Daily challenges and blessings.

This week we were asked by a supporting church, “What are the daily challenges and struggles you face, both big and small, along with the blessings of serving the Lord where you are?”.

Struggles and challenges:

  1. The heat. For 2/3 of the year it feels like a perpetual heat wave, with no cool change in sight. In Summer (December to February), the average maximum temperature is 36°C with an average minimum temperature of 25°C. In Winter (June to August), the average maximum temperature is 32°C with an average minimum temperature of 18°C. For us, this means a lot of time inside, living in expensive air conditioning, trying to avoid the heat. We are very thankful for the local swimming pool! When we do go out, often the car feels like an oven by the time we’ve finished our business. This week’s forecast is for a maximum of 41 C & minimum of 27 C. This sort of constant heat gets draining.DSCF7875
  2. Isolation from family. As our parents get older and sometimes their health is not good, it is very hard to be so far away from them. Also, not being able to be there for our two older kids, Hayley and Jacob, in the different cities they have moved to is a bit hard at times. The cost of the average air fare to SA (where Linda’s family live) is around $1000 return (per person) and to Perth (where Hayley lives & is the city we’d fly to if we were going to visit Greg’s family in Albany) is around $500 return (per person). At the end of February we will no longer be able to fly from Derby but will have to drive 2 hours to Broome to catch a plane. Derby is over 4000 km from Adelaide & 2750 km from Albany.
  3. Derby to Adelaide mapDerby to Albany map
    Living in a town/area with high rates of drug and alcohol addiction and social problems such as domestic violence and suicide. This affects us indirectly and sometimes directly as we try and help/be a friend/support those affected. Dropping into Woolworths late on a (payday) Thursday afternoon often means seeing lots of people lining up to buy alcohol for a drinking binge.20151204_175237
  4. Constant tragedies occurring in a small town. This means funeral after funeral and sadness among the people we are ministering to. There  are always funeral notices up on the local noticeboards.
  5. Isolation from like minded families. We have home educated our children since 2006. This was a bit easier in Kununurra where we were part of a strong co-op of home educators, but in Derby, we have been the only home educators for quite some time. Because of our faith and desire to give our children a Christian world view plus the struggles of the schools in town, we still think this is the best option for our family.20150209_090239 (Copy)
  6. Spiritual Apathy. We see the big spiritual need in this area, but people don’t always respond to the opportunities offered to them. Getting people to commit to a 6 week parenting course is difficult and numbers always fluctuate.
    Blessings

    God’s Provision. We’re very thankful for all that God has provided for us through His people to keep us here and for blessing us with a large house which is really useful for living and ministry.20150221_182733
    Relationships with Aboriginal People. The local people we have got to know are generally spiritually open and soft hearted. They have a great sense of humour and are very relational. (It is not unusual to be laughing so hard we have tears in our eyes during ladies Bible study.)

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    The Kimberley is a unique and special place. It is a privilege to live here. Many tourists come here each year to enjoy the rugged and beautiful scenery.

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    Flexible lifestyle. In order to last long term in the Kimberley it is important to be flexible and available. This is a challenge at times, but also can be a blessing because it means that we are able to home educate our children and be available at the same time for relationships.

    Having a purpose. It is a privilege to be supported by so many people who give to us and pray for us constantly in order that we may serve God and share His Word here. Our relationship with God and His Holy Spirit strengthen us with joy to keep on keeping on. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9

Wrap up of 2015

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“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

God’s grace and mercy are new every morning, great is His faithfulness!

In summing up the year, we would like to thank God for His grace for each day. It has been a good year because of His grace, provision and guidance.

This year was the first year that we have been serving with Growing Families Australia Missions. It has enabled us to pour our lives into what is on our hearts for the Kimberley and the unique and beautiful Aboriginal people whose homelands we live in. For us, this has been through first and foremost, building relationships over and above the Bible study groups and parenting classes we have run. The Aboriginal people on the whole are a very relational people, with soft, open hearts that are spiritually oriented. We have been (and are still) learning about the amazing and strong network of family relationships that criss-cross all across this vast area that is 3 times the size of England. When you start talking with an Aboriginal person, usually the first topics of conversation are about where you are from, who you are related to and which relationships you have in common.

