Dan Nixon Diary of a Patrol 1995
On Patrol Outback with Daniel Nixon, October 1995—One week after graduation at ASU Taking Dad's place, who was recovering from surgery:
You will read of their travels and the functions. What you won't read is the result tally. Here they are: They flew 4000 kilometres in seven days; to twelve remote towns in three states; conducted eighteen different meetings, to audiences that totaled 1550 school children and 235 adults.
They placed dozens of Testaments and distributed hundreds of copies of the monthly Explorers Magazine. The plane share cost was $453 each and they said it was an economical trip to reach so many people who rarely hear a Gospel team, and who are still hungry to hear of Jesus Christ and His love for them. Also, what you won't read are the endless comments made by locals about the team and the blessings they brought with them. You will only hear of souls won and lives changed when you go there yourself, and see what God is doing in the lives of people separated from the cities by distance, and from the Church by a thousand years.
What you can do is pray for these people often, and be ready to hear of answers to your prayers. God sifts the population to send the best seed into the wilderness. You may be one of the seeds.
Four Men on Patrol
in the 24-page diary booklet by Daniel
Nixon with sketches by Brett Cardwell.
What happens on Patrol?
Four men on an Australian Outback Patrol. What can be achieved in just one short week!
Plane: Piper Saratoga VH-JNV
Pilot: Mr. Phillip Lamb – Music & teaching
Team: Mr. Brett Cardwell – Sketching & music
Mr. Daniel Nixon – Guitar & singing
Mr. Larry Boggs – Youth worker
Diary – Daniel Nixon
Day One (Sunday, October 15th)
Departed Bankstown airport at about 1.45 pm, Sunday October 13th, 1995. There are 4 of us, Phil the pilot, Brett, Larry (an American friend of Phil's), and myself. Two cars were needed to transport us to the airport where we loaded up, and took-off. The spirit amongst the group seems good, and I am looking forward to a great trip.
Plans had been made; towns contacted, meetings and school confirmed. We were in for a wonderful week. The prayer time at the office was very special, as we were set apart for this mission. Martha Nixon especially noted being called together, as in Acts 13. We carried that all the way. And it's quite unique how the team came together in the first place. It really began with Donald Prout, Les Nixon and Brett Cardwell, way back in August. Dates changed, and Donald dropped out. Then I came home from College and Canada Teen Ranch and joined in. Then it became Brett, Dan and Les. We prayed over it again.
Then Les suddenly went to hospital for hernia surgery. Phillip Lamb stepped in to fly and suggested that his Minister of Youth at church might come too. We prayed over it again on the basis that we attempt nothing that's not saturated in prayer.
So, Oct. 15th, the day we left, we all prayed again. Those going, and those not. And in prayer, we felt that the Holy Spirit descended in a special way, setting us all apart for the work before us we knew not of. That is, Brett, Dan, Phil and Larry. Nothing like it was three months ago. And that's just how it was, Martha reminded us, on the first missionary endeavour in Acts 13. While Barnabus, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul were in prayer at Antioch, "fasting and praying and worshiping God, the Holy Spirit said; Set Barnabus and Paul apart for me, to do the work to which I have called them. Then, after further fasting and prayer, they laid their hands on them and let them go ..."
So, with such an auspicious beginning, like Paul and Barnabus, we are optimistic that we are set to do the work God has for us. We know we are going to remote places where the Christian gospel is frail and the church weak. We know that there is no mighty presence there, little God-awareness, and much suspicion about Christian people; and that we will turn over old ground, and break new. We know that we will be dealing with non-Christian people most of the time. But we know there are a few lonely true believers are there too, and we want to encourage them, and build them up in the faith. First leg was Bankstown to Wee Waa. On the tarmac at Bankstown Phil had some troubles with the radio which were thought to be serious. After sweating about it for a minute or two he changed headsets and resolved the problem. The day has been beautiful, blue skies with scattered clouds at 6,000 feet. I dozed for most of the hour-and-fifty minute trip to Wee Waa. Descent into Wee Waa we picked up a bit of turbulence, but nothing that was not to be expected. It feels good to be out in the bush again. Landing is about five minutes away, and once on the ground we will prepare for a home meeting tonight. Well, when we landed we taxied to the wrong end of the air strip and waited there for about 15 minutes until we realised that we were maybe in the wrong place. Piled back in the plane and taxied to the other end, made it to the phone booth, and called for a pick-up. After calling it didn't solve our problem immediately, as the people at the first number didn't answer, and the people who were supposed to be at the second number were not even in the country.
