Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cyclone Season Update :)

When Cyclone Lam was heading our way we had been given orders to evacuate and take the planes out of harm's way. The night before the evacuation David received a call from the local ranger asking him to help evacuate Mooroonga Island. He often flies to this community and there was a group of locals and a teacher out on the community at the time. In the morning he joined another 2 pilots and made a dawn departure for the isolated community 18 miles north of Milingimbi in the Arafura Sea.
On the flight over they were able to see the front wall of the cyclone in the distance, and experience some of the wind that was to come. (For those that are interested: They had a 35 knot tail wind at 1000ft and on base, which turned into the cross wind on approach, dropping to 5 knots at the tree line, making for an exciting and bumpy approach... and take off). Between the 3 planes they were able to get everyone off the island and back to Milingimbi.

Meanwhile, as the smallest member of our family opened her eyes, the rest of the team were frantically packing essentials and valuable items, preparing to leave Milingimbi, unsure of what kind of damage was about to take place. Shortly after the guys were back from Mooroonga Island we left for Darwin. (The wind at 1000ft was 45kts by this time, but smooth). It was a pleasant flight, in spite of the butterflies in our stomachs as we reflected on the neighbours and friends who were staying in the community and buckling down for the night. Little Sadie slept perfectly as though it was just another day like all the rest. The next 48 hours were rather tense as we caught fragments of information from the news and occasional updates from friends on the island, until the winds became so strong that the cell phone tower was disabled and power lost to most homes. With no more updates we simply prayed for them all and tried to catch a few snippets of sleep. We had to trust that they were protected and safe in God's hands.
On return from Darwin and seeing the devastation that cyclone Lam had caused in the area we live, we couldn't believe our eyes, hardly a tree was untouched and many were destroyed. A few days later David was able to return to Mooroonga Island with the rangers to inspect the community, and he reported that there was a lot of damage. He was very glad we were able to get the people off the island to the relative safety of Milingimbi.

Not long later... After being back in Milingimbi for a few weeks and having some fine weather to enjoy David was asked to take one of our planes (MQR) into Darwin for some routine maintenance. In the days leading up to the departure we looked at the weather to see another cyclone on the horizon! Cyclone Nathan. Departing a day early so the storm wouldn't trap us in Milingimbi we headed for Darwin for a short trip away. We felt like God has totally covered us with His protection. We were praying like mad for all those without adequate cyclone shelters and especially those in the communities already ravaged by Lam that they can find rest in the Almighty during another storm, as we have in another way through being miraculously provided with a second 'evacuation' to Darwin. This time it was a GLORIOUS flight over. As per usual with the "Calm Before the Storm" we had stunning scenery and a tail wind of 35 knots also by flying at 6,500ft the air was lovely cool coming into the plane. We experienced hardly any bumps, until the end when descending into Darwin through a sheer layer where the wind changed direction by 180 degrees - and those bumps were somewhat entertaining, as we got to see Sadie's hilarious faces with the turbulence. She was a top passenger and enjoyed her flight. We feel so blessed to get these "scenic flights" around such a different looking country to our own. We hope Sadie continues to enjoy flying as she gets older too. Soon we will be back to Milingimbi again, and waiting to see what the rest of the wet season has in store for us.

Caradus Family, Arnhem Land

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Our Second Year!

Reflecting on the year...

As we look back over our first year with MAF we have so many things to be grateful for. We have had a year full of exciting changes with a lot of surprises, and through it all we have a constant hope that lies before us. Each new day we are given the opportunity to lift up our hands in praise, giving thanks to a creative God that guides us with his Spirit each day. Learning to rest in His presence and be restored by his peace has been vital to survival so far from home.

The year hasn't been without trials, there has been bouts of sickness both in body and in heart when missing home. Our settling into the community has meant we have faced loneliness and often felt fatigued in an environment that has challenged us and helped us grow.

In all of this we have grown as a couple, closer together and stronger as a unit; and now we have grown into a family as we adapt to our newest addition. Sadie is a joy and also has brought new lessons to be learned, which have helped us lean on God, as well as priceless moments that have been a joy indescribable. 

New friendships have been made over the last year, and also some friends have gone. Family has visited to encourage us, and we have also bid farewell to some, not to meet again until eternity. Each moment slipping into the past as grains of sand out of our hands, we have learned to appreciate the here and now, leaning into each moment with a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude for the bountiful life that we have, because we love and are loved.

We look to the next year ahead, and are excited to see what is on the horizon as we continue to journey into a future full of excitement, unpredictable and refreshing as we go forward.

David, Kimberley and Sadie

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Build up beginnings...

The other day when we woke to the sound of the birds making a hullabaloo, I realised as I stepped out of the bedroom, that the air conditioner that we have had running all night keeps us in a chilled little corner of an otherwise "oven-warm" house. The added toastiness is just one element of the end of dry season. Although the temperature numbers stay similar, the humidity is rising again, which means the washing takes a little bit longer than the usual 2-3hrs to dry... As do the floors while mopping. The humidity also means the temperature feels significantly higher than it is, and dehydration can become a real danger as the rivers of sweat cascade off you... As uncomfortable as it is, you get used to it, and can forget to replace all that fluid!

I had been enjoying the balmy weather that the dry season had bestowed upon us. The mild evenings meant that walks were very enjoyable, and during the nights we had more than a sheet on the bed, which is always much more cosy. The combination of being in my second trimester of pregnancy and mild weather meant I was feeling very healthy and chipper. I had even attended a ladies exercise class at the school one day.

Recently, I was able to spend a day "tagging along with" David, to get a better idea of what his day is like. I was amazed at how hectic it can be. From the miscommunication that takes place when people book their flights backwards, to loading up what seems to be a mountain of groceries into such a tiny pod under the GA8 Airvan, to David's fast-paced mathematical mind whirring away as he works out who or what has to stay behind on a flight where the weight is well over the maximum.
I was deeply impressed by his skills to explain carefully and politely to frustrated passengers who were trying to rebook or amend a flight with him (on the spot between flights), how he encouraged a few scared passengers through the bumpy rides and the skill of which he flies the aircraft of course! 

Overall, the last few months have been a steady hum of activity here in Milingimbi. The Men's ceremony festival finished up over a month ago now, and we noticed the influx of males back into the community. Their presence at the shops or fishing along the shoreline has been renewed, and it's nice to see their smiling faces as they spend time with their families and friends.

Many funerals have taken place lately, for a while there it was about once a week. I could hear the distant sound of the story lines being sung and the clapsticks adding a rhythm to the chirping of the birds and insect humming. Milingimbi becomes a hive of activity during these times. People fill the small store on the island, and David gets very busy with flying the attendants in and out. One of the funeral ceremonies has been for a very well-known "old lady" (they don't say the name of those who pass) so many people were flying out this way to attend. The size of a funeral is often a combination of a large family, and also of a position of honour and respect in the community. As well as the passing of our Yolngu brothers and sisters, we have had a few family members pass away. Both David and I lost our remaining Grandmothers, within a week of each other. After always seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of Yolngu funerals it was in some ways strange for it to be something that I was to encounter on a deeply personal level. I was able to go home to NZ briefly to go to both funerals. David was unable to attend as our fellow MAF family on this base were on leave. I got to spend Father's Day with my dad, catch up with my relatives, and see Blenheim, where my family has relocated to. It was nice to still feel "in the loop" with their life changes, and it was lovely to hear some rain while in NZ!

I was back for a busy two weeks in Milingimbi, occasionally helping in the MAF office, taking payments for flights, picking up passengers, delivering goods to go on flights or booking in flights. It was a nice change to the routine, and has meant that I can practice my Yolngu Matha with the local people more, a big step forwards for my language development and pronunciation. This was short-lived however as we are back to a two-pilot base since our return from our short trip to Cairns... So I won't be needed in the office like I have been while Dave was the solo-pilot. We were in Cairns for a short holiday, for David to rest after a month of working the base by himself. Also we packed in a few practical things such as a trip to see the dentist, sort out insurance (things very hard to do in Milingimbi), and of course we had to have a few "treats" like visiting friends and picking up David's parents who are coming to see Milingimbi, and witness our adventure first-hand!

Well, that has been our very intense few months! We would live to hear how things are going in the lives of all our readers, so feel free to send us an email or arrange a skype call so we can stay in touch.

Nhäma Yalala! (See you later!)

David & Kimberley Caradus

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learning Language and culture

A lot has taken place since the last post!

We have been getting into routine with community life and starting to feel truly "at home" in Milingimbi. May was a month of change, but for the good - the dry season has started little by little, with the local area having areas burnt off before it gets too dry. This helps to give more nutrients to the soil, and protects the area from uncontrolled bush fires later on. 
The smell of smoke in the air seems unusual in the tropics, as I used to associate it with cosy fireplaces in a snowy or frosty winter! Here it is the smell of the start of cooler nights and sunny days with little rain. We have hosted dinner guests from other areas of Arnhem Land, and also some friends from the community in the last few weeks... Even enjoying a friend's birthday in the mix. Many good times of fellowship, fun and friendship building.

I have had the interesting experience of the local island health clinic this month. The system here is that if you arrive early... Then you will likely be seen pretty pronto. If you arrive later, you join a large line of people waiting for all sorts of different things - not necessarily in order of urgency. Someone may have a scratch and want a plaster... And someone else may be out of medication... Another may have a broken leg or a deep cut (these usually will be treated first if the wound is visible...) others like myself are waiting to see the midwife for a routine checkup. It can vary greatly. Also, many people will come with many family members in tow, who have decided to wait with them in the clinic because the t.v inside is showing cartoons for children (enjoyed by all ages), and the air con is nice and cool. Overall, my waiting times have been 5 minutes one day, and 3.5hrs the next day. So it's wise to bring a book and a water bottle when seeing the doctor!

I visited Gapuwiyak again, and spent time with the local ladies teaching how to give a manicure, and hand massage. This was popular and the students picked up the basics quickly, which was encouraging. One local lady showed me how to make traditional seed pod jewellery, and I look forward to trying to make some back home in Milingimbi... I will just need to do some bush exploring to gather the right seeds! On my flight home I had beautiful weather, and could do some animal spotting... Seeing a small herd of buffalo drinking from a billabong, some cockatoos flying across the bay like seagulls would, and also sea turtles entering the lazy waves on the coast. Milingimbi is part of the crocodile island group, and one of those islands has a turtle sanctuary on it. This means that there is a strong connection to these quirky creatures, and Mooroongga island (18km for our group of Islands) has the sea turtle as their sacred totem.

David has been flying to many small locations nearby and has had some interesting passengers - several times he was transporting the primary school children who catch the plane from Mooroongga island to come in for sports tournaments, in order to strengthen their friendships with the students at Milingimbi primary. There are also teachers who travel to the island to check on the education progress of the children living out there, and ensuring that they are learning well. Another regular location is Djamardi, where men sometimes have unusual carry on requests - like spears (gara) fish traps, and fresh fish. They come over to the "big smoke" of Milingimbi to shop at our little store for groceries and other items. Sometimes David goes out to Dhipirri, to take tourists out to the Barramundi fishing lodge that is based there and bring them back - with their beaming smiles and tall tales in tow. Another common destination from Milingimbi is Maningrida as they have close family ties to Milingimbi and regularly come over for funerals and important ceremony gatherings.

The end of the month came to a close with us preparing for MAF conference. June has been pretty cool so far for us. We had a fabulous queens birthday weekend worth of inspirational and challenging sermons, fellowship time with other staff and support from our head office leadership. It seemed to fly by so quickly, but we enjoyed every minute of it. The following week after conference we got to have the first trimester ultrasound and see our little baby giving us a wave - yes that's right... For those of you who don't know yet, our mission team is expanding to a 3rd little helper, due to start in January next year. Please pray for a healthy pregnancy and for us to stay safe through the changing seasons ahead. 

Secondly, so far we have started our language learning by attending a 2 week introduction with MAF at the main base. Fabio and Brett were our patient teachers each day, we have been so blessed as they shared their wealth of knowledge. Learning Gupapuyngu in 2 weeks is very intense, with vocabulary being the first thing to build up... We know we have just scratched the surface. Our brains were pretty tired each day. My respect for those that speak English as a second language has certainly skyrocketed! We were blessed to have a local Yolngu evangelist Bunumbirr (some may know him from MAF newsletters as Gerard) come in and explain more about culture, his friend Keith (from the Torres Straight) also spoke with us about "building bridges" for sharing the gospel and they both gave us tips on our pronunciation - will be sure to share some more language learning and the discoveries of this unique culture as we know more.

Bless you all and thank you for your prayers and support!

Kimberley and David Caradus

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exploring the Area

We have been out on the ocean, exploring around the island on Dave's day off... Through still waves, through choppy waves, with great wind, and with a light breeze... While very aware that there were sharks and crocodiles around the boat, I was acutely aware that I didn't want the boat to sink!
And it reminded me of this passage from Mark 4:
"... And a great storm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He said to them, "why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"

It's amazing how often we think that we are in dire peril. That our lives are falling down around us, and that we are doomed... Even if it is as ridiculous as the coffee machine breaking while guests are over. We can all feel that cold panic rising over us, and it can give way to anxiety, fear or worse.
I have been reflecting on how when we know our Saviour is there, that we can feel safe regardless of our circumstances, we need only have faith, to drive out that fear. I think that a part of strengthening faith that dispels fear, is to focus on the right things. If I focus on scary waves or on the buffeting of our small boat, I become afraid. If I look to the horizon and see the stunning shimmering sea around me, the gorgeous blue sky and hear the birds chirping from the mangroves and trees, I'm suddenly too in awe of the beauty around me to be worried about a little bouncing of the boat on the waves. Life is much the same, if we focus on the things that scare us, or hold power over us in some way, we are afraid for the future... When we acknowledge the beauty and blessings around us, we are filled with hope and contentment, and the worries fade.

I'm discovering more and more that Milingimbi is a rare treasure, filled with beauty. A small island surrounded by good fishing and filled with friendly faces. Many of which are delighted when you come back from fishing... Asking about how your trip went... In fact a "swarm" of young boys usually plead for a fish until you have to shoo them all away (unfortunately 1 small snapper won't cut it with several boys that want a fish each!) usually after you say no, they take off to the shop to get a coke and a chocolate bar, and sit contentedly in the shade as they watch you haul the boat onto the trailer and head home.

Village life is a steady kind of hum. I helped with selling Christian resources under a tree with Janneke, the other MAF wife here. We sold heaps of bibles, sold out of children's colouring books, and sold lots of DVDs, which is encouraging as many were the Easter story in their language. We met some more "Balanda" (white people) at a BBQ and Dave has a great time harvesting coconuts off a tall tree around at the other MAF house. He discovered that a 30 foot bamboo pole with a knife attached was a rather successful technique!

In other village news, this past week we have had a funeral, of a lady who was quite young, but had been ill for some time. Dave has been very busy flying in family members from the surrounding area to attend. I was amazed that the whole village knows within moments, and then they all play their part to support the family. Massive bundles of fake flowers were toted down to "bottom camp" and we have heard the insanely loud noises and smelled the smoke as the local people follow their customs to bury the dead. We have been praying for the Christians who are involved, that they will be able to pay their respects, while still holding their faith strong - a funeral is a time where many previous negative habits and patterns of behaviour can come back strong as grief is dealt with. Some may not do anything much for weeks and weeks as they wait for all the funeral ceremonies to be over.

Well, I will write another blog next week, as this one has become rather long!

Bless you all,

Kimberley & David

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Marvelous Milingimbi

Last weekend we had the joy of packing our things once more and boarding a little GA8 to head off to Milingimbi. This is our new home for the next placement period that we have with M.A.F. 

If you want a super thorough blurb about the island, check out the Community Arts Centre page: 

In short, Milingimbi is a small island off the coast of Arnhem Land, it is close to the halfway point between Darwin and Gove. It has much milder weather than Nhulunbuy, most days sit around 30* with nice sunny skies and the humidity is lessened by the breeze off the ocean.

The community is small, but busy, with about 100 houses, and 1,000 people there is always something going on in the background. On our first night here a church service started up at about 11pm on a Friday - and that's pretty much how it is around here. Church happens when it can, where it can... And although we couldn't attend (As Dave has a very early start at the airport) it was so encouraging to hear the local people worshipping The Lord.

On Anzac weekend we had an opportunity to go out on a scenic boat ride with the Don Family, they are the other pilot family based here on Milingimbi. Janneke and Rene took us with their boys around the southern half of the island. I saw my first crocodile in the wild, it was about 2m long, which is apparently a small one around these parts... A reminder not to go swimming!

David has been flying under ICUS, (in command under supervision) and will do so for another few weeks. He has visited many diffferent locations, and has been building relationships with the local Yolngu. At the moment a normal daily interaction goes: 
"Wawa (brother) what's your name?" 
"Yol, David, so you are new pilot here?" 
"Yes, I am" 
"Ah, and you will be good with flying us today???" 

