Friday, 30 October 2015

Do you have a Disaster Management Plan?

From a blog last year  - "Planning for Disaster: Fire, Floods, Storms" 

Dubbo showground was the venue for a Recovery conference run by the Red Cross. We had all of the disaster recovery services in attendance, both government and non-government, paid and voluntary.  Even had some lovely folk who had lost everything in the Coonabarabran fires a couple of years ago. They told the human side of the fire; how it was for them and how it felt, then after they were allowed back to their farm.  They also shared what they had learnt along the way. Then we heard from all of the Services, about what they did, all in their flash uniforms.  We heard about the new large plane that can hold a very large amount of water.  It has to fly from Richmond and then back to reload (takes about 1.5 hours to the Dubbo area). RFS is always seeking new ways of attracting top people to giving of their time to save us and our property. Then we looked at what Evacuation Centres are and all who staff them.  This included a DRCN   Pst David Shrimpton spoke on our role, as rural chaplains. The Salvos provided the catering throughout the day, as happens in Recovery Centres.  I find that networking over lunch works well - eating, sharing, gathering info, catching up with those you don't yet know. "What have we learnt?" was a question in my head.  A rep from a Service present was passionate about "DO NOT BRING GOODS!!",

Thank you but what do you want me to do with these?

This is a very difficult situation we face very often.  Sadly the best work of people or churches ends up at the recycle place or the landfill.  Why?  Lack of planning would be my guess.  So does your group or church have a plan?  The storms have started, the heat is rising.  Fire warnings are being heard in many areas.  It is time to plan for your safety but also maybe what you can do for others!

Giving is an act of kindness; it makes us feel good and we hope those we give to feel good too.  But the important thing is we meet the need.  Who's need, I respectfully ask - ours or theirs?  We mean well but have we thought well?  A home is destroyed by flood or fire or storm; everything is gone, so we send old beds and tables and white goods.  Great!  Where will they put them?  It can take a very long time, from the loss to the time of moving back in.  If they even go back.  Some might say use a church hall or showgrounds for storage.  But then what?  Plan B could be if you like to collect things, do that BUT have a "Garage Sale" and send the money to a Recovery Fund that has been already set up so that your work actually helps the people who have lost everything.  For example, the shop owner or the local person who works in the shop can hopefully still keep their jobs.  What a lot of fun your church group can have, raising these monies.  The money reaches the community at all levels.  Another suggestion is hold another similar event.  Check with the local church in area; with the Rural Chaplain, with the people from the Shire office.  Often the second wave is bigger than on the day.

As a person you can give blood to the Red Cross and other aid services, or your church may have a project like Rural Chaplains.  In the Uniting Church we have set up the Moderator's Disaster Fund.  This Fund is used many times for those hit by disaster.  As I said, second and third waves are a common part of a disaster recovery, after the TV stations and those who "make a fuss" find their needs have not been met.  Their plans have fallen apart due to outside decisions.

Sometimes the Recovery team may need certain necessary things in a first response.  They will organise an appeal.  Check for the exact items needed and how many; can they be second hand or do they need to be new.  I pray this and your Disaster Management Plans help you during this storm time.  But I pray for relief; for good rain and gentle winds.  For a joyous and special Christmas lunch for RFS, SES and Red Cross Doc's, for DRCN, Salvos, Anglicare and all the other great groups and local community workers and you. As I finish this off I in a Motel in Coonamble  and as the last time I was here it is raining outside  this time the harvest here in full swing. Life is a challenge pray always for those who live on the land I taking leave to celebrate Lyn's Big 60  My Son birthday and Carolyn his lovely  wife, time off drive then pick up the Van great week.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Lord we cry out to you for those who are waiting

I found this spot after my 2pm meeting in Walgett was cancelled. I had a 5pm one still happening so after a nice coffee I went looking for the 2 rivers from which the name Walgett comes from, the Namoi River which comes through to Narrabri and the Barwon / Darling river and this was confusing to me as my basin map has it as Barwon River,  you have to be out here to learn things

The Info booth was a great help explaining the history of the Name from the Gamilaraay peoples word "Wilgay"where two river meet and we changed it to Walgett as we do. The Darling River start between Bree and Bourke but here it still is a part of the system but called the Barwon River. I was in Walgett on Wed 23rd. Sept. for the same 5 pm meeting setting up a Suicide prevention network. I  keep a photo diary of at a location call Cryon between Barren Junction and Walgett . The green shots where taken on September 23rd the brown shots are Wednesday the 14th. October the heat has burned off the growth again. It has been like this from my first trip in March 2013 no crop no income .Pray for them and the Local shops and service industries schools and the Shire, drought hits all of Community.
As I saw this change I cry to the Lord The Joy for these folk was short lived lost crop is worse that no crop as you spend $ on fuel and seed time and effort with Hope

The Crop has failed from the heat and dried up from such a promising start.