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God has blessed us with a large home in a central part of town. This block of land was the only one we could afford when we came here. We feel it is no accident that it is right next to a walkway and close by to the major supermarket, service station and local park. It has been great to use this home to host individuals, small & large groups for prayer, counselling, hospitality, Christian movie nights, fellowship groups, Bible studies, discipleship and parenting classes. We hope to see more of that in the year to come.

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Apart from our ministry in Derby, we have regularly (weekly) visited the communities of Mowanjum (15 kms from Derby) and Looma (100 kms from Derby) for visitation, Bible study and parenting classes. Sometimes it has felt like slow progress, with fluctuating numbers at classes, but overall it has been encouraging to get to know people and have them be receptive to God’s Word, ask questions, take notes and share their lives.

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Something new for us this year has been the opportunity for Greg to do some computer training at the Mowanjum Community Resource Centre and Linda to help out at the local Derby playgroup, both once/week. This has given us both a chance to have a regular point of contact with people in the two communities, apart from our weekly visits to Looma. Through these regular times we have been able to build trust with people which we hope will lead to further opportunities to minister. And this is already starting to bear fruit, with two of the playgroup mums coming along to our house for a parenting class and inviting some of their relatives also.

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We praise God for the freedom to be able to do all this and the flexibility to be able to educate our two youngest boys at home, taking turns with their supervision.

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All glory to God for His faithfulness in providing all we need for life and ministry here in the West Kimberley and thank you to all those who pray and give so that we can continue to be here.

 

Growing Families Australia Key Leader’s Conference April 2015

On the 20th March we waved goodbye to our oldest son Jacob (who stayed in Derby to look after our home and continue working) and took off down the highway towards Perth and Albany.

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We have now been away for over one month and even though it has been a long trip, we have been connecting with a lot of people, both old and new friends, sharing about the needs in the Kimberley, it’s people and our ministry there. The impetus for this trip initially was an invitation to attend the Growing Families Australia Key Leader’s Conference in Sydney.

20150412_100025 (Copy)GFA key leaders are those who are very familiar with the GFA parenting courses, practice the biblical parenting principles of GFA in their own families as well as regularly hold classes in their area. This conference was held at Stanwell Tops campsite an hour’s drive South of Sydney from the 9-12th April. We were blessed to be able to fly from Perth to Sydney with our two youngest boys. One of the highlights was having our special friend from the Kimberley, Rowena, come along also.

20150410_171348 (Copy)At the conference we were given a morning to share with the wider body of committed GFA leaders. Greg & I, Rowena and Joan Grosser used a powerpoint presentation to explain the great spiritual need of the Kimberley, the constant tragedies and grief suffered by so many there, the background history which explains a lot of the pain and the hope we have to offer in Christ and through the biblical parenting materials of GFA, which we are working on using as the basis of the Families God’s Way material. The presentation was well received and moved people to pray for us and of course the Kimberley. The need to pray for the men (fathers) of the Kimberley was highlighted and as a result, a list of men is being compiled along with some basic information and a photo so that people can choose one man and pray especially for him and his family. It has also been suggested that some GFA key leaders might regularly contact their chosen Kimberley man and encourage and/or mentor him.

As well as the more serious side of the conference, which included meetings to discuss how GFA can be more effective in reaching wider Australia, there was a lot of fun and games. The children and teens that came along enjoyed daily sessions of Bible teaching and activities, including giant swing rides, abseiling, pedal carts and archery. Our two boys really enjoyed this time of playing outside without getting hot, making new friends, and taking part in activities that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do. Their were also regular times of whole family fun, including a bushdance, team challenges (held in family groups) and lots of loud chatter over meals.

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Transition from Kingdom Aviation to Growing Families Australia

Greetings from ‘the Kimberley’ where we are now in the ‘wet’ season of high temperatures, punctuated by thunder storms which bring heavy cooling rains.

