Thanks, From Brendan

This post was written by an amazing volunteer and helicopter pilot, Brendan Alexander.

For me, Australia was a chance to help people who would benefit greatly from my actions, and truly appreciate what we were there to do. Helping someone with a favor, say driving them to the airport, is always appreciated. However, helping someone who desperately needs it, someone who may have unexpectedly lost everything, now that is a good feeling. To some, traveling half way across the world to build fences may not seem very helpful. To the wonderful folks of Coonabarabran, what we were able to do was a Godsend.

Some of these folks lost homes, some lost livestock, some lost everything. One thing I find remarkable is that some of these folks walked off of their own property, sacrificed the manpower to protect their own belongings solely to help their neighbors protect theirs. This family united by the boarders of a town needed–better yet, deserved– our help. Enter Trinity West Crisis Dispatch. Without them, I would never have had the opportunity to do what we did, to do my part.

TWCD offers organization to a bunch of people want to help, but may not know how to get the ball rolling.  TWCD is only a fraction of who is responsible for our adventure though. BlazeAid is also largely responsible for the success or our journey,  providing us with the food, shelter, guidance and tools necessary to get to work. BlazeAid is made of volunteers–the ones in our camp were primarily retired Aussies who travel the country and stop for the chance to help, and get a little camping in at the same time.  This is another point where our group from TWCD was helpful. At the end of our Journey, Laurie Dawson expressed to us and the rest of camp how grateful he was, simply for our age. He told us we had been working a job that wouldn’t have been able to be done had it not been for our youth and energy. That right there gave me a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that what we did really mattered to them.

Even with the help of these two organizations, we still needed help. Thats where the most important aspect of our journey comes into place: sponsors. Without donors and sponsors, it would have been impossible for us to make the journey. Whether you donated personally, or just spread the word of what our mission was, you were a success, and passed that success on to us. So I, and we, from the bottom of our hearts say “thank you!” Thank you for believing in us, for enabling us to to help those who are known for helping others, and for loving our neighbors.

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A Word From Wes

 

My favorite day of the trip is the day when I wrestled a huge, completely charred, gum tree. I do need to mention the fact that it was located directly on the fence line that covered Australia’s version of Mount Kilimanjaro. Fortunately for us, and the property owner, I won! However, I did come away with not just a black eye, but also an entirely black, soot covered, face.

The day started like any other day on our trip.

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Alarm clock when off at 6am. I got up, freezing because I am always cold, put on my clothes including my high visibility vest and completely American cowboy hat, and then made my way to the dining hall with a smile on my face. Smiling because this was not our first morning at the BlazeAid camp in Coonabarabran. I knew all too well what and who was already ready for me. A nice big bloke by the name of Evan! Evan was the man because everyday at 5am he got up, fired up the grill, and cooked everybody fried eggs and the Australian version of bacon; basically it was my grandmother’s version of fried ham.

And, on this particular morning, he had fried up some sweet potato slices as well. Out of control delicious! So after I had an exceptional breakfast full of grease, sodium, protein, and cholesterol I was ready. So what followed is only natural. I had to make a stop by the bathhouse, what other option did I have? Once the pertinent details were taken care of etc. etc. our group of 5 Americans and two Australians, Justin and Sallie made our way deep into the pasture land of the Warrumbungles where this epic match of strength, fortitude, and vertical slope would take place.

Justin, a forty something Australian, on the way out to our fence line that morning mentioned that the reason why they had us young American’s working this property was because of the section of fence we were about to rebuild. He kept referring to it as Kilimanjaro. I did not truly understand his comment until I reached the not so impressive peak of the fence line that we had been working towards for the past several days. Once I had made the summit, which was not that steep at all, I peered off into the abyss of the valley that we were about to descend. There were cries of eagles, high winds, the gray hue of clouds below, and my ever-present fear of heights that for the majority of life had not existed. Ok, that may be stretching it some, just take away the eagle sounds and well ok leave the rest.

