Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flood Recovery....random snippets of memories.

*It's a perfect day. The rain has dropped it's tears to clean some areas nicely but just as you begin to think that the smell is all gone, you turn a corner and the wreaking stench hits you hard, like a hidden but festering heart - a sore wound suddenly exposed from under it's protective cover of near clean bandaged facade. You try not to retch and hold your nose tight.

The roads that have been closed seem to be the worst. The houses furthest away from the city the worst and the hearts furthest away from God too.

"Oh God give us chance to tell of your love. To tell their muddled minds that it is not your fault. That you stick closer than a good helping brother; that nothing can take us away from the love of God."

 *Roads going uphill tell the secrets of the seeping, weeping ground. The steady ground too heavy, too saturated to hold any more in, allows the water to ooze... spilling it tears down the broken road to drain away eventually to the emptying rivers. Crying for the people too sore, too tired to cry themselves.

* People left with nothing but what is left in the bank and a  few handouts (or maybe some are lucky enough to get insurance payouts if they had the right type of flood cover). But with virtually nothing they still buy buy themselves flags to make ready for Australia Day next week.

There they have just been hung on upright, wooden electricity poles, which stood tall and strong against the rivers' forces. Besides them piles of rubbish lie in mounds much higher that the fences that prop them up. Decaying heaps decorated by crumbling Gibb like some sick joke to make it look snowy and  christmassy. Children's Christmas toys lie smelly, muddied and broken. Unrecognisable, their pleasure destroyed in a few days of  torturous waiting to see what the river would do. The sweltering heat makes sickly smells waft up to the proud and perfect flags. They do not care .... they are celebrating the triumph of human beings in this country, where people will fight and conqueror with strength and dignity - fellow countrymen do! ( no photographs, for by now I am crying, and think these people deserve their own space and privacy - how does a journalists cope?)

* A week after the highest flooding and a mud encrusted miniature rose bud pushes open it's perfectly mud free red flower. No mud inside but surrounded by mud drying and cracking on it's tiny baby rose leaves.  The wind vigorously battles to help the little flower rid itself of mud. But the mud stealthily clings to it's haunting power; laughing at the deluded photographer who sees the wind as enemy.

* Shipping containers are strewn about like matchboxes. Caravans are  heaped up in the corner the river chose to send them.  While a car stands perfectly well where it was left outside it's house,  wedged between the Bremmer and Brisbane Rivers - where they bullied each other for territory and only they thought they had won. Muddy silt tints the windows brown. Its body is dusty red. Later in the week it is gone, forever bar in memory lane.

* The white car gleams on the outside now. The inside too is clean - how did they get the mud out you wonder? The windows so misted up, as the heat makes it work up a sweat, that no demister will ever change. The owner tinkers with the engine....has he put  new one in? Or has he given up and is now taking out salvageable bits to sell for spare parts? You wish you could do something to make such desperation better.

* Brand new driveway, black and sticky and that they can get in to begin the work of cleaning up without wading into slush from swollen door to new rubbish dump about to start beneath their mail box, upon their pavement.

*I wonder what they think...our unaffected kids - whose house is reasonably  tidy and has no mud to clean? We set up a cleaning station at their friends house. They have cleaned some stinky mud off Someone Else's treasures; using gloves in buckets full of HOSPITAL GRADE DISINFECTANT.  Some have donned winter jeans and gum boots as a little extra protection, and after sweltering all day thus clad in 33 degrees plus, they burst with the rainclouds as they dance and run in the rain. Then they fill up the rather hopeless thin gloves to make giant water bombs to get each other as if life is just the same as ever.

They have baked and written letters, smiled and given them out to strangers - little blondies traipsing through the mud like angels... mostly bringing smiles to weary faces. We had one cookie refusal by a fed up man - ready to break; too tied to eat or care about eating.

We focus on the happy ones and their helpers too, who take encouragement from little girls who want to help a bit. I wonder what they think...our unaffected kids - whose house is reasonably  tidy and has no mud to clean?

