On 25 June 2017 ladies from six different communities got together for the 2017 Finke River Mission Women’s Bible Study Camp at Ti Tree, 200 km north of Alice Springs.
Continuing the 2016 theme of retelling Bible stories, participants considered how to help children understand, practice and remember them. Local Lutheran Seraphina Presley works at Ti Tree School. She liaised with the principal, who kindly allowed us to use the school facilities for the weekend. Here is her story:
Every year since the Women’s Bible Study Camps began, the ladies from Ti Tree have been asking me: ‘What about us? Take us too!’ They couldn’t find anyone to drive them to Simpson’s Gap last year. I felt sad about it. But I said to them, ‘Don’t worry. It will happen! They’ll come to us sometime’.
When the day finally came for the workshop at Ti Tree School there were three women at Six Mile (Pmara Jutunta) Community who were very full of energy. They didn’t wait for me to pick them up. They decided to walk. I didn’t know that – I got the school bus and went to Six Mile and said ‘Have you seen those ladies?’ ‘No, they’ve already gone – they’ve walked to Ti Tree (10 km). They really wanted to get there!’
Pastor Darryl Mattner planned the Sunday worship service at Six Mile to include women from the Bible Study Camp. They read the Bible texts in Aboriginal languages, chose the hymns, led the singing, sang as a choir, and Seraphina led the children’s address:
… I felt a bit nervous, but as I started teaching I just concentrated on what I was doing and the nerves went away. I asked myself, ‘How am I going to speak?’ And I decided to speak some Anmatyerr, some Warlpiri, because there were Warlpiri kids there too, and some in English. And I just did it and kept on going. I thank God for helping me, because I haven’t done anything like that before. Later on I asked my husband, ‘How did I go?’ He said, ‘You were right!’
The Ti Tree ladies really want this to happen again. They are keen to go to other communities and find out what is happening in the churches there. They really love singing! They are also hoping that someone from the choir will go back and teach them to sing in harmony, starting with the songs they already know. When they sang hymn 241 it really lifted their spirits right up! They were really happy.