Earlier on in the year, the BUV informed our church leadership about the ongoing hardships the local businesses in the East Gippsland region were experiencing, due to the devastating bushfires. Hearing about this truly broke our hearts, and we all felt we needed to help these communities out in a small way. So, a group of approximately 20 people from our congregation took the opportunity to travel to the East Gippsland region during the March long weekend (before the current COVID-19 restrictions came into place), visiting the local cafes, restaurants and accommodation sites to assist them financially.
Our first stop on Saturday was brunch in Bairnsdale where we split into two groups to ‘The Old Grain Store’ and ‘Metung Hotel’. There, we were advised that one of the towns hit hardest financially was a town called Bruthen. So we decided to visit this town. When we arrived there, some of us had lunch at ‘Bull Ant Brewery’ and some had afternoon tea at ‘Bruthen Bakery’. The staff there really appreciated our efforts to come down here to help them out in this time of need.
In the afternoon, we all checked into our motels at Lakes Entrance, splitting our accommodation arrangements over several different businesses. Our next stop was to go see the bushfire affected sites in the area. Although we were very saddened by witnessing the remains of many burnt down trees, the new sprouts emerging from the trees gave a sense of hope that the bushland will recover and be fruitful once again. Our last stop for the day was Lakes Pizza, where we had a delicious dinner.
On Sunday we started off by attending the Lake Entrance Baptist Church service. We were warmly welcomed by Pastor Michael & the church congregation. After the service we shared tea and coffee with leaders and members of the church. It was amazing to hear from one leader of the church that in the midst of all the damages and hardship caused by the bush fires, they are still praying and asking for God’s guidance to plant a church in Orbost, one of the bushfire affected areas. We are glad that we helped the church community by contributing our tithes and offerings.
After church we decided to go to Orbost to have lunch where once again we split in to two groups for two different cafes. We then visited another bushfire affected area in Orbost. It was devastating to see how the bushfires have affected the whole area and the environment.
After the visit to Orbost, we returned to Lakes Entrance. That evening, as a church family we all had a great time over dinner at “Nick’s Café and Authentic Thai Restaurant”. We stayed one more evening before heading home on Monday .Throughout the whole visit we were encouraged and amazed of the church’s faith in God and the spirit of rebuilding the bushfire affected areas again.