Daily Archives: October 16, 2011

The Hill

On a swing at "The Hill"

When I was younger, much younger, summer meant going for a few weeks to “The Hill”, a farm run by two wonderful women, Ola and Beth Anderson. They were glorious weeks of freedom and activities out of the normal routine of Ocean Grove. I remember the two square cypress hedges at the gate, the rumble of the cattle grid and the hundred metre drive to the front gate next to the windmill and water tanks. To the left and down the hill was the Dairy and farm sheds. The shed contained an Aladdin’s cave of treasures: gas masks, wagons, farm implements and other wonders to open the eyes of a young boy.

The Hill was a small farm in Mepunga West, east of Warrnambool.  I would get up and “help” the sisters with the milking; walking in the cool of the summer morning and calling the cows in. I would help clean the udders and put the cups on. I remember watching the milk go though the pipes, via a glass bulb above the cow along a pipe to cooling system. The milk cascaded down a rippled cooling apparatus to a tray below where it was channelled into a 10 gallon can. The chugging of the milking machine was steady and mesmerising. The dairy cats waited patiently for their share.

We would take the cans to a depot; really just a platform on 4 large stumps, on the back of a old converted army jeep. If the jeep didn’t start we would have to harness the jinker. I always felt special when we needed to use the horse and jinker.

Ola and I on Old Con

The horse, Old Con, was also the horse I could ride during the day. He had a patient and steady temperament. That, too, was really special for a town kid. I remember playing in the haystacks and making cubbies with a friend. The smell of the dry grass, which gives me hay-fever today, was glorious then! I learned to play tennis on the asphalt court over the road. They dressed me up in a Davy Crocket outfit (that is another story)!

Other memories include, home-made ice cream, learning how to use knife and fork “Aussie style” and lavish afternoon teas before the second milking. I also remember the infinite patience of Ola and the finite patience of Beth. I was often meeting new members of what seemed like an unending stream of Anderson family members. Every so often we would meet these members on their farms – each one different and unique. All very Australian.

Another clear memory was going to the Post Office at the Croft’s farm. This was a little office behind the house and it also doubled up as the telephone exchange – I am talking about the late 1950s and early 60s.

Two of the nephews and me

The house at The Hill was made up of addition upon addition and closed in verandas. I remember the insects banging against the ceiling and walls on a hot summer’s evening. The antique Singer was still used as was the piano for sing-a-longs on an evening when people had gathered together. My dad, who played by ear, had to improvise when there was no music. And there were the black and white and sepia photos of  family members present and past. Here I learned that men had gone to war and never came back.

Dad and my Uncle Adrian at the farm shed

There were picnics at Childers Cove and a trip to Lake Gillear, places like Nirranda and Nullawarre. If I close my eyes and allow my mind to wander, my heart goes back to those great days and wonderful experiences. To a measurable degree I am the person I am today because of the influence of these amazing people.

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The Bible and the Enigma Code

Subtitled: The Bible and Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park Mansion

In 2005 one of the first things I did when we arrived in the UK was visit Bletchley Park. It was just across the railway line and up the road a little from where we lived. As I didn’t have a car, it was an easy visit that I could tick off my list of things to see.

Bletchley Park was/is home to to the first programmable computer – the Colossus (in recent years it has been restored). It was utilised to decipher the German Enigma Code, a sophisticated encryption machine used to encrypt secret messages to be sent around the Reich – particularly to ships. Cracking the code made a huge difference to the Allied war effort.

The Turing Bombe

Where does the Bible fit into the picture? Many people I come across treat Scripture like an encrypted German message and they respond in a variety of ways. Some tell me the Bible is too complicated and they can’t be bothered decoding it. Others spend a lifetime searching for the key. Like some human “Colossus,” their brains are whirring away trying to decipher a secret code that underpins the Bible. If it is not a form of numerology, it is another scheme they try to develop by which the “truth” may be found. Countless hours have been spent and many books written on aspects of Scripture that, sadly, do not draw us closer to the truth.

In fact, the truth of Scripture is quite plain. Maybe it is too easy! The truth of the gospel is quite simple. We are sinners. We cannot in our own strength be reunited with God, so God sent His own son to take the punishment we deserve, by which the affront to His holiness is dealt with and we can be restored to God. And even at this point God applies this truth through the amazing person of the Holy Spirit. In short, we have a triune God dealing with our deepest needs. All we need to do is believe and accept the gift He offers.Now how complicated is that?! There are no spiritual gymnastics required and any efforts on our part to obtain salvation are of no use.

The apostle John wrote nearly 2000 years  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,  that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16) It was true then. It is true now.

Yes there is more, There is the Kingdom of God, there is the call of God on the life of His children, and many other wonderful qualities. All of these extra truths are anchored on the simple gospel truth mentioned in John 3:16 (above).

One final anecdote: I had a wonderful cousin who had Down Syndrome. Stephen understood the gospel and was in love with his Saviour. The gospel message was simple enough and clear enough for him to understand and clasp to himself. He loved telling people about God’s love for them. He did not need a secret code book, or a spiritual decrypter. All he had was a simple faith. That was all he needed.

Categories: Bible, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Jesus | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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