For many of the 17 participants in this year’s Lutheran Parish Nurses International study tour to Alice Springs in September it was a first-time visit to Australia. They came from Palestine (Bethlehem), Singapore, USA and Australia. Among the tour group were Aimee Jambor, the first nurse to complete the US version of the LNAA Introduction […]
For many of the 17 participants in this year’s Lutheran Parish Nurses International study tour to Alice Springs in September it was a first-time visit to Australia. They came from Palestine (Bethlehem), Singapore, USA and Australia.
Among the tour group were Aimee Jambor, the first nurse to complete the US version of the LNAA Introduction to Parish Nursing course, and Jennifer Khoo-Chua from Singapore, who was the first nurse to complete the international version. Jennifer was accompanied by her husband, Pastor Jimmy Khoo.
The day after arrival was an excursion to Hermannsburg, with brief stops to walk into Simpson’s Gap, and to view the monument to famous Lutheran artist, Albert Namatjira.
Historian David Hewett led the group around the historical precinct explaining the functions of the various buildings –school, tannery, and isolation ward. Following lunch linguist David Roennfeldt and his wife Lilly introduced tourists to various bush plants used by Aboriginal people for medicinal purposes. A highlight of the tour was to have six members of the Aboriginal choir sing a number of Christian hymns in the old church.
On Saturday a day-long seminar saw Ministry Support Worker, Paul Traeger explain the geographic and language scope of the Lutheran church’s Finke River Mission among over 6000 Aboriginal people who identify as Lutheran in the southern part of the Northern Territory and extending from the Queensland border to just over the Western Australia border. These people live in more than 40 communities and are served by 20 Aboriginal pastors and four Support Workers, as well as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders and trainee pastors. Malcolm Willcocks described the challenge of working in a cross-cultural context
Following morning tea, RN Naomi Heinrich talked about her role as Central Australia Regional Executive Director for Northern Territory Health and Belinda Petersen talked about health among Australia’s indigenous people.
In the afternoon, RN Fred Miegel spoke about his experiences in establishing palliative care in Alice Springs, and Belinda introduced a video, Take Heart, Deadly Heart, which describes the effects of Rheumatic Heart Disease on indigenous people, and steps being taken to eliminate this disease.
In the closing session, the tourists shared what for them had been the highlight of their nursing career. Responses varied widely, from seeing health care develop in Papua New Guinea to establishing a Parish Nurse ministry in Bethlehem. One common theme was the privilege of helping bring new life into the world. The seminar closed with prayer, led by Pastor Jimmy Khoo of Singapore.
On Sunday morning, Olga Radke explained the use of the various buildings around the church compound. Her late husband had been missionary at Hermannsburg. Following bi-lingual Pitjantjatjarra/ English worship, and a barbecue lunch hosted by the Finke River Mission, came a tour of Yirara College – a unique secondary boarding school for Aboriginal students from remote areas.
On Monday tourists visited the historic Alice Springs telegraph station which was the birthplace of Alice Springs. It was one of 12 along the 3200-km telegraph line that was completed in 1872, linking Adelaide to Darwin, and then by undersea cable to the rest of the world.
Then it was on to the School of the Air that provides education for children living on remote Outback stations, and finally to the Royal Flying Doctor centre to learn about the ‘Mantle of Safety’ this service provides in Outback Australia, and the part played by a Lutheran, Alf Traeger, who invented a radio transmitter that could be powered by pedals.
The RFDS provides 24-hour aeromedical services that can reach anywhere in Australia, no matter how remote. It offers telehealth consultations, fly-in/fly-out clinics, mobile dental services, patient transfers, and other services. With a fleet of 79 aircraft, on 23 bases, the RFDS has more than 1000 patient contacts daily.
On the final day tourists visited the Alice Springs Desert Park to see many of Australia’s marsupials – some well known, others such as bettongs and miniature hopping mice, quite unknown. A lunchtime visit to the spectacular Standley Chasm – a very narrow gorge in the West Macdonnell Ranges – and a visit to the Araluen Art Centre, which contains paintings by Albert Namatira and members of his family, brought the day and the tour program to a close.
Jennifer Khoo-Chua reflects on her time as part of the study tour… “Nothing goes better than seeing with your own eyes and learning along with people who have the same vision. This is not an ordinary trip. Not the kind of holidays I had in mind. But one I would like to go again, if possible.
It was an eye-opening trip for me, a first-timer, to attend this. The group had a combination of wonderful ladies from different countries. I have never seen anyone like them who are so eager to serve within their capacity, as majority of them are retired.
I was so touched by the sacrifice of how the people in the Alice Springs Lutheran church has put in so much effort looking into the welfare of the less fortunate and reaching out to the community. It’s exactly like what God is teaching us to look out for one another who are in need. The reaching out has indeed touched the lives of many, whom came to know the Lord. The blessings may seem insignificant to some, but to me it’s a milestone for those who have put in effort to make it happen.
May our Father continue to use these wonderful people to reach out to the unreached, and continue to work on what they think maybe the impossible task. Thanks Be To God For His Amazing Love.”
You can read more about parish nursing (also known as pastoral care nursing) at this link. Each year, the global network Lutheran Parish Nurses International organises a week-long study tour to a country where Parish Nursing has been established. The 2022 study tour was in Alice Springs on 22–28 September. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org