Thursday, 25 February 2016

Great colleagues

Oh dear .....

You'd think after doing the blog for nearly 7 years I would know what I was doing by now but in my last blog I still didn't manage to get the final version published. A very important paragraph was left out about my colleagues. So here is the bit you missed .....

Over the last seven and half years I have worked with many extraordinary people but I wanted to acknowledge those I had worked closely with in Rural Chaplaincy. Kel Hodge was in place when I was appointed and shared his wisdom about the job and how it all works, in a gentle way. Can't imagine how I would have done it without his guidance. Sue Chapman took on the support role and coped really well with me constantly changing what was happening. Phill Matthews brought his passion for people and his willingness to work with those that were hardest to reach which meant we were able to cover a lot more. So thank you Kel, Sue and Phill. The job would have been a lot poorer without all your help, knowledge and support.

As we say goodbye to Julie we all have been touched by here passion for working for the Communities she work in across the state. Her voice on the floor of Synod in the Blog as with the seasons all things change the Rural Remote  mission field has been feed by Julie and from all those who know and have worked with her I say thank you and may your new journey be one of wonder and thank you from me for allowing me to travel with you .

Our first meetings in Dubbo     No! Julie Like this  camp 2014 johnny cakes 

The new team has been  working in other teams but we have come together with lots of new things over the coming months we hope that we can share our new look and bring stories of the team  what will we be called Chaplains or Patrols who will be what but the main thing is The Uniting Church NSW and ACT has a presences  in the Rural Remote areas of NSW  With Rev Jo  Smaibil and her awesome Husband Lou  The Cobar Nyngan Patrol and Pst. David Shrimpton     Broken Hill Patrol and his plane and Rural Chaplain Rev. Phill Matthews Based Narrabri NENW going where ever God takes me. teaser alert new look page

The new look team L-R Rev Phill,   Pst. David,  Rev. JO & Lou  plus our trusty steeds

Well good night you can look up stories from days gone by on the side of the blog there is a heap of good stories why because  each time we follow God and allow his mighty Spirit to lead us we become involved  the church gathered and scattered  God so loved the world and he calls us out into areas of Rural and Remote NSW  to share that love in all kinds of ways thanks be to God

Friday, 12 February 2016

And it's bye from me

As I write my last blog after 7 1/2 years in the role, it all seems very poignant. How do I  sum up the amazing, fulfilling, growing and blessed time that has been this job? How can I possibly express my thanks to God and those I have worked with for making this such an extraordinary time of my life?

As I reflect on what has happened in the role there are many things that spring to mind and those that have journeyed with me through this blog will know that much has happened. It has been a time when God's gifts of creativity and passion have been able to make differences in people's lives and give practical demonstration to the love and generousity of our God. (Phill is putting together a photo collage on our facebook page).

But nothing is ever one-sided and much more has been received by me than has been given. I have been able to be involved in state-wide projects such as suicide prevention, Murray Darling Basin, mental health and Waste Not Want Not.

Alongside this has been the privilege of being able to travel to amazing places in the state and build relationships with those that live there. It has been an honour to stand beside my friends in these places and help them make some of their dreams for their "place" come true. Or to stand beside them in the tough times and uphold them with practical help and prayer. And of course many of you have contributed generously by getting involved in projects or giving money and praying. It would have been a much poorer time without all your support.

This will be my last regular blog but I am not disappearing entirely. I am just about to start as a volunteer with a group in Sydney that shares my passion about breaking down the barriers between city and county. At this stage we are still calling it "The Great Unnamed Project" (guess what one of the first tasks of the Steering Group will be!) and we are still working out the nuts and bolts of how it will work but when we have some more concrete plans in place I'm sure Phill will give me some space to let you know.

In the meantime Phill is continuing as Rural Chaplain and Jo at Cobar and David at Broken Hill are doing patrol ministry. I'm sure this blog will continue to bring the work of the Uniting Church in the bush to you all.

So it's bye from me. May God shower you with His blessings.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The new year

Christmas Eve 2015 heading out The Heads, Sydney Harbour
After a rocky start I was with Lyn and my son and his family heading out the great harbour of Sydney for NZ and Noumea.  13 days of no driving and no work - just resting, eating and seeing sites like this one (photo on left).  The first time I saw this skyline was in April 1968 as a young lad facing an unknown future. Now, nearly 50 years later, I was seeing it again as I started a holiday on a ship!  The cruise liner was so much bigger than the one I arrived on - 14 floors by lift, let alone what was below us!  I believe rest is very important in our work otherwise you end up unhelpful. 

It was Christmas Eve when we departed.  "How will Santa find us?" was the big question the little ones with us were asking.  But the boat was set up to party! 

Sunset off the Bay of Islands, NZ.

The Christmas Tree was 6 floors high!  
The night sky over the Nyngan district, with promise of rain teasing the 45 night  
I'm now back on land and back to work.  13 days have gone by, with no phone calls and no emails.  I feel refreshed.  Then my phone starts to ring so back in the car and back on the road again. This week we worked with young people and children in the Nyngan and Cobar areas. Catherine and Natasha were going to give a drumming lesson/session.  We ended up in the Uniting Church hall at Nyngan as it was cooler.  Not!  It was 45oC when I got to town at 4:30 pm!! I left the motel at 6 for dinner, and the temp had climbed to 47oC.  According to the weather man, a cool change was promised for the next day but that never came.  High 40s again.

The picture below is of the hall set up for the first drumming session.  75 young people were keen to attend with only 14 drums!  This meant the group would need splitting up, with some doing craft while others learnt drumming.  Then swapping.  We had 53 arrive for the session that day.  The kids had sore hands after drumming for two days(!) but great contact was made with some awesome children and some real princesses.  A good time had by all.

The time with family was great; the trip away was wonderful.  Seeing New Zealand and how green it is.  It was interesting to learn the story of the places we visited - like all have so much more than what they show you. As I travel this great area of Australia, being allowed to share in the back story of places, in the stories that children share, the truth is always close.  Unfortunately most see only the resistant. I was taken by a young man of around 10-11 looking after his sister who is 3. It was so wonderful watching him give his place to her over and over again.  Such love. Such was my first week helping out making connections.


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