Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry Blog
It is a long, difficult and often lonely journey from no English to slowly improving English. The expanse of the world and the depths of your feeling, hopes, dreams and faith are limited to your own heart and memories. Peter Adur is the only person from his culture and languages background in his home UCA congregation at Hamilton in the Hunter Valley. This is ‘home’, where he is deeply loved, welcome, cared for and belongs. That community organized for him to attend the very first national gathering of people from South Sudan who are connected to, members of and leaders in the Uniting Church in Australia.
His home congregation believed that opportunities to talk and think, to worship and celebrate, to sing and eat among people who spoke one or more of his languages would be life generating for him. So, with his permission, they organised for Peter to come to Adelaide for the weekend 9-11 of November 2012 for the first South Sudanese UCA National Conference.
I have been involved in some interesting and difficult conversation lately. The interesting ones came out of warm conversations over food and quite unexpected trust as deeply personal, stories of family struggles were shared. The difficult ones happened in the context of trying to discuss difficult issues in public/meeting space.
Then last night and today reports of other ‘conversations’ about very difficult matters – another boat load of asylum seekers shipwrecked and many rescued from drowning. I noticed immediately a common thread between my difficult conversations a few weeks ago and the ones in the Federal parliament yesterday – the ready and repeated use of ‘them’ and ‘they’!
Mining … Mining and ‘boom times’ in the west! Mining and unimaginable wealth! Mining and investment! Mining and the economy! Mining and jobs!
Ah, yes, jobs. BUT are they real jobs for residents at ‘real’ wages’ or cheap imported ‘temporary’ labour brought from overseas to minimise costs and increase profits even further?
Lots of questions, and almost all of them beyond my simple mind and almost total lack of real knowledge of the global complexities of economics.
ANZAC day has come and gone. It comes and goes in my life as a difficult mixture of profound wonder, horror and thanks at what human beings are capable of through massive destruction of life, countryside and resources, and survival and even profound compassion and sacrifice.
It was not quite dark and the autumn sun was spreading golden light over cold frosty fields. Where the growing sunlight caught it, the soil was dark and furrowed where soon there would be head-high corn. We stood among the gravestones as the light gradually spread over us and the sun’s warmth seeped into our bodies.
About 10 months ago my mum died. My mate Daryl, his mum Barbara, dad Kevin, and extended family came to her funeral. Our families have known each other as good friends and family since January 1961 when we became near neighbours after moving into a public housing estate in Doveton, about 40 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD.
When I thanked Barbara and Kevin, for coming to my mum’s funeral last year Barbara said to me, “Of course I would come, she was my sister, and she taught me how to be a mum!”
Last week I heard that this amazing woman is dying from liver cancer. She was in many ways another mum for us kids when we became neighbours just 16 months after we arrived in Australia as “10 pound Poms” – British migrants.
Worship and prayer without knowing the words …
What do you get when you bring together a group of young adult leaders from across the length and breadth and cultural diversity of the Uniting Church in Australia – first and second peoples?
Blog for Australia/Invasion Day 2012
One of the first surprises I had when I began school in Australia was the weekly ‘saluting of the flag’ and the pledge of allegiance to the Queen. Having been born and gone through 8 years of schooling in the UK, the ‘mother country’, home of the empire and all, without once having such an experience, I well remember being quite surprised!
Then our children went to school in Chicago for 2 years and every morning joined their classmates in holding hands over hearts and repeating the ‘pledge of allegiance’ together. They said it so often and repeated it to me so often that I can still say it with hardly a second thought.
What surprised me about all of this was that I already had a deep sense of national identity – British rather than English, and later Australian, and I wonder what it was, without all of the ‘flag furore’ of recent times, that provided that.