Wet season - West Kimberley

Wet season – West Kimberley

Over the wet season period we have transitioned from working with Kingdom Aviation to becoming the first official full time missionaries serving under the Growing Families Australia name.

Growing Families Australia (GFA) is a Christian organisation committed to providing the family, church and community with parenting resources that will help instil, encourage, and perpetuate the passing on of biblical values from one generation to the next.

 ‘Family God’s Way in the Kimberley’ is one of several ministry initiatives of GFA. This ministry seeks to take the biblical parenting principles found in the material of ‘Growing Families International’ (authored and taught by Gary & Ann-Marie Ezzo) and ‘translate’ it into words and pictures appropriate for Australian Indigenous families. We are excited about the opportunity to fully focus on the Families God’s Way in the Kimberley parenting project and continue on with discipleship/pastoral relationships with the Indigenous people of the West Kimberley.

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Families God's Way at Looma

Families God’s Way at Looma

Families God's Way Mowanjum

Families God’s Way Mowanjum

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So far, two 6 session parts have been developed largely by Bill & Joan Grosser (former Growing Families Australia National Directors) and with valuable input by Rowena Mouda (Aboriginal Bardi woman).

Part One sessions are:

1. Our Family, Our Future (which is designed to get people thinking about what they would like for their children to be, showing that morals play a big part in these things. It is a challenge for parents to take seriously the training of their children – Proverbs 22:6)

2. Who Am I? (A session to explore who we are, what we will pass on to our children and what we can be in Christ.)

3. What is Love? (Explores the different types of love and the 5 love languages.)

4. Building Relationships (Talks about what makes a good or bad relationship and how to improve our relationships.)

5. How to Raise a Moral Child (Talks about how it is important to teach the moral reason why we do the things we do or do not do.)

6. Developing Character: Respect, Honour & Honesty (Explains character and the six natural relationships that are basic to every culture and society.)

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Part Two sessions are:

1. Your Child’s Moral Conscience (Reviews the idea of teaching our children why we do what’s right and talks about how to do so.)

2. Love (More in depth teaching on love.)

3. Respect (Discusses the why, who and how of respect, plus examples of respect in Aboriginal history.)

4. Honesty (What is biblical honesty? Discusses 3 areas of honesty – in what we say, how we act and how we treat ourselves.)

5. Right Beginnings (teaches on the importance of the parents relationship with each other.)

6. Dads (A special session especially for the fathers.)

We have enjoyed the challenge of presenting these sessions in Mowanjum, Looma and One Arm Point (on the Dampier Peninsula) and are just starting classes in our home in Derby.

Bill & Joan Grosser have been our mentors and have already done so much ground work all over the Kimberley, starting up classes and getting people excited about the material.

The Families God’s Way material is available for those who are committed to teaching it and desire to do so in their area. If you would like to know more, contact us at wilsons@wilsonsword.com.

 

 

 

 

Families God’s Way in the Kimberley

Mowanjum Sign at Entrance of Community

Mowanjum Sign at Entrance of Community

 

Greg teaching about love.

Greg teaching about love.

What is Families God’s Way in the Kimberley? It is a custom made parenting program being developed by Bill & Joan Grosser, Rowena Mouda and Greg & Linda Wilson with the Indigenous people of the Kimberley in mind.

These last 5 mths we have been partnering with Bill & Joan Grosser and Rowena Mouda (a Christian Indigenous woman who is passionate to see biblical parenting principles passed on to her people). We have been working on developing a parenting course suitable for Indigenous parents that includes biblical principles originally taught in the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting material. Bill & Joan have been working really hard on making relationships with people all over the Kimberley especially for the last four months while they have been based in Derby. They have been frequently driving long distances from Derby to Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Looma & Noonkanbah with added fortnightly trips to Broome. They have been taking classes in all of these places with Indigenous parents who have expressed an interest and a desire to become better equipped in their parenting journey. We have joined them in the Derby classes and have been learning how to teach these sessions from them as well as learning from Rowena’s great first hand knowledge of the local culture.

