September 22, 2019

Focus weeks

Frontier Services – John Flynn Foundation

Some of you remember Rowena Harris who was in this congregation in 1987 with Rev Colin Baxter, and was ordained with Rev Bob Warrick in 1988. She wrote from the High Country Patrol based on Omeo in Victoria, where she has served for 7 years:

I am well, happy, and it’s freezing cold. I continue to love what I do.  We have developed a major drought support project, raising money to do loads of activities to help our folk in this remote and isolated area. And what we are doing activity-wise seems useful. I go out delivering food hampers, doing pastoral visits at the same time, and battling snow at some places. ..

Rowena talks about wearing Ugg boots all year round….

As a Bush Chaplain, Rowena works with the congregation in Omeo with its 10 members [and the Friday Bible study with 15, only 2 from church], with the majority of her time spent supporting the wider community. She visits families living in the more isolated parts of the region and takes on a meaningful role in the small communities of the region, providing encouragement, support and a genuine hand of friendship.

I have my own Facebook page and then Mountains has its own page.  Adventures? Driving in snow whiteout…. extremely poor visibility.  Counselling in fire-destroyed farms after families return to nothing.  Being forced off a road and into a creek, by a truck… thank goodness for 4 wheel drive.  Said 4 wheel drive falling off a cliff, when the road collapsed. Result… new car, broken leg, fancy rescue when car chained to a tree and top cut off.  Snow storm approaches… threatening sky Started out to one farm. Snow progressively deeper. Phoned farm. Was told to leave hamper in shed, as too much snow to drive up steep road.

Loads of photos of scenery on my FB page. Glorious scenery

I am Police chaplain and Senior shire coordinator… disaster ministry manager.   Choirs chaplain in shire… I do sing in choir.  Manage the Mountains Project however we have two teams… a congregational managing team. Plus a working team. This is ecumenical with some non-churched folk, from right across eastern part of shire.

So region AND church own it. Presbytery is most supportive. 2019 budget of $35 thousand, not sure of next year’s but hopefully more. Government grants and gifts from churches, schools, community groups and individuals. Two mottos.. Be kind. AND … St Francis said “Preach the gospel continually. If necessary, use words”.

Farmers respond… tears, cups of tea, and acknowledging that they are not forgotten, that people still care.

We get lots of gifts in kind too, eg 300 bars of goat milk soap. During Easter season, we bought $800 of eggs. We gave $300 to Mallacoota Anglican-UCA church, my first patrol down here, and then my teams spent 3 weeks giving out eggs wherever they went. $800 of eggs made the manse smell over-poweringly of chocolate! But greatly appreciated. Many families couldn’t afford to buy eggs. Last week, given box of 100 beanies. That’s a huge amount of beanies!

Best story… a family decided to send a cheque to us. Parents wrote one, then kids wanted to help. 3 kids… 4, 8, 9. Live in a big city. Decided to have a lemonade stand. Parents said too young to have a stall outside so had it in kitchen. Sold drinks to family and neighbours. Raised $4.95. Dad wanted to add to it to make it respectable. Kids refused. Sent as was. Widow’s mite, anyone?

This is the second winter of no rain.