This is the salt bush corner the change in those 3 weeks and I hear the crops in the South also have been hit by the heat too  "Do not forget them O Lord they need your help only you command  the seasons and the weather they need you to hear their needs amen .

Hi hope you understand it all had my editor away and my backup could not access  all of the blog but the pictures tell the story.  

Saturday, 3 October 2015

What does working for Community have to do with Church?

"Go into the world and preach the Gospel, and use words when you have to" is a famous quote from St Francis (I think - someone might correct me!) I find sitting in meetings with community leaders and community members a great place to be. They find it hard at times to work out why I am so involved, and for that matter so do many church people wonder that too! I never compromise my faith; I will walk away from activities I feel are outside of where God would sit and if I get this wrong I seek His Grace.  At the Field Days put on by UME and RMU, Mark Berry talked about us looking "outwards". I think many church folk do this but do not see it as church. CWA, school canteen, some service type groups that help those in need here or overseas. These are some examples. Our work as Rural Chaplains takes us to some great groups of people both in and outside the church and this "coming together" leads to awesome things happening!
This is the body of Christ's church in a living shed

This is now just a church building - no life in this

The group above went on to meet about things to do with health and wellbeing in their community. I often look at these two photos of "church" and I think the lack of walls in the shed at Weill make looking out so easy to do as compared to the old formal closed one on the side of the road. "Looking out" is more than day dreaming out the window - it's about us getting connected to out community or to  someone else's.  I know many of you do, through the RMU in the last couple of years with the drought, and this has been a great help.  And will continue to be. 

As I said last week, there are still many folk not getting ahead. I see many church folk working in the area of Mental Health and in schools, but as I interact with people in churches, very few bring up what they are doing in their community. Praying up your community I think brings it into the life of the congregation.
Pamper packs or giving money allows church groups to touch people in places hard for them to go to personally.  In our line of work we always ask for money over goods - this is the most helpful.  Money saves space - the packs here fill the hall of the office then need to be stored at the Chaplain's place, before being handed out in needy areas (often they have to be re-packed due to travel damage). It's great to be a part of the giving of theses as they are loved by most of those who receive such gifts, from caring folk in a church. But if we had passed on money we could call on local shops to supply discounts on the items needed for the Packs, as the shops would be getting cash from us upfront. This keeps shops going and meets the need of those on the land and other Agri industries as it is not just the farmers but the towns' businesses that suffer. eg school activities plus school fees for those in boarding school; having funds to assist for those one off things we have to pay for at times.

Your congregation becomes part of this work by looking outwardly.  This also works with community needs in your area and wider world issues.  But don't just send a donation - pray in your prayers for the people; for us and for those other groups.  Bring us into your congregation by prayer.  Hold us but also connect us to you and your community. Direct connection would be good, if you know of people who feel called to work in areas of community development or welfare in your town/area.  They may not be part of your church but support them in pray as their work brings local needs into your congregation.  Life with all those guidelines to keep people safe.  But it also lets them know you care enough to think of them.
Street festivals are great for connecting with community

I get to do and be "church" in some different settings but God is here  
There is a great song Robin Mann wrote titled "Wherever I go, Whatever I do".  It celebrates the fact that God has gone before you so you're never alone. There is a mission not overseas or even in some other place to where you live - it could be just outside your front door, for you to connect with others eg Clean up Australia, Community Gardens, teaching/helping someone learn English as a second language, teaching/helping someone with computers, cooking knitting and so on.  Open up your church not for the income but for the connection.   Go out to the Dirt Bikes. Get involved with groups but look outside your congregation.  Yes, care for the older and sick in the church but focus on the Kingdom of God and see what you can join or give to. God drops in when you least expect it.


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