The contact at the house however, promised to try and call the first number for us until he got an answer. So we were back in the same situation as we were before the call, on the ground in Wee Waa with no one to pick us up. After 20 minutes or so longer a pick-up approached and drove in the airport gate. As the vehicle came closer, we realised it was a police paddy-wagon. When the van got to the gate of the strip, the officer got out and started walking toward us. It was at this stage that Phil (the pilot) realised that until a few moments before the police officer got here that Brisbane FSS (search and rescue) had not closed our plan, necessary to avoid searches.
After telling the police officer that he had indeed called cancelled, the officer thanked us very much, got back in his van and drove off. So still we were on the ground in Wee Waa with no-one to pick us up. After another 20 minutes or so Ed (the gentleman we were to be staying with) drove up and greeted us and told us that we did not have the right number and that he didn't know that we were on the ground yet. So finally, we were on the ground in Wee Waa and somebody there to pick us up. We piled all our luggage and all four of us into Ed's rather small car and headed into town for the official Wee Waa town tour. Two minutes later the tour was completed and we headed toward Ed and Heather's place to settle in for the rest of the day.
As the plan went, we were to have dinner, conduct the evening home meeting, and sleep at Ed and Heather's place. Dinner was great, and the meeting started at 7.30 with 15 or 16 people present (including the 4 of us on the team).
Phil started us off and the 4 on the team introduced ourselves and gave a brief testimony. After this we sang for 20-minutes (Brett played my guitar as accompaniment), followed by Brett singing a solo and then presenting his white board cartoon. He spoke and sketched about Zaccheus. Following his presentation we all prayed for the remaining 30 minutes.
This gave us a deep sense of being, and knowing we were encouraging the believers here. The meeting concluded at about 9.20. After this we broke for supper and sat around and talked over weighty matters, until people started leaving for home at 10.15 or thereabouts. "We have our own Church here", a man said, "but you've come as a breath of fresh air. Thanks for thinking of us. When can you return?" was his last question. As I write this sitting in my room, Phil, Brett, Ed, and Heather are still talking.
Day Two (Monday) I woke about 5.30 this morning to a beautiful sunrise out the eastern windows at May's house. Indeed, the Lord is in this place and it's easy to worship Him. And what a delight it is to be back in Australia again, and what a blessing to be out of the city. God is so good! This morning after 6am breakfast I stepped outside for a walk along Ed's airstrip. I think it must be the longest private strip I've seen. Ed said at one time when he was test flying his Veri-Easi home built his strip was 1 nautical mile long. That's nothing to sneeze at!
Ed drove up and offered a guided tour. I was happy to find that the tour was a little more substantial than yesterday's tour of Wee Waa. When we arrived back at the house I found Phil, Brett, and Larry were up and moving around (Phil was only barely moving around, but he was up). Showered, packed, cleaned-up, and prepared for the meetings during the morning, and the last thing we did before we left at 8.30 was go out and look at Ed's home built aircraft. This morning we had three engagements in the space of 45 minutes, with Larry and myself at the Christian school, Brett at the state primary school, and Phil at the high school. Boy, did we pray hard.
Everything worked out well, and by 10.30 we were all done. Praise God for a good start to the meetings! After spending some time in town we all met back up at the high school and headed back to the airport. The wind was from the north, and we wheeled out to the tarmac at about 10 past 11 in the am. Well, our Brewarrina class has now finished too, and we are back in the air headed north-west to Cunnamulla, Queensland, about 150 miles away. Flight time should be very similar to the Wee Waa to Brewarrina run earlier today. We arrived Bre' at a little before 12 noon and were picked up by the acting deputy head of the state school. As we were not to go on with the kids until 2pm, we had about an hour free time after we arrived at the school and set up, so the four of us decided to trek around Bre' and see what there was to see. The class at 2 at Bre' school was quite interesting, with about 40 grade K-4 kids sitting on the carpeted floor in a double class room. Along with them, we also had 6 teachers sitting in on the hour they gave us. I started off and taught them 3 songs, and then Larry took over and talked for about 15 minutes. When he was done we sang another song, and then I threw it to Brett who gave them the story of the good Samaritan with the white board.
As usual both Larry and Brett were very good.
At the conclusion we sang one more song, talked about Explorers Magazine, and then we closed in prayer. The kids were a little rowdy, but for the most part they listened and took part in everything. It's the Gospel that gets them.