In digesting the task at hand I noticed amongst the many burnt trees was an impressive gum that rested directly in the middle of two star posts of the descending fence line. At that point, I said to myself “self, it’s going to be tough to get all the barb wire strands around that tree.” So, I then implemented the only course of action I thought would make sense. I made my wife, Brett Ann, run all the lines of wire through each star post, around the toasted Gum, and to the strainer post in the valley.

I mustered all the energy I had to encourage her as she continued to make the hike up and down Kilimanjaro. By the time she ran 5 out of 6 lines we were both exhausted! And I had not made one trip to the bottom yet! It was a successful morning. But, as fate would have it a Kelpie puppy, by the name of Ember, distracted Brett Ann. Leaving me the sole responsibility of running the last line of barb.

 

I valiantly stood in my wife’s place. Pulling the barb up to the summit and then descending down towards the strainer post located in the valley. Charging the chargrilled gum with full force. Once I got to the tree I noticed the path Brett Ann was using to go around the gum was no longer accessible. Due to the completion of the 5th wire I could not fit through the fence as she had. My next thought was to jump the fence, but thanks to the slope of Kilimanjaro, that was not an option for this ole boy either. Therefore I would have to reach around the tree to pull the 6th and final wire around the appropriate side. This was when the match began! (Let’s get ready to rumble!) I attempted to bear hug the tree but found its breadth to be too large for my inadequate arms, even when I pressed my entire body, and face, up against its charred bark. I regrouped by climbing back up to the summit side of the tree, resting my body and face–once again– against it to feed the wire down the fenced side of my foe. I managed to slide around the tree, using its massive size for balance as I traversed the almost vertical pitch to grab the wire on the valley side of the gum to pull it down to the next star post. Finally, I had bested the tree! But, I was completely covered in soot. For the rest of the day I had to endure the mixed banter of my cohorts as they enjoyed the results of my bout with the gum tree touched by fire.

 

The day ended with Mount Kilimanjaro fenced. We were able to progress further into the valley completing roughly 200 meters of fence for the property owner. Looking back I take pride in the fact that I came away from my match with the Gum tree victorious. I also am proud of our efforts as Americans to help these Australians farmers and native BlazeAid volunteers tackle such a challenge as fencing land in the mountainous Warrumbungles of New South Wales.

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A Great Trip

Over the next few days, you will see a lot from us about our recent trip to Australia. We will have blogs from volunteers and post photos and videos over on our main page.

Today, I’d like to take a moment and say thank you for a great trip. We literally could not have taken it on our own. Whether through prayer or financial support, you made it possible for us to go help farmers in Australia.

Every day in camp we heard stories of farmers whose lives were changed. We were told lives had been saved. Farmers on the brink of hopelessness were shown hope by an organization called BlazeAid. We partnered with them for the third time, and were happy to do so because of the amazing work they do.

Our volunteers were the perfect team for this trip. Never complaining, never second-guessing, they put up with discomfort and long work days because they knew the work they were doing was worth it. They knew the farmers they were helping needed them.

As we walked up and down the hills and valleys of a vast Australian ranch, I was struck by the power of prayer. We prayed for the opportunity to help these people, and we were granted that prayer. We prayed for a safe trip, and we were granted that prayer. We prayed for a team of volunteers who would work together to help others, and we were granted that prayer, too.

So thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support. Most of all, thank you so much for remembering TWCD as we try to help victims of disasters around the world.

 

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Four Days

We leave for Australia in four days. The excitement has started setting in around the TWCD office. We are finding it hard to focus on anything but this trip. There’s nothing I want to do between now and then that is more important.

Once we get on the plane, I am sure it will set in exactly what it is we are doing. We are going to a place few people from our country get to go to do something barely any other Americans do. We represent American Christians in Australia. We are the only team going from America to help with these fires in this country.

If we make a bad impression, there’s no one else coming to make a good one. Someone once told me to always remember I might be the only glimpse of Jesus someone gets. If that’s the case, we have a little bit of pressure on our selves.