Now Bill and Joan are back in Perth, and we have launched out in partnership with Rowena starting a parenting class at nearby Mowanjum on Monday nights during school term.  This is an exciting step for us all, as we’ve never done such a thing before, and for us it has the added cross cultural challenge.

Please pray for us as we make new relationships, and keep getting to know those at Mowanjum we have become friends with. Pray that all those who have been to one of the sessions will remember what they heard and be able to put it into practice is their own context.

One person’s notes from a Families God’s Way session run by Grossers

Greg helping people to fill out their Love Language forms.

Celebration of a Life

It was the first Aboriginal funeral I have attended – but it almost certainly won’t be the last. Of all the funerals we could have gone to, this one was most likely one of the most positive. It was a nearly 3 hour long service commemorating the life of a 58 year old Worrorra/Ngaringyin/Wunambul woman, Heather Umbagai. We were just getting to know Heather out at Mowanjum before she died. She was a well spoken, kind and believing woman who was a leader in her community. She was the first Aboriginal woman to be trained as a nurse in this area, and perhaps Australia. In her later years she suffered from kidney and diabetic problems, but she was still active in organising, planning and participating in community events.

“Heather was a very inspirational lady who always wanted to do a lot of encouraging, helping, talking and listening to community people. The main focus she always wanted to get people to believe in the Lord. She always loved going to church [7th Day Adventist], singing and kept her faith strong. She loved reading the Bible going to church and telling people about God.” (Taken from her funeral booklet.)

The things I observed about this funeral, which I think may be distinctive from most non-Indigenous funerals, are as follows:

  • The size! (300-400 people.) Great importance is put on attending a relative’s funeral. Often funerals are delayed for many weeks, even months, depending on how many local people have died beforehand. Each funeral must be held in order of death, so if there are several others who have died beforehand, you must wait your turn. This also gives family members (close and extended) time to travel from far away destinations to be there.
  • The dress. Everybody was really scrubbed up for the occasion. Children were wearing new white shirts and pretty dresses & shoes.
  • The wailing. Because this was a service that was attended by a lot of believers in the resurrection, I am guessing that there was not as much wailing as usual. Nevertheless, when the coffin was brought in & taken out at the end of the service a few people broke out into loud wailing. It was very moving.
  • The freedom to come and lean over the coffin and cry. This was something new to me. I think in most white funerals I have attended (not many), touching the coffin would be a definite “no go” zone.
  • The length. At nearly 3 hours, it was long. Time was given after the formal addresses for people to come up and say something about the deceased. This went on for about an hour. There was a very touching moment when a young man was escorted to the front hand cuffed to a prison guard. The young man, being a relative of Heather, was very distraught and spoke through sobs about his beloved mum/auntie. I think everyone really felt for him.

The highlight of this memorial service was the choir, made up of local Indigenous and Fijian singers. They sang some great Christian songs full of hope for the resurrection. As the coffin was carried out, this large choir sang “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there”.

We were privileged to know Heather for a short time. She always made time for us when we visited her in her yard at Mowanjum. She was very well spoken, open to us and enthusiastic about her faith. We are glad that we were able to be connected enough to be able to join many others in commemorating her life.

New Year of Ministry Begins!

The colour of the sea at Ardyaloon (One Arm Point)

It is fantastic to be starting a new year of ministry settled in our new home. With the building process behind us (thanks to the many hard working volunteers), we can now focus more on the people we came here to be with.

2013 started with a morning of prayer and planning for the Kingdom Aviation Ministry (KAM) team. As the morning flew by, it became evident that the prayer needs from our many points of contact with people dotted all around the West Kimberley are growing. Each community that the KAM team visits was represented by a page of prayer points stuck on the wall. We moved around the room individually reading each one and taking time to pray.

Coming in to land at One Arm Point.

The ministry schedule for Term One looks much the same as Term Four of 2012 with the exception of more regular visits to Mowanjum.