We don't offer ideas or a philosophy. We are able to simply say, You are special to Jesus, and He loves you. Sometimes, it's easy to reach them for Christ - sometimes hard. This was easy. As a side note, the teachers were right into all we did, including the singing. All in all it was a good hour. After we had finished and the kids lined up for the busses, we stood around and talked to the teachers and the assistant principal (Larry) for 15 minutes.
They seemed to really enjoy it, and were very happy with both the content and presentation of Outback Patrol's message. Larry then drove us back to the airport and after a little prep time we headed off toward Cunnamulla at around 4 pm. Phil noted that Larry, a teacher said: "Glad you came. Our town doesn't have Scripture in the schools any more." That makes it worth it, but who'll carry it on? Praying in the air is unique. Only the sound of the engine purring away, and each of us lifting our voices to God who seems to be closer than when we're on the ground. Jim Irwin called it "High Flight", remember? It's now 5.50 pm and we have been on the ground now for over an hour. Brett, Larry, and myself are resting at a lovely "Queenslander" homestead in Cunnamulla, owned by a lovely lady by the name of Jenny. She and Rick have Patrol teams here often, and they really get into the excitement.
I wished I could answer all their questions about Col and Steve and Garry and Annette. I don't know these Outback Patrol people, but they do. The house is exquisite, with wide sweeping breezeways on the side and running through the middle. it really is a pleasure to be here. Tonight we have a fellowship tea followed by an evening meeting, planned to start at 6.30, so I am lying down to grab a bit of quiet before things start again tonight. Well it is 10 pm, the meeting is finished, and I am so tired I feel like sleeping for days. I guess I have got out of the habit of travelling like this. Anyhow, the meeting did go pretty well, and it definitely went long: we started at 6.30 and we didn't get out of the hall until after 9.30. Tea went until 7.45 and the meeting from then until 9.30. Phil gave intros, Brett played the guitar and accompanied everybody singing for 20 minutes, Phil gave a real nice devotional on delighting yourself in the Lord, I taught the 20 or so 50+ year-olds the John 3:16 rap, then Brett was asked to take 10 minutes and do a sketch, which turned into a 30 minute call to faith.
It was quite a time. He was guided of the Lord to specially speak to one person, call on them to respond to the Lord. It was very personal. I am not sure how the people there took it all, but I am sure we will hear about it soon enough.
The Minister commended Brett that he could not do that as he lives here, but Brett did a good thing, and it was most appreciated. Praise God for whatever He was able to use tonight. I am just kind of glad I'm here, and I can get to sleep in a few moments.
Day Three (Tuesday) Well it's 7.40 am and we are in front of the Avgas pumps at Cunnamulla airport. We were due to take off by 7.30 this morning but Phil's ride (Brian) was a bit late getting Phil here to the airport.
Oh well, we'll get to Thargomindah in time for the 9 am class. It's only an hour flight. Last night was a good night for sleeping, and I awoke this morning at 6 quite refreshed. Best time of the day to meditate and worship the Lord, whose work we are doing, and whose power we depend upon. We are taxiing now and should be in the air in a few minutes. By the way, just to remind me, Les Wall and said to say hello to you, Dad; he has known you for quite a while and was looking forward to meeting him.
Every one I meet seems to know Dad and it would take a wad to write them all down. I think it was a teacher at Thargo who was so speechless with our program, he almost whispered his words. Phil wrote them down; "Students love to come to all your meetings. Such a lift. Love it when God comes to town!" Well today Brett is in the front seat and Larry and I are in the back. I'll write more when we finish at Thargmindah. I'm sorry, I couldn't wait to write some more. This mornings flight to Thargo' is just beautiful. Taking-off at 7.45 we have slowly climbed into the smoothest air I have flown in, in years. It is as smooth as silk. This is the kind of flying I remembered with Dad twenty years ago, that I missed over the years that I have been away.
Looking out the rear right window the red, orange, brown, green, blue, and yellow hues of the outback are so amazingly beautiful. It looks like an impressionist painting of what serenity would look like. I know how people could fall in love with this seemingly desolate place. It is beautiful out here. Departed Thargomindah Qld. at 10.30 en-route to Tibooburra NSW. We had the whole of the Thargomindah state school, with about 50 kids from K-7th grade. We were given an hour first thing in the morning in the lunch enclosure under the class rooms.
The teachers were real encouraging, and the kids were pretty good too. As it turned out, they had been off from school Thursday, Friday, and Monday, so it could have been a lot worse considering the amount of time they had spent away. Praise the Lord for provision!
