Where can I even start summing up our last few days at Gunnedah missions?! We have had so many great conversations and opportunities to get alongside people not only from Gunnedah but (perhaps especially for us first years) team members from other years. Every time one of the team was speaking up the front, I was so proud of them!
Seeing the opportunities that people in the church made for us to serve was extremely humbling. Ivy worked tirelessly to link us in with people from the outskirts of town. Two Chinese workers from the tannery came to the Sunday 10am service and stayed for lunch, practicing their English on us. I was stumped by why they would come all the way here, battling through VISA dramas, working ridiculous hours in hard conditions and kicked out after two years of this, until one of them told me that he had been a soldier in China and it started to look like this wasn’t such a bad deal after all.
The ministers, Scott, Ben and their wives allowed us to serve in their weekly ministries with such grace as well as creating further outreaches such as the men’s meat nights and the ladies mad hatter’s evening. The effort that they put into these events was phenomenal. Some of the ladies had got up at 4am to begin baking and did not leave the hall on Friday evening until past 11pm, only to get up for the sessions run by the church at 9am Saturday. Frank whittled the most beautiful wooden pen for Scott (from Moore) to say thank you for his talks. I would have loved to hear Scott. The boys reported back that in a room of seventy men, you could have heard a pin drop as he had so captivated them with the grace of God.
Chris took me on my first door-knocking experience, which was less scary than I had anticipated. We had a really good conversation with a mum who had just moved to town and was thinking about coming along to church to meet people. Her daughter who was in Year One of the local school remembered that it was Scott and Rachelle who took her scripture class this week and what games they played. One of the kids hit Scott with the question, “Why did God make Mars?” and his answer, “I don’t know, but He did” seemed to satisfy him.
We were taken out to Lake Keepit for water activities and a BBQ on Saturday afternoon. It was a ‘ridiculous amount of fun’ in Laura’s words. Her infectious laughter echoed across the lake as she and Jo bounced around on the dohnut out the back of Scott’s boat. Joel held on for an incredible amount of time, despite the driver’s best efforts to dump him in the lake.
I drove James and Tom out to Mullaley for their church service at 10:15am. It is such a small world, we met Heidi Miles’ (from Moore’s), grandparents and John Anderson who deputy PM’d our country and is now living on a local property. It was again humbling to hear about how the combined three churches in the area could not afford a full-time minister, so each Sunday met in either one of the three churches or at someone’s property and shared the responsibilities of running church between them. Lara, who is in year five, did the Old Testament bible reading. Her little sister, Eryn, was meant to read the New Testament reading, but got a bit shy so her mum read it. Their little brother was running around in his boots, planting sticks in the soil and watering them with his cup. A farmer in the making. They were the only children in the service. The only young people were twin brothers who I did not realize had to travel so far in for Youth on a Friday as well as church on a Sunday. The examples of these two brothers, in fact the whole country community, in the way in which they prioritize church was a great challenge to the team.
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