Posts Tagged With: Indigenous

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 ýellow’ book(Ngaanyatjarra), she was very happy to have the orange book which she brought out for us to sing. This is a Pitjantjatjara  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 🙂 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  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 a 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! 

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 🙂

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God’s ways are higher

The grief we witness here on a regular basis is at times overwhelming, but on the other hand, having the people of Central Australia as a part of our lives, and the way we have been embraced, and the stories we have been told, which we otherwise would never have known have far outweighed the sorrow. Our opportunities to share of God’s love with their families are wonderful, but when people share with us their journey of faith and their wisdom we are bestowed treasures.

What I wouldn’t give to see these wonderful ladies and men healed so they could return to their families and their homes, and we pray and believe for that to happen. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I hear a lot about the latest catch cry ‘on earth as in heaven’ and what people think that means like bringing our idea of perfection here and all people are healed etc… well I think it is possibly deeper than that. Healings are great yes, prosperity is comfortable yes… but gold comes through the fire and is refined… and is lasting… perhaps on earth as it is in heaven is more about our will bending to His, our ambitions being set aside for His, and our ways, not taking precedence of His…Things will not be perfect this side of heaven and God is not interested in us taking glory for ourselves and becoming a big name, he is interested in matters of the heart… persecution came on the early church because they needed to spread the word… perhaps sometimes our earthly suffering is sometimes the same…God giving opportunity for us to expand our reach…I know I would maybe have never met these people if they were not here in town… and I see that even in the midst of sickness and suffering, that they are making an impact on the lives of others… on my life… by being here… I am by no means saying that God is a sadistic god who uses our suffering for his gain… I’m just thinking on how God utilises these things in our lives to bring about his purposes…all this to say… I am thankful for my richer life and the different perspectives I am seeing because of the life of the people I have met…

I do get glimpses of ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ but not usually how one would expect: it’s by looking in people’s eyes and hearing their heartbeat.alice-springs-pictures-3

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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 mum 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  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 it  here 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 pretty 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 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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the heart and Body

Alice is literally in the centre of Australia, and some have gone so far to say it’s the heartbeat. So if it’s where the heartbeat of our nation is at, then we had better look after it, as I’m pretty sure the heart is a vital part of us sustaining life. Right? 😉

People come and go from this place, some unmoved by the atmosphere but loving the landscape and blue skies, others disillusioned by the hardness and dreams lost and buried here. Others are awakened here… they sense the heartbeat calling them in, drawing them in to new things and adventures untold and the deep wells of spiritual wealth in this place… and so they come. For a short while or long. Some fly in for a whirlwind tour to scout the land and feel their way and encounter new things. Others leave everything behind and come to sow their lives- some last that out, others leave from the sheer magnitude of life in the desert with its challenges and obstacles and tireless needs.

Over the last month, we have encountered many new faces and some old long-time friends who have all been drawn to this wonderful place our family have come to call home, and the exciting thing is, they have all sensed the same thing. God is doing a new thing. He is preparing the soil for a new and fresh outpouring of his Spirit and His body (His church) are getting hungry, and are awakening from their slumber and listening to the call for harvesters. Some are finding their feet and where they fit in with what God is doing here.

This week in particular we have had visits from some beautiful people who have encouraged our souls and prayed with and for us. This prayer and worship time was refreshing and just what I needed and didn’t know it. The body of Christ was doing its job. Edifying one another and spurring one another on. The coolest thing about it, was that these people were unknown to me. We were connected by our love for Christ and a love for people. The rest naturally followed. I am very aware that we often get caught up in the natural world we live in and forget about how the spiritual or supernatural is intricately intertwined in our lives… but as Watchman Nee said we are spiritual people having a natural experience, not the other way around. When we walk with God close, our lives don’t look the same as others. Our cravings are different from others, and we find ourselves in awesome experiences and being a part of naturally-supernatural moments.

The body of Christ is an amazing family, that reaches far past our nationality, language, culture and family ties. Jesus binds us together, that we can feel connected to a believer whose baby needs prayer in the Philippines, to an Indigenous man riding his horse over Australia to reach people for Jesus, and to a bunch of Koreans who come and sing and pray at your house just because they love the Lord and were obedient to His call. This body is made up of a bunch of once unruly, misfits, thieves, slanderers, murderers etc who have now laid down their former lives and said yes to the gift of life from Jesus Christ… a motley crew who, with warts and all, God chooses to outwork his grand plan of giving people opportunity to once again commune with him.

I love this body, and thank God I’m in Alice, where I get to see all these people come in, wanting to be a part of the heartbeat of Australia, be a part of its call and where I get to see daily, my God at work in ordinary people who are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of Jesus. I believe as we lay aside our own agendas and how we think things should pan out, we’ll see God weaving his tapestry and we’ll begin to flow in time with Him and see even greater things than we can imagine. This heartland of Australia will begin to beat in time with His heart and bring healing first here and then flow on and on.

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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.

DSCF9218

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 🙂

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

20130307_091110

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!  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 🙂 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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It’s been a while

Just reading a friend’s blog and am finally inspired to write again. If only so one day I might look back and remember where I was, and where I was hoping to go.

It has been 11 months since we moved here with our 3 little boys and embarked on the journey of our lives. This has been a settling, stretching year in our lives, but not one that has felt too hard to adjust to. It is like we were made to be here. It is like all the other things in our lives were equipping us for this moment (as I am sure we will feel about this time in our future endeavours).
It is true that He equips those He calls… The lives we have seen changed by the power of prayer has been beautiful. We are looking forward to God outpouring more in signs and wonders as the church of Alice Springs rises up.

This town is often put on the map for all the wrong reasons, but I believe that we will see the day when the media will be piling in to get the scoop on what God is doing in this town. What does it say? Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more!!

Every time I see the Todd River flowing (which has only been twice this year, it is often a dry river bed) I get excited in my spirit. I see that God wants to flow in this town just like that river, but as a constant flow, not  a now-and-again happening but a well-spring of life, bringing joy, freedom and healing.

You know life here seems pretty normal to us with it’s going on, but Ben’s younger brother and wife arrived recently and they looked a little wide-eyed and culture shocked and I realised that what has become the norm for us (the interesting visits at the gate for one thing) is not everyday experiences in most peoples’ lives.

We have had an interesting couple of months, both Ben and I have been in hospital (Ben with appendicitis and me collapsing and getting my first ride in an ambulance). There has been some interesting people coming in trying to upset what God is doing here in Alice, but our God is faithful and His presence is very real in our lives. The exciting thing for me is that God is speaking to our children and they are feeling/ seeing Him at work in their lives, not just hearing it from us.

Ben has started working a couple of days on The Ghan (Train) as his study is coming to an end. The boys are still homeschooling and playing soccer. Zion had his first game, which was very exciting for him. We have had 3 venues for church this year, which has happened surprisingly smoothly, but are now in a school hall where we have a chance to continue to grow and see God outwork in our community.

Looking forward to seeing exciting things in the year to come, and can’t wait to share with you what is unfolding here.

Maggie, Janie, Nola and Narelle

Maggie, Janie, Nola and Narelle

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