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Letter from Australia 48 – Hugs, Pests, A Beautiful Lady; An Old Brora Photo; Fish and Fishing; Haggis and Neeps.

Dear brothers and sisters,

It’s interesting in this transition period here in NSW (I was going to say Australia, but each state is different – four are Covid free and one, Victoria, still has community transmission) the reactions of different people to the ‘new normal’.

To hug or not to hug? that is the question

Some still do the elbow things – others are strictly no touch – some are shaking hands – and I have even met a couple of full huggers this week!  Given last weeks letter I loved it.  I feel in this case that the biblical injunction to let each be fully persuaded in their own minds – I’m happy with however you greet me! And I will do whatever you want…

Let me share a few encouragements from down under.

The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways

We’ve had a tradie in doing some work – a great guy.  He got my e-mail and clicked on the wee flea blog link – because he thought I was a pest controller and was looking for one!  Anyway he said that he then spent several hours reading some of the articles!

A Beautiful Memory of a Beautiful Lady

I was saddened to hear of the death of Lillian Ross.   She was always ‘Mrs Ross’ to me – I could never call her Lillian even though she told me to!  She was my ministers wife when I first came to Buccleuch and was a great support and joy.   I was glad to be able to visit her before we came to Australia.  She had a big influence on me in different ways.  When she heard that I was ‘going in for the ministry’, she came up to me at the prayer meeting and just gave me a big hug.  It was strange.  I had had loads of questions which I needed answered before I went through the Session and applied for the College.  Although they were all answered – it was that one act which was the confirmation.  It was like a kiss of grace from God.

A Memory of Brora

My writing ‘career’ began in ‘The Raggie’ – the local Sutherland newspaper otherwise known as The Northern Times.  I used to write a weekly ‘thought for the week’ – some more controversial than others .  I wonder why they refused to publish my column urging that the ‘Mannie’, the statue of the Duke of Sutherland, be taken down?  I was decades ahead of my time – BLM eat your hearts out!

This memory was brought to mind this week when friends up in Sutherland sent us a photo from this weeks Raggie. It was a picture of us in Brora.  I think it was our farewell…?



The photo asked who are they?  How quickly we are forgotten in this world!  But we are never forgotten by Christ.

The Sydney Fish Market

Yesterday we walked through yet another beautiful park, along the sea shore – to the Sydney fish market.  It was a beautiful day – the fish market is the biggest in the Southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world.  It is apparently dominated by Italians!  We will certainly return for the lobster and chips – and the sea platter.   Here are a few slides..

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Fishing for Jesus

Sarah-Irving-Oxford-205x115Speaking of fishing, Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men. There are many different for that to be done – but the one aim is always to proclaim Christ.  Last week we attempted to do that through our Cafe Online   It was superb….Sarah Irving-Stonebreaker spoke really well.  Pray for us as we do the same tomorrow.

Haggis and Neeps

IMG_8583-1Finally we had a lovely meal today with some new friends from England.  It was such a joy to have Christian fellowship – good food and Christ-centred conversation.  It’s why hospitality is such a vital part of any Christian ministry.  What struck me was the thoughtfulness of our hosts – who served up this delicious dish as a starter – harris, neeps, tatties and a wee drop of whisky!  I was preaching to day in Southern Cross Presbyterian Church (online)…and one of the questions in the Q and A was ‘do we have to give up the good things of this life to follow Christ?”.   We have to give up everything to follow Christ – but having Christ means we can richly and thankfully enjoy all that he gives us.  Speaking of which – I’m off for my tea and to listen to Andrew preaching from Charleston Community Church!    I suggest you do the same!

See you next week,


Letter from Australia 47 – The Human Touch


  1. And the Editor was Ben B H Ragggie? Amen re the ‘Mannie’. And its not Grannies Heilen Hame but my daughter-in-law’s family home. Oh, we have ants in the hoose – can you offer some advice?

  2. Recognised you immediately in the photo David. I’m sure many of us did!! I was raised in Stoer FC in Sutherland, in the days when churches were full. Now there is no Church in Stoer, and the FC building is now owned by some kind of New Age sect. I wonder what went wrong over the years.

    1. I could tell you – but it would take a longer post! I wrote a report for the Sutherland Presbytery around 1990 warning this would happen. No one was listening.

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