From Ebenezer to Papunya and back again
This is a story about how 19 people came from Ebenezer (meaning ‘stone of help’) in the Barossa to the Aboriginal community of Papunya in Central Australia in July 2013.
On Monday they arrived in Papunya. They left on Friday morning. We (Paul and Mei-Li Traeger – the local FRM support worker and his wife) had never met them before.
During that week they built a whole new kitchen, did a huge amount of interior painting, effectively gave us a new garden, and did a great many other important and useful things around the house and yard. The manse area has not seen so rapid a transformation in its entire 50-odd year history!
On the Monday they happily made camp in our large yard, just as the rain was setting in. It was exceptionally heavy, about 55mm fell in around 24 hours. Aft er a quick lunch, they got straight to work, only slowing briefly to nervously watch the rain increase. That night their sleep was disturbed by dogs fighting over garbage.
On Tuesday they mainly worked indoors while waiting for the rain to ease. They also fixed the perimeter fence to keep the local dogs at bay.
On Wednesday everyone continued working, including their children. They met some Aboriginal people, toured Papunya, and visited the art gallery. During the day somebody calmly dispatched a hibernating young king brown snake!
On Thursday there was yet more work, continuing their daily pattern, i.e. getting up before sunrise, then working until sundown – or even longer. Later that night there were farewell speeches, thanks, reminiscences, and so on.
Finally, on Friday, they journeyed on slippery roads to King’s Canyon via spectacular Gosse’s Bluff and beautiful Areyonga.
Throughout their time with us they were unselfish, uncomplaining, cheerful, willing to improvise, nearly always doing more than we asked. As such, they were a clear gospel witness to the Papunya community. Moreover, their workmanship was of a very high standard. And they did it all despite mud, cold, limited space and a very different environment to what they had been used to. Yet the best part of their visit was the new friendships that were formed – not just for us, but also for the Aboriginal people, and even for some of the community white people.
Overall, the quality of their assistance bore all the marks of divine intervention. Through them, we knew it to be the Lord who was helping us and encouraging us (1 Samuel 7:12).