Friday, 30 August 2013

Wondering Who You Will Vote For? - A guide to help you decide.

This year a lot of us seem to be very much in a dilemma as to who to vote for.
Very soon we must decide.It is perhaps useful to take some time to consider what our views are on various issues and see how they line up with the various parties on offer this election.

Several sites have been suggested to us as good starting points for our thinking on "Who do we vote for?"

The first is put online by the ABC.
This site surveys your opinion on various issues and then places your political orientation relative to the 3 major parties on a graph. It helps to define the issues and what your opinion really is as you answer the questions and then see where you are placed on the political spectrum.

The second is from the Uniting Church Assembly.
This site highlights the important issues for Christian voters.It encourages us to take our vote seriously and make choices which will lead to a more just society.
Called A Just Society: your faith, your voice, your vote the site has aimed to create "a helpful resource as you consider the values which underpin the policies of the political parties and candidates who are asking us to give them the responsibility of national leadership.It is not the intention to lead you to any particular conclusion about whom you should or should not vote for. It does not ‘rate’ the policy platforms of political parties. It seeks to explore the implications of the gospel for aspects of Australia's national life. It contains material to help Church members identify important issues facing Australia, listen to politicians and political parties with discernment, and cast an informed vote."

It is hoped both these sites may be of use to you as you consider over the coming weeks - "Who do I vote for?" or "How can I make my vote  consistent with my Christian beliefs?"

                                             Then at least you won't have to resort to this!


Friday, 23 August 2013

"But will it get through Customs?"

Last week 24 yr 5 students and 4 teachers  from  Mosman Preparatory Boys School travelled to Weilmoringle for what is to become an annual visit. It was the first meeting of the two schools, although regular readers of the blog will know that Mosman has been supporting the children of the village by sending out new books for each child 4 times/year so there was already a relationship between them.

And what a week we had! The Mosman boys came with a delightful attitude of wanting to learn lots about Weilmoringle and the culture of the people, and the Weil kids were just thrilled to have some others come to "their place".And of course I got the best buzz from seeing it come together!!!!!!!!!

 Each morning Josie and I took any boys who wanted to come on a bush walk to see the wildlife. For many of these boys they've done extensive travel overseas but not in Aust. My favourite quote of the week was a question from one of the boys who found a sheep skull in the bush and asked if he could take it home. When I said he could but would need to pack it carefully in his bag his response was, "but will I get it through Customs!"

Highlights of the week:
News on Day 1 - Mosman kids talked about a weekend of sport, going to the beach, running in the City to Surf etc. Weilmoringle kids talked about going pig hunting, spending time and driving around in cars and on bikes.

Booglie Fishing - the local name for yabbie is boogalie. Mucking around on the bamks of the river with string and bits of emu trying to catch boogalies proved to be a great winner. And of course having a taste afterwards.

Giving out the books - each Mosman boy had a book to give a local child and had prepared by learning about the book. When the books were given out the buzz in the room was amazing as the kids got together and read to each other and explored the new stories.

Going into the bush with Fred looking at the scar trees - we saw a tree that had a canoe cut out it, a small tree where a coolmon had been cut, a mia mia that Josie and her sisters had built to show the traditional living arrangments and then Fred demonstrated how to make a coolamon.

Sitting on the banks of the waterhole, which is a sacred site for the local tribe, and listening to Josie tell the story of the Mundagutta (Rainbow Serpent).

Looking through the Weilmoringle Station 32 stand shearing shed.
Looking at ancient camp sites with Fred
And much more including a traditional cook-out with emu in a pit and johnny cakes and listening to stories from people of the stolen generation.

What made it work so well - there was a great spirit of generosity on both sides with neither feeling superior but rather wanting to share and learn from one another. Some great relationships have been formed and Mosman is already planning to host Weilmoringle in Syd. And the wonderful contribution form the local elders made it a very special time!

You can find more photos of the visit here

Friday, 16 August 2013

An Interesting Conversation Overheard at the Bus Stop

Sometimes the job of Rural Chaplain gets you into some pretty interesting conversations as well as taking you to some pretty interesting places!

The tank stand in the school yard at Weilmoringle Public School.
This week finds Julie in Weilmoringle attending a cultural exchange camp with the students from Weilmoringle Public School and Mosman Boys Preparatory School.This is the result of a lot of work over years by Julie and one of the local elders, Josie Byno, not to mention Marg Coddington, the local school principal at Weil.

Two programs come together this week, the "Book Buddies" program and an idea to promote bush walking. "Book Buddies" is a program being piloted in Weilmoringle, where a city school or organisation links up with an isolated rural school to provide books to students for whom a book shop is often a 4-5 hours drive away. Bush Walking is being offered so non-Aboriginal people can experience the bush with an Elder who knows it like their mother. This is the second of such walks and there may well be more if the interest from Mosman has been anything to go by.
Mosman students will visit Weilmoringle for 3 days, having fun with local kids, roughing it, sharing books,bush walking and eating local foods. The details of the camp have been worked out by enthusiastic Mosman teacher, Meredith Eakin (known to blog readers as Meredith of Mosman) Julie, Josie and Marg.

And this is where the interesting conversation comes in........

