English immersion for global communication

Two female ministers from the Gereja Kristen Protestant Bali, the Protestant Church of Bali (GKPB), are visiting Perth from 30 July to 8 October as they take part in a ten-week English immersion experience.

Rev Ayu Wandira and Rev Betha Meidywati had quite a large English vocabulary when they arrived in Australia, but needed assistance to put those words into full sentences. With support from the WA Uniting  Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) and the GKPB Women’s Fellowship, Ayu and Betha have grown immensely in their English language skills while staying in Perth.

Rev Janelle McGregor, chairperson of the WA UCAF, has been teaching the pair English using work sheets, exams, Bible reading and other methods. Janelle has a teaching background with experience in teaching  English as a second language (ESL). She said that the recent Bishop of GKPB has been keen to support women in ministry. Bishop Suama has taken on the role in September, and is equally as supportive.

“He’s particularly conscious of the fact that women, female clergy, don’t have the professional development opportunities that men have because women have all those sorts of social issues in a very patriarchal  society, even as professional women. So he is very keen to have an ongoing program,” Janelle said.

Back home, Ayu and Betha say that their new found skills in the English language will help them to communicate with partner churches and their visitors to Bali from around the world. Betha is currently a minister  with Tabur Tuai Bali GKPB Foundation, an evangelical mission organisation providing support in the areas of social services, education and health, as well as organising mission trips and a radio program. Ayu has been working as a chaplain at Widhyi Asih, a Kindergarten to Year12 school for vulnerable children in Bali. On returning to Bali she will be moving to a placement as the minister of a rural congregation.

While in Perth, Betha and Ayu have stayed in billeted housing, visiting many of Perth’s tourist sites and meeting people from all over the Uniting Church WA. They have also taken part in Messy Church at  Kalamunda Uniting Church, attended a church camp with Victoria Park and Districts Star St Uniting Church, visited the Wellspring Community, travelled to New Norcia, spent a night at the theatre, preached in  English at Forrestfield and Dongara Uniting Churches, and more.

Betha said that her time in Perth has provided a great opportunity for them to learn English amongst a supportive and encouraging environment.

“Many people are [a] good support and help us,” she said. “Janelle is a good teacher because we translate [the] Bible and everyday we write a diary activity and we practice English. She is a good teacher; a good mentor.”

Unfortunately, the WA UCAF is unable to support the program in an ongoing way.

For more information on Ayu and Betha’s work through the GKPB, or the English immersion program, contact Janelle at abbeypathways@gmail.com.

Top image: Rev Ayu Wandira and Rev Betha Meidywati pictured with members of the Victoria Park and Districts Star St Uniting Church at their recent weekend camp.

Heather Dowling

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