Friday, 27 September 2013

Ever had one of those conversations.....? - A Learning about ESL class in Hillston

"Ever had one of those conversations when you speak English and the other person does not? You find yourself speaking louder and louder but it’s still not helping them understand and you aren’t really catching on to their German, Mandarin or Korean either. School French helps a bit but….."

This was the question we asked ourselves in Hillston when thinking about how to communicate better with the 400 backpackers who come here each year in October for the cherry picking,the backpackers who stay on a visit our churches and work here and the people of other cultures who live here.

At the 2012 backpacker BBQ held last season.

A few months ago I mentioned in the blog about the interest in town regarding a workshop on better communication between cultures. A TAFE teacher was interested in coming over to Hillston and it was arranged for September the 13th. 
In all 14 people participated and found it a very informative day as we were capably taught by Alanna Townsend from Griffith TAFE,an experienced ESL teacher (teacher of people from other cultures). Alanna prepared a great workshop and useful resources for home tutoring,conversation groups,work situations or in daily contact with people.
Several participants are keen to start a conversation group to help ESL speakers learn English and make them feel welcome in town. A few are keen to home tutor some Hillston residents wanting to learn English through distance education.

A good result and we look forward to seeing what develops from this. I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile here are  few tips on speaking with  a non-native speaker-
  • Speak clearly and pronounce words correctly
  •   Speak slowly
  •   Turning up the volume does NOT create instant understanding
  •    Don’t cover your mouth
  •    Avoid running words together(How-r-ya-goin) and avoid idioms
  •    Choose simple words
  •   When repeating, repeat it as you said it the first time
  •    Be explicit
  •   Listen and try not to form your response while the other person is talking
  •    Draw pictures/mime       
  •    Be patient and smile –a smile conveys a lot in any language.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Phill recounts his experiences at RMU Conference, August 2013

Arriving in Mulgoa, the first thing we did was to talk about going into city for a Service of Lament led by Moderator. This was a chance to stand as one - Rural and City against the way our country’s leaders had lost sight of human need.

It was a great service and I, like many, felt a pride standing on the steps of Pitt Street Uniting at the end of the service holding a candle as the Moderator addressed the press. Many ministers donned their white collars and black shirts. Many of us wore our name tags, yellow ear tags with our name and UCA Rural Ministry on them, indicting we were from the country areas.

 Workshops: To catch up the time away at the service, we gave up our free time so all the things planned could still happen. We had a number of visitors speak from UME and Uniting Care plus Simon Hansford, Bronwyn Murphy and Karen Burchell- Thomas.
 I liked the fact that most of the time they had us split into table groups to work on building stronger relationships.  One of the sessions was to help us ask” intentional questions”, others were to look at “What now for RMU?”

We had interesting insights from the Peter Worland, Interim Executive Director, opening up some questions of how we use what we have to take the church forward.
Three of the Community Development workers from around the state shared stories from their area.-Chris is based in Parramatta-Nepean Presbytery, Corrina from Dubbo and Neil from Riverina. Their projects were very well received by all present and very encouraging to hear.

Sunday: The RMU AGM.
 Simon as outgoing Chair gave a very passionate report on changes and where the RMU fits in the life of the Synod. The Committee was reshaped as it usually is at the AGM when official positions are voted on.  The conference closed with a Communion service led by Darren Wright.

What did I get out of this time?
 This was my first RMU Conference so was I not sure what it would be like but I found it a worthwhile experience. The theme “Mission Possible” was a challenge to us all that “we can do it.”  The skill based talks honed “what we have” into “what we need.”  I found the groups looked at the core of ‘Community of God building, ’asking and listening to, questions of passion; sharing “yours” without drowning  “theirs.”
The UME and UnitingCare people added to the combined rural wisdom in the room.  I built some good relationships with many new people and added to those already started with others I know, but do not see very often.

Thank you for assisting me in attending this conference.

I found as Rural Chaplain it was helpful in connecting with folk from around the state in a good way and the conversations opened up many opportunities and relationship. The speakers gave us a positive view of the Church but also challenged us to look at new exciting ways to be the 21st Century church.
I found the RMU Conference an uplifting and informative time and a time of team building with fellow NENW people, as well as those from other presbyteries across the Synod 

                                               Rev Phill Matthews, Rural Chaplain

Thursday, 12 September 2013

RU OK ? - A question which can change a life.

One simple question which we all can ask is – RU OK?

Depression and suicide are a sad fact of life in our society. Often we may not realise just how down someone is feeling. They may be putting on a brave face, hiding their sadness and loneliness, not thinking anyone will care.

This question- RU OK?- is a simple way of checking with people about how they feel. It gives us “something to say” to start the conversation. Often just knowing where to start is the hard part.
We must however be ready to listen.

These simple steps are a guide to help us with these caring conversations. To say something can make a difference to someone. It can brighten their day to know someone cares about how they are feeling. These words might even save someone’s life.

Today - Thursday 12th September is RU OK? Day so take the opportunity to ask the question soon if you know someone who may not be OK.

More information is available on    It even gives examples of questions you can ask.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Andrew and Mary - Hillston* Music team

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

For many years Mary has been playing the church organ-rain,hail or shine. Each week she gets the hymns and practises in the days before Sunday. She is really the only regular musician in Hillston church.

This year for several weeks a young man sat in the back pews on the left hand side of the church. He was visiting from Korea and working at the cotton gin. We got to know him as Andrew.One Sunday one of the younger church members was back from Uni on holidays visiting her Mum and Dad.After church she decided to try out the new piano/organ with Mary and Julie. Andrew seeing that someone else was allowed to play too, quietly made his way to the front.The rest of us were in the hall having a cuppa.

Suddenly there was great excitement! Andrew not only played, but sang, beautifully,with a trained voice. He was - and is - a Bachelor of Music who has performed in and led choirs in Korea and in other countries.He had been missing his music while overseas. He was quickly enlisted to play the following week. 

                                                       Now the church had a music team. 

He and Mary practised together each week after that.Andrew gave Mary a welcome break from being out the front as he took over the playing for several months, having free access to the piano whenever he liked by being given access to the church key. 

                                                         And the moral of the story?

1) You never know who you have in your midst. As you welcome the stranger you may be entertaining an angel.  
2) Mary could have allowed no one else access to "her" piano but she didn't, she freely shared and stood aside to allow someone else to shine and use their gifts.
3) And Andrew?-He gave of his time after 12  hours overnight in the cotton gin each Saturday to play for a delighted congregation and to give Mary someone to share the load and a well earned rest.
4) OK - so your team is only two but if you both show up -it's a team.

Sadly for us, Andrew had to leave Hillston last week.His time in Australia is over and he is to continue his travels elsewhere, starting with the Philippines. He graced us with one final song and time on the piano. Just beautiful!

We now wait to see what other gifts of music God will provide for us as well as our lovely Mary.

PS - * That's Hillston not Hillsong.


View My Stats