Wilbur and Monika Klein normally live and work at Tjuntjuntjara, a remote community 660km east of Kalgoorlie WA where Wilbur is the principal of the school. ‘It’s a wonderful community, the children all speak Pitjantjatjara as their first language and the adults keep their culture strong. But it’s a big challenge for us to use their traditional knowledge as a link to teaching western literacy and numeracy more effectively.’
In 2014 they decided to use their long service leave volunteering with Finke River Mission (FRM) for the first six months of 2015. ‘Alice Springs is a huge metropolis compared to Tjuntjuntjara! We can swim in the town pool, walk or ride our bikes to beautiful places.’ Monika also thinks that Wilbur has rediscovered fine culinary skills that she hopes will continue next year back at Tjuntjuntjara.
While enjoying themselves they’ve also achieved a lot for FRM. They’ve painted, cooked, repaired, driven, talked, learnt, mowed, whipper snipped, swept, blown, camped, sewn curtains and cleaned. ‘We really think that we are the ones who have received great blessings living on the Mission Block, being a part of this wonderful branch of God’s extended family here in Alice Springs.’
A highlight for them has been helping the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir prepare for their trip to Germany. It’s been a huge, but vital logistical exercise getting 40 women from communities up to 8 hours away into Alice Springs to rehearse together. ‘Driving a small bus on a dirt road in the moonlight with majestic ranges towering alongside, listening to the dulcet harmonies of mothers and grandmothers singing a capella was truly uplifting for the soul.’
They’ve witnessed church extensions being blessed at Areyonga, camped by the creek where the sheer rock face echoed the calls of the community donkeys (a bit like the vuvuzelas of World Cup soccer), and attended the ordination of Pastor Rodney Malbunka at Hermannsburg. They’ve celebrated Easter at Haast’s Bluff with 300 others; Wilbur even cooked for the Inkarta’s Bush Camp at Areyonga. ‘The church’s work in central Australia, spreading the gospel to people of all cultures, is a wonderful thing. Volunteering with FRM has been an amazing time meeting many people, sharing their lives and being blessed. Praise God!’