The Sibravas are camping these holidays but instead of the great outdoors, they’ve set up swags in their house.
Jess and Aiden waved to their wordly goods as a moving truck left the house on Friday for Kiama – their new home for 2019.
Aiden will take up a new role at Kiama Anglican Churches at the start of February and will preach for the last time at Gunnedah Anglican Church on Sunday.
Aiden took up the role of assistant minister for youth and young families two years ago and they wondered what they had got themselves into when they arrived in the midst of a steamy week in 2016.
“Unfortunately, when we moved, it was probably the worst week to move in,” Jess said.
“It was around Australia Day when there were massive storms and it was really humid and the evaporative aircon did nothing. And we were like, ‘What have we done?’ ”
They soon settled in and became heavily involved in all aspects of church life, including women’s ministry, Bible study, kids’ ministry, funerals and weddings.
“I’ve really loved being able to be there with families at significant times in their lives, weddings and funerals in particular,” Aiden said.
“I didn’t know that I would find funerals as special as I do. Coming out of college, I thought they’d be difficult and sad but actually it’s a wonderful opportunity to speak hope into people’s lives and to be there for families at a time when they need that help and encouragement.”
While they are excited for a fresh start in Kiama, they are sad to leave friends behind.
“In a lot of ways, it’s sad to move on, having started those relationships and friendships; those people we really enjoy, those people who are really special to us,” Aiden said.
“People [in Gunnedah] have such a positive disposition. So often they’re friendly, they’ll chat.
“We’d love to have invested more in friendships.”
Jess said they had experienced generosity during their time in Gunnedah.
I’ve really loved being able to be there with families at significant times in their lives.Aiden Sibrava
“It’s been pretty special being part of a rural community and learning more about that, seeing how tough everyone is,” she said.
“I mean, particularly at the moment, it’s amazing to see how people still keep their chin up and keep going. And even though they’re in that difficult situation, they’re still encouraging other people and looking out for other people."
Jess said she had enjoyed learning to sew with Olwyn Jones and interacting with residents at Mackellar Care through church services and concerts. She has also spent time teaching at Carinya Christian School and got to know both the young and old at the Anglican church.
“In the 8 o’clock congregation, I feel like I have all these adopted aunties and nannas,” she said.
Aiden said a highlight was his time mentoring Ministry Training Strategy trainees Matt Stones and Leisa Newnham.
“Having the opportunity to speak into their lives has been great,” he said.
Aiden said he would especially miss the team at Gunnedah Rural Fire Service, which he joined earlier this year.
“Being a rural firefighter has been awesome,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed being on the 4am crew… I’ll miss that.
“Sirens and red and blue is our gospel as well – it says, there’s an imminent danger to someone’s life or well-being and we’re going to do something about it.
“And that’s my job – as a volunteer firefighter and as a pastor.”
Aiden hopes to join the brigade in Kiama where the couple will swap bush for the beach, with their new house just 150m from the sand.
“It’s a beautiful spot,” Aiden said.
“It’s going to be interesting. It’s got a different kind of culture.
“It’s a retirement town. It’s coastal.”
Aiden will be the assisting director at Kiama Anglican Church and look after the evening congregation.
It’s been pretty special being part of a rural community.Jess Sibrava
“It will be sort of a step up in the sense that there’s a much greater level of responsibility,” he said.
“They’re really keen for me to do evangelism and to meet people in the community and try and be really involved in people’s lives and introduced people to Jesus, and I’m excited for that.
“In a lot of ways, we’ve really seen God’s hand in it and it’s a good change and it’s a great team we’re going to be joining.”
Aiden said his goal was to become ordained as a presbyter and is “keen to explore” the idea of becoming a rector (parish priest) in time.
“We’ll put one foot in front of the other and trust the Lord,” he said.
Aiden’s role at the Gunnedah Anglican Church will be filled by David Piper who has been involved with The Bush Church Aid Society in Lightning Ridge since 2013. He will be accompanied by his wife Joanne and their three children.