Sunday, 29 July 2012

Autumn Workday 2012


Another successful workday was had late in May with a core of committed volunteers. Let the photographs of the day tell the story.

It was smoky up on the Hill…

but this was for good reason.

It may appear that Peirce was walking through fire…

but really he was one of the team burning off the piles of thistles collected at previous workdays.

Even little Eve enjoyed giving a helping hand.

We scattered wheat and Lucerne seed…

in an attempt to compete with the thistles that are unfortunately appearing again.

It was hard work…

But our efforts were rewarded with tea breaks and amazing BBQ ribs (unfortunately no image available).

As always the day did not really feel like hard work as we enjoyed each others company…

the spectacular surprise of this Wedgetail Eagle and…

simple fun and memorable moments.

Please join us for our next work day on August 11th. We would love to see you.

Friday, 29 June 2012

A Celebration

My husband is adventuring overseas on July 4th for a very special celebration. But he's going to Papua New Guinea, not the US, and it's a different kind of celebration than you were perhaps expecting.

Peirce was a grammar intern on the Bariai Scripture Translation project in 2004, and lived in the remote village you see in the video, preparing the dictionary which would enable the translation of the whole Bible into the Bariai language.

I'm still amazed by his part in this, and I wish I was going with him, but with the official celebration coinciding with my third trimester, we felt I should sit this one out. 

Helicoptors, remote villages, malaria, and a possibly explosive national election occurring at the same time as the celebration...none of this is really saying "heavily pregnant woman" to you, is it?

So let me take this opportunity to ask for your prayers for Peirce's safety through these and any unforeseen situations.

And while you're at it, offer some thanks to our God for bringing His word to the Bariai in their own language, through servants like my husband and the Gallagher family. May the Bariai people join with David, from their hearts, in their own language -

Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

- Psalm 119:12-16

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Supporting the Baehrs

Since 2008, Peirce and I have been happily working for Pilgrim Hill on a 'volunteer' basis. This means Peirce has opted to work part-time at his software job (thank you, Tavultesoft) so he is free to spend several days a week serving Pilgrim Hill. In between taking care of the family and teaching harp from home, I give all the time I can to helping out with PH. 

Meanwhile, all Pilgrim Hill donations go to the Association, which in this season is raising funds for the design and building of the hostel. Although the Association will pay a wage to us as managers in the future (when the hostel opens), currently we do not receive a wage from the Association.

We have been completely content with this arrangement, though it has meant our income is small. Despite living on two part-time incomes, God has given us deep contentment and riches during this time. We have been blessed with a large, sunny house to live in, and many other gifts which would have been well beyond our means (such as lovely furniture, appliances, a chest freezer, a chicken coop & chickens, office supplies, etc).

Recently, we were approached by some dear friends who expressed their desire to support us personally. They had been to one of our support dinners, and they wanted to support the work we are already doing for Pilgrim Hill - in teaching, hospitality and evangelism as well as support-raising (we do not bill PH for support dinner expenses). 

We also understand that their are others who possibly may not wish to give to our building project, but would prefer to give to a family who is doing gospel work, feeling that a small donation may make more of an impact that way.

So, with the blessing of the Association, we are now accepting personal donations to support our family as we work setting up Pilgrim Hill. If you would like to support our family directly for any reason, please contact us:

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Good news

Back in March, we let people know of our first definite need for funds: $30,000 to get the plans for the Pilgrim Hill complex finished and submitted to our local council for approval. 

In April, we decided to use our frequent flyer points to visit the Baehr family in the US before Baby Baehr number 3 makes her presence known too largely (she's due in September).

To be honest, we were feeling a bit discouraged about the fact that up to that point, we'd been given only a very small amount towards our appeal, but we were certain of this: God knows our needs better than we do, and He supplies them in His timing, not ours.

While in the US, we were very blessed by the generosity of Dr. Ted & Lili Baehr (aka Peirce's parents), who asked us to address their church fellowship and some invited guests at their home. 

Happy snap of Peirce preaching
Peirce preached from Acts with some insights on Philip the Evangelist (who had 4 daughters - we're getting close!). Later, he explained the vision of Pilgrim Hill and answered questions. I spoke a bit about the spiritual/worldview climate in Southern Tasmania and also played some of my Tasmanian music on a rented harp.
But what exactly is the good news? God graciously moved these precious Christians in California to donate the full $30,000.

We are awed, stunned and blessed.

If you're a Christian, it's hard to read the words "good news" without thinking of the gospel - the Euangelion (in Greek). Here are two little episodes of God's goodness in opening people's ears to that other much better good news.
  • A couple at one of our Support Dinners brought an elderly relative. The discussion question we used to open the evening was about how only in Christianity can we find a solid basis for caring about the oppressed and marginalised. We found out later that this lady was not a believer and in fact was very hostile to Christianity. However, afterwards she told her family how surprised she was by what Peirce explained about the position of different worldviews/religions towards caring for the marginalised and that she "couldn't stop thinking about what he said." Please pray that this precious lady's heart will be drawn to the God who made all people in His image.
  • Peirce was invited to address a group of thinkers in LA with our so-called 'altruistic project'. Also on the bill were a young couple who were Objectivists, presenting the philosophy of Ayn Rand, who rejected altruism and proclaimed selfishness as the ultimate good. God enabled Peirce to have a very cordial discussion with them, during which they admitted major flaws in Rand's system. They ended by volunteering that they would be interested in looking more deeply into Christianity. Please pray that this young man and woman are increasingly disillusioned by the false self-god of Objectivism and won to the loving lordship of Jesus Christ.

