Always Hard to Say Goodbye: Leonora Mission Trip Day 7

It was the final day with the kids and though the team went through the usual routine, it was tinged with a sense of sadness at having to leave as well as a sense of accomplishment at what they had achieved.

Today we woke up to Avril’s morning wake-up song, just like usual: “Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory…” and repeat the verse until everyone’s awake.

Every day we do the usual morning routine; eat breakfast, get ready for the day, our morning devotion and applying sunscreen. For this morning’s devotion we had Tim and Elissa who volunteered to share with us. Tim gave us an example of how when we welcome the kids it represents us welcoming God, referring to a passage in the book of Matthew.

Then Elissa spoke about not complaining about what we are doing because when Jesus had disciples following him, He did not hesitate to encourage them and never complained about His situation.

Considering that today was our last day with the kids, the morning session went by pretty quickly and it was extremely hard to say our last farewells since these kids were so amazing and they made each day easier for us.

We were able to develop a strong connection with the kids and ministering to them gave me a completely new experience, but at the same time revealed more good things about myself and the people around me. The majority of us got attached to some of the kids and had to keep their name tags in memory of the kids.

Seeing the children go was surprisingly hard but I’m glad that God gave us this opportunity to minister to them and tell them more about His glory and amazing works.

Cheryl

I woke up this morning to discover that, once again, Cheryl had stolen the blankets. This was hastily followed by our very own songbird, Avril, singing. It’s safe to say that the morning started slow, but in the end we were all rushing out the door to go to the rec centre.

Today was our last day with the kids, so we tried to give it our all. All in all, things went pretty well and really fast. Saying goodbye to the kids was by far the hardest thing I have done all week. I’m really going to miss those children so much; honestly, so many of us nearly cried. I’m glad that we were able to come to the community here in Leonora and bless the children. Hopefully our efforts will leave an impact.

After lunch we cleaned the centre and came back to the sports club to rest and pack. Of course, we did neither of these things and mostly just mucked around. Then we went to dinner at the local pub. We had fish and chips, with a side of arm-wrestling competitions. Cheryl and I had a competition. She won the left handed one and I won the righted handed one. It was an interesting experience. When we arrived back we showered and packed.
Tomorrow we will be waking up super early and hopping on the bus to go home. I’m excited to go back to my own bed, but I am so glad we were able to come here and reflect Jesus’ love to these children.

Elissa

It All Comes Together: Leonora Mission Trip Day 6

The team’s second last day in Leonora saw things start to come together. The relationships built with the kids over the last few days are paying off, as are the prayers offered on behalf of the team and the kids of Leonora. The day also included a visit to Gwalia, just a short drive out of Leonora. Gwalia used to be small but bustling mining town of almost 1,200 people. In its heyday it had the distinction of being the second largest gold mine in WA after Kalgoorlie and, at 1,080m, was the deepest incline shaft mine in Australia. The mine’s first manager, a young mining engineer by the name of Herbert Hoover, would later go on to become president of the United States.

We were yet again woken up by Avril singing (as I am sure you have heard from previous posts). Breakfast was cereal as usual (I had Just Right). The morning session started really well, the kids were really well behaved, which made it easier. I was on the registration desk and all the kids were really helpful in pointing out who they were which was a nice change.

We played a game with a ball where the older kids get in a circle and keep the ball up in the air. Diego helped run the game by standing in the middle. During the craft I helped with some of the kids making pipe cleaner people, which was fun. The guys doing the drama and the Bible skit did really well, the drama especially engaged the kids and they really enjoyed it.

Lunch was really good, we had honey soy chicken with rice and veggies. Annalisse has been a brilliant cook all week!

Gwalia in the afternoon had really interesting artifacts inside the abandoned houses, like old empty bottles of beer on the kitchen shelves. Where the people slept, the curtains between the rooms have lots of holes and the outside of the building is just corrugated metal sheets. It was really interesting to see this old mining town and learn about its history. The mine itself was huge and deep and at the very bottom of the mine it was filled with water (I think it is really salty water). The vehicles are also really interesting because they were really old but still intact and preserved.

In the evening we went to Mr Radingus’ hobby farm to have a BBQ with the kids. He has lots of different animals including horses, camels, goats, kangaroos, pigs, dogs, pigeons, chickens etc.

Before the kids came we had a big fire, and Daniel burnt his manga books in the fire. This was part of his devotion in the morning about building God’s temple/kingdom and not our own, and removing those things that distract us from what really matters. It was a great evening with the kids taking us around and showing us the animals.

Timothy

We woke up to the sound of Avril singing and ate a breakfast of Coles’ copy of Nutri-Grain (Mighty Grain!) with a hot drink. Devotions was led by Daniel and he talked to us about building God’s kingdom – we also spent some time in prayer together for the kids of Leonora, especially those who had been fighting the night before. We walked up to the recreation centre and along the way Mr Taylor pretended to be making a nature documentary in which we all jumped past the camera pretending to be Kangaroos.

