A newly constructed home of the 1940s stands isolated in a dry farm field. The photo is sepia toned.

And God was there!

I grew up in a loving Christian family on a farm near Brinkworth, South Australia. Life was good even though war raged on, changing our lives in so many ways.

We had rationing, our small school was closed (we found ourselves in a large school somewhat bewildered), we did fund raising and we practised drill in case of enemy attack! At home, life went on. Our church, just down the road, was the centre of our lives. We had neither abundance of wealth or lack of it and we didn’t think about it either, we just enjoyed being a family. And God was there! always loving us and guiding us as we grew up.

When Ed and I married, we moved to our farm at Koolunga. Again, it was an idyllic time, the seasons and prices for farm produce were good, we still had our church connection and friendly neighbours. Incidentally, nearly all our friends and neighbours were Christians too. This was the norm where we lived. And God was there!

Time moved on and, six children later, Ed started thinking about moving so we could afford to educate our family, and “Didn’t farmers want to be able to help start their sons/daughters in their career choice (Namely farming, of course)?” I have to say at this point I was not so keen to uproot and take our tribe of young children to a “foreign land”, namely Western Australia! My parents and sister were always there to help us, so why would we want to move? But move we did!

We started looking further afield for more acres. Western Australia was on the radar and my sister and I put circles around the places in the Yearbook where there was a Lutheran Church/preaching place, and these were the areas Ed was to look at. And he did. He finally chose Esperance and “Condowie Park” was born. It was 2,500 acres of “new land”, 700 acres were cleared and pastured.

We arrived on 7 May 1963, our truck loaded with our worldly possessions (believe me, they looked pretty ordinary in the cold light of day). We travelled across the Eyre Highway in three days.

Ed drove the truck, I drove the car with five kids and a kitten. I had never driven more than 50 miles in one stretch before! Our brother-in-law brought up the rear with the utility and one child, four goats and a dog. The road was rough, the drive was long, the children were sick of travelling, but the kitten saved the day, because while it slept on some-one’s lap, no-one moved. We arrived safely in Norseman with no real problems except the kitten died; it was so sad. Maybe it suffered travel sickness?

I stood on the landing of the barn (the only building on our block), it was five o’clock at night; it was cold, it was raining. I couldn’t see any lights, roads, fences or buildings. There was no power or stove and six children and five adults to be fed. But for the distance, and the rough roads, I would have jumped into the car and headed home. And where was God? He was right there as my brother-in-law took charge, grilling meat and placating children while Ed organised sleeping arrangements etc. The next day was a new adventure.

Two vintage cars and a vintage truck are pictured parked on the side of a country road. The truck is laden with furniture and boxes. The photo is sepia toned and is aged.

All our worldly possessions on route

Farming in a new state on roughly cleared virgin land is not for the faint-hearted, but working together, relying on God, we survived separation from our extended families, too much rain, too little rain, stock losses from poor pastures, wheat quotas and so on. But when Ed died of cancer in 1979, we survived the largest hurdle of all because God remained faithful, as together we worked to keep the dream alive.

Our church family was our support base, we worshipped together each week as part of the Albany Parish. Firstly, Pastor Cyril Bartel, later Norm Bergen followed by Theo Mackenzie made the five-hour trip to Esperance every six weeks and then every four weeks until the Esperance/Kalgoorlie, Boulder Parish was formed in 1973. Pastor David Schulze was installed as our first pastor. It was exciting to be part of a developing church, with a church plant to be planned and implemented. Most of our members were farmers who travelled long distances to regularly attend worship services. So, our faith grew as we developed our church and our farm and got to know our neighbours, many of whom were not Christians. In fact, some thought the Lutheran Church was some sort of sect.

This morning, as I was concluding this article and was wondering how to end it, my devotional text for the morning was from Deuteronomy 31:8 and it summed up our journey to Western Australia. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. These were Moses’ reassuring words to the Israelites as they entered the promised land, and God was there when we travelled to Esperance all those years ago.

Image top: Putting down roots. Our house goes up.

About the Author

Marjorie Welke

Marjorie and her husband Ed live in Esperance, WA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *