Friday, 26 June 2015

Church, Bush and Blokes plus a good drop !

This last few weeks has been an awesome time, questions answered and ways forward being planned, even had falls of rain across most of the places I go, except Walgett which still struggles, but other places do OK.   Dry dusty roads turn to mud = smiles on faces "But it is still a long way to go" they will dryly tell you.

The rain fell out from Dubbo and beyond. As I drove back to Dubbo I could see the clouds rolling in dark and low. This was my second trip to Dubbo.
Last week I met with others looking at rural remote ministry - some good robust conversation and great fellowship. This lead into a RMU planning meeting for the up coming Field Days,10th to 14th August. A great program is out for this event for all involved in the life of the church. Lay and Ordained will be well fed spiritually and intellectually and with your choice of pre- booking or buying lunch you will do OK that way too.
Work on table groups
pulling it together, together
 I then headed home for a great night at a ball for Life Without Barriers. Some great moves going down to "ABBA."

dancing queens soon filled this spot
I'm sorry, I did not get permission for the guy's photos for the blog but there were lots of body suits and blonde wigs.
Church on Sunday, tip for young preachers -Check the roster, finding you're on a few days out and you have 2 meetings to be part off before then!! - but it all went well .
That all done it was Load the car and Back to Dubbo for a meeting and catching a flight to Sydney for a meeting then back  to motel in Dubbo for the night, then some running around and off to Nyngan shopping for the big day.

 Running events has become all in a days work for Uniting Care Workers, Catherine and Natasha.This one was a winner, 17 men yes, 17 MEN! Booked in for a Pamper Day and they all turned up. The day opened with a health talk from a local Doctor, who did a great job. All listened, then were pampered and health tests were done.

Utes filling the car park at Tennis Club 
When  is my go at ??
It tickles 
Health check or Badge of Honor 
This was great afternoon and evening. Most stayed and helped put the Tennis Club back to normal.
Thanks to the health and beauty workers. They too enjoyed the day.  All behaved well and gave us suggestions for the next day for Hermidale area. This week is a family night movie under the stars, but I came home for a couple of days rest.The trip home saw low flooding along the road and Marthaguy Creek was over flowing

Like many things there is a fine line between famine or feast. It applies to rain too but some, as I said earlier, have still not done well. Yet others along the Creek had flood damage to crops and pasture. But we welcome the rain as life giving to the land.

My work with the Western Farming Communities has still a way  to go but seeing the smiling faces, getting men to take a day off, fills you with hope that change is coming. On these cold days, it warms you to see a good sense of community involvement- growing people talking to each other.  It was also good to see people from all levels of the church come and sit for 2 days to seek a way forward for the Rural remote Ministry in NSW ACT Synod as the add and song goes "we all in this together" that's what happen .
Phill Matthews Rural Chaplain

Friday, 19 June 2015

From Little Things Big things Grow - The Griffith Care Van

When the Caravan started in Griffith they had the idea of feeding a meal to homeless adults one night a week and they were a relatively small group. 

The Care Van at the start of its career.
Talking this week to Michelle Bordigan, who leads the team, I found that from that beginning they now also feed over 40 children from 15 to as young as 2 years old. One child will bring another along. Those children take home the leftovers and take them to school next day to be heated for lunch, this leads to an improvement in their behaviour and performance at school, which has been reported by their teachers.

Note - models used for this image, not children who visit the Care Van.
On the night the van goes out police also report less domestic call outs to troubled homes as the children, fed, tired from play and good company, return home, happy and satisfied. 

Once people heard of the work being done by the van they offered help –food, magazines, hygiene packs, blankets and sleeping bags. Any donations not used are offered to other organisations doing similar work like Barnabas House. Many people and groups are now involved in the work.

From little things, big things grow.

Friday, 12 June 2015

WNWN - An Ever Changing Thing

You know something is alive and well when the best parts, the things you really value, stay the same and keep going but also when it is able to adapt to changing circumstances and see new possibilities and areas to grow into. So it is with WNWN - Waste Not Want Not.

The Sydney launch of the partnership between WNWN and Foodbank. 

Starting in Hillston in 2011, WNWN has spread to Griffith, Leeton, across the Riverina and further afield. Originally set up to send food, which would only go to waste on the farm, to charities, who could use it well to feed people struggling to make ends meet, it quickly caught on as an idea. Foodbank took it on wholeheartedly, producers donated produce and transport and meat went onto the menu.

Some of the original picking team

Less produce is picked locally by small groups like the Men’s Shed or the Uniting Church, than was the case in 2011-12, not because these groups have lost interest, but because so much more is donated overall.

