Tasmanian treasures - Port Arthur

Friday, February 27, 2015

We were blessed, last Christmas, to have the opportunity to travel across the Bass Strait and spend some time exploring the little state of Tasmania.  Tasmania is unique and amazing and we quickly fell in love with this beautiful part of Australia.  We were surprised at the large variety of landscapes this island has to offer.  Besides spending enjoyable times with our precious family who live over there (which was our main reason for going)  we felt there were three places that we visited that stood out as 'must visits' if you are going to Tasmania.  At the very top of our list would have to be the historical penal settlement of Port Arthur.

The main jail

If you know our family this wouldn't surprise you.  History fascinates every one of us.  Australian history is very important as we both are descended from Australians for many generations.  Port Arthur represents a troubling, but very unique time in Australian history.  The site is truly amazing and I am so glad that they have worked at maintaining it.  

Port Arthur was a penal settlement  for the very worst of the convicts sent to Australia.  To arrive at Port Arthur you had to have at least two strikes against your name (usually from other penal settlements).  I cannot imagine the horror that this place saw, the stories these walls could tell...   

My favourite place was the old church.  It holds a sad beauty in it's place high on the hill overlooking the settlement.  Walking around, my mind was amazed at the old architecture.  It must have been magnificent in it's day!

The near island is the colony graveyard.  I would love to tour it should we visit again.  In the distance you can see the historical site.

The only real way to access the settlement was by sea.  A rugged trip into a bay surrounded by impenetrable wilderness.  The perfect place to prevent these convicts escaping.

There was a separate section for solitary confinement.  This was harsh and horrible.  My children left me in one of the cells and closed all the doors.  It was darker than you can imagine.  To have to pass time in such a place would have warped your mind.  I imagine many psychological problems were a result of solitary confinement.

  This is the solitary confinement church and every single seat is built so the prisoners can only see the minister.  They are unable to have any contact with each other. 

Of course the ministers were possibly a little more experienced than these...

As evening approached they reopened the big jail which had been closed for a period of time.  We were able to take a walk around inside and see the sizes of the cells (disgustingly tiny) and appreciate how very many prisoners such a space housed.  

Visiting these sites is the essence of true education.
These are the history lessons our children will remember for their lifetime!  

And finally the sun slipped under the horizon and we had to leave.
This place, set in such beauty, will continue to hold the harrowing tales for future generation of the atrocities that make up a significant part of our nation's history.  While we are acutely aware of how terrible these places were, we must also realise that if the prisoners weren't transported here to Australia, it certainly wouldn't be the wonderful country it is today!

~ As we study the past, may we gain a new appreciation for the times we live in~


IndoctriNation - a Review

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Education is one of those touchy subjects where someone always gets upset.  It seems that there are no right answers and even within the Christian church there are many disagreements upon the best way to educate your children.  What people can't argue with, though, are the facts. The majority of Christian children who are educated in the public schooling system will leave the church and their Christian faith as adults.  With
alarming statistics, Scottish Filmmaker Colin Gunn decides to investigate what is really happening behind the walls of the American Public Schooling system. Why is this educational system having such a negative  impact within the church?  He presents his findings in a compelling and informative documentary from Great Commission Films:   IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.

IndoctriNation DVD Review

IndoctriNation is a DVD that records the story of a journey. Filmmaker Colin Gunn packs up his family and takes them on a field trip across vast distances in the USA to interview teachers, historical experts, political experts, principals, students as well as parents regarding the US public school system. He presents his findings in a chronological order from the inception of public schooling, progressing through the history of public schooling  until the present age.  Colin aims to provide viewers with the truth of what is really going on behind the walls of public schools all over America. He investigates the agenda being taught to the children and consequently the social impact of the removal of anything Biblical or Christian. As he journeys, he interviews relevant experts who give their personal opinions which are often backed up by years of experience or study.

IndoctriNation is a well presented film.  It is interesting to watch and while there is plenty of dialogue throughout, it never slows down or gets boring.  The facts presented are well investigated and the viewer is quickly drawn into this informative documentary. It is important to note that IndoctriNation  is from a Christian view point and holds strong views on Biblical supremacy. It also contains sensitive material and topics. While it does show where the public school system is failing, it does not mention the Christian schooling systems or recommend a particular type of schooling.  

I wanted my husband to watch this with me as I felt that it was important to get both our opinions before writing any kind of a review. We are very different personalities and tend to think from completely opposite angles. We are, however, both deep thinkers.  As Australians, we were also wondering how relevant it would be for us.  After all the DVD is subtitled: Public schools and the Decline of Christianity in America. It certainly isn't a DVD we would generally pick up to watch as we seem removed from it's intended viewers.   
We were consequently very surprised at how interesting and challenging we personally found this film.  While it was investigating the public school system in the USA, we were quickly able to draw parallels with the Australian public schooling system.  There are certainly remnants of Christianity within our system that are completely missing in the US, and thanks to some Godly leaders of our country, religious education is still generally taught once a week.  However, the content of the generalised curriculum holds many personal biases, agendas and unsubstantiated theories which are opposed to the beliefs of the Christian faith.    The Australian public schooling system may not be where the Americans are, but it certainly is going down the same road.  We found those parallels all too obvious and quite scary.  

