Pormpuraaw has a rubbish dump. It’s a mighty grand one. You spot it just before you reach town. There are poles at certain intervals, at the entrance to the dump, ready for the fencing but the fencing is across the way, curled up in cylinder formations, looking like hot water systems standing and waiting for attention.

As you enter the dump, on the left you see piles of white goods giving the impression of a kitchen gone wrong, masses of cans; mostly beer cans, shining in the sun wondering if some crusading recycler will rescue them.  Building materials; stuff that government workers have had to discard because new and improved things are now here to take their place.

And on the right, household rubbish, looking a bit different to when you last saw it in your bin and then there are the car bodies piled as high as a house. They’re all signposted so you know just where to put your junk. You don’t plan to see it again. It’s all there for someone else to handle.

The organisation of the place is remarkable for this town. Certainly it provides people with Council jobs but it also provides people with something else. Things! Yes, things that just might be handy some time for some thing. Things that just might be useful to repair or fix items that are broken. Things that could be utilised to create or even finish some object.

First time, my husband ventured there, he came back with some very unique items. “Look at this good stuff babe! Look what I found down at Mitre 11!” I was impressed. These things were useful. Over the past year, they’ve been used to repair and to create some necessary items inside and outside the house. It’s not so easy sitting in an office chair with only three wheels. The wheels on a discarded bed base provided us with the fourth wheel… just the right size.  Then there is the shower rack and the birdbath and the gate… all good and worthwhile things.

As each drive to the dump has been made and the bits and pieces have found their way to our home, I’ve marvelled that so many things could come from a place that is for discarding. From a place that you take broken, unwanted, ruined things and plan to not see again. All it takes is for someone to look at the rubbish dump with different eyes. To see those things as potential, useful objects and to find that it’s more of a delight than a nuisance.

The Lord sees me in my sinful state. My broken, unworthy, pitiful state. He knows who I am and what I am. Yet, He did something about it. He gave me the gift of His Son. Christ’s death and resurrection have given me new life. His shed blood on the cross has covered my sin. He sees me differently now because of his Son’s righteousness.

I think of Ezekiel 16 and especially verses 5-7 when it speaks of the way God viewed the Israelites and how He revived them and made them thrive with His care and benefits.

I am thankful for the day that exchange was made in my life. It’s always worthwhile to reflect on what Christ has done; to be reminded of the gospel and how precious and vital it is to me every day in every situation.

Thinking on the way “good” has come from something broken and unworthy, I am reminded of a song I often sang as a child and I thank him again for being the great and good God that he is.

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion, he understood.
All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife
but he made something beautiful out of my life.

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About Alana Milson

Alana is a primary school teacher. She and her husband, David lived in Cairns for over 17 years but are now living in Cape York in a remote Aboriginal community. Alana enjoys teaching in many different capacities, reading missionary biographies and pursuing biblical womanhood.


  1. Lina Wardan 28 September, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Beautiful….Thank you

  2. Steve Warren 29 September, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    There must be a chain of Mitre 11 because we used to have one when we lived at Normanton 1987-1993, sadly though as a town becomes more civilized the Mitre 11 is usually converted from a drive through recycle centre and free goods exchange to a place where you have to pay for the privelidge of disposing of your unwanted goods and you are prohibited from picking up any exchange items.

    I was thinking of having a real whinge on this one but after just commenting on Ben’s post on Romans 13 I know that I better bite my tongue. Sadly though it is because people are not willing to take responsibility for their own actions and councils are scared of being sued by someone who electrocutes himself with the welder he just got out of the dump that many of these simple and practical ways of doing things are dissapearing.

    We christians need to be careful that we don’t become fearful like our councils when it comes to dealing with the damaged and unwanted of humanity, people who have been damaged by sin can be difficult, dangerous or unpredictable and we could be hurt or suffer loss when trying to minister to them but the reward of seeing someones life changed or even just made a little more bearable for a short time because we took the time to share Christ with them or just minister to their urgent practical need is surely worth the effort.

    Last Sunday we had such a visitor at church and sadly most folks were noticably apprehensive of coming and saying hello. Thankfully a few made the effort and hopefully the person may come back next week. A handout may well have been all that they were looking for but hopefully the fact that a few people took the time to talk and share with the person may encourage them to come back for something more precious.

    A little time spent meditating on Matthew Ch 5 would do us all good.

  3. Lyn 11 October, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Ahhh the swap shop of a bygone era!!!! At ours you have to pay to leave stuff there and pay to take anything out. The joy is gone from a trip to the dump.
    The other words of that song are:-
    “If there ever were dreams that were lofty and noble,
    they were my dreams at the start.
    And my hopes for lifes best
    were the hopes that I harboured
    down deep in my heart.
    But my dreams turned to ashes,
    my castles all crumbled,
    my fortune turned to loss.
    That’s when I wrapped it all
    in the rags of my life
    and laid it at the Cross,
    where He made –
    Something Beautiful, something SO good.
    All my confusion …… etc”
    I often wonder where our lives would be had we not made that exchange. Thank you again for seeing Gods Ways in ordinary things.

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