Thursday, January 29, 2009

George Town

George Town is a the oldest town in Australia. It has a population of roughly 5,000 people. There are some churches there, but there is no Reformed or Presbyterian church and the other churches are largely unsound. For several years, the Spirit has been at work in some of the folk there, slowly leading them to the Biblical rock of Reformed truth. The sovereignty of God in light of the depravity of man, has become a precious doctrine to many of them. The electing love of God in Christ is their shelter in their troubles. They also have begun reading the Puritans and finding their Biblical and practical emphasis a blessing. They often listen to sound Biblical and experiential sermons.

I have been holding a "Puritan Bible Study" in George Town, at the request of some of the folk there, since I arrived here in Tasmania. Together we have considered who the Puritans were, the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of God, the person and work of Christ, and the doctrine of the Church. As we have considered these doctrines, we saw some many points of application: the need for self-examination, the necessity of the new birth, Christ as our only source of hope, the purity of worship, the need for church membership, and many more.

After much thought and prayer the Session decided we should begin holding services twice a month in George Town. We will be holding services at 6:30pm on the 1st and 3rd Sabbaths of every month beginning in February. We chose these times and dates so we would not interfere with any other worship service in George Town, giving those who attend other churches a chance to come.

We would like to solicit prayer that God would attract His people to hear the Word that we will be bringing in George Town beginning this Sunday, the 1st of February. There are several factors in the situation of our Christian brethren there that may hinder them from enjoying the coming of sound preaching in their town. Some of these folks have been through painful church situations and they are afraid of being hurt again. In addition, they have not yet come to know and feel comfortable with the Southern Presbyterian Church. We are a small church and denomination and some may wonder why it is so or feel odd worshiping in small numbers. A small church and denomination also offer limited resources, and cannot offer some of the other "ministries" larger churches can. Exclusive Psalmnody and non-instumentality are aspects of our worship that are quite diffrent from what many are used to. Our commitment to the King James Version of the Bible is seen by some as not being evangelism friendly. Two years of once-a-month Bible study with them is not all that long when all is said and done, and they will need to learn to trust us over time.

It is the hope and prayer of the Session (and many of the folk from both SPC churches) that folk in George Town will come to hear the Word. We long to see the Lord's people strengthened and sinners converted. We are not concerned about "raising our numbers." We are concerned about people hearing the Word. With the help of some folk from the Launceston and Hobart congregations, about 975 invitations to the services have been placed in mail boxes throughout George Town. (Yes, it is legal in Australia to place flyers in mailboxes, just to reassure those from North America where it is not legal.) About another 900 or so have yet to go out.

Please remember the folk of George Town in prayer as the Word begins going out.

The Lord be with you,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our North American Trip: Part I
British Columbia, Canada

Where to begin when so much is to be told? First, we are grateful that we were able to enjoy a wonderful vacation on the East coast of Tasmania, first in a campsite at Shelly Point near Beaumaris and then in a campsite at Cosy Corner in the Bay of Fires north of St. Helens. The first was a lovely shaded area but a bit noisy, the second was a sunny spot with immediate viewing and access to the beach. It was a relaxing and quiet time.

Second, Julia has grown much beyond the last pictures. She is jabbering away, sitting unassisted, saying Da-da-da-da and even the occasional Mom, and can blow raspberries, clap, drink with help from cups and bottles, eat pureed foods, use a little potty, and generally express her will much more. Her hair has thickened a lot. And she's got four teeth!

Third, I'm finally posting pictures from the November - December trip. So without further introduction, here's the first installment.

Julia in the airport in her new stroller. The blue spoons are her favorites to chew on and eat from.

I had such a blast spending time with my two good friends Jill Meerdink (nee Tanis) and Sarah Elshout. They had fun reconnecting and sharing old memories, too.

Our host and an old family friend, Rev. Bart Elshout, meets another little Julia. (His granddaughter in New Jersey is also Julia!)

Julia enjoys the new carseat and the mountain views in B.C. 

A hint of a glimpse of the new first tooth.

She's such a big girl! She can sit in a booster seat in the restaurant with Mommy and her friends.

Jill and Sarah at the Old Spaghetti House in Vancouver. It has a charming atmosphere, great food, and even better prices!

The whole table. Here Julia opted for the extra visibility of a table seat. :)

Julia loved it when Jill explained that she was "so big!" It was a fun game, complete with hand motions. Jill will be a great mother when her little one arrives next summer!

As we were on the waterbus (a tugboat of sorts) to Vancouver Island, the lighting was perfect for a photo shoot of our little celebrity.

Love those cheeks!

In the giant warehouse flea market there we found an irresistably gorgeous little hat for Julia. There's a flower on top.

Julia was very curious about the fruit drink Mommy had. Can I get a taste? She's still mesmerized by any water bottles or glasses she can reach and loves to chew on or drink from them.

Sarah gets a big grin.

It was lovely to reconnect with the Kosters for Sunday lunch. Only two years earlier Terry and I visited British Columbia together shortly after our engagement and had Sunday lunch there. The pictures are still up there from that day, so recent but so long ago. Both of our families have grown. Pictured here are the four who still live home, but we had four more there at lunch.

Julia was impressed by Mike's puppet skills... or shall I say fascinated?

We ladies headed into the U.S. for a fruitful shopping excursion and stopped at a restaurant called Dutch Mothers while there. Yum! We enjoyed Dutch pancakes, Belgian waffles, and other such delights.

Cheery in her stroller, Julia continues to attract comments and smiles.

She did not fall behind in fashion modeling, either. Quite a sophisticated look, eh?

We even managed to get a picture of the three of us together.

Sarah's mother, Joan, also enjoyed having another Julia to grandmother. We were certainly made comfortable through her considerate care for every need!

Julia loved meeting new friends - here, the daughter of our friends Gary and Bec Neels.

We also enjoyed an international dinner at the home of Robert and Sandra Stam. That was the occasion of Julia's first roll from tummy to back. It gave her quite a scare to land up bumping her head and staring at the ceiling where the floor had been.

Julia was great with new people, and enjoyed the attention of Mrs. Jackie Stam.

She then moved on to examine the necklace of Mrs. Jan Stam. Jan, as you might recall, had visited us in Tasmania when Julia was still a large bulge in my figure.

Ah, a beard! A bit longer than my Daddy's, but white! Bert also got his turn with the baby.

  And lest you think it was all fun and games... oh wait, it was! Julia had lots of fun with a new version of peekaboo with Jill. There's a cute video of it that I'm having trouble uploading to the web. Maybe next time....

The next installment will be Arkansas, home of my parents and a lot of other friendly folk in the church there. Hopefully it'll be coming soon!