. She is a wonderful lady and is of course finding this time tough, she was with him when he passed and she had beautiful moments in his last couple of days to play songs they had treasured and just sit and chat with him.

I am not sure of Rupert’s exact age, but I am prettyĀ sure he is around my father’s age. It is pretty sobering to see renal failure take its toll on people. Although we will miss Mr Goodwin, we are glad that he had a relationship with Jesus Christ and so he is once again able to run around, and enjoy God’s creation in heaven. On earth, life was getting pretty tough, but now he is free and well and reunited with his sister. Please pray for his family at this time of sadness, and pray for those that don’t know the Father who loves them, that they will have an encounter with Him during this time. Thank you.

20130215_165719 Mr Goodwin and Ronald 001

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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

DSCF9221

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 šŸ™‚

DSCF9213

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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Baptisms

Today we baptised 17 people who are a part of our church. To watch the people who chose today to be baptised as an act of obedience to their Lord Jesus was wonderful. The age range was from 7 years old to 60 something!Ā  I am in awe that I have been privileged to be a part of their spiritual journey so far. They come from such varied backgrounds and all have their story to tell of how they came to be where they are today. I could hardly contain my excitement. One lady, who has to use a walker was so adamant she was getting baptised. She had asked me a couple of months earlier and I was so excited when she entered the water today. It was difficult, it was a ‘swallow the pride’ moment as she worked to get into the pool, and yet she was so determined. She loves her Jesus, and you can tell. Her face just beams.

She has become a good friend of mine. She was one of the first ladies I met when I arrived here. Her name is Maggie.

Maggie and I

Maggie and I

Maggie baptism

maggie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She lives in a hostel here in town as she needs renal dialysis 3 times a week and so it is impossible for her to return home for long periods of time. She started following Jesus last year, we prayed together on a day in October and she has been a different Maggie since. She is sometimes in a lot of pain, but when we pray together, the pain dissipates. I don’t understand why God hasn’t healed her completely, but she keeps coming to Him, and asks for prayer. These people are my heroes. Many of them face such adversity, and yet they continue on. Their God carries them.

It was a special day today. There were salvations and baptisms. People that had never come to church before but got on the church bus, chose to follow Jesus. And are keen to begin doing Bible Studies. Tears were flowing. Hearts were changing. The Holy Spirit was so strong I could hardly stand whilst I was praying for people. Exciting times. All I can say, is I feel blessed to be a part of God at work and say “more Lord, More!!”

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Tribute to Marlene

Marlene and her niece Marlene

Marlene and her niece Marlene

Marlene ready for her birthday trip to the Pizza house

Marlene ready for her birthday trip to the Pizza house

A few weeks back a lady shared with me a vision she had. I knew then, that her time was short here on earth, but that she was going to a far better place… A few of you might have read a part of this on Facebook, but let me recap:

Was just talking with a lady this evening who was on her death bed and she said she saw a large angel standing in the doorway and she was picked up by a man she recognised as Jesus. She was taken during this vision, to ICU where she saw her body lying on the bed. All around her were people singing praises. Next thing she knew she was back in her body and looking up at the doctor and nurse and said she wanted to go back to her home. She said ‘you know my heart’s no good, my kidney they no good either, and my leg and my arm, but one day it’ll be alright. I love Him, that Jesus and he love me proper good one’. I don’t think it’s long til she goes for good to see her Friend Jesus and be reunited with loved ones, I see no more fear in her… though, she could suprise us and live another 10 years… just nice Jesus gave her that glimpse of no more pain, and no more sorrow.

On the 25th December, Christmas Day, she had her last day on this earth. She had a lovely day. She was surrounded by family, her absolute delight. She had children around her (she called the sound of children ‘music’:-) ) then in the afternoon she asked to be wheeled down into the Todd River bed (dry of course) and she had a massive heart attack and passed away.

I had seen her two days before, and she was the happiest and most peaceful I had seen her in a while. She was busy practising a song to sing at church. Well she can sing it with an awful big choir now!

Marlene made a huge impact on our family’s life. She was the one that gave my youngest boy the name Maku which means white edible grub(witchetty grub)- because of his pale skin. She loved him and he adored her. He would pray for her every night “please heal Marlene’s leg”. One day when she was in hospital our second boy went in to visit her and taught her how to play the card game ‘fish’, she loved it. I think she wouldn’t have cared what he taught her, just that he was showing her special attention and laughing with her.

We took her out on her birthday and went to a restaurant and had pizza. She was so delighted. She thought everyone had forgotten her birthday.

