South Pacific Division Women's Ministries Activities during COVID-19

During this lockdown in Australia, women have been very creative in how to keep in contact with each other over Zoom. Some were in contact with each other on daily basis through Bible App, some on weekly basis through newsletters, cooking demonstrations, baby showers, other get togethers in small numbers, organizing virtual conferences, sharing recipes weekly (picture below), and sending parcels by mail to encourage each other. A photo shows a parcel sent to WM leaders in Victoria as that state was in severe lockdown for a long time compared to the rest of Australia. Another photo shows the letter of encouragement in the parcel with the names of the WM directors of the division and unions.

Excerpts of reports published in the October 2020 South Pacific Division Women's Ministries newsletter, Going Places, are included as personal testimonies of leaders at the frontlines (below).

The pandemic did not dissuade women from holding the much anticipated BREATHE conference in Sydney. The leaders planned every moment in detail for the simultaneous livestream of the two-day virtual Breathe conference on Facebook and YouTube.

The video announcing the BREATHE ONLINE conference held in Sydney, October 2 and 3, 2020, demonstrates that Australian women have shown great adeptness with media this year during the pandemic.

Another project of Sydney Adventist Women is sewing heart-shaped pillows that cleverly provide support for cardiac surgery patients and breast cancer patients in the chest area.

Personal testimonies of women at the frontlines

Excerpts from what leaders have written that give an insight into how diverse South Pacific Division women’s needs are:

  • “I just resumed work from a trip to an outer district visiting our local women and children. God was good though the sea was very rough, and we had to throw out all our goods to continue with our journey. Praise God for His wonderful protection upon us.” – Diane, Papua New Guinea
  • “I had so many deadlines and Zoom meetings. My week ahead is a bit crazy — a funeral tomorrow at which I need to sing, preparing for filming session this week for our big Zoom event next month, newsletter to go out tomorrow on the 1st of the month. Organizing Week of Prayer for the Conference starting this Friday…Just juggling a few things this week.” – Beryl, Australia
  • “We are working hard to run our events safely especially when it comes to COVID-19. To help us do this we ask that you take note of the following: …If NZ is not in Level 1, we will not be able to run the event…” – Lynelle, New Zealand
  • “Almost every week we are constantly Zoomed in with Pastor Paul Ratsara for TMI training who lives in New Zealand…At the place where there will be the spiritual retreat for women, the Zoom connection is excellent. I leave it to Marie and her Committee to decide for the rest.” – Felix, New Caledonia
  • “I just came back to the office yesterday, after running two weeks of evangelistic meetings in my own village on Ambrym.” – Loleth, Vanuatu

Danijela Schubert shares her own personal highs and lows of the past year.

South Pacific Division (IAD)

Source: Going Places newsletter, November 2020

October 12, 2019 is a date with no particular significance for my family. It is nobody’s birthday, death or wedding anniversary. We did not acquire a new pet or buy a new car on that day. I could say the same for October 11, 2020. And yet these two dates are now significant for me.

On the first of these dates I started writing a special journal – noting three moments of joy every single day for a year. And what a year it has been! As I started writing I had no idea what kind of year 2020 would be.

The idea for this journal came from Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B, which I finished reading while on holidays in Europe. Sheryl started her journal when her husband suddenly died. I had no such prompting, but I decided to challenge myself as I often struggle with negative thoughts.

I started writing in a diary and then I transferred my notes onto my computer. Typing on the computer directly would have been faster, but I did not have the computer with me at all times, so writing on paper was necessary. You see, often something brings us joy, but the moment is so short-lived that we forget it as quickly as it happened. If we write it down, it will linger in our memory longer and we can go back and read it again. By transferring what was in the diary onto my computer, I relived those joyful moments several times and they are more likely to remain in my memory.

Doing this challenge forced me to look for, to anticipate, to search for joyful moments in a day. And what a year it has been to engage in such an endeavor! Some real highs and deep lows have occurred. A high was visiting people in Papua New Guinea and attending the Women in Ministry conference on the Gold Coast.

Soon after came a low: my mum was rapidly declining, so I travelled to Croatia to see her, but she died before I arrived, and instead I organized and attended her funeral. Then I had a stressful departure from Croatia when all flights were being cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, and I was on the last Qantas flight from Tokyo to Brisbane.

I was in complete isolation for 14 days and continued working from home for the rest of the year as hundreds of thousands of people have died worldwide from COVID-19. The world is a different place.

I benefited from writing the diary this year.

  1. It takes discipline to do something every single day that you haven’t done before. It can be done!
  2. Looking for joy helps you to see positive things around you and not be overwhelmed with negative messages.
  3. A great variety of items can bring you joy, from weather, food and flowers to activities, words and friends.
  4. I have tried many new things, which I’m sure this diary opened the doors for: I baked my first successful sourdough baguettes, rye bread and pizza; I knitted my first newborn booties (as a project for Sydney Adventist Hospital – I knitted 15 pairs); I wrote new articles and translated some to Croatian; I baked my first gluten-free and vegan cookies, having changed the recipes myself; I started the process of publishing a new book.
  5. There was only one day when I managed to write down only two joyful moments – the day after my mum’s funeral. On that day what brought joy was hearing birds sing in the morning announcing the day and seeing a white star magnolia tree in full bloom.

But there were many days when I had more than three, with April 9 topping the list as I wrote 18 moments of joy. That’s the day my husband came back home after my complete self-isolation. Among many other things that brought joy and made me laugh was a moment when I spilt water from the flower arrangement that was delivered to me from my work, and water splashed on me, the couch and floor. I guess when you’re joyful anything can make you happy.

You see, God has the best life for us in mind — sometimes we only need to be determined to see it.

By Danijela Schubert, director of Women's Ministries for South Pacific Division

Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2020 Q4, fall issue