The Alyawarr region lies approximately 300 km northeast of Alice Springs on the Sandover Highway. Through the recent work of Pastor Ray Morris, there has been a resurgence in the local Lutheran communities, providing the perfect opportunity for a mission team of Tatachilla Lutheran College students to combine community interaction with physical assistance.
The team consisted of three adults (Colin Minke – Principal, Sarah Lush – Youth Worker and Haydn Lush – Associate Pastor) and nine intrepid students from years 10-12. A decision was taken to drive to Alice Springs and then out to the communities, enabling a strong bond to be developed between students, assisting their assimilation into a vastly different culture. Given the challenging nature of the roads, three FRM owned 4wd vehicles were used to transport the team, mission materials and equipment to Ampilatwatja. Extensive planning by Pastor Ray ensured there were adequate materials and equipment to complete all the maintenance and refurbishments at six separate sites.
The students were initially shocked by the conditions in some of the communities, but it was wonderful to watch their growth and empathy develop over the course of the week. The acceptance and generous spirit of the local people enabled significant connections to be made with students, creating a profound experience that stayed with them on their return.
The partnership now established with FRM has enabled a deeper understanding of these remote Indigenous communities, and also the important work that FRM performs supporting their congregations.
I would like to thank FRM and in particular Pastor Ray Morris, who was both instrumental and inspirational in the success of the mission. It is hoped that this becomes an annual service-learning opportunity where the love of Christ can be demonstrated in tangible ways to students and our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
Colin Minke is principal at Tatachilla Lutheran College.