Monday: Greg & Linda – One Arm Point (plus Yong joining us each fortnight).

Tuesday: Yong & Dave – Ngalapita & Milligidee; Greg & Linda – Mowanjum (afternoon)

Wednesday: Dave & Greg – Noonkanbah & Looma

Thursday: Yong & Dave – Yakanarrah & Djugerari; Greg & Vicki – Derby High; Greg & Linda – Mowanjum (afternoon)

Friday: Yong & Dave – Mt Barnett

Exciting news is that it looks like we have a new team member coming on board mid year! Again, stay tuned for the KAM newsletter.

Mowanjum Sign at Entrance of Community

We would appreciate prayer for safety in flying, team unity, effective ministry & God’s provision for each team member as well as the funds needed to keep the planes flying. Thank you for taking the time to read our update!

Derby, Western Australia.

 

Islands near One Arm Point

 

Student Focus @ One Arm Point

 

Worship & Pain (a poem to describe my morning) by Linda

Awake

Stretch, exercise, decide to swim

Pool closed

Drive to jetty, listen to music

Exult, praise, worship, pray

Walk barefoot on the jetty

Take the message of Jesus – risk rejection

Pass it on to one man – acceptance

Rejoice, keep walking, pray

Feel close to Jesus

Take photo of Jesus graffiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk more, feel strong breeze

Look at birds, sit down in shelter

Pray for Mum, text Mum

Express myself to friends on facebook

Get up, move on back to car

Drive back to town singing

Worship & praise, lift my heart up to God

Decide to turn onto road bordering the marsh

Looking out for people, praying

Thinking of handing out more Challenge papers

Not many people around – a few

See a lady sitting in her front yard

Wonder about stopping, keep driving

“Lord, show me what You want me to do.”

Keep driving, looking

Decide to turn around, go back to lady

Pull over when I see some people

Pray for courage as I hop out of the car

See a young woman walking towards me

Blood running down her leg

People looking on – unmoved.

I ask her what happened

Boyfriend stabbed her

She doesn’t want to go to the hospital

Just wants to go home and change her clothes

I take her “home”

Her & her father yell and swear at each other

“Don’t hang around that bloke!” he shouts

She sits, upset, bleeding

I comfort, pray, wait

She doesn’t want to go to the hospital

Wants to use bush medicine instead

The wound is very deep and open

She has scars from cutting herself all down her arm

I tell her she doesn’t need to cut herself because Jesus has already taken her punishment on the cross

She says she prays every night and confesses her sins

She says I must be an angel

Finally, she agrees to go to hospital . . .

Just another day in the life of Derby

People, crazy with alcohol, given over to self destruction

Wasted, broken, sad lives. Precious lives.

Jesus doesn’t want that for His creatures. He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Ministry Report for Term One 2012

