By Robyn Whitefern
Feature image: Our latest bunch of program applicants [L to R] – Malcolm, Frances, Veronica, Colleen, Anjelica, Robyn and staff member Emily.
At the beginning of May we celebrated our 104th pre-departure Orientation Course, the first OC in 28 months due to Covid disruptions. Below Robyn shares an honest reflection she wrote for the final day; including some of her journey towards mission, doubts about her abilities in placement and a strong trust in Palms and what we do.
Vision is something that as an older person I don’t have to give up on. In fact [further down] the road I can be better at tuning in to the Power of God than ever; to listen when He speaks, to know the purpose for my life and to rediscover the freshness and power of the Word. It is life-giving (like a butterfly from a caterpillar).
There is a WORLD VISION that can drive us to dream of new ways to let our lives count for Christ’s cause. Jesus wants us to follow Him out across the borders of our world, beyond the familiar – friends, family, social and cultural securities. Our world-sized part isn’t fulfilled simply by being involved in mission activities and enterprises (such as Palms) but in LOVE that fully invests our ALL, no matter who we love or what it costs us to do so.
I think we all here realise this. We stand here ready to go where God leads – with our faith, our characters becoming more like Jesus – ready to commit, to sacrifice, to be mobile.
Here I am Lord send me.
Even though I am living out a part of God’s vision right now and I am very grateful for my time in Tasmania at a college that is training people for cross-cultural mission at some stage it was time to search for my next “call”. I happened to come across Palms on the internet while looking up “volunteering”. I remember that Palm’s vision tugged at me.
REACH BEYOND EVERY BARRIER OF CULTURE, RELIGION, NATIONALITY, GENDER, CLASS AND INDIVIDUALISM TO CO-OPERATE IN ACHIEVING A JUST, SUSTAINABLE, INTERDEPENDENT, PEACEFUL WORLD.
Yes, I thought, I’ll send off an enquiry. The next thing I am being linked to a past Palms participant in Tasmania. I was staying near Burnie, she lives in Devonport. We arranged to meet up in Penguin, about half way between. I was quite nervous. We chatted in a cafe. I’ve since stayed with her a couple of times, and as we have found today there is nothing like “hearing the stories” from someone who has been on a posting, in the field. I am grateful for this person’s grace in sharing her life with me re her past and in the now.
Over time with some computer hiccups I did the online modules and as we know orientation didn’t happen in January but now it is.
What a week!
All those sicknesses that could afflict me overseas!
Those crazy Betans! Please can I just get back to Alpha!
My goodness, can I cope with the role of being an agent of cultural change? Little old me?
And how do I, with respect, wait for those in their garden to initiate ME into their environment – the physical, the social, the ideational?
O my goodness, what “rule” have I just violated?
What symbol have I just disrespected?
Is that “fanatic” there indicative of all in this culture or being scorned or humoured by those around?
Do I let myself be “bullied” into their way or do I hold onto my core values?
I want to be “with” the people especially the non-participating insiders. Hmmm this is tricky!
Yes, I hear the rally call of: breaking the lie of culture (could be doing that in Australia too) and bringing the Kingdom of God! Ah, but my faith may have to change!
That’s interesting. I’ve just been given the Qur’an at the Lebanese Muslim Association.
Am I going to do harm? Even in trying to change tiny patterns in their society?
Those floors need to be mopped. Those windows need to be screened.
Surely it is ok to share The Story – the sacred canopy over all worldviews. How will I/can I do that?
I feel so stupid! Language is not my thing (well not a language other than English). But how can I at all enter their worlds if I don’t learn some words/expressions? I am missing so much.
Are they making jokes against me? Criticizing me? Gosh even hating me?
Am I not being treated as a person of dignity? Blow this it is always me having to see their dignity!
I’m scared! I will have vegemite on a biscuit. I will have a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow I will go out and speak to … someone. I will listen. I will extend myself out to him/her. I will learn … something…maybe the word for butterfly.
Of course by being here I break their social fabric – I hope for good.
How kind they are being!
Living the vision and mission
Perhaps I CAN live the vision and mission.
The mission of:
- true solidarity
- acting justly
- loving tenderly
- walking humbly
Palms has trained us this week. Palms has got my back.
We know about plans, mentoring, monitoring and evaluation, identifying strengths, and much more.
I would say, in love, go out to do your part in the vision.