We spent 9 years of our life in a small country town in North Queensland called Charters Towers. These are my memories of the people and events that were a part of our life during that time.
Before joining Cornerstone community (A Christian Community based in outback Australia) shortly after becoming a Christian I had spent 9 months in Israel living in a kibbutz (at type of communal farm). Although not a Christian I recognised the relationships formed in that living arrangement were some of the most intense but also the most rewarding that I had ever had. We brought with us from Cornerstone a strong desire to develop Christian community in which people had opportunity to express their Christian faith. We saw this beginning with our home.
We developed a love hate relationship with the manse. It had magnificent potential but was quite run down. It was built on a slightly sloping block. There was a short set of stairs to the front entrance but at the back it was high enough to walk under. The area under the house was bare dirt that brought into the house a constant fine layer of dust. The church surrounded the house on two sides. The only barrier was a chicken wire fence. Our backyard felt a bit like a fishbowl. If anything occurred inside it was fair game to be discussed during morning tea after church.
When taking a shower upstairs you could also shower under the house because of the leakage through the concrete shower base. The kitchen cupboards were full of nooks and crannies that many cockroaches, silverfish, mice and other creepy crawlies called home.
Each of the rooms in the house had several layers of floor coverings. April began an eradication program of these multi-layer dust traps. Occasionally over the next few years I would arrive home to an exhausted, sweaty wife and a pile of floor coverings dumped on the front yard. This was the signal that the next room was about to begin its journey of restoration.Â
Gradually we began working on different sections of the house. In our first year we rebuilt the bathroom with the help of a Peter a local handyman. David and Rachel ex Cornerstone students dropped in while on their honeymoon and helped scrape off rubberized glue and underlay from our living room floor. Once stripped back we then punched every nail in preparation for the floor sander Alan the floor sander to come and sand the boards back.
One of the bonuses of this work was discovering what lay underneath. Under the layers in one room was a pile of Townsville Bulletins dating from the 1960â€™s. Work came to a standstill as we read the news about men landing on the moon, etc. In another room we found a number of 10 shilling and 1 pound notes spread under the floor coverings. We were told that this was done to bring good luck. Sadly we discovered that they were not worth a fortune. However, one day they will be worth more but we have to wait for when the Queen dies.
Our home became the foundation of our community ministry within the church. Our first year brought many friends and family who came to check out our new residence. We got used to putting up all different types of people often at short notice.