By Jacob Kristofferson
Recently I visited Darwin with a team from my school between Wednesday the 3rd of July and Wednesday the 10th of July. Eight other students were selected to go. While we were in Darwin, we did a few touristy things like going to Mindil Beach Markets and visiting Crocosaurus Cove. Alongside this, the Mission Team and I visited and spent time with different Aboriginal Communities and stayed at YWAM, helping with cleaning and gardening.
The first community we visited was Bagot which was where we spent most of our time. Bagot is a community of Aboriginal families. We organised activities in the area where the families held their worship. Many Aboriginal children came to see what we were doing which resulted in us playing games and doing different crafts with them. They were hesitant at first, but after some name sharing and hat stealing the children were very friendly. The younger children greatly enjoyed creating bracelets and necklaces out of beads and pipe-cleaners. For me, the smiles on their faces made the trip worth it. One of the young boys even showed me how to kick an AFL ball properly.
A few days later, sausages were cooked and put on bread rolls in a production line within YWAM’s kitchen. It took us around 20 minutes to prepare. Afterwards, we went off in search of the Longrass People. The Longrass People are homeless Aboriginal people that live in parks in the Darwin area. Unfortunately, the police had been driving around and this scared the people into hiding. As a result, we couldn’t share our food with this community, so we headed to Bagot and handed out the food there. The people were grateful to have a free meal and while we were there, we told them that we would be at church the following evening.
The next day we drove out of Darwin and attended Mass at Nightcliff Uniting Church. While we were there, we took part in their songs and went around shaking hands and meeting everyone. Their mass was very similar to mass we do here at St Joseph’s. At 7pm we travelled to Bagot to attend their service as well. Bagot’s service is held in the open-walled building. We arrived early, so we assisted in setting up chairs and we also played with the Aboriginal children who had already turned up. Their church was very different to what I’m used to. They still have music but there’s a chance during the mass for anyone to get up and share a story. Their mass is less organised than what we do here, but it still has the same amount of meaning and significance.
On the following day we visited another community. The place was barren when we arrived. Only one family was there and most of the residents went inside. We slowly approached the two remaining residents and asked if we could sing and pray for them. They agreed and we sang songs for them as best as we could because we had not brought lyrics or music with us. While we were singing, the rest of the residents began to file out. They had really enjoyed our small performance. Everyone exchanged names and shook hands. I loved how music brought everyone together.
A few days before we left for home, we visited a hostel. We put on a performance for the residents there. They thoroughly enjoyed it. We also received a large surprise! They had invited us back for their Naidoc Festival! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the cultural celebration, however, we did get to hear traditional music before leaving for the airport to head home.
Something from the trip that’s had a lasting impact on me is how much we take for granted. These people have less physical belongings than us. I’ve noticed that in our society we always want more. They are happy with what they have and they don’t complain about how they live. They also have a much larger sense of community than the people from our society; if one person owns something, everybody owns that thing. They don’t hesitate to share with others in their community. Our society needs to pull itself together and have less to receive more. They have reminded me of what I believe is one of the most crucial verses in the Bible, Matthew 6:19-12:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”