* We get home exhausted, ready to go to bed. But first we must clean ourselves up, and eat a  delicious meal generously prepared by babysitter and babysat. The little ones are hurried into bed, with guilty kisses and extra hugs that come with being apart all day. But wait, the shopping list can't wait another day, tomorrow is a birthday and late night shopping offers treats above the pressies hiding in the mud free cupboard.

Our suburb is unaffected  and the shops are full like Christmas time - visitors from neighbouring areas have come in to get things that their shelves nor their supermarket's shelves stock. Some just escape to pretend for a while that everything is normal, that nothing really happened, but they leave a trail of dried mud through the shops.

Most teens seem unaffected, they laugh and look at things that don't really matter in life. Wearily we push the trolley up the travelator to get to our car above. Too tired to talk we stare ahead in comfortable silence, my helping child and I. As we reach the middle I see three teens sitting on a bench above. Normally they would ignore a friendly 'old lady' like me. Two do. One is on the phone. Another texting fast. The middle bloke just staring...his cheeks are wet with tears. As I reach the top, our eyes fix for a long few moments...I give a feeble smile, to replace the hug I want to give him. He understands and is grateful that someone cared a little - but no wry smile can reach his lips.

"Dear God be with that kid - why didn't I talk to him? What private hell has he been through this week? Does he have someone to talk to? Lord may he talk to you!"

is our hurdle set too low?

It is easy to be lulled into thinking we are doing  great job or a good enough job as we rush around with our busy lives. As Christian mum's we often think that our goal is to train our children to become 'good' well behaved kids who will grow into responsible adults. Our prayers are that God will graciously draw our dear children to Him in the first place, that they would be helped with difficulties etc. But today I was really challenged....In this race of life, I have forgotten my former vision!  I have lowered the hurdles and forgotten my true vision! Yes, training 'good kids' is not good enough! We should be training our children to such excellence that they will be good and strong, passionate and compassionate 'missionaries' wherever they are called to be used of God. We need to raise the hurdle in our own lives and in the lives of our children. As coaches we need to prepare more vigorously in reading, meditating and praying.

When Doug and I were at University and then as young parents we were very blessed to have a Christian leader, Dr Chris Warton, who had this vision and passed it onto us, but over the years we have got tired, focused so heavily on daily trials and everyday life issues that we have neglected to pass this baton onto our kids properly. The need for this seems far less urgent in first world countries, where people do not usually die of AIDS. ( In South Africa there are places where 1 in 5 are HIV +, and that is probably underestimated!) Things clutter up our lives here and distract us from our focus. Our hurdle is lowered to make it easier, more comfortable. In practise it does not take more than a few words each day, a prayer in a different direction, the use of many opportunities as we talk and walk life with our kids. But we ourselves have to be thinking these things if we are to talk to our children  about them. Our children will not see the vision it if we don't. We will not be properly diligent in raising our children if it is not important to us to raise kids who will pass on God's love with passionate mission mindedness. We need to join the dots for them as we reach out to others.... telling our children  why we love to help, praying as a family  that we will reach others for God; we need to talk and talk and talk and talk.  Are we raising strong future missionaries, or just good Christians?

Take a look at this free curriculum:

I hope it will inspire you as much as it has me! You do not need to use it fully to benefit from it's mindset and to be inspired by it's mission mindedness! ( I have not read all the way through it, so please read with discretion as there may be some parts we may not agree with) May we reach people with God's love and compassion right now, just where we are! May our children grow up with a passionate desire to to touch others with God's love too!
Above images are from

Happy new school year! God bless you all as we run this race together, pass the baton onto our children, and raise the hurdles to their proper height in training ourselves and our children for life's race. Thank you for your blessing and encouragement over the years, love Joy

( This image is from,_Heinz_F%C3%BCtterer,_Manfred_Steinbach.jpg )

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why couldn't we all turn on our taps to empty the dam and prevent the flood?

I have heard a number of people ask this question. It is a very good question indeed! If we all turned on our taps for a week then we could do something to empty the dam and could have prevented the flood. Someone replied that the water people were too stingy, it would cost them too much to process all that water. 

