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Life with the Poatinians

by Bruno Deshayes on 22 Sep 2016 permalink

Poatina, 70km from Launceston, Tasmania was built in the 1960's to house the labour force building the hydro electric scheme of the Great Lake. With the advent of automation the hydro power station is now monitored remotely from Hobart and only a skeleton staff remains on site. The Fusion Christian organisation was able to buy the whole village complete with a general store, a motel, a service station, primary and secondary schools, an oval, a golf course, a swimming pool and a community hall.

Poatina is the hub of Fusion with regular seminars, a radio station, TAFE accredited social work courses and an office overseeing missions overseas. Poatina is run as a strata title rather than being an open real-estate market. Bar a few, all the people here are involved with Fusion. The organisation had a major setback in 2009 when its charismatic leader Mal Garvin fell from grace in a case of sexual indiscretion with a young woman he was ministering to. He admitted his guilt and resigned. Three years on, the organisation changed its structure with a CEO and a board of directors. Poatina is searching for a new identity. Some key people left either to the overseas mission field or out of a sense of betrayal.

There are 2 new buildings in the town. A new library for the school and an aircraft hangar acquired and erected to house a new tourist attraction: a glass blowing studio.

There is no courthouse, no lawyer, no constable, no pub, no liquor outlet, no drugs. The only offenders are the large possums who turn you garbage bin upside down during the night and pooh everywhere on the lawns. A fly invades your house the moment you leave your door ajar but they don't bother you when you are outside. The weather can change in an instant. You may head off with T-shirt and thongs and a sun hat and return drenched and shivering after a howling wind dumps a surprise shower.

I arrived in early January 2012 as a volunteer and helped as a kitchen hand during the 'Faith And The Arts Festival'. Even the simplest things require you to use your brains as I found out when my task was to peel the shell of some 100 hard boiled eggs. After 20 eggs the skin of my left thumb was red and sore. I developed a technique to roll the egg on the table bench to make many small cracks along the middle and then peeling the egg under water like an orange.

My task is to come up with ways to put the Poatina Chalet Motel and Restaurant back on the tourist map. I took photos of all the rooms and cabins and uploaded them onto a booking website

This week I served fuel at the service station which doubles as a bank since it is the only place in town with an ATM. There again I was on my own fumbling on how to replace the roll of paper so that we could continue issuing receipts. There is no longer a mechanic on duty. But he suddenly appeared back from Canberra with his wife who teaches at the next conference. He was quick to reopen the work bay and hoisted on the lift a 'Thomas Tank Engine' with a petrol engine. It was to be maintained for the Australia Day parade and is featured on the Google Maps Street View. I hardly have time to scratch myself but I managed to do some sightseeing last Saturday and visit a church in Launceston on Sunday.

The dining room looks more like a canteen than a restaurant and passing tourists would be forgiven to think they landed in the midst of some grand church retreat. The people you meet are affable and easy to talk to. Most of them are from an open brethren, church of Christ, evangelical background but I also found an ex Christian Outreach Centre pastor from Western Australia.

Well, time to sign off now as I am heading for the Foundation Course - the one week long intensive Fusion discipleship program.

But further down the track, this is my more sedate assessment:

I set myself a period of 3 months to achieve something in Poatina and now time is up.

The moment I arrived here I had an unease about the place. The neglect and poor maintenance of the buildings and facilities was a telling sign of a deeper problem. Poatina is at a crossroad. It will continue to die its slow and painful natural death as a rehabilitation colony and arts centre or it will be hit by a sovereign move of God in a way that only the Lord will get the glory.

The most lacking thing in this place is a good cash cow business to allow people to make a few quids for themselves. How can you be a blessing to others if you are not blessed yourself? But Poatina lacks an enterprising spirit. Sure Tasmania is the worst Australian state for unemployment. There is a brain drain of the local youth migrating to the continent for a brighter future. Poatina is very good at one thing: applying for all sorts of government grants. But it has two drawbacks: it creates a welfare mentality and if you feed off the hand of some government department you run the risk of getting your funding cut-off at the next election.