We were not endorsing this or any soft drink at our Pilgrim Hill presentation at the US Baehr home.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Building blocks

Pilgrim Hill is going modular. That means we are now planning on building in stages. Benefits of this include:
  • A significant donation could put an initial building on the site now, fully operational and fulfilling the mission of Pilgrim Hill.
  • Builders, donors and volunteers can put their hands up for just one stage or 'module', rather than having to commit to the whole project. 
  • Once Stage 1 is built, people can see first-hand how Pilgrim Hill works, inspiring more volunteers and donors to get involved as they watch our ministry in action.
Shoot us an email (or stay tuned here on this blog) for more info on how the stages will be planned.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Summer Workday

As we ventured up the Hill on a cloudy morning, we were greeted by the adorably wet and curious alpacas who joined in on the morning’s devotion given by Peirce. As there were less than a handful of us at that stage of the day, Peirce’s reading about Gideon was an encouragement.

The friendly tenants of Pilgrim Hill.  

While we had a few items on the work agenda, the battle against the invasive thistles became the priority. These thorny and hostile weeds were attacked with some trepidation. A positive attitude and a sense of humour was the only way to approach such a large scale infestation, we informally named the area ‘Thistleton’. Perhaps the most disheartening sight was seeing hundreds of thousands of tiny seeds that had already spread before we could capture the cotton heads of the thistles. Picking all of the seeds up was impossible.

The Californian Thistle, one type of weed we removed. 

However, there were many things to be grateful for on this day. The weather was just right for weeding, that is, not too hot, windy or rainy. The rain had cleared earlier that morning and left the soil perfectly moist for pulling weeds. Although the team was small, there was a real sense of camaraderie as we tackled this epic task. Good conversations were had and word games were played to pass the time. Furthermore, a Pilgrim Hill workday is always accompanied with good food and this one did not disappoint. American hot dogs were enjoyed by all, some for the first time, complete with chilli and iced tea.

Whilst this ragtag team could be mistaken for the cast of the next Jurassic Park film, they were actually the willing volunteers of a productive Pilgrim Hill Summer Workday.

Finally, as the day drew to a close, there was a real sense of achievement. We managed to clear the entire problem area and although it remains to be seen if we have won the war on thistles, we did win this battle. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Taste of Pilgrim Hill

new season apples brought by one of our dinner guests

Pilgrim Hill Support Dinners are small gatherings designed to give friends of Pilgrim Hill a chance to ask questions about the vision, mission, design, history and progress of Pilgrim Hill and to give an opportunity for support, whether through prayer, volunteering, communications or donations. A simple, joyful meal is accompanied by prayer and good conversation celebrating the richness of Christ's lordship over all of life.

Harp music aids digestion - incidentally that is a baby in my tummy.
This is the description I give as I write, email or call people to invite them to come to our home and to glimpse - or taste? - Pilgrim Hill with us for one evening.

Twice a month, Peirce and I do that extra bit of clean up, set the table with one of our white (white = bleachable!) tablecloths, and tell the girls that friends are coming to talk with us about Pilgrim Hill. 

Eve loves to help
God has seen fit to give us a work that we actually enjoy. We really, really love inviting people into our home - people we know and people we don't know. There will be - and have been - things that are hard about the work He gives us, but this part is a joy. 

A joy that involves lots of cooking, setting up an extra table, listening and responding to questions both easy and difficult, telling our very sociable 3-year-old Eve not to interrupt but to wait for her turn, and mountains of dirty dishes in the kitchen at the end.

(Oh, and learning that people who have an allergy to shellfish can't eat Thai Fish Sauce. It shouldn't have been that hard, right?. Except for the brand called, counterintuitively, "Squid". Now you know.)

We took this the next day because it was too dark during dinner!
If you can picture yourself at our table, if you have an interest in Pilgrim Hill, if you have a concern about Pilgrim Hill (and yes - even if you have an allergy to shellfish), we'd love to invite you, on a certain Monday or Friday evening this month or the next (or the next, and so on), to sit with us, eat with us, and "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).

Maybe I'll even send you home with a song.

Note that Eve has decided to add to the evening's entertainment by a ballet performance in costume. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Apple season

We're heading into Autumn here in Tasmania, and for those of us who love the Huon Valley, that means apple season.

Here's a piece that the ABC did on Lucaston Park Orchards, the nearest neighbouring orchard to Pilgrim Hill, a few years back. Andrew and Sylvia Griggs have been kind enough to support and encourage us and introduce us to the world of orchardists and seasonal fruit pickers; a world we want to be part of. 

It fills us with excitement to think that - God willing - we will one day host seasonal workers just like those in the story. I look forward with hope to the day when Pilgrim Hill will buzz with the activity of apple season.
Here's a tiny bit of a poem for you, crammed with meaning (in true 17th century style), from the second part of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
Apples were they with which we were beguiled;
Yet sin, not apples, hath our souls defiled.
Apples forbid, if ate, corrupts the blood;
To eat such, when commanded, does us good.
Drink of his flagons, then, thou Church, his dove,
And eat his apples, who are sick of love. 
Now, there is nothing in Genesis to suggest that the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (yes, the origin of our phrase 'forbidden fruit') was anything like an apple. It's just an image that has proved hard to shake and has had a long tradition in art and literature.

Bunyan takes the idea further and reminds us that even if it was indeed an apple, we now enjoy them guiltlessly as part of God's creation. (There's quite a bit more going on, with the final lines referencing The Song of Solomon, but I'm trying really hard not to turn this into a literary post...feel free to comment below if you want to unpack it further.)

Apples were made to gleam on branches, simmer in pots, inspire poets, ferment in vats, nourish people and possums, and to remind us that "something is gathered in,/Worth the lifting and the stacking" (James McAuley's "In the Huon Valley"). Also, perhaps, to bring French backpackers to Tasmania.