Photo by Spencer Watson / Unsplash

Stories from Members

Treasured Tapestry

Caloundra SDA members, Keith and Kay Bond, have kindly donated a fine tapestry (pictured) depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Now prominently displayed in the church for all members and visitors to admire and contemplate, the tapestry has a touching history. Keith received it as a surprise gift in an unfinished state from the family of his interpreter, Appa, in Mongolia as a participant in a group missionary visit in 2004 to the isolated northern community of Sant. The incomplete tapestry was hidden by the family during the Communist government of the country during the 1940s and ‘50s and remained unfinished. Just before Keith’s  departure,  Appa bid him a tearful  farewell  and presented him with this family heirloom in a sincere token of appreciation for Keith’s friendship and support of many locals, including children, during his brief but robust (that’s Keith!) encounter with the community.

Kay’s contribution was in later finding and commissioning Bea, a nearby Palmwoods lady of 92 years, to complete the work’s missing features (Bea’s “last tapestry work”). Bea’s son added mounting to enable the work to be hung. Thus the Caloundra SDA church displays a beautiful tapestry of Mongolian/Anglo Saxon/Australian heritage with strong Christian love as its theme and, indeed, in every stitch. The piece will also be valued by present and future members and visitors as a unique tribute to one fellow member’s kind heart and God-given talent for sharing the love of Jesus with others- even those in a distant land, brought nearer by an outreach mission trip.

The missionary trip mentioned, to Sant, Mongolia, was for a period of one month in 2004. As Keith recalls, there were three other members, whose days were largely occupied indoors, preparing their evening missionary presentations.  Keith spent each day walking the area, accompanied by interpreter, Appa, “a lovely Christian man”, meeting the people in their homes (gers) and schools, sports venue and the fields. The community’s machinery was old and in poor repair as a result of all facilities being stripped of any prosperity when Communism overtook their region. Keith was able to help hand dig the fields and plant potatoes to give the aged women a rest, paint the interior of a home, meet and play volleyball with a group of teens and was honoured to have the younger and tiny tots sing their songs and display their class activities for him. As a reward for their friendship, Keith would take their photos and invite them to see their picture and hear God’s Word at the evening presentations. This proved a drawcard for the meetings and Keith made friends of them all.

During the first week, Appa took Keith to meet an elderly couple, his family or parents. He was seated in the seat of honour and offered tea, their act of hospitality. It was at this meeting that the elderly lady left her seat a while and Keith noticed her reaching behind a piece of furniture in the ger. "She returned holding a rolled-up bundle close to her chest and she and her husband indicated they wanted my attention. The bundle was opened and they showed me the two-thirds completed tapestry the woman had started in her youth and had been forced to hide all those years. Communist officials would search properties, looking for such items and she understood her fate if it had been found." With tears, she was able to show it to Keith and trusted him, as a Christian, to view her treasured possession.

The evening programs were well attended and friendships were made in that far away region of such extremes. Keith was saddened to witness the effects and decline under communist rule but the people were listening to the message of Christ.

On the last evening of their time in Sant, the group was honoured by the presentation of gifts and their thanks for visiting.  Next morning, while waiting for transport with Appa and his wife and another interpreter, Borker, a cloud of dust appeared against the mountains. Borker and Appa both had tears streaming from their eyes as Appa said, “Bad car come, take away best friend!” Appa  took Keith aside and gave him a bundle as a special “thank you” from friends Keith had made. When Keith undid the bundle, he recognized it right away as the tapestry!  He was “humbled and honoured and could not believe that the little I had done could be so appreciated by them.”

At home again, Keith would spread the tapestry on the floor for his friends who were interested. Then as a surprise gift, Kay sourced the skills of Bea, a 92 year-old Palmwoods lady. Together, they matched the required threads at a Spotlight store and Bea completed the artwork. She had her son mount the finished work to become the piece it is today. With no suitable wall at home for hanging the work, Keith and Kay decided to  donate it for display and inspiration to church members. Today, it occupies pride of place beside the rostrum at Caloundra Seventh-day Adventist Church, an appropriate focus for arriving members and visitors, a useful aid to reverence within the precinct.