You can't fix people who do not want your help. Half of Poatina's problems are of her own making. You cannot distinguish Fusion from Poatina. Fusion is the Christian organisation who bought for a song the Poatina village in the 1990s from Tasmanian Hydro Electricity. They setup their own body corporate with its own by-laws making the place a drugs and alcohol free zone. That was perfect in the heydays of Fusion charismatic leader Mal Garvin. Today it is a sting in the tail. People cannot buy or sell property here as it is a closed market where newcomers are subject to screening and the motel cannot serve you wine with your meal. You are not permitted to bring your own either. This makes it difficult to promote the motel as a tourism stop for fly-fishing. Instead of handling things over to the local council the body corporate has to take care of running its own sewerage treatment plant and garbage collection. That was manageable with a population of 350 residents. Now being down to less than 100 it is pushing on the friendship with monthly working bees and rosters to keep the place alive. There is also an issue with most building having asbestos roofs and even asbestos wall lining.

Poatina is a Christian community by name only. Most people go off on Sundays to worship at the local churches in the towns nearby. The result is that there is no pastoral care, prayer group or bible study apart from the specific courses for those in rehabilitation. There is a notion that Fusion is not a church and should not conduct religious services in Poatina. This is the perfect strategy for the devil to cut down any spiritual life and growth in the place. Most Fusion people come from an evangelical background and have no concept of moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is no desire for divine healing. There is no notion of seeking God's face through corporate prayer and fasting. There is no inclination to prophesy the will of God into one's circumstances.

The best thing for young adults in the process of rebuilding their lives is to walk out of Poatina with a trade. In the past you could do a qualification as a mechanic or in hospitality. Today both the garage and the motel are loss making businesses artificially propped up by volunteer labour. Instead of a trade they are being trained as social workers - having to deal again with people from the toxic environment they escaped from. Not really a glowing future when you need some hope. The golf course has been leased to a nearby club and maybe this could be the solution for other things. If the Poatinians do not have the drive and the marketing skills to bring prosperity into town maybe selling off to another entity could bring some life back in the place.

There is a core group of die-hard Fusion folks who oppose any change hoping that the next round of funding will revive them. In the past many people came with their own trade and left without passing the baton to someone else to take over. Some are dreaming of the good olds days when Poatina had its own baker and its own butcher. Today the general store has stopped supplying fresh produce and is closed half of the time. With transport people are better off doing their shopping in Launceston.

This is the perfect setup for a revival don't you think? Jesus waited four days to attend to Lazarus to maximize the impact of raising someone from the dead. Poatina for all intends and purposes is - dare I say it - dead.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chr 7:14 NIV)

Paul Szilard says:
Thanks for the great newsletter. You really do have a 1st class writing style. I think you should compile some of your articles into a book. The description of your new environment is interesting, so keep doing further updates. Cheers, Paul Szilard

Terry Khor says:
What a beautiful and inspired place! I am so happy for you. I would like to live there myself! I can imagine myself spending the rest of my life there! I hope you find your happiness in this place, more importantly, find out God's will for your life, and live it to the full. God bless you!

Miriam Deshayes says:
I love it! Wow dad that sounds so interesting, its like a whole different world down there, what an adventure :) Glad to hear about your egg peeling skills ;)

Luke Reifler says:
Praise God for his leading and provision for you - physically and spiritually. God is good! It is so wonderful to hear how your piece of the puzzle fits into theirs so well. May every week challenge you to grow greater faith, greater love, greater passion and greater peace. DaySpring will miss you but Poatina will be blessed by your contribution. May heaven invade earth wherever you go.

Charlie Stantz says:
I wonder what Mal or Mat Garvin would say about this place now. From what I hear from a lot of people is that Fusion destroys more lives than they save. You cannot polish crap, it just does not work. I understand the die hard leftovers from the old days like to see Poatina continue however how much Gov funding does it take to keep an entity like this going. If it's on it's last legs then DO THE RIGHT THING. Pull the pin.

Sasha Man says:

Laugh your head off

by Bruno Deshayes on 15 Sep 2016 permalink
world of lonelinessHad a dream I was a muffler. When I woke up I was exhausted.

After i-messaging back and forth with my wife, I jokingly commanded Siri to pass along this message: “You need to get back to work now; you have a husband to support.”
Here’s what Siri sent: “You need to get back to work now; you have a has-been to support.”

I once gave my husband the silent treatment for an entire week, at the end of which he declared, “Hey, we’re getting along pretty great lately!”

