Friday, 26 July 2013

Kindness Kicks off in Hillston

Last week an article appeared in the local Hillston paper,The Spectator, entitled Random Acts of Kindness. 
Below is an extract from that article.  

"Random Acts of Kindness"
-Unplanned, Spontaneous, Anonymous and Unforseen!
You may have noticed some new posters in the street or some little cards appearing randomly around the place. You may even have been a recipient. If so, you have experienced a “random act of kindness.”
What are random acts of kindness?
Random acts of kindness are thoughtful or kind, actions towards others-family, friends, aquaintances or strangers.
Why “random”?
They are “random” because they may be unplanned, spontaneous, anonymous or unforseen by others , even if they are well planned by you. They may be completely undeserved or offered to complete strangers. We may not even know who it is who eventually receives what we give. They are kindnesses done without any thought of reward or getting something back. They are a pure gift. We do not always know the outcome but we may get the pleasure of seeing a smile on someone’s face and the knowledge that we have brightened someone’s day.
How can I participate?
Pick up some cards and leave one each time you do a random act of kindness. If you receive a kindness then use the card and do something for someone else.
What kind of things are “random acts of kindness” ?
It can be anything you have ever dreamed you would love to receive. It can be anything you have imagined doing to bring a smile to someone’s face and make their day. The possibilities are endless but to give you some ideas a list has been provided for you to get you started.
Buy a coffee and leave money for the next coffee or 5. (Also cokes, cakes, lollies, beer, groceries…..)
Send a card of appreciation to a community member eg member of council or charity group or shop   keeper
Buy a lovely card or a treat and leave it for someone to find or mail it to them for them to get during the day
Leave flowers for someone to find
Leave a box of kindling for someone with a wood fire          
For Children to do
Leave a note for your teacher you enjoyed the lesson  
Buy a small treat you can afford for someone"

In her travels Julie heard of this idea from a pastor in Griffith, Kevin Webb. She and Sue investigated further and set about making it happen in Hillston. After consulting Hillston church council and receiving their support, other churches were approached to help get it going and the concept was launched last week in the community! 

This is one activity you CAN try at home.
Let us know if you decide to get this going in your community.We have a package to help you get started.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Bringing a community together - Learning more about English as a Second Language (ESL)

Part of the job of being Rural Chaplain is to "keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground," (or 'your eyes and ears open' as demonstrated above) which is why Phill's on a keep fit program walking the dog and Julie bikes,kayaks and does yoga so that the difficult position of "keeping your eyes open and your ear to the ground,"can be maintained.In this way no opportunities are missed if something can be done in a community to make things just that bit better for the people living there.

That is how Julie had the idea of ESL classes in Hillston. With her eyes open she saw the numbers of  Mandarin,Cantonese,Vietnamese,Korean and Hindi speakers in Hillston. These are community members who have settled here and who work usually in restaurants or on farms. Some are here with their whole nuclear families,others are the spouses of  longer term Hillston locals. They are a vital part of our community but find it difficult to mix widely, or sometimes even get work, because they do not have enough English. Most Anglos in Hillston,even in Australia generally, only speak English so some knowledge of English is required by everyone else if they are to mix outside their own ethnic group.

Hillston's picturesque main street where Sue put her feet to the ground.
Keeping her ear to the ground meant that when Julie met up with an ESL TAFE manager she pricked up her ears (as demonstrated above top) and asked lots of questions.What she found was a very co-operative person willing to offer classes to potential tutors and community members interested in knowing more about speaking to ESL speakers and in supporting ESL students as they learn English.

Sue then put her feet on the ground and ask around to see who in Hillston was interested. It was not hard to get the numbers. There was a huge interest so a workshop is planned for this year, to be held, hopefully, before the Hillston Sesquicentenary celebrations in late September.

                     Keep your ears and eyes open for more news on this in the blog.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Multiculturalism in Microcosm

Bible Study at Bill's farm,"Currah" - a Multicultural Event " in the sticks"

Multiculturalism in Microcosm.
What does that mean?
Simply, it means becoming friends with people from other cultures and places in a small place like Hillston.
But that wouldn't fit in the blog heading box!...................... and I love the alliteration!

