During the July school holidays I had the pleasure of being involved in the Tatachilla Lutheran College Mission Trip 2015 and travelled with staff and students to several Aboriginal communities in the north-eastern part of the Northern Territory.
Historically, Tatachilla Lutheran College has been involved in many practical tasks at Lutheran churches under the Finke River Mission banner, with the majority of work being undertaken at Ampilatwatja. This year’s focus was ‘enhancing relationships’, as well as undertaking basic maintenance of church sites. What an amazing and life changing experience!
Much time was spent sitting quietly, sharing cups of tea and skills with the local community. The females of our group were honoured to go on a bush food and medicinal plant tour with the local women, eating roo tail and bush potato and sitting in the red soil painting on canvas, t-shirts and cards.
Students spent many hours ‘developing relationships’ with laughing children: kicking footballs, creating loom bands, face painting, dancing and other fun activities. Much entertainment was had by those who frequented the landfill site to collect ‘useful’ resources to fix the fence and paint the donger. The church was also cleaned out at Pastor Frank’s request.
Amongst the many donations given to the community were musical instruments. This brought out a shared love of music between the students and locals. A local man, Peter picked up some new guitar skills thanks to Poppy and Ben. A bilingual Sunday service was led by Pastor Jon Goessling and Pastor Frank Turner, with our remarkable students creating beautiful music for those celebrating communion. We were delighted by the impromptu soirees and poignant singing in language by a small group of passionate Aboriginal women.
Other memorable experiences from the trip included:
- stargazing on beautiful clear, but cold, nights
- a sunrise tour of Kings Canyon
- toasted marshmallows and potatoes on the open fires
- meeting the amazing skilled craftsman, Martin, and purchasing weapons he had painstakingly carved
- 4WDing to the beautifully unique Palm Valley with the ancient red rock back drop against the palms
- an emotional visit to Hermannsburg
- vegetation changes as we travelled the country
- challenging discussions and debriefing as a group
- and the feeling of being grubby and exhausted.
The trip was a tremendous success and a life-changing experience. It was a privilege to be involved in the 2015 Mission Trip. The visit deepened the existing relationship between Tatachilla Lutheran College and the Ampilatwatja (and neighbouring) community.
Dolores Amos is the Indigenous Education & Resource Officer at Tatachilla Lutheran College.