A salesman talked my uncle into buying 10,000 personalized pens for his business with the promise that he would be eligible to win a 32-foot yacht. A born gambler, my uncle agreed. Well, he won, and a few weeks after the pens arrived, his prize showed up: a 12-inch plastic yacht with 32 plastic feet glued to the bottom.

A police officer jumps into his squad car and calls the station. “I have an interesting case here,” he says. “A woman shot her husband for stepping on the floor she just mopped.” “Have you arrested her?” asks the sergeant. “No, not yet. The floor’s still wet.”

A woman noticed her husband standing on the bathroom scale, sucking in his stomach. “Ha­­! That’s not going to help,” she said. “Sure, it does,” he said. “It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

Teacher: "Kids, what does the fluffy chicken give you?"
Students: "Eggs!"
Teacher: "Very good! Now what does the pink pig give you?"
Students: "Bacon!"
Teacher: "Great! And what does the fat cow give you?"
Students: "Homework!"

Doctor, why is it that my nose runs and my feet smell?
Well, why don’t you try the other way round : Smell with your nose and run with your feet !

In these last days there are many monsters roaming the earth. I heard of one who didn't have a body - only a nose. I asked "What's her name?" I was told "No Body Nose".

Me myself and I - welcome to the world of loneliness

by Bruno Deshayes on 01 Sep 2016 permalink
world of lonelinessBeing alone is not something to run away from. In fact there is much healing in listening to the sound of your own silence.

Just like each relationship started one day each relationship will also end one day. It is a fact of life. Welcome to the real world. The issue is that as we seek out and foster new relationships some of our current ones may come to an abrupt end for no fault of our own. Obviously separation and divorce come blaring loud in our mind but may I suggest that each one of us will be called to widowhood. So what can we learn from our seniors in that matter?

Bad love is better than no love at all? I beg to differ. Leaning onto someone else instead of standing firm on your own two feet is called being co-dependant. It is the fastest way to ruin a relationship. You tend to attract people like yourself. So if you are out of balance you will seek solace with people who are also off kilter and the vicious cycle of misery repeats itself.

Have you even considered that God Himself might be the one to pull the plug on your merry-go-round in order to get your attention and get you to address issues swept under the carpet all this time? God is in the character building business and He doesn't mind breaking a few eggs to make an omelette. There is a day of reckoning for each one of us. In order to be fit for eternity we have to undergo a refining process. Discipline is never pleasant at the time but in the end it produces the fruit that we can boast about. If you are currently undergoing a time of loneliness - don't fight it - embrace it. Learn how to make peace with yourself. Learn how to talk to yourself and forgive yourself. {Learn to improve the quality of your self-talk.} People who talk to themselves are not cuckoo. They are the ones who can shut down the onslaught of nonsense coming out of the TV to take the time to have a good one on one talk in the mirror.

Instead of running around aimlessly to bolster your self-esteem why don't you start at home? What you think about yourself will determine your future. You can rip out the batteries from your clock but time will still tick along. In fact there will be a day of reckoning where we will each individually have to give an account of what we've done with that precious amount of time we have been given on earth.

There are three slices of our time: the past, the present and the future. The past is closed. You may have good memories of the good old days but you can't live in them. Photos and videos may still bear witness of things gone by but unless you are an historian you don't want to dwell there. Be thankful of what you enjoyed but have the courage to say goodbye.

The future has a way of catching up on us. Ever wondered if you could freeze time and stop those bills from arriving in the mail? In fact people say: "Have you noticed how time flies on us?" What you are doing today is a direct result of what you did yesterday and last week and the month before and last year. It's all coming to fruition - today!

So our lives are so ordained that today is where you should make things count. That's the perfect antidote to loneliness. Find something good to do today and you won't feel lonely! Find out what you are good at and do it with all your might. Then you will have friends who will appreciate you for who you are and what you stand for - not for what they can get out of you.

Lonely People by Warren W. Wiersbe

Adrian McCabe says:
Hey Bruno, that's another great article, keep up the good work. Adrian

Where do you belong?

by Bruno Deshayes on 25 Aug 2016 permalink
Divorce, unemployment and homelessness have the effect of causing you to lose your bearings because your familiar environment is no longer there.