For me,after nearly a year of having one or more of the "backpackers", as we call them here, sharing our church times,our bible study and joining in to what is happening in town, it describes some valued friendships.These friendships are forged across age,cultural and language barriers to become treasures.

After attending the UME workshop in October at Galong, Hillston Uniting was inspired by Katelina to think about the young overseas visitors in our midst. This led to the Backpacker BBQ last year and has also encouraged us to step up our efforts to include backpackers in the congregation.
We have not had to try very hard. 
They have come to us from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Africa; some who have always been church goers and some who have not, but who were brought along by friends and stayed to share food, laughs and a warm welcome from us. Some have been part of our congregation (and our lives) for months and we miss them (and they miss us) when they go.They have become "locals",always ready for a "cuppa" and to learn 1940's Australian idioms from one of our congregation members.We once had a discussion about the difference between being "fair dinkum" and "dinky di." (Think about it - same,same but different.)

Jenny, Lee, Matthew and Anne.
So what did we do? Not much really.We have put Mandarin and Korean language on our powerpoint along with English but the most important thing was to be willing to include people and make them welcome and part of the place; include them in our lives and be friends. 
After that they have blessed us in so many ways. We have been inspired by their willingness to bring along others to the church and tell them about Jesus. They have contributed to community events, like WNWN and they have increased the size of our bible study so much we can't fit into a home any more,using the church hall instead to fit all 12-16 of us in! They have kept in touch when they leave town or go home.They have added a youth and vibrancy which is fun and refreshing. 

Anne at the High Tea
Our friend, Anne, from Taiwan, is back in Hillston for the third time.She is now "part of the furniture" and we take an interest in her (and she in us) as if we were parents or grandparents as well as friends.On her last visit she delayed her trip back to Foster to help Sue with the preparation and serving on the day for a  High Tea run for Hillston locals when the other organiser had to make an emergency trip to Sydney to assist her elderly parents.
All of this breaks the stereotype of the monocultural rural town,suspicious of anyone different and a boring place to be and proves Galatians 3:26-28 as to how it is in the Kingdom of God.

 "You are all now sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."   (We could add - neither old nor young)

Mandy (centre with boyfriend, Derry) had this picture taken at Hillston Church and made it into a card to give to congregation members at Christmas 2012.

Friday, 5 July 2013

What do you mean 'double click'!?

Making the links doesn't sound like a very exciting job but it is crucial part of the work I do. Services in western NSW are scarce and cover large areas, and churches are thinly spread, so helping to make links can really pay dividends.

One of the networks is the Western Riverina Rural Service Network (WRRSN). This group focuses on the small towns and villages of the western Riverina and helps service providers and local people find out what is on offer and how they can access it. It also promotes joint projects.

Recently at a grant writing workshop in Merriwagga, organised by WRRSN, I met a number of the local residents and from that meeting a variety of great things have happened. One of these is basic computer classes for older people who have NEVER used a computer before and found other computer classes assumed a lot of familiarity with computers and were well above where they were.

It has been a great time with the four Merriwagga (and one Hillston) ladies learning how to use computers and the difference they can make. I am aiming to prepare them to join other senior computing classes.

The classes are held in the Uniting Church hall. The relationship between these ladies and the church has been strengthening over the last 2 years as their craft group meets in the hall on Monday mornings. The church has built a disabled toilet and put in air conditioning to make the hall more suitable for use, and helped with grants for sewing machines. It is fantastic to see church premises used in this way.

However, one of the issues for Merriwagga is that there is no mobile phone coverage, so internet is very difficult. As well as this they do not have access to ADSL by landline. This is despite being only 80km from Griffith and having optic fibre cable going straight past the village. They will not be connected to the NBN and their only option is to have NBN satellite, which is not quite as good as ADSL2. Surely it is areas such as this that deserve better internet access due to the their isolation, rather than less. Imagine computing these days without the internet!



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