Posts Tagged With: song

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. ūüôā

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 had¬†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 Pitjantjatjara 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 and¬†are¬†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

Categories: My journey, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 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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relief

The following is the lyrics of a song I penned whilst sitting at the edge of¬† Todd Mall. Every now and then I get this sense that the Holy¬†Spirit wants to share with me something and I’m going to need to write it down. I had been asking God to show me what is going on with the people I had been seeing and watching (I am a people watcher, it is a hobby of mine, I love it. It¬†was honed when I was at acting school). This song is not my feelings, but the sense I got from the people I saw that day as I sat at the edge of the mall. Maybe one day you will hear the tune, and maybe not.¬†An extremely rough version is recorded on my phone so I don’t forget it.¬†I don’t often share my lyrics, but after some events today that I am not at liberty to share, I found them relevant.

Want some relief

But don’t expect me to change

Want some water for my thirst

But not enough to quench it

Can’t resolve to take the leap

that would place me in the River

In that healing place

Would rather drown in my sorrows

Get lost in my pain.

 

Find myself all alone

In a place full of people

In a sea full of faces

Wont take the leap to that flowing water¬†….

 

It’s just the way it’s always been

It’s just the way I’ve always done

Life

trying to find it

trying to hide from it

trying to

breathe

want to start living

want to start believing

but do I dare to take

a chance

What if I fall

completely down

Who’s going to catch me

if I fall

completely down

I am interested to see how God through His Holy Spirit woos these people. How many times have I been scared to trust or hope because at least I know the pain. When we used to work at Teen Challenge we saw many people who just wanted relief. It is quite often the same here.

 But GOd wants to do more than that. He wants to change us from the inside out and heal the pain and get rid of our excess baggage. He wants us to LIVE not just exist. Jesus came so we can have life to the full.

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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 ).

Categories: fun in the sun, My journey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Getting back my song

No matter what language barriers, music has the ability to bring people together. I¬†had a most lovely experience on Thursday evening. As a family we go into a local hostel weekly to visit some of our church. They are in Alice because they are not well enough to go home and they miss their families and community greatly. We are supposed to go to bring them encouragement, but it is us every week who leave uplifted. The joy their faces show when they greet us is lovely… and this week, we brought in the guitar and djembe (African Drum)¬†and gave it our best shot to sing a song in Pitjantjara. As I stumbled through with the chords and words, I could hear them begin to join in and sing with me. Only a couple at first and then more and more residents began to join in. Even people who do not attend our church came and grabbed a chair and sat near.

When we finished the song, Ben asked if they would like to sing more and if they could teach us. So one of the ladies went and got an old hymnal and so we began to sing. The harmonies were beautiful and I at times had no idea what I was singing but I didn’t dare stop as one of the ladies was watching me carefully and if I stopped she would point to where we were up to and nod until I started again. Do you know how long some of their words are :-).

The songs were peace to my heart and sitting on that grass in the middle of the hostel grounds next to some beautiful sisters I understood why we were in Alice.

To get back our song.

And to help others find theirs.

Now, we were literally singing but I began to see that “our song” is a picture of¬†our spiritual and mental¬†wellbeing as well.

I was at a concert once in the Adelaide Town Hall watching the Soweto Gospel Choir and they were explaining how Africans sing through all occasions. They sing when they are happy, they sing when they are down, they sing when they are in chains, they sing when they are free.

If you can steal the song in people’s heart then you have defeated them. If they can sing, even in their darkest hour, then they are strong and no matter how much you bind them, you will never break their spirit. I think of the story in the Bible of Paul and Barnabas in chains and how they sung praises. They were not broken. They refused for their song to be taken away from them, and so no matter what they were going through they were conquerors.

Many people in Alice Springs have lost their song. Indigenous and non-indigenous alike. They have lost touch with their Creator who gave each a song to sing and one that is sung over them. Imagine if we can be vessels to release people to hear and see, not just physically but spiritually as well. I have seen God change lives through His Son Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, these people have got their song back.

I want to never dull my song again and I want to be a vessel that allows others to find theirs again.

The ladies that we sang with would be passed by and thought of by many as the poor of world with nothing much to give. But to me they are possibly some of the richest, for most of them, have not lost their song. You need only look in their eyes to see that.

Categories: My journey | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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