Not so though.....this is how my son explained it to me. When the Weivenhoe was releasing water at it's fastest, it was releasing as much water in a minute/hour/day as was used by Brisbane in a week. WHAT!??? Accurate? I am not sure if 100% accurate but it would be close. (If you have a definite quote on this matter leave a comment!) Now I understand why we could not just have turned on our taps, there was just far too much water. And although we have only been here 6 nearly 7 years we have experienced the drought crises, flood crises and now mud crises. The weather is very hot, so hopefully everything will get a chance to dry out soon. These Queenslanders have proved to be tough and warm and kind - I love em!

Here is Weivenhoe Dam in October 2010, empty and a gentle flow compared to the flood flow pictures of recent. At the time hundreds of people were flocking to see the dam as it was so amazingly full! Little did we know it was a matter of full, fuller, fullest. We thank God that the rain stopped when it did.

6 year old quote

"Is the flood still on Google?" "Yes son, it will always be on Google"

Quotations from my cousin in law

Man's way leads to a hopeless end -- God's way leads to an endless hope.
The value of life does not depend on the length of time on this Earth but rather on the amount of love given and shared to the people we care about.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Emma and I enjoyed this tonight
Less of an art lover, Doug wanted to know if it was called "identity crisis"? 

Water subsiding, streets emptying but the slog of recovery still continues:

This is when the going gets tough...fewer people to help as they head back to work but the stink, the pain and the work remain. Please keep praying for these traumatised people, many of whom have lost everything.

This street was so full on Saturday that we could not find place to park here .

 Compare this photo (2 days later) to the similar one two posts down - water is residing slowly.

Found below a flood evacuation centre today...

I had to have a bit of a chuckle. Should it read, "river- RETREAT!" ? Actually it is not as ironic as it seems as they seem to have avoided all flooding as high enough above the river. So they are likely to remain a prestigious location, unlike many similar adverts along the Warrego where the properties were flooded out - they will no doubt need to change their adverts to something a bit less river orientated. A friend of ours describes how river properties were cheap properties years ago after the '74 floods. Before this 2011 flood, river properties were generally expensive. No doubt we will revert back to cheap river properties - until we forget, again? It is hard to ever imagine forgetting this.

From Flood Crises to Mud Crises

Walking down the road to my friend's house I saw this. It made me cry!

The aftermath of the floods is unbelievable. The landscape in places unimaginably different to normal. 
Driving through Ipswich, the trees in the foreground are covered in mud, everything looks dead, but really just covered in mud. The background trees are mud-free/green at the top. The smell is disgusting - no words to describe it!

Driving along the road, you see the all the contents of houses in piles of stenching rubbish.
Rubbish is being manged by the army in this road.

Cleaning from tip to toe

Gutted in more ways than one.
The other side of the road, high enough to not reach the neighbours house.
Down the road. Some places were so busy on Saturday that there was no place to park.
Going home to an unaffected area after helping - exhausted! Or were they the pizza delivery angles?
At home our children play at the park. There are extra children, no doubt spending time with unaffected family as parents clean up. It is almost surreal that life here is so normal, you are tempted to feel guilty for carrying on as usual.

The friends worst effected have lost almost everything. The water came above the ceiling. In all this our friends are still laughing. When I ask what should I do with this or that, the answer is, " I don't care, you chose. It is only stuff" They are trusting God to provide for them, and reaching out to help others as they use their church buildings for others in need. What an amazing testimony of being able to cope though the tears with God's help in such an insurmountable crises.

This is my saddest picture of all...looking from their front door up to the top of the garden, again you can see the tops of the trees are clean of mud. Their front entrance under the arch is blocked by rubbish. 
 Roads are still blocked as water slowly subsides. In the photo below we can usually drive from the foreground up to where the cars are on the hill. Gardens in this semi rural area are littered with stenching shipping containers. Stories of heroism and bravery and neighbourly kindness unfold. 
None of us can ever be the same again. May we all draw closer to each other and to God in this.