In the morning session my group all sat down and listened to us for the first time, which was awesome! Our activities worked really well and we had all the kids engaged. We also played an ice cream game were everyone was blindfolded and 2 people had to feed 2 other people ice-cream – we had all kids first up and then did it with 2 leaders being fed by kids. Half the time the ice cream just went all over their face.

After lunch we went out to Gwalia, a mining ghost town just outside of Leonora. Praise and I walked around listening to the walkie talkie guides. The mine shaft was really dangerous and used a series of bells to tell the operator which levers to pull – we heard a story about one operator who pulled the wrong lever at the wrong time and it resulted in someone dying.

We also went into President Herbert Hoover’s house which was so much bigger and fancier than all the other houses that we saw (the rest were quite derelict). I’m pretty sad that it’s going to be the final day tomorrow – it has gone so fast!

Sarah

Challenges and Memories: Leonora Mission Trip Day 5

Day 5 came with some unexpected challenges to overcome, but nevertheless the team forged many more happy memories as they shared with the kids of Leonora.

So, this morning started off great with Jason’s amazing devotions that he had been working on for two days. It was on how God made us with two ears, so it must be important. I found it truly amazing. This is one of the two good parts of my day.

For the morning session, about five kids just did not want to do the things that the other kids were doing. Chris was able to have a talk with one of the kids for a bit, which was good. The other four kids went and joined other groups and I had to go and get them.

The second best part of today was the parents evening. There were a lot more parents there than I thought there would be tonight. It was quite successful, and a ton of fun for everyone. Most of the parents got involved in all of the games, and all of the kids wanted to be part of all of the games.

Emily

What a day! It was intense, it was challenging, it was rewarding, it was chaotic, but overall, it was fantastic.

Session 1 was different. The kids actually cooperated with us, it was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. I felt like I really connected with the kids finally, not just a few of the kids, but a whole variety, from the little kids to the big kids. I was having great fun.

Then all of a sudden it was done, and it was time for Session 2, which kicked off with a game of volleyball in the park. Everyone was shining in happiness and it made me realise why we come here, to give these kids some joy, some love and just some good times. But like session 1, it was all over.

But hey, we still had Session 3 to worry about, which was the parents nights. The kids were keen to beat anyone who was older than them and it was a good night and everyone seemed to have fun. But then that was over, but then it wasn’t – fights erupted between some of the kids and they were at each other’s throats. But thank you Praise, Axyle and Chris for saving the situation for us.

Wednesday has drawn to an end. It started off great and ended interestingly, but I hope we can glorify God in all that we do and tell these kids about Jesus in the limited time we have.

Marcus

Learning to Lead: Leonora Mission Trip Day 4

Day 4, and the team are getting into the swing of things. What they’re learning about leadership, community, meeting the needs of others and sharing the gospel will be invaluable.

We woke up this morning to a beautiful song from Avril (I didn’t know what was going on because I was half asleep). Miss Webster shared devotions with us and we sang songs together. I loved the songs we sang (“Desert Song” and “Grace Alone”).

After that we started the morning activities with the kids for the second day. I was put on the spot to make paper boats with the small groups and it actually turned out great. I really connected with the kids, which made me feel great because I came here to do God’s work so that was pretty great.

After dinner we went to pick up the kids (it was my turn on the bus). It was quite different and I got to see where the kids live which made me feel a bit sad to see some of their living conditions – it does give me motivation to put in the effort to make the time we have with them fun.

We got to the centre and we ran a games night. I was running one of the games that I had created and it was great to connect with more of the kids. After everything finished my voice was almost gone from all the shouting. All in all the day went pretty great. Looking forward to the rest of the week!

P.S. Also, today I realised that there is a shop right next to the centre (Mr Taylor had been keeping this a secret) which has made me very excited to buy a fizzy drink.

Diego

The morning started with singing from Avril, although many of us were already awaiting the sound of her voice. Our morning routine went as normal with breakfast and then getting ourselves ready. Miss Webster gave us a lovely devotion about the great things that God can use us to do whatever the circumstances. We then set off to the Rec Centre.

We started with small groups, which got a little out of hand, but we quickly moved on to many songs with the big group. We watched many skits throughout the morning, learning about having faith in God. We then had small groups again and then morning tea.

After morning tea, we did many crafts. I lead the butterfly making table which went very well. The morning session ended with more songs as the kids left. In the afternoon we had time to come back to the sports club.

We then had to go back to do the afternoon session. I was painting emojis on kids the whole time. In the late afternoon we had lots of free time to stay in the Rec Centre until the kids came again for our games night. We relaxed by listening to music and playing different games together as well as just discussing life. The games night was very enjoyable for everyone. I lead a balancing competition. Many of the kids enjoyed the night which made the whole day worth it.

