National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Lutheran hospitality— neither dampened nor scorched

June 2015

By Rebecka Colldunberg

A WARM WELCOME

Dateline: January 2015
Place: Tanunda and Williamstown, South Australia
Disaster: Sampson Flat bushfire

When they were threatened by searing bushfires, the residents and staff of Abbeyfield aged-care facility in Wlliamstown were evacuated and were welcomed with open arms into Tanunda Lutheran Homes (TLH).

‘The senior management team were all on site and prepared the Gramp Chapel for the arrival of 29 residents and staff’, TLH chief executive officer Lee Martin said.

‘The residents and staff felt comforted to be staying in the chapel at their time of need; they felt calm and protected’, the general manager of Abbeyfield, Barbara Wieland, said. ‘I was so touched by a Tanunda resident who approached me when we were given the all-clear to return to Abbeyfield and asked, “Are you really sure it’s safe to return? You are welcome as long as you need to be here.” That attitude just summed up how we were treated.’

Shortly after their return to Abbeyfield, the residents and staff were keen to return the hospitality, so they organised an afternoon tea to say thank you. Barbara also presented TLH with a gift to show Abbeyfield’s appreciation—a candle (now displayed in the Gramp Chapel) and a pair of ‘friendship birds’ as a sign of the new relationship between Abbeyfield and Tanunda. Several visits are planned throughout the remainder of the year to give the two groups of residents an opportunity to catch up. The first one is planned to happen this month.

FOOD AND FRIENDSHIP BLOWS IN

Dateline: February 2015
Place: Rockhampton, Queensland
Disaster: Cyclone Marcia hits Rockhampton

Nanthakumaran, his wife Sujiatha and their children came to Australia as Tamil refugees from war-torn Sri Lanka. They rented a house in Rockhampton and formed a friendship with Lutheran pastor Rob Edwards and his wife Joyleen, whom they would often welcome into their home and fill up with delicious oriental cuisine.

The morning after Cyclone Marcia, Nanthakumaran’s oldest son called Pastor Rob with some bad news, ‘Hello, Pastor’, he said, ‘Our house is broken … our roof blew off.’ Pastor Rob went to the house straightaway. ‘I could see immediately that the house was uninhabitable. I knew that there would be shelters set up for this very circumstance, and I knew also that they would be very crowded and temporary at best. The thought came that they could stay with us.’

The Tamil family welcomed the invitation, on the proviso that Rob …