Sunnyside, the former home of Ellen White, came alive once more on June 9 when grade one students from Charlton Christian College visited the historic property in Cooranbong, North New South Wales.
In costume, workers from the Adventist Heritage Centre greeted the school bus at the gate and were immediately met with the excited clamouring of the students. This would be the first school booking ever to be carried out by the Heritage team and would go down as a fantastic success.
Prior to the visit, the Adventist Heritage Centre was a hum of activity as each employee worked innovatively to prepare fun-filled activities, teaching resources and scripts related to the historic home and grounds. As the day dawned, many, like Maricel Aratai, were nervously excited: “I had no expectations for how it would go as it was our first one. I just wanted the kids to have a good time! On my way to work I prayed that no matter what, our efforts would glorify God.”
God was indeed good, as though the excursion was largely in keeping with education syllabus requirements, talks about Ellen White’s religious significance and work in the local and global communities inspired the students with questions about Adventism. The question “Who is Jesus?” was particularly wonderful to hear.
Throughout the day, the students rotated in groups to make damper and butter, play old-time games such as croquet and quoits, set a table, wash clothes with washing boards, tote water buckets with a yoke and dress up in costume. Other highlights included a tour of the home and treasure hunt, but by far the most popular was the petting of chickens and goats.
Hearing the children’s laughter and seeing the joy on their faces was perhaps the best reward for all involved, as Sunnyside was brought alive by their enthusiasm. As the day drew to a close and the students piled onto the bus with goodie-bags in tow, the Heritage team were able to gather together and echo the sentiments of Zali Winch: “It went so much better than I ever could have hoped!”
As the team prepares for their next school tour, while continuing to process precious archival material, they praise God for His continued leading in their work, and look forward to the exciting ventures still to come.