On Tuesday 25th November over 200 people gathered to celebrate and give thanks for the life of Jan Goodwin (Bridges). Family, friends, ministers and students shared their memories of her life well lived. Each guest was given a sheet of paper to record their memories to ensure both Trevor and Sonia have a record of the influence of their wife and mother. A beautiful afternoon tea was provided encouraging guests to linger and talk together. For many it was a reunion of old friends and the Covenant community.
In many ways Jan exemplified what Covenant was all about. She was our first teacher, a parent and an Association Member. Long conversations with Jan showed her unswerving faith and rest in God’s faithfulness, and a deep and abiding passion for the vision and mission of Covenant Christian School.
She was one of the ‘bards’of the school who could tell the stories of the old days when Covenant started. One cannot overestimate the importance of the story tellers in a community, reminding us of our heritage and pointing forward to our hope.
Jan’s contribution to our school has been enormous, and we have been grateful to be able to share some of that story with her. It is a good reminder that we ought to continue to reinvigorate our understanding of the radical calling of the Christian school, declaring our absolute trust and hope in God, and in His son, Jesus Christ.
Mr Bill Rusin
Jan's husband Trevor Bridges shared his memories...
Memories of Jan - Where do I start?
Lots of laughter when we body-boarded in the ice cold water at Queenscliff Beach;
Helped me to show care of people in a practical way without fanfare;
Encouraged me to go away on holidays and have fun;
It’s important to teach children about Jesus. He died for us so that if we accept him,we have eternal life;
This faith in Jan’s life was expressed in becoming a teacher and then becoming the foundation teacher at Covenant Christian School.
Later after Sonia was at school she taught Scripture at Beacon Hill Cromer & Narraweena