The time we had with them was split between myself, Larry, and Brett. I started with songs and forgot either the chords or the words to two of the three songs(yes I have had better sessions). I was done at 12 minutes past the hour and then Larry took over. He had trouble getting the kids involved (as I did with the singing) until he broke out the packet of Minties (what a great thing a bribe is). After Larry was done Brett took over and used up the rest of the 45 minutes . Brett did an entertaining sketch of the story of David and Goliath, moved into Jesus in our lives to conquer our goliaths—and ended with a Christian version of Hokey-Pokey.
I explained about Outback Patrol and Explorers and gave out almost all of our extra copies of the July '95 Magazines. Overall it was another good class, with plenty of support from the principal, and simple responses from the children. Phil was working on his flight plan upstairs, heard every word echo through the building, to every adult within earshot. After the class Larry and I headed into town on foot to pick up post cards, stickers, hat pins, and more Minties. Once these essential provisions had been acquired we headed back to school where we were driven back to the plane.
Well, Tibooburra is next so I will write a bit more after we have our 1 pm class. Tibooburra school is already a fading memory as we are looking forward to a bumpy flight into Leigh Creek now, and that takes over. We had the whole school there for 40 minutes at 1 pm in one of the larger class rooms. As well as the 25 students we also had all the teachers. It was a good class, with plenty of participation from the kids. They take Explorers Club from OP HQ each Wed. afternoon, but these personal visits put flesh to the bones. We tried Jesus Loves Me Rap at the end of the session and it went well, as did Larry and Brett's presentation. We are about to take off to Leigh Creek now, it is 2.30 and our flight time should be about 1 hour 50 minutes. Now 9.10 pm South Australia time (30 minutes behind NSW time) and I am sitting in bed ready to crash. I have been such a wimp this week, feeling dead tired at 9 every night. Oh well, enough of this complaining stuff. The flight from Tibooburra took far less time than first anticipated and we landed at the Leigh Creek strip an hour and a half after we departed Tibooburra.
As anticipated, the flight was pretty bumpy, especially when we hit the Flinders Ranges. However, considering we were flying during the heat of the day, when thermal updrafts are at their peak, it could have been a lot bumpier than it turned out. Praise God for big and small mercies. When we were picked up from Leigh Creek airport, Judy Thompson took us straight to the state school to meet the principal and talk about tomorrow. He seemed very interested in what we were doing and what we had to offer.
As it turns out, SA legislation limits religious education in school, the people responsible have not been here consistently, and for the past 6 months very little has been done for the kids in this regard.
After talking to his teachers, the school agreed to let us into 4 classes (about 35 kids), having up to an hour with the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th grade classes starting at 8.55 am.
Additionally, since the Marree class has fallen through, Brett will draw cartoons in the schoolyard during recess (10.40 am) to see if he can attract a crowd for the fifteen minutes free time. Hopefully the morning will be successful. Speaking of successes, tonight's meeting went real well, with over 40 people showing up for the tea and meeting put on by the Christian fellowship. It started out pretty small at 5.30 when the meal was due, but by the time we started singing at 7 pm the crowd was swelling. It exploded to a mighty 40. A few more people arrived at 7.30 when Brett was drawing his cartoons, and we finished with Larry telling the story of Gideon to encourage the dwindling Christians in the town.
I believe God used us mightily tonight, with the people being entertained, encouraged, and challenged to live their lives for God as Gideon did. Praise the Lord. The evening ended at 8.50 local time after a time of useful conversation.
Day Four (Wednesday) I slept in this morning and didn't get out of bed until 8 am, what a lazy mutt? It wasn't that I was tired; I just didn't have anything to wake up for. Our school meeting was at 8.55, so it was a bit of a late start by comparison to yesterday morning. When we got to the school we were told that there was a little more interest than anticipated, and instead of thirty kids in a class room we would have 150 in the theatre, for 50 minutes. Praise God! I must admit I was a bit hesitant at first, but Brett's enthusiasm took care of that. The kids came in a 8.55 and were seated in the 250-seat auditorium by the teachers. Then Barry the vice-principal introduced us.
We started with 3 songs, then Larry talked to them, followed by Brett giving the story of David, and then I told them about Explorers Magazine, Brett came back and led a song and prayed. It really all went like clock work. Praise God. They showed it with big open eyes, and I know many hearts were touched in the right sort of way. After this Brett was asked to speak to a year 12 student interested in cartooning, and then he drew a story during recess in the quadrangle. By 11 am we were all finished. Barry really thanked us for coming, and he said to us "you can come back anytime!"
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