Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Blog

The glory of the Lord shone over them
Christmas in the Bush can be many things - Carol services are held in halls or sheds and paddocks, an old CWA hall, the school or the back of a truck. The kids all dress up, so do some of the dogs, and they come together. 
Not all places have fancy choirs but someone will have a guitar or keyboard or a boom box with some Chrissy songs that are good to sing along too. End of year means the older children are home from boarding school  (when you live a long way out of town it is often that or school of the air, as school bus runs don’t happen)
Depending on the season, and your location, Christmas can be a busy time. Down in the Riverina often it was the time for stripping (a custom that when I first heard about did make me not wish to drive around) but was informed by friend it was harvesting of the grain crop, not a performance of the “Full Monty”, though in the heat one would be seeking ways to get cooler. Then came air- con in tractors, trucks and headers (machines that strip the grain). 
Plus often the heat brings bush fires, lightning strikes from dry storms,and thoughtless folk driving hot cars in long grass or dropping butts out the window of a car. These can change Christmas day from a rest to full on. 
The  tools  used for harvest
In the shed on the Farm 
At  Girilambone school 
On stand by on hot days 
Temp maybe bit different out here! 
For many, Christmas is family get- together, others trips to the Coast, harvest over, stock on agistment, time to relax if the year has been OK. 
Sadly for many, this has not happened for 3 years or more. Small and large country towns have Christmas Parades, a celebration of what has given the life to the area and those who stepped up . There is really not a lot difference between City and Country maybe the size of the back yard and how far to corner store but the people all just want the best for their families and friends and some Good News.  The angel told them 

Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.This very day in David's town your Savior was born---Christ the Lord!  

A child is born King of all creation 

So for us, in the light of much that is going on, we long for some Good News. We often forget that message from the skies to those, like us, ordinary folk, that Jesus Christ was born into our lives in a small country town with no room, but an act of kindness allowed them a place to stay and their child to be born,  and when the Shepherd left they sang and told all what they had seen. By sharing we can spread the Good News to those we meet - press “Share” and send the GOOD NEWS that Christ is Born into "ALL OUR LIVES" this day and every day

The light of the World for you

Merry Christmas from the Rural Chaplain team: Sue, Julie and Phill and a Wet New Year! 

Rural Chaplain Phill Matthews 0418627875

Friday, 19 December 2014

End of year celebrations in two tiny towns

It is great fun to be able to join with small schools and their communities to celebrate the end of the year and the Christmas story.

Last Friday I was able to join with Enngonia school in the morning for their concert and prize giving. Melissa the Principal is a wonderful dance teacher and the concert had lots of fantastic dance by everyone from pre-school up. Many of the stories had an Aboriginal theme and other were based on favourite books.

The dance of the Brolgas

Santa arrived in fire engine

After the dances and presentations it was lunch in the courtyard with the Salvation Army band playing Christmas carols.

On leaving Enngonia I travelled across the back roads to get to Weilmoringle and was really struck by the patchiness of what rain there had been. Enngonia has had good rain and there were large puddles along the road while there has been almost none in Weilmoringle and it is bare dirt. It was a reminder that even though we hear about good rain falling, often there are patches that miss out.

Lush green growth at Enngonia

Bare dirt around Weilmoringle only 100km away

The evening event in Weilmoringle started with a BBQ, followed by a concert and school prizes. It was a great fun night with lots of laughter and good fellowship. One of the fun parts of the evening was a new initiative by the Walgett police to engage the kids (more about this another week).
Three bears from Golidlock's story
Before setting off the home the next morning I had breakfast with some of the Aboriginal Elders and had good discussions around activities in the village.

It really is a great privilege to be able to join with these communities in their times of fun and celebration.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Pamper Day Quombone

Natasha O’Neill Uniting Care Drought worker
 I headed  out to Quombone to join the team in this great day. We had 20 booked in for this day of fun and pampering.  There were two gentlemen also there for the day - both had hair cuts and a massage and felt so much more relaxed.

I had great conversations with our guests, hearing from young and and longtime residents. The guys, both 5 generation, coping with land size changes as they seek to find ways to make it work. Crop and cattle seem the go- sheep did not work out. The ladies loved it. Their hair cuts and styles -Wow!- the 3 girls knew their craft! Not one unhappy camper- or pamper! Some were not sure if their partners would know who they are.