Julie was in Sydney last week waiting at the bus stop to take her into the city when a call came from Weilmoringle.

Julie: "How are the plans for next week coming along?"
Weil: " Good. There's just one thing we're having trouble with though.."
Julie: " Oh, yeah?"
Weil: "It's about the food."
Julie: 'The food,yeah?"
Weil: " We're not sure if we can have the emu we planned."
Juie: "The emu -Oh,why?"

Weil: "No one in town has a gun."

Julie: " A gun........surely someone in town has a gun to shoot an emu?!'

At this point Sydney local bus goers start looking around and nervously edging away.

Julie:'There has to be a gun somewhere!"
Weil: "We'll do our best!'
Julie: "Good, the boys were looking forward to it. Emu is a favourite local meal."

       NB:   No emus were harmed in the writing of this blog but we can't say the same for up at Weil!

                                                     Emu photos courtesy Robin Loznak

Friday, 9 August 2013

Part 2 - Broken Hill to Cobar then Home.

Photo courtesy-  Barrier Daily Truth

The Broken Hill area has a rich history and much has been preserved for us all to visit and enjoy.  The Broken Hill Uniting Church was getting ready for a birthday -125 years of service to the town and surrounding properties. Valerie White, the church secretary, has even been polishing up the foundation stone!This will be a big event and a great booklet has been printed for the marking of this event.
Next day a big group headed ‘up the road ‘to farewell the outgoing minister of Cobar. By the way-‘ up the road’ to Cobar is 456 km  round 5 hours both ways! The fellowship was great! We had dinner Friday night on arrival, then next morning, the last service at Cobar with Rev Ian Tucker, 50/50 Frontier Patrol and Cobar /Nyngan Parish. This was followed by lunch and then a Closure of Service. The SES and all the local churches presented food which was wonderful. Then it was dinner at the Bowling club for around 20 of us! Such a day with a long drive home for many, including the local Presbytery minister and his wife. They had to drive up the road to Nyngan to do it all again the next day.
I shot through.

From Cobar to home it is around 500 km. Even though the sun is shining, all the dirt roads are closed from the good rain that fell this week. Big sky country has and very different feel .With farming, mines and tourists everywhere you go sharing the road with road trains with big loads some as wide as the road , then there are the roadside hazards,goats are in plague numbers. The conditions mean they have twins- cute- but they eat more than the stock. They go through the fences. One good thing is that they run away from the road most times.

There were emus too, in big mobs. I got a shot of them- camera not a gun! and by the number of dead roos there are a lot of them around too. Pigs have also become a major problem round here. They are not something you want to hit with your car!

This is the why people have lived and moved over this land from the beginning of time : it has beauty and ruggedness, sun sets that look like the sky is spreading the sun across the mountains . It has a mining Industry that goes deep into the earth to bring out the raw deposits to make all we crave. It provides an army of men and woman big money but at what cost? The same land grows crops and stock that feed us. It’s a harsh country in the dry but it has finally rained. Who will win the fight to survive? Many I talked to hope to make some money for the first time in many years.

As you look out into the distance across the Mundi Mundi Plains you see how small we are in the scheme of things.....

                                 ......Yet God loved us while we were still in the womb!

                                                                                                                           -Phill Matthews

Friday, 2 August 2013

"But First I Need to Listen." - Phill Matthew's reports on his visit to Broken Hill -Part 1

As I took off into the outback of NSW, like many I had the van on the back but it was not a holiday.

I was going to make contact with people who live in the same state as us but there is a difference. In Broken Hill you have a SA prefix on your phone and you’re a half an hour behind the rest of the state all the time. This is a challenge in many parts of life but they, like most things they do, just get on with it.

I met up with the Coordinator of the Far West Legal service that looks at lots of legal issue, domestic violence and community problems across the many towns and camps in this area of the state. This is a connection point to journey with some of the groups as they are looking for a holistic approach. I’m now on the mailing list and can follow the programs and projects and become involved at an event the next time I am in town. They’re going to put on a gathering so I can meet other workers from different parts of the area and other services. I will seek ways the church can support their work in some way but first I need to listen.

The next day I talked with local minister, Will Pearson. He took me to a spot just off the tourist trail to a creek bed where he’d done a wedding and a baptism for the same family. There had been music and choir on the day but even with none of that, as I stepped down into the red dirt I felt the Holy Spirit surround  me.

     I could hear the silences of the inland spirits. I could see colours and shapes that had me spinning.

The camera was taking in the beauty as I was worshipping the living God. 

At the same time talking and listening, in a way that was as living water to us both, the empty creek flowed over us.  In my head the song “Deep Stillness” played.

The night before I found a spot on the road heading out to the sculptures as the sun set I pulled into a bare patch of red dirt and lent against the bull bar listening to a CD Celtic Thunder as the sun set. Amazing Grace came on and a couple pulled in alongside. I stepped around to turn down my music but they asked me not too. We talked and took photos of this awesome sun set. They had seen the sign on the door of the car and needed to talk. At the end they told me they are leaders in a Melbourne based Baptist church. 
                               Life offers up opportunities. It is up to us what we do with them.

 Acknowledgements :- Text - Phill Matthews, Sunsets -God


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