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Lockdown Down Under

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In February 2020 we heard that our twelve year old grandson, Eli, had been diagnosed with cancer. Ewing’s Sarcoma. The family live on the Sunshine Coast in Yeppoon, but as Eli needed regular treatment they had to move to Brisbane. We decided we would take the caravan to Brisbane, sone five days' drive away, so that we could be there to help wherever we could. Eli has a four year old sister who we could help with, and whatever else we could do.
We set off in the middle of March having booked into a caravan park near Brisbane for six weeks as this was the longest we could stay.
The COVID virus was just being talked about and Eli was worried that we had brought it with us. We assured him that we hadn’t but refrained from any close contact.
About three days after our arrival, the Queensland government gave advice that vulnerable people and people of a certain age should not go out unless there was a medical emergency or for essential food shopping. As we fell into this bracket, and as Eli was also vulnerable, we made the decision, with the family, that we would stay away unless there was an emergency. We kept contact daily.
The city shut down. There were no buses, no trains, no planes and the caravan park we were on gradually emptied until there remained only fifteen of us.
As it got quieter we were aware that as we read the Bible and prayed in the mornings it would last longer as we were going into the Word more. We had previously been a bit lax but this was great!
Not long after this the lockdown started in the UK and our church (Harvester Reformational Church Halifax) were able to start a Skype connection with us and we were able to join the Sunday meeting and also the Bible teaching during the week which we had not done before. We were ecstatic seeing that God had put this into place for us.
We quickly realised that we were being realigned by God and that some things in our lives needed sorting out. We began that journey and continue on it today.
We also realised that the more time we spent in God’s presence, the more He spoke to us.
Most days found us just sitting outside the caravan, not being able to go anywhere. It was boring, but we drew from the Spirit within us and we were happy and found joy in everyday things, especially the variety of birds and flowers around us. We were also able to talk to the few people left on the site and to pray for one man.
As the time came near for us to leave Brisbane, the virus was not really under control and we were not sure what to do, but we decided to return home, leaving Thursday. We made preparations for our return journey but as we were praying on the Tuesday my husband began to say …’you know, nothing is set in stone, God, and if we are needed we will stay.’ I thought that was strange as we had packed so much up in readiness for a Thursday departure but I said nothing.
Later that day we contacted the family and learnt that things were not going well and when I asked if they would like us to stay, they were hugely relieved to say yes! I told them that I had expected it as God had told Graham that morning in our prayer time.
We did stay and before we left, after another six weeks, we were able to visit and help out more practically with the family.
Although we hadn’t seen any of the sights of Brisbane, we had got closer to God.
As we travelled home, our journey was easy and problem free. Arriving home, we had to self isolate for two weeks but are now able to mix and see friends and family in Brinkworth. But we have found that there is no rush now, we have learned to be at peace with everything.

Pastor Janet Bales


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