Cyclone Seroja – Update 3

(published 22nd April 2021)   Update 1   Update 2   Update 3   Update 4   Update 5

The morning after Tropical Cyclone Seroja, while we were still on Red Alert, Jenny believes our Lord orchestrated this reassuring rainbow. She took this photo last Monday on her way back from pelican feeding – please pray with us that our Lord will use this terrible event to draw Kalbarri to Himself.

Rainbow over Kalbarri after Cyclone Seroja

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.” (Genesis 9:13-15)

A lot of things have changed very quickly over the last few days. Our church is now being used as a Primary School!  On Wednesday, the first day back at ‘school’, 35 Kindergarten to year 3’s spent the morning and 18 year 4 to 6’s spent the afternoon in their new venue.  Kalbarri Anglican Church  currently has 3 extra toilets (portable), the Bible Study area is now a Comfort Zone, the communion table is a ‘Resting Cubby’, the communion rails are a venue for ‘Puppet Play’ and our morning tea area is a “Quiet Reading Zone”. The outside playground has also been transformed with the help of the SES, the toppled fort was disassembled and our boat is no longer water-logged (thanks Seroja!) and has been stabilized.

It’s great to hear the laughter and playground noises of the children as they process what has happened since the cyclone. How encouraging to read this quote on the school’s FaceBook page;

“Students were excited to settle into the second day at their new school, with their new books, puzzles, games and learning space. The bright smiles on their faces said it all! What a busy day… we are together, and are settled in a familiar environment in our community and we are continuing on with our learning.”

Asbestos remains a big talking point among residents of Kalbarri – there are a lot of older buildings that might have asbestos since the town was gazetted in 1951. The state government authorities have employed specialist ‘Hazardous Materials’ teams to locate, stabilize and remove the asbestos; it’s strange seeing people in spacesuits on the streets, working with strewn rubbish, in our outback town! Some young families have left town because of the fear of their children breathing fibres.

Our time is being filled with Community Meetings, talking to people and trying to keep our ministry ‘normals’ going. Every time we encounter people either on the street, in a meeting, out shopping or dealing with workers from out of town – it’s an opportunity to shake a little gospel salt, and sometimes mention Jesus. Some locals are drinking to excess and the hospital has been very busy even without our normal tourists and visitors. Jenny has spent quite some time supporting a local lady who’s reported her ordeal to the police. David is dealing with a family in trouble who have requested Christian support. This Sunday is ANZAC Day and David will have a chance to speak and pray at both the dawn and 11am ceremonies held at the local War Memorial.

With power still out, some things are very difficult or impossible. This afternoon we were very grateful to have a hot shower courtesy of a friend (with gas hot water). David had to setup a small printer / scanner this morning to print off a mailing label for our faulty but necessary and valuable main hard drive. We’re glad to have the loaned generator (thanks to Rockingham Reformed Church) which supplies our home with electricity for essentials, but of course, it requires regular refuelling and checking. We’ve resorted to writing these updates with a laptop and can’t wait to have our complete computer system operational again. We’ve heard that union restrictions have made restoration a longer process.

There are government agencies in town looking after material aspects of the disaster, and more and more mental health workers are coming into town, including the Red Cross, Headspace and others. We are researching trauma, disaster response and other areas which may be helpful to people in the long term. These agencies will leave town sooner rather than later – the Anglican church is committed to sticking around for the long term. The Bible Society is helping us with some trauma material for both adults and children. We believe wholeheartedly people need the healing and restoration Jesus offers.

For those who’d like to help in a practical way we’re putting up a ‘dream list of jobs’ here, and also a ‘dream list of replacements’ here – let us know if you’re in a position to help. Restricted Entry passes are still required to enter the town of Kalbarri, so we’d need to organise those who might want to come to town and help. Our thanks goes out to all of you who encourage and check up on us – we’re feeling supported and prayed for. Remember our electricity is still out, the landline does not work and our normal e-mails are currently down.

Again, if you’d like to pray for us, here are some prayer points to get you started ……..

Give thanks for ……
** the Lord continually sustaining us during this trying and high energy time. And many people supporting us with prayer and kind words which help us sustain our efforts for the gospel.
** rainbows and the promises they remind us of, loaned generators and offered hot showers.
** our church being used by the primary school while the school is being repaired and restored. A great opportunity for children and families to feel comfortable in our building, hopefully aiding their return to events we put on in the future.
** help currently in town, especially the additional teachers from the Department of Education Teacher Flying Squad to ensure sufficient teaching staff, two Collegiate Principals, School psychologists and chaplains to assist students and staff, provide staff and student care and support teaching and learning.
** the Education Department Psychology Service running information sessions for parents and students in relation to mental health and well-being, grief and loss, psychological and emotional first aid.

Please pray for …..
** our Lord will use this terrible event to draw Kalbarri to Himself and for creativity to make the life-giving gospel clear both to distressed locals and first responder helpers in town. May we find and make opportunities to shake a little gospel salt, and mention Jesus.
** our faulty but necessary and valuable main hard drive to be fully restored and returned in a timely way so we can access our ministry resources once again and David can continue his sermon series through Acts.
** tourism operators to receive the support they need from state and federal governments, as they rebuild their businesses from scratch. There are no tourists allowed in town at present, and that’s unlikely to change for at least 2 months.
** restoration of services in town, especially electricity, quickly and safely hopefully by next week.
** safety for everyone in town – verge pickup for tip disposal has begun. Safe asbestos removal. Please note: we do not believe the church site has any asbestos issues.
** safe timely restoration of Kalbarri District High School. Ongoing growing supportive partnership between us and the school.
** direction and resources for ministry which will help people survive and thrive in the current devastation and cope with the constant change in our town at present.

If you’d like to support us financially there are two possible avenues;

Directly to our church’s general account;
** Account name: St. Marks Kalbarri
** BSB: 086 886
** A/C no.: 19 683 5586
** Remark / Comment: Kalbarri offertory

Helping us reach our personal fund-raising target of $20,000 for 2021;
** Account name: Diocese of North West
** BSB: 706 001
** A/C no.: 30003846
** Remark / Comment: Days in Kalbarri

If you’d like to see more of our updates they will appear at www.kalbarrianglican.com/seroja which we’ll update when we can. Give us a ring on David 0438-369-062 or Jenny 0438-095-570, currently landline and e-mail are not working.