Miriam

A New Perspective on Community: Leonora Mission Trip Day 3

Day 3 saw the team begin their week-long “Mega Maker” program. For most, it was their first experience in this sort of environment and they had to learn to adapt and make things work. However, the whole team rose to the challenge to make the day a success.

Completely different from Sunday. We saw it coming but obviously not physically ready for it. I was on morning bus duty so I was the first to experience… the children.

However, It was early in the morning so it wasn’t that noisy. In fact, they were all well behaved on the bus (I was warned that they liked to jump out the windows). I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone knows where everyone lives. In terms of community, Perth falls far behind. In the gym where we were running the program, I was in a group with the Year 4/5s and all of them were really shy and quiet, which was completely opposite to the Year 6 group.

We sang, we watched a skit that wasn’t really planned out well and we did crafts, although I didn’t join since I’m terrible with art. Afterwards was the drama which went horribly. Everyone said we went great and that they didn’t notice but basically, lines were forgotten which meant a lot of awkward improvisation.

Lunch and dinner were great! What I love about this trip is that there’s always leftovers meaning I have seconds, thirds, fourth and so on. It’s pretty much an “all you can eat” meal for me. Shanae, Brody, Tim, Anandi and I kicked a small rock from the gym to the sports club building which shows how imaginative we are with entertaining ourselves.

Jason Angajaja

Monday bus duty wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be. The kids told us where to go and who to pick up. Everyone in Leonora knows everyone else and where they live. Most kids didn’t get on the morning bus because they were asleep. I was with the green group (Year 2/3s). They were the most hectic group and hardest to control. They were shy to begin with and fairly uncooperative.

After singing and the Bible skit we had morning tea and braided Irwin’s hair, but he didn’t like it so he took it out. Then we did crafts where I met a super cute kid called Phoenix and we made a ladybug at one of the craft tables.

During our second session I had fun with Dalia, Quinton, Josiah, and Laquesha and I realised that they don’t know how to share so we worked on that. We also played with some blocks and I met a 3 year old boy called Israel. In the evening sessions we watched a movie and the kids really wanted my jacket because it was pretty cold. At the end of the movie Gilleroy, who was sitting with me, woke up and we saw them off on the bus.

Praise Akinpelu

A Taste of Things to Come: Leonora Mission Trip Day 1 and 2

Leonora is a town in the Goldfields region of WA, about 830kms northeast of Perth. In 1992, Dave and Avril McLeenan established a bush mission in the town as a ministry for the local children. Rehoboth has partnered with the McLeenans for 8 years now, sending a team of Year 10 students who give up a week of their September school holidays to help run the program and get a taste of missions work in a remote community.

Stayed tuned over the next few days as we hear from the students about their experiences.

The bus trip was never ending, but when we saw the lights (light) we knew we had made it to Leonora. As soon as we had hopped off the bus, we were welcomed by some local children who outperformed us in a crazy dance battle. We then made our way to our sleeping arrangements (the golf club) and fell asleep, hopefully.

Day 2 started off with a bang. Everyone was up bright and early. We then wandered through the town to the local church. After that, we prepared for Monday’s events.

Along the way, we stumbled along the gorgeous Sharon (orangutan puppet). Sharon changed our lives for the better, and will forever be in our hearts. Sharon was promptly adopted by Shanae and Marcus and other family members, Anandi, Darcy, Elissa, and Brody. However, Sharon got a lot of hate but we taught her to overlook the haters.

That brought us to the end of Day 2. We hope to meet the kids tomorrow and have a great time with them and be reacquainted with Sharon (just to be clear, Sharon is an orangutan arm puppet).

Shanae, Anandi and Marcus

On Sunday, we first went to a very small local church, of which we were in the majority. There we led the church in worship songs with Dan leading on the guitar, myself (Brody) on the box drum and everyone else singing.

During a brief walk through Leonora to Tanky Hill, we were blessed with an amazing view of the whole town. We then went to the Recreation Centre and prepared the whole place for the arrival of all the kids tomorrow.

At first this seemed rather easy, but as the day went on, the lack of sleep from the day before caught up with us. We were extremely exhausted. Despite being drained of energy we were able to get some good work done.

We set up the backdrop for all of our plays and skits and also set up the sound gear for the mics and speakers. We also had to lay down tarps all through the squash court for all the kids’ paintings. The other squash court, however, got very untidy from all of us trying to make a massive, non-appealing Mega Maker machine. Therefore, of course we cleaned up the other court, which took a lot of effort and a lot of cooperation which was hard due to being tired and sweating in a small area.

However, this experience was great to be a part of because we were working efficiently as a group. We learned things about each other and how we can all work together to get a lot of stuff done. We hope this is foreshadowing what is to come for the rest of the week.

Brody and Chris
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