Friends and teammates – I didn’t have a chance to blog on the trip, but it was filled with opportunities and memories and thousands of evidences of God’s love for the Australian people and for us. We arrived on a national holiday called Australia Day, which is similar to the U.S. Independence Day. It was really neat to start the trip with a celebration of Australian pride! It was perfect, actually ;o) Between that and the drive from Sydney to Toowoomba, I fell in love with the Aussie landscape. But the landscape is nothing compared to the people, both those we helped and the volunteers who served with us. They are remarkable, kind, funny and loving folks who I am honored to now call friends!
I think a good way to wrap up the trip is to share the story of the first farm I got to work on. Kyle and I were paired with two young Aussies, Cameron (19) and Jaidyn (17), to help out on a chicken farm outside of Toowoomba. Roy, the property owner, told us that a wave of water had come over the property, washing over their sorgum and their fences and covering their land with about 2 feet of water. This wasn’t the first time we’d see crops washed over…in fact for most of the trip we saw hay and grass swept to a 45+ degree angle, either from the ground or covering fences. In the past year, Roy has suffered a near-death accident on his tractor and lost his wife, Ivy. Now his farm, run by his son Damien, was flooded and his egg production is about 5 months behind. They lost just over 1,000 chooks (chickens) in the flood, leaving lots of open coops and lots of customers who may withdraw their orders.
But neither Damien nor Roy took much time to dwell on the disaster. Instead, we all worked hard and quick to clear fences, dig holes, pack posts and strain barbed wire. The guys also didn’t take long to start cracking jokes and making fun of their token female worker. For me, this was the legacy of the trip – stories of real people, bonds made and enjoyed, hard and hot work, and lots of laughter. Goodbyes to each family were difficult and often tearful, reminding me that sacrificial love in action creates the strongest bonds we can share this side of heaven.
Thank you again to those who invested monies and to those who continue to donate to TWCD. The people we met were floored to hear that there were dozens of folks in the States that cared enough to send laborers to their areas, often times almost overwhelmed with wonder. I was so proud to explain how generosities of time, money and energy converged to make our presence there possible. So proud to serve with all of you!