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Check out the article in today’s Bulletin!YWAM Townsville
This week people from all over Australia are celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Volunteering Week; its all about honouring volunteers that give their time and energy to make our communities a better place.
YWAM Townsville has 116 full-time volunteer staff that serve both globally throughout South East Asia and the South Pacific and locally in the North Queensland community. One of our dedicated volunteers is Pelasio Vereakula (Pela). Pela is from Taveuni Island in Fiji and has been serving with YWAM for the last three years.
Pela left the comforts of home to follow his dreams of being involved in missions in 2011. He did a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Brisbane before joining YWAM Townsville last year.
Pela is currently serving as the Manager of Island Breeze, a ministry of YWAM Townsville that utilises cultural dance and rugby as a bridge for holistic development (body, soul, and spirit) particularly in indigenous communities.
“I like that I get to use what I’m passionate about to make a difference,” says Pela
“YWAM Townsville has a great community; there are many different cultures which is something I really enjoy.”
“I love the city of Townsville; the beaches, the rivers, and I love that this city loves rugby!”
In addition to his strengths in rugby and cultural dancing, Pela is known for his joy and sense of humour. It does not take very long for Pela to make you laugh!
“I feel like joining YWAM Townsville is bringing me to another level in my life and I am excited to keep growing, as I am able to serve others. My passion is to see more islanders experience missions like I have.”
It is serving alongside people like Pela that makes YWAM Townsville the unique and dynamic place that it is.
Before sailing into Piru Piru, my biggest concern was whether to choose flip flops or tennis shoes. I remember saying, “I don’t want to look like an idiot”… this concern turned out to be quite ridiculous and self involved but it was all I knew at that time.
Transported by zodiac, we arrived at the banks of the village. After walking on logs through mud we were finally there – Piru Piru; a little village in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. All around me people were smiling and greeting me. The houses in the village were made out of whatever nature could offer and I was instantly impressed by their way of living. They didn’t have bricks or concrete yet they lived in beautiful wooden houses.
They showed us around the village and helped us whenever we got ourselves stuck in the mud or lost balance on the logs. They didn’t mind how muddy they became, as long as we walked safe and dry. I was stunned and at the same time I felt sadness. I kept wondering about these wonderful people — how could they stay so rich in their heart when their circumstances were so poor? They had no Toys ´R´ Us, no McDonalds, and no supermarkets, yet they were so rich in their way of living.
We came to teach and empower them, but this first visit was more of a lesson for me – a lesson about happiness and generosity. After that day, I couldn’t wait to see what those next days would bring. I looked forward to giving them what we have to offer and was excited to learn more from them.
As we went into Piru Piru the next day, I didn’t care about my shoes; I was thankful that I had shoes and that I even was able to choose between several pairs. You see, life is not about the things we own but about the attitude of our heart.
As the sun set on Ogden Street in the city centre of Townsville, the lights began to glow outside Umbrella Art Studio for an art exhibition unlike most.
In the spirit of National Youth Week, the exhibition highlighted art from none other than the local youth of Townsville. Attendees of the workshop “Print Out Paste Up” for the last five Saturdays were celebrated by family, friends, and other local artists, and congratulated on the hard work they had put into what was for most, the first art exhibition they had been a part of.
One such artist, Ingrid, who has been drawing and doing art for as long as she can remember, couldn’t help but smile when talking about the workshop. “It was fun to meet other people my age and to do art together,” she beamed. Ingrid explained about her piece that, “it’s the dragon of a character who didn’t know who he was… When he finally realised who he was, he was free. I think the confusion faced by a lot of teenagers is similar to his struggle to figure out who he was and his place in the world.”
Another artist, Tracy, described her piece as a representation for how people tend to react to the world around them. She observed, “they speak their mind without really thinking through or processing before they do.”
For these youth, art isn’t just something to do; through their art, the want to challenge others around them, inspire creativity and change, and make an impact in the world.
Workshop coordinators Vicki Sailsbury, Hannah Murray, and YWAM Townsville’s Fiona Saxby, were completely delighted to be presenting the art. “The most valuable aspect of the workshop was that youth from different schools could come together with like-minded youth,” Hannah said.
“They completely exceeded my expectations not only in artistic ability, but in work ethic as well,” Vicki commented. “The focus was not only art, but to develop professionalism in young people by upskilling them. They embraced it and were very serious about it, and very committed.”