Hehe, the locals take a bit to realize that a "new" pilot doesn't mean that it's the pilot's first time flying a plane! From their perspective they can't see the years of training, then the testing and preparation that goes into getting the job in the first place. Once they see Dave in action they relax, and are very happy to arrive at their destination. 
Often it is a few days before he picks them up again, and it is encouraging when they remember him and are glad to see him again, climbing aboard with a cheery "Hello Wawa" and big smiles.

I (Kimberley) have mostly been unpacking so far this week, arranging the small house to suit us and figuring out how the power and water works. My day at the moment is mostly about familiarizing myself with the township, visiting the different facilities around and meeting a few people here and there. Most people are quite shy, so I only really meet people through other people like Janneke giving an introduction.

There are lots of dogs down our street, which makes for an interesting walk to Janneke's house. If I don't have Dave with me I take a big stick, which usually keeps them disinterested in me.  Often they won't even bother barking if you have a stick... Especially in the midday heat, where they will just sleep under the trees.

So, in summary we are settling in well. Milingimbi is a really nice place, with friendly people and a nice climate. Lots of sand flies - but they are bearable - and a stunning beachfront, with a shimmering sea beckoning Dave to go fishing.

Bless you guys,

Kimberley and Dave

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arnhem Land Adventures

Hello Everyone,

So far this month we have continued to be stationed in Nhulunbuy, which has given us excellent opportunities to explore the surrounding area, and to get involved with different ministries!

Dave starts the day early, and heads off to the MAF hangar for some "manuals and forms" as he completes his induction process as a new pilot. He has been able to visit the surrounding homelands as the "right hand seat" observer. This gives him the opportunity to learn about the location of each homeland, and understand the relationships they have with others nearby.

At this stage he is finishing up with the majority of the preparation stages, and will start his ICUS (In Command Under Supervision) stage next week. In the ICUS stage he learns the routes and gets used to different landing strips while having passengers and working a normal day. After that, he will be flying as the Solo pilot in command.

So far I (Kimberley) have been very busy in and around the community, at the MAF ministry resource centre and on outreaches. In the resource centre I helped with preparing the tracts for Easter, and helped Tiina Higham to sell some resources in the Yirrkala village area. I have also done a few odd jobs for some of the staff members, assisting them with all sorts of odd jobs - such as stitching epaulettes!

I had an opportunity last weekend to visit a homeland and help with an Outreach. This was such a highlight for me, we had dinner around a Yolngu campfire and set up a movie on the projector to share with the village of Dhuruputjpi. We watched the story of Samuel Morris, and African man who after witnessing a miracle sought out more information about Christ to minister to the people in his home village. Many of the Christian Yolngu were encouraged, and we discussed how he was so bold, sharing the gospel with everyone he met. We prayed together that they would have that same boldness, and the passion to continue searching for more about Jesus.

While I was out in Dhuruputjpi, Dave was awaiting the weather forecast to hear if he would be going fishing locally... And he was blessed with an opportunity to go out with "Robbo" one of the engineers, and have some quality bloke time out on the water. After a hard days work trolling through the bay, and learning a hand-line, Dave came home with a bounty that we could share with friends and neighbours.

The final blessing for me, was an opportunity to go and visit Lake Evella, and see the work that Emily Vautier is doing there with the local Yolngu women. She has a small training centre which has a multitude of resources... And a shortage of trainers.

She mentioned to me last week that they had a Massage table, but needed a trained therapist to come and show them... And "where would she find someone to help?" I eagerly offered my services and within a few days of our discussion, I was hired to teach the ladies the basics of massage. 

We had an excellent day, learning together about the human body, the benefits of massage, techniques and different opportunities to use massage to bless friends and family, as well as the opportunity to use it as a trade. Emily has a small hair and beauty salon that is being set up as an Employment Program, to help the ladies get into work. Hopefully the interest in Spa Therapy will grow, and we can offer some more classes again soon!

Please pray for us as we continue to serve the communities, pray that Dave will have plenty of energy as he flies in the hot sun each day and that I will be able to talk easily with the ladies and understand their culture effectively so I can share the gospel in ways that makes sense to them.

Bless you guys!

Kimberley and David Caradus