This isn’t a mission trip, it’s a work trip. We aren’t going to pass out tracks or anything like that, we are going to build fences. We are going to help people who need it. We are going to make life a little easier for farmers who have been through a tough 2013 so far.

Hundreds of thousands of acres have been destroyed by these fires. There’s a shortage of crops, a shortage of food for cattle, and a shortage of hope. We can’t let that continue. Practically, there’s not a lot five of us can do, but we know our impact will be felt by the people we help, and there’s no way to estimate how many positive outcomes that will bring.

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Keep Moving

Today was the first public address by the new pope, Pope Francis I. In his homily, he encouraged Christians to “keep moving.” He warned against standing still, reminding us that the Christian life is a life of walking with Christ, not a life of standing.

Following the Father is precisely what we at TWCD aim to do. We go to other countries, to the far-away places in need, in order to follow our command to love one another. We are going to Australia in nine days because we know we can’t sit idle when there are people in need. We know we can’t stand still when there are farmers struggling to recover. We know comfort is the enemy of growth, so we go.

When we leave for Australia, we will be making our third trip to that country. Our organization was founded because of fires in Australia in 2009, so from our inception we have had a heart for the people Down Under. This particular fire just so happens to be the worst they’ve had in 50 years. We have been ready to go since January, and the day of our departure is finally near.

We expect to be welcomed by the friendly people of Australia. We also expect to surprise many by our presence. Every time we’ve been, people have been shocked by our willingness to fly around the world to sleep in uncomfortable beds and work from dawn to dusk in the brutal heat. Why would we go to a place many reserve for vacation to sweat in farmers’ fields.

When you fully understand the cross, you fully understand sacrifice. You also fully understand our need to go to Australia. This isn’t five Americans going on holiday. This is five people compelled to show light in darkness, to bring hope to the needy, and to work our butts off.

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Trip Scheduled

We have been talking about going to Australia for a while now. We have been posting on this blog, on the website, and on facebook about how we are trying to head down there to help with recovery from the horrible bushfires that have been ravaging much of the country.

Well, now it is happening. We are leaving on the 23rd and will be in Australia until the 5th of April. This is an exciting time for TWCD. We are extremely excited for this trip and are looking forward to what we are going to be able to accomplish in Australia.

We are going to a town called Coonabarabran, where fires have been devastating. This town is near a few national forests and should be a beautiful part of the country. However, terrible fires have made it a nightmare for many who are living there. The farmers, as is often the case, have been hardest hit. Fences are gone, crops are destroyed, and cattle are without food.

We are going to help. While we are a small team and it might seem like there isn’t a lot we can do, you would be amazed at how large of an impact we expect to have. Our presence there will be photographed, facebooked, filmed, and talked about by Australian news in an effort to raise volunteer numbers. Our impact will bring more people to help from around the country.

Help us on this adventure. Continue to pray. Continue to encourage us online. Donate on our website so we can do more. We can go as far as you send us.

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A Volcano and You

Europe’s most famous volcano, Mt. Etna, has erupted. Nothing is more bizarre of a scene than watching fire pour out of the earth and smoke billow into the sky. It really makes you feel small on this earth when you realize there are still parts of the planet that could explode at any moment into a fiery cyclone of ash.

If you don’t live in the immediate vicinity of the volcano or Sicily, you probably won’t feel the effect of Mt. Etna’s eruption. However, the world we live in is unpredictable. There is always a disaster happening somewhere in the world.

Right now, farmers in Queensland, Australia are recovering from a fire and are now receiving too much rain for the rivers to handle which will lead to flooding. From a bushfire to a flood, these farmers have been put through a lot in the past few months.

Please consider donating to TWCD. At the end of the month, we are going to Australia to help in the recovery effort. Farmers like the ones in Queensland need our help, and you can be a huge part of that.

And if you are planning on flying near Sicily, you might reconsider, there’s a volcano literally pouring ash into the sky.

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