Your self-esteem, your self-worth and your self-image are all rooted in what you have achieved in your environment. I was once cruising along nicely when my marriage blew-up in my face after a drawn-out period of unemployment exposed some cracks in the relationship.

As men we see ourselves as providers for our family. You may trust someone with whom you spent 20 years of your life raising the same children only to find out that the love and commitment have grown cold and the rats are leaving the sinking ship.

For a man silence means tacit agreement but when a woman dishes out the silence treatment to her husband it means protracted resistance. That's why it is important to talk things over in a marriage because there might be two opposite mindsets about the same situation.

How do you draw the line in a home business that's going nowhere fast? How do you sell your skills when your own venture is failing? Who wants to hire a loser? In frustration and desperation you go back into your cave and hope to come up with a better gizmo, the killer gizmo that's going to make all this suffering worth the pain after all. What if that does not happen?

What if in this drawn-out struggle you also lose your accommodation? Have you known what it is like to move from place to place but not belonging anywhere? Have you slept in your car and shaved in the parenting restroom of a fast food restaurant? Have you kept in touch with your email lugging your laptop to recharge in a public library?

Have you lost the esteem of friends who don't know if they want to help you anymore because your situation is so protracted? Have you stared in dismay at all your belongings stacked up in a storage facility - not knowing whether you should sell it all or hang-on for a breakthrough?

I have gone through all that and since I do not have anybody to talk to I thought I'll give you the benefit of the experience by writing it down...

Some people advise me I should keep quiet about my circumstances because it will put off prospective employers. I reckon when the time comes I can sell my story and talk about my boot camp experience and how it made me a better person.

Don't have pity on me - your time will come too. I don't wish this on anybody but the fact of the matter is that we are descending into some troubled times ahead. Be prepared. In fact I don't know if you can ever prepare for this. You just have to handle it one day at a time.

Robert says:
Hi Bruno, Thanks so much for your courage. Well written Rob

Alexandra says:
I like the way this is written in such an honest way. I can relate to these experiences. It is comforting to know that Jesus has gone before us and there is no temptation that is sent to us that Jesus doesn't show us the way through!!!! God bless you my new friend! May you always rejoice in Jesus knowing He has won the VICTORY!!!!

Disrespectful wives and unloving husbands

by Bruno Deshayes on 18 Aug 2016 permalink
People who are in a relationship for themselves find that they are not getting a good deal while those who seek to meet the needs of their partner find out that we are wired quite differently.

For a man the main currency is respect. How can you establish your leadership in the home if your authority is under-valued by no other than the one who should be the president of your fan-club?

For a woman the main currency is love. Not sexual intercourse but a steady stream of non-verbal clues that he cares for you and your well-being is always on his mind. How depressing can it be when he says: "I told you at your birthday that I love you! Why do you need to hear it again constantly?"

"Vive la difference!" God in His infinite wisdom made us complimentary - not similar. So how can you leverage the untapped potential of your marriage? For some unfortunately I should rephrase it as: "How can you pre-empt the next clash and rebuild a better foundation?"

Doing life together is an adventure, a risk, a challenge, a step into the unknown. There are things in life that you will never learn at school, things that your mother never told you about, things that you will have to workout for yourselves.

The one and only question that really matters is this: "Are you committed to make this marriage work?" "Are you in it for the long-haul?" "Are you committed to your mate through hail, rain or shine?"

Unless you are fully committed to each other you have no-where to go together. Once you realise it is more blessed to give than to receive you will learn to trust that your goodwill will not go in vain.

Being just flatmates in the same accommodation is no way to run a marriage. You have to be sold-out on a common goal for the marriage to stick. You can bet your resolve will be tested indeed. You might see a happy couple at a social function but you may not want to swap places because precious little did you know about the ordeal they might have gone through together...

As iron sharpens iron a married couple have to grow-up together. Your whole life together is not meant to be a static experience but an obstacle course where each step makes you more understanding, and may I say more loving and more respectful of each other.

The bottom line is this: If you value somebody so much that you have made the commitment to share your lives together then it stands to reason that you would refrain from doing the things that person dislikes and endeavour to figure out how to do perfectly the things that person enjoys from you.

Love And Respect by Emerson Eggerichs



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Bruno Deshayes

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