After watching IndoctriNation, Dave felt that as a father he was challenged to lead his family in the truth. One of the most important choices you can make for your child is where to educate them. While your choices may not look the same as ours, it is important to make sure you yourself are educated in what is being taught to your precious children.   I personally found IndoctriNation encouraging, as it certainly supported some of the reasons we chose to remove our children from the public schooling system 6 years ago.  

IndoctriNation is an interesting film for any parent to watch.  It provides a thorough look at one system that is obviously failing, yet it also challenges you to make sure your children are not being subtly indoctrinated in other areas of their life.  It encourages parents to truly think about the important, irreversible choices they are making for their families

IndoctriNation is available for purchase from Great Commission Films..

IndoctriNation DVD Review

Crew Disclaimer

Letters from a Foster Mum...the journey begins...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dear Friends
Some of you may think we're crazy and I'm sure that the majority of you don't really understand.  After all we have four children so why would we want to have more in our home?  We were blessed with the iconic boy/girl followed by the good 'Christian' third child and God, well He just happened to surprise us with twins then.  We have the average Christian family in this modern age. In many minds it seems picture perfect.  So why, oh why do we feel this burning desire for more children.  And why in this technology driven age where we could get help conceiving, do we desire to bring the hurting and broken into our home? 
I mentioned last year in passing that we were completing our foster care training.  It seems we've been talking about this for a lifetime, yet never knowing the right timing to embark on what may well be one of the most difficult journeys our family is to travel.
As I sit here in the comfort of my home it's hard to imagine that there are homes unlike ours.  Instead of committed parents who love each other they are filled with strife.  Instead of children who are cared for and protected they are exposed to the most deplorable things.  After learning what I've learnt, I will never be the same.  There are children, little children, who out of no error of their own, are in the most wretched circumstances. 
In this country.  
In this state. 
My heart aches within..
Such need....such brokenness. 
This broken world......sigh

While I hesitated to write about it at the time, it actually took a little over 12 months from our initial contact to becoming fully accredited.  The length of time being double what is generally projected was mainly our fault. While fostering was always in our plans, we had to be certain about the timing.  We know that our children are entering a very sensitive time in their lives and we needed to be sure that they were mature enough to not just pass through this difficult stage of puberty, but also be able to reach out and help these hurting children who would be placed into our family. We are not na├»ve enough to think this will be easy or pain free.  Most people who choose to foster say it is one of the most difficult, yet most worthwhile things they have done.
After much prayer & discussion with the desire burning stronger still, we decided to continue on this journey. Step by step. Meeting by meeting.  Interview by interview.  Knowing that should we at any place in the journey want to stop we could.  Yet knowing that we were meant to be doing it. 

It was difficult at time as we slowly delved into the deepest crevices of our lives. There were sessions where it all seemed too heavy & where the tears flowed freely, yet there were many times when we laughed together as well.  It was an amazing bonding time for Dave and myself as a couple and also for our family.  Some interviews were separate, some together.  Each child was interviewed alone (we weren't far away).  Our CART worker was amazing!  She made us feel right at home.  She was caring, loving, sensitive, accepting and kind.   

And finally we were through the interview process & into our training.  

The training, for me, was the most difficult part.  Not because I don't think I can parent a broken, hurting child, but because this is where they present the real life scenarios of what this brokenness is.  This is where they share the startling statistics. This is where the focus is removed from "us" to "the child".    There were many times when I shuddered, considering what has happened to children - what is happening.  To someone who was raised as I was in a loving Christian home it is so hard to fathom what many, many people have to go through.  How very blessed I was. 
One of my favourite parts of the group training was meeting the other potential foster carers.  I was amazed at the many ages and stages of life this group represented.  All kinds of economic situations, family make-ups, ages (yes, even an almost retired couple).  Yet everyone felt a burden for these needy children.  Every one of us wanting to make a difference!

Then finally, just as spring was turning into summer, we received our accreditation. It was almost 12 months to the day from our initial information session.  We are officially foster parents for our state! 
 Our plan...well we would love to foster one or two little ones who are younger than our twins by at least two years (OK I would love a baby, but that's rather unlikely....I can pray though).  And we are praying for permanent placements ( with the option of adoption in the future if possible). 
 God's plan....we shall wait and see. We know His Will is best.  He knows our weaknesses and our strengths.  He knows exactly who should join our family and for how long.
Even if this was all done just to have the short placement we already had, it was worth every second of it.
This journey, long or short, easy or hard, we do not know what it will be.  However we are assured that for our family fostering is meant to be part of our journey.  If we can make a difference even in one little one's life than it is worth it!
NB: All photos in this post are our own bio children.  They were taken at Bruny Island in Tasmania on a beach that Captain Cook stopped at!

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