Both the youth and workshop coordinators alike are hopeful for a continuation of workshops like ‘Print Out Paste Up’ and are excited to see what other opportunities can be planned for the young artists of Townsville!
The high-energy event showcased a variety of mediums for young people to express themselves, embracing the National Youth Week theme, Our Voice, Our Impact. From parkour to storytelling, from skate to stencil art and graffiti, the youth of Townsville were given the opportunity to share what is important to them in a fun, safe, and inclusive environment.
“Time surrounds a person”, said Shannon, an event attendee, about her stencil art picture of a person walking through a clock. “You need to make the most of it while you have it”.
This event is part of YWAM Townsville’s continued commitment to the 37,000 youth of north Queensland who are seeking hope, a safe place to be recognized for who they are, and the contribution they can make to their community.
Twenty three local Townsville church leaders came together at YWAM Townsville this week to strategise and plan for one of the community’s greatest local events.
Stable on the Strand is an annual event now running for 12 years. The event transforms Townsville’s ocean front area, Strand Park, into the city of Bethlehem where the Christmas story is brought to life through music, plays, activities, dances, live animals, and of course baby Jesus.
Volunteers from more than 50 churches give the gift of celebration and share the true meaning of Christmas to as many as 40,000 people each year.
The breakfast aimed to build the vision among key stakeholders in local churches as planning for the 2014 events begin.
YWAM leader, Netani Bolatolu, attended the breakfast and said, “It’s really good to see church leaders in the city already preparing for such a big event. Christmas is such a special time of year, and we’re looking forward to being a part of the events.”
“One of our goals is to help strengthen and develop our local community through the growth of local events, and we see Stable on the Strand as a really key part of that,” Bolatolu said.
stable on the strand, YWAM Townsville
Meet Shona Hubsher, a 24 year-old Registered Nurse from Queensland. Shona began her missions journey in 2011 when she spent time in Bangladesh; it was the first time she had ever seen poverty up close. The experience impacted Shona greatly. She was moved to find opportunities where she could use her nursing skills and compassion to help others.
After an online search, Shona found YWAM Medical Ships – Australia (YWAM MSA) and knew immediately it was the perfect fit for her. Shona signed up for a two-week YWAM outreach in Papua New Guinea as a nurse. She joined the Primary Health Care team administering immunisation and wound care, conducting health promotion, and training for local health workers. Shona shares about the outreach, “You see so many things that you would very rarely see in the developed world – malaria, tuberculosis, tropical ulcers, and fungal skin conditions are common. Others on my team even treated crocodile bites.”
After the outreach, Shona knew her journey with YWAM wasn’t finished; she was hungry for more. “While I was on board the ship, I met students who were on a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS). Hearing their stories about how their lives had been changed throughout the course made me a want to do one myself” said Shona.
Shona enrolled in YWAM Townsville’s Ship DTS in 2013. The DTS was life changing for her. “I learnt so many valuable lessons; how much I am loved, how I can harness my potential and embrace the way that I have been created, and how to use that for good. I feel that there is endless possibility for an exciting future.”
During the Ship DTS there is a three-month period spent in Papua New Guinea. In addition to joining a YWAM Medical Ship outreach, Shona and her team ventured into Milne Bay Province where the ship would be visiting for the first time the following year. The team built relationships with local health providers, village leaders and the provincial government while gathering on the ground information in preparation for the ship’s arrival. “Living in the villages gave us the opportunity to experience everyday life in these communities, it showed us just how beautiful, kind and generous the people of Papua New Guinea are” said Shona.
The Ship DTS has shaped Shona’s future in a positive way. “DTS has helped to fuel my passions and facilitated the building of my confidence to pursue what I believe to be my purpose.”
When asked what she would say to someone contemplating doing the Ship DTS she said, “Stop contemplating! Apply now! DTS will change your life. You will learn things about yourself that you never knew and maybe even find you are stronger than what you thought. The Ship DTS is close to my heart because of my passion for nursing, primary health care, health promotion, and public health. The Medical Ship is an incredible ministry that takes a multifaceted approach at meeting the needs of the people it serves.”
Shona will be returning to the YWAM Medical Ship this year as a Primary Health Care clinic leader.
papua new guinea, ship dts, YWAM Townsville