On 14 January 2018, Kunpry Peipei was installed as a parish worker by Pastor Hezekiel Jingoona and Mark Reid at Mutitjulu Lutheran Church where she regularly leads Sunday services, and assists with Holy Communion.
Kunpry is passionate about sharing her faith with her family and her community, located in the shadow of Uluru. This passion can be seen most clearly in her work translating more than 100 hymns from Arrarnta into Pitjantjatjara, so her community can sing praises to God in their first language. But nothing pleases the 69 year old great grandmother of four more than sitting down surrounded by her grandchildren and great grandchildren teaching them to read Bible stories. ‘They come to sit with me and talk about Jesus’, she says. Kunpry also shares this love with her wider community. ‘Every Wednesday I have been teaching the local women singing and reading’, she says. ‘I know all of the songs. When I’m singing, I am thinking about God’s meaning. That’s why I’m teaching them. That’s why I’m telling stories and teaching them to do the right thing.’
Kunpry has lived in Australia’s red heart for her entire life. She grew up in Areyonga, a community 200km west of Alice Springs, where Christian songs and Bible stories were a major part of the school curriculum. When she was baptised and confirmed at the age of 13 by Pastor Kalleske, all church services were led in Arrarnta language, which was the common language used by the Finke River Mission at the time, rather than the Areyonga people’s first language, Pitjantjatjara.
Later, God spoke to Kunpry in a dream at the Areyonga church, telling her to help Pastor Kalleske feed her people God’s word, which she did for some time, even flying south with Pastor Kalleske and Daphne Puntjina hundreds of kilometres from Areyonga to Tempe Downs, down to Uluru, and then across to Docker River near the Western Australian border to lead worship services. Travelling vast distances was not new to Kunpry. Growing up she had started her schooling in Areyonga before going to school in Hermannsburg, then moving south with her family to Uluru. She still travelled back occasionally to Areyonga for confirmation lessons, riding on a camel half way to Tempe Downs, and then on horse-back to Areyonga with Pastor Kalleske, whom they’d meet half way at Tempe Downs.
Her favourite story is the Parable of the Sower, because it reminds her of her calling. In the parable, some seed falls on the path, some on rocky ground, some on soil with thorns, but some falls on good soil that grows, yielding in abundance. Kunpry’s tireless work and prayers for her community are aimed at building up that good red soil of faith in those around her.