WNWN has become a bigger project than expected originally and one which, once set up, largely runs itself. The total produce donated to date is 427,399kgs and 94,020 kgs has been sent over March and April this year from this area.

Families struggle on low incomes 

A new venture for 2015 is to produce recipe and food fact sheets. Many people who use the donated food were never taught, cooking or basic nutrition skills. This naturally affects their diet, overall health and budget.

Jenny Sheridan from Hillston WNWN and Penny Davies,* Carrathool Council Community Development Officer, are developing the recipe sheets which show people how to cook and store the food they receive from Foodbank, the food sent from NSW farms. (* In the top picture -Jenny is second from left and Penny is on the extreme right.)

The recipes will be checked and authorised by a nutritionist and are designed to be easy to use, affordable and nutritious.

The sheets will be launched at Sydney Fruit and Vegetable Market in July with Susie Elelmen, the WNWN ambassador, assisting in the launch.

Positive outcomes are expected from the availability of cheaper food and the knowledge to use it well.

PS - The WNWN AGM for 2015 will be held in Hillston on 15th June at the Hillston Uniting Church in Grattan St - 12 noon for a light lunch, followed by the meeting at 12.30pm.

Friday, 5 June 2015


Looking out across the Warrumbungle National Park  the scars still mixed in with the healing  

As winter started we met in Coonabarabran.  Why? Well, we had many of the Chaplains who had links with the devastating fires of 2012/13 attending but we also had  Sister Madeleine who has a big heart and house - a convent is a great place for a Gathering! 

The NSW Fire and Rescue Chaplain, Lyndsay Smith,  took us on a journey through Compassion Fatigue - The Cost of Caring. This was great as many of those present had gone from the fires to the drought as this is the role of many of the chaplains and other care based workers.  These come from Catholic Sisters and St Vincent de Paul plus a large group of Salvation Army Chaplains, both present and retired, or nearly retired, but still out holding those on the land in fellowship and prayer.

The Gathering of 2015 - Compassionate Carers one and all

It was not all hard work. In fact except for making coffee for 14 people at morning tea they did it well, with grace and care and still got a hot, flat, white on soy for me in the end. Hot soup, too, for lunch was the shot.
Our retired folk joined us then as they had driven from the Ridge via Narrabri, that morning -Vans in tow or one had car in tow (think about it) We were then in the hands of Donna, a local star seeker, who had lived in this area.

The fire was clearly still a topic that moved feeling and passion. BUT Stars, Baby Stars, are her main passion,finding the history and age. She had gained for us a tour of the Siding Springs Observatory. 
"Rap up warm!" she warned us and she was so right. Inside the telescope deck it is 7 degrees below the ambient temp outside -  BRRRRR!The 45 degree lean is from the power of the wind. 
This next point is not for Grey Nomads. 
We all drove passed the No Entry Sign - We had a "Donna Pass." The white building was our destination. For next couple of hours we had to follow OH&S so had to don hard hats. If the roof did fall the hat would only be a toy but I think it kept me warm in the wonderful crisp air above the back of the telescope.

Looking down to the mirror 
 I'll post pictures of the top end working and mapping galaxies on our face book page for the nerds like me.

Coffee followed and sharing what the last year has been like. The sad part is that a number of the Chaplains are coming up to retirement so we're losing some good resources.

The first  night we came together for a meal at a local motel - great people, plus we had guest speaker, Kate Shannon, who told us of her and her families experience on the day of the fire and how afterwards they used a program called "Storm Birds" which helped her children work on their feelings. It also helped Shannon understand what the children had going on.It was a very helpful tool.

 The time we had was good too, with Lyndsay Smith and our guests, the willingness of the sharing, open, helpful information and honest conversation, it was a helpful time. All I talked with got some thing from the time they attended.
           Thanks to all who came.
                                             A good feed for the heart soul and mind.

"Do you have to?" - Dinner at Coona
Breakfast in Coona -3 

Why are things like this important? 
Mainly to show all of us we not alone in the work we do. As we drive we meet up sometimes but often this gathering is the only time we get to see as the Salvos as all have different areas, projects and placements.I drive through Coona regularly but heading to and from somewhere I'm now going to see others. I will try to stop for a cuppa with Madeline.  I am working with some of the Chaplains with the drought work. 
To be compassionate you have to care for others. To sustain your care, you have to care for you.  It's not the last straw that breaks the camel's back but the wight of all we hold on to.
Bye for now,   
Phill Matthews 
Rural Chaplain


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