Another family and ours went to the hostel where she spent her last days and sung Christmas Carols with her and her mother. I felt like it was one of the most important “concerts” we have ever been a part of, even if it was our smallest audience. I felt the presence of God around and renewed my sense, that this is what it’s all about- the ones, not the crowds.

She always said that my mum and I were like beautiful roses, always make her heart feel joy.

She was firey as anything and sometimes when I would come to visit it would take a while for her to calm down, but as I listened she would quieten, and then when she was finished she would ask me to put some worship music on for her. A highlight for her was when some of the Stirling team came up to meet her and sung acapella for her when she was in hospital, she sung in return to them in language.

I loved Marlene. She was a treasured friend, and she called us her family. “You mob are my family now”. I will miss her greatly, but as Zion said when we told him, “well now she will have both her legs and she will be able to run”!

Marlene loved Jesus. She had pictures up of Him all over her place, and now she gets to be with Him, all day, everyday.

Marlene knew at least five languages, had spent some of her life in Haas Bluff, Ntaria, Papunya and Alice Springs as well as other places. She had many brothers and sisters but a few of them she hasn’t seen since they were taken away when she was young she’d say “you know, they were the light skin ones hey”. Her first husband passed away in Hermansburg and then she lived in Papunya. She loved shopping and was hoping we were going to take a trip to Adelaide to shop šŸ™‚ my sort of lady! She loved to be outside, and loved music. She would sing up the front at church sometimes.

Tonight was her memorial service. We sung At Home with Thee in Pitjantjara and Ngaanytjara. It was so moving.

She will be missed. Please pray for her niece who was her carer as she is taking it quite hard. She has cared for her for a long time, was brought up by her and is her namesake.

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If you die tonight… what would become of the leftovers?

When we die, unless we have some Lazarus experience it’s what I would call final. Complete. No turning back.

What then becomes of our leftovers? In this instance of course I am not primarily talking of food (though I suppose if you died in the middle of a meal then I could be talking literally šŸ™‚ ). I am talking about one, the things we have accumaulated, two, the activities we have engaged in and three, the relationships we have fostered (or not). Left-overs are the part of the meal that is left when we have finished up the original meal. Other people will be the ones to partake or throw out our leftovers and once we have had the meal (this life) we cannot decide what becomes of leftovers.

Are the things I am spending my time, money and emotions on worth passing on to someone else to continue to partake of? Or are they destined for the rubbish, the smell pungent as milk left out in a sundrenched car or worse- off fish. Have I left the feeling of others wanting more and wanting to duplicate what has been my meal?

I heard that a beautiful old man spent his time asking: If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity? But I don’t think that is the end of the questions. If you have chosen to make Jesus Christ your God and know that heaven with Him awaits you, then I think that there are further questions we must begin to ask ourselves.

Does my life reflect the One I follow? Will my lifestyle and the choices I make cause someone to seek out my lifestyle?Ā  or be non-plussed? or even repelled by it? I read in the Bible today in the book of James that it says that “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes and enemy of God”, it says that when we ask God for things we do not recieve them because we ask with wrong motives, so that we can spend our money on sinful pleasures.This passage is not talking about locking ourselves up in our room and never interacting with other people. It is talking about when we live for our pleasures, when we seek out things with selfish ambition. When we fill our lives with lust, drunkeness, witchcraft (no matter how “tame”), jealousy, hatred then we become an enemy of God. Our leftovers are not one that will leave a legacy for our children and definitely not draw people to know our Christ.

In all honesty, how do I stand out from those that have no belief in our Jesus? Am I quick to forgive because I have been forgiven much? Do I choose to stay away from things because it might cause someone else to stumble? Do I choose to fill my mind with things that areĀ pure, noble, trustworthy or just what will give a laugh, what will get me ” popular”? HaveĀ  I seared my conscience that I can’t hear the Holy Spirit when He says, walk this way, don’t watch that, DO talk to that person etc… Am I more concerned about ME and the enjoyment I can have on this earth that I have forgotten that it carries no weight for my future destination not to mention future generations. Have I been more consumed with accumulating wealth on this earth for me that I have forgotten my hungry brothers and sisters?

I ate some really nice leftovers today. Chicken stirfry from last nights meal. Sometimes I think food tastes better as left overs…. That is the kind of taste I want to leave in peoples mouths when I pass from this life to my destiny. I want people left wanting more, copying and bettering what I had done. Remembered for my love and passion for God, his people and life. Remembered for the sweet aroma that comes from being with someone who has allowed themselves to be purified in the fire. To be laid on the operating table and healed.

And so my question to you today: If you were to die tonight…what would become of your leftovers?

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