It is good to see people come in happy but worn down to leave looking and feeling great. The food was great, lots of non- healthy snacks with the odd bit of non- dipped fruit.
 Did it work? Yes, it did. How do I know? I saw their faces. I was told  by many of the farming folk -male and female- their children had a great time with trained child care. The picture on the left taken by Catherine is one of the only live shots. Permission given for this one but for the privacy I left my camera in the car. Having facials is a private moment more so when you have a white beard - ouch!
Who would think behind this school people's lives are transformed 

The Pamper packs where given by Uniting Church Ladies Fellowship from NENW Presbytery.
Loading the car in Tamworth 

Stored in the kitchen 

There is more to this area if you go and look Quombone is the door way to the Macquarie  Marshes. The part I drove to was quite dry. It is a bit better if I'd gone a few more k's down the road but it's well worth a visit out to Coonamble and Quombone. Spend your tourist money at the shop, stay at one of the many motels. If you read my FaceBook page you read how they even change flat rivers.This is one way we can help rural towns -visit and spend money in the shops and services.

The Start of the Marshes 

 I drove round Gulargambone on way through and got a drink. It was beautiful town but sadly many shops had closed up but there was still lots to see.

May we have a very wet Christmas  and a fire free New Year!


As we head into Advent - Hope is it will rain, Joy is it has rained, Peace is we live with this and be gentle to ourselves and each other, Love is God is with us, Christ is in us, the Holy Spirit is all around us.

Merry Christmas  from Phill Matthews Rural Chaplain to NSW 
madpom52@gmail,com  0418627875

Friday, 5 December 2014

Round the traps - not all full

Well, a week at home and it is time again for goodbyes and off we go. Lyn, back to work and birthday parties for Miss H and Mr F, the Big 5, BJ back to his country retreat with his other family and me on the road. Three days of meetings plus drought work and some travel down to Dubbo for a resources drop then onto Cobar to meet with the Far West mob. I had permission to bring the D Max due to a fault in my left knee - old age and I treated my self to a new toy - a Frig Freezer! 40 degrees with cold water and no melted Tim Tam biscuits is a life changing event! Plus I was sick of throwing out football shaped soy milk........... but it does explode well!  I digress.........  back to the blog.

It was good sharing with David of Broken Hill Patrol and Jo& Lou, Nyngan /Cobar Patrol and UCA. Julie, sadly, could not attend due to family commitments. Our prayers went to her. The sharing of what's been happening and what's planned allows us to plan and support each other as well as fellowship and info swap,not to mention a great lunch!

I slept over ready for trip back to Dubbo and the RMU meeting plus reference group and via  phone I hook up with my supervisor.  Well, most of that happened. This is the hard part of our role when something is cancelled you're 4 hours from home and have to come back same time week.

The time was well spent though with a time with my references group, an affirming time with a few" thou shalts" thrown in.
RMU had a low number so was changed to  Rev Karyn going through my work plan - most helpful as fine tuning is always welcome . I then talked to Rev Janet, the wise lady of the MNC. By time I had a few more" thou shalts" and "well dones"  I left Dubbo for Coonamble, feeling I was in good places.

The trip over the road was a new one as I'd  mainly come from other ways previously. I saw hay in striped crops sand in creeks and empty shops along the way mobs of cattle and drovers camps Looking for feed and water .

The Well Being Day in Coonamble was their first "go back" by services arranged by locals. It looked at Mental Health and at asking if "Your're OK" There was around a 100 people, plus workers, from service providers, such as the High School, Uniting Care, Catherine (not Cath) as printed last week- Catherine from Uniting Care. The drought team was also joined by Margaret. Both work in the area with people affected by drought and its effects. We had several speakers. The main one was from Beyond Blue - a young man who had dealt with depression. His story was about seeking answers even if none seem to be found by the doctor - try another till one shows understanding. He point out that this is harder in some areas but we must look for answers.

Well Being Day team. Photo by Brook Wall, Coonamble High School teacher 

I was knocked over by a young singing group formed by Medicare Local  and the school. I think there is a link to see for yourself. It is on my Face Book page but I give it to you here too - Tin Town Trackers is their name. Put this into YouTube -
The Tin Town Trackers - 'Reach Out'


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