Esk festival & new friends
31 July 10
This weekend we explored the Brisbane River Valley to the northwest of Brisbane city — visiting the villages close to the Somerset and Wivenhoe dams which provide the water supply for the southeast Queensland metropolis.
Woodoo had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning, so when he got back to our place, we packed up and drove to the little town of Esk. Esk is just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane and nestled in a valley between several deep granite escarpments. Little more than a main street, its main attraction is the annual Esk Multicultural Festival (held today) which attracts the usual market-stall-holders as well as specifically “ethnic” promoters, plus a medieval village set-up complete with jousting matches and a blacksmith.
We were also able to make an arrangement to meet with Esk local Tom Varney — a man whose life story is truly fascinating. He was a wild young man, violent to the extreme, intent on killing police officers, certifiably mentally ill and inevitably ended up in prison.
However, when God responded to his simple prayer to take away his cravings for alcohol, Tom was reborn. Absolutely and amazingly, his life was transformed.
In his recounting of Varney’s story, Gordon Moyes writes, “Eventually a letter came from the Government of Victoria granting him a full pardon in the light of the remarkable change within his character.” How often do you hear about someone like that? And then finally get to meet the man in flesh?
Tom really loves the Lord and devotes his time to sharing informally with people that he meets. He came to the festival to just hang around, talking with people and sharing God’s love. David spent a couple hours talking with Tom while I took the girls around the festival tents and watched the performances on the main stage.
One conversation with the dog’s owners led to another, and we met each other again back at another tent, where I introduced Sue and Ran to Woodoo and David. They knew Tom Varney by reputation, so we introduced them and ended up sharing a good conversation together. (It still surprises me how people can come together in unity because of the life of God that is in them.)
At the end of the afternoon, Sue and Ran invited us to come to their house for the night. They lived in the little village of Toogoolawah, 18 km from Esk, so we packed up and followed them to their house.
We stayed up late talking with Ran and Sue. I put the girls to sleep in their beds in the truck, and Hugh eventually stayed in the Schneider’s spare room.
We experienced true fellowship — we talked, sang (Sue played a guitar) and prayed together. God filled the room with His presence, and we blessed each other.
It was wonderful to have a place to stay — we had left for the weekend, not knowing how it would turn out, but certain that God had something good planned for us! He doesn’t disappoint, does he?