Confirmation class at Alcoota. Often I announce it in the church services. The parents, especially the mothers, ask me to write down the names of their daughters and sons to be confirmed this year. The local school has made their library available, so we do not have to hold confirmation class out in the open air with annoying flies and tiring heat.
At the first meeting, not a single person appeared. I was told later that they had forgotten or had to play a football game in the neighbouring community. At the second attempt, again no-one appeared at the appointed starting time.
After waiting for over an hour for the teenagers, I was frustrated and wanted to pack up my teaching material and go. Then a handsome boy appeared. He had a sports injury on his right ankle. ‘My name is James’, he said. ‘I’m coming to the confirmation class.’ I could not believe my ears! Only one had come after all my efforts – but at least one! I almost cried – because of joy over the one who had come.
We were together for an hour. I showed him my bush communion vessels and explained when and why I use them. I told him the story of the prodigal son by means of a drawing. ‘I like this picture’, he said.
Then we listened to a CD by Christian songwriter Colin Buchanan. The songs Jesus loves me and Build your life on the rock especially touched him. He asked me to give him the CD. At home he has a stereo and wants to listen to the songs again and again. He wants to memorise the songs until our next meeting in four weeks when I will visit the community again. He already knows one song from his Granny, whom he often visits with his parents in Alice Springs. There his grandmother takes him to the Lutheran town church for Sunday worship. After confirmation class, he helped me clean up. We said goodbye. Before he left, I asked him, ‘James, you know the others; bring one or the other the next time with you. Then there will be not just the two of us, but three, maybe four or five’. With a smile, he waved to me, turned around and left.
Michael Jacobsen is the Ministry Support Worker for the Alyawarr language area.