Here is a window into our ministry for First Term 2012. Praise God that He enabled us to keep well and regularly visit the six communities of One Arm Point, Ngalapita, Milligidee, Yakanarrah, Noonkanbah, Looma on a weekly basis throughout the term and keep up Student Focus at the Derby High School each Thursday lunchtime. As you can see from the photos, lots of fun was had during the Student Focus games and God’s word (including the gospel) was shared with the kids, and sometimes listening teachers. Good connections were made with both youth and adult community members. Linda visited One Arm Point most Mondays, accompanying either Paul White or Yong Kim, arriving each morning to build relationships with women and work towards establishing a regular pattern of meeting to encourage mothers in their parenting. Linda joined in with running the Student Focus program in the early afternoon, enjoying getting to know the kids and then listened in on Bible study before flying home to the family in the late afternoon. Hayley was an invaluable help in looking after (& teaching) Zac & Aaron & being “chief cook & bottlewasher” while Linda was away. Each Monday & Tuesday evening its early to bed for the Wilson family so that Greg & Linda can wake up at 3.30 am Tuesdays & Wednesdays to prepare for the day’s ministry. Greg and Yong (his ministry partner) take turns each week about either being the pilot or else preparing the devotional talk for the community kids. Greg has enjoyed getting to know some of the teachers and Indigenous adults in the community, as well as the students. A few times he has taken some of Hayley’s baking out to one of the communities on Tuesday mornings to share with and encourage a Christian principal and his wife, as well as some other staff members. This has been very much appreciated. Community life is very isolated, especially when rain cuts road access. Greg and Yong were even asked to take out some medicines from the Royal Flying Dr Society (RFDS) when the road from the “airport” to the community was too boggy for them to access with all their usual clinic equipment. (See photo below.) Once, the teacher who drove out to pick them up from the plane got well & truly bogged and had to call some other community members to come and pull his car out while Greg & Yong walked on for 20 mins to run the SF program (he was still stuck when they arrived back!). Once they were picked up by a community member whose car had obviously been used for a hunting trip the day before. There was flour all over the front seat and dash from making damper and a rifle on the console. Greg asked if it was loaded, which thankfully it wasn’t. The guys have enjoyed leading a small Bible study group in one of the communities, where a group of ladies likes to sing hymns and discuss their spiritual questions. They were also very encouraged this term when a young man told them that he had recently given his heart to the Lord, and is now leading a youth group at the church and has been reading Scripture in the school. 

Playgroup @ One Arm Point

Student Focus Watermelon Game

Devotion Time

Community member artists

Another talk

Game on the Verandah

Linda at One Arm Point

Walking down the soggy track to the community

Yong fuelling up the plane after a long day

Thursdays include a trip to the Derby High School for Linda who has been helping to run the Student Focus program there. Like all the other Student Focus programs that Kingdom Aviation run, attendance during lunch time is voluntary, which means we can have anything from two to twelve students, who come and go at will. Not everybody stays for the talk, but we have been encouraged that there has always been the ones that stay and pay attention. After this is finished, the team (including Yong’s wife Vicki, who prepares all of the materials) meets at the Kim’s home for a debrief and prayer time, ready to do it all over again the following week.

Some Positive Observations of the Indigenous Culture

Basketball in Derby

Basketball in Derby

Having lived in Derby for the past six months, we have just begun our relationship with the Aboriginal culture, and still have a lot to learn. Often, when visitors pass through a town like Derby, they are confronted with things they don’t like, such as drunkenness, public fighting, dirtiness, neglected children. But I am noticing that this is not the overall picture. I am glad that we have the privilege of getting to mix with and befriend Aboriginal people, both here in Derby and out on the more remote communities. There are some things that I have observed which I really like or are just different from the way we do things. For instance, having two young sons (6 & 8), I’ve had the opportunity to take them along to local sports. They’ve had a short go at footy and now are getting into basketball. They way they run sports here is so different to the way its done in the city. Its more casual, more regular, and a lot less regulated. I am pretty much the only parent who brings my children, and stays to watch. The kids mostly find their own way to the footy field or rec center. They don’t have to pay, or sign any forms. They just turn up whenever they like and go when they like. They come because they want to be there, and they have a lot of fun. If someone gets hurt, they look after each other, but don’t dote. Once the tears are wiped away, the kid is usually straight back into it. They mostly have bare feet. But the thing that has impressed me the most is the inclusive spirit. Kids of all ages, from little ones up, are encouraged to join in. Our boys have never played basketball before, but both the adult leaders and the kids have encouraged them and are willing to teach them as they go along. The players that are recognised are the ones who pass the ball to the little kids and tell them how to play. And boy, can some of those younger kids play. You should see them shoot the goals from way back at the three point line!

Aaron takes a shot.

Another thing I observe is the strong link with nature that the Aboriginal people have. They prefer to sit outside to be together, rather than inside. If you run out of things to talk about,  just get them started on fishing or talking about the plants or animals in the area. There is a lot we can learn from them. When it rains in Derby, you won’t see Aboriginal people with umbrellas. If they are walking around town when the sky opens up, they’ll just keep walking.

Yes, I am looking forward to learning more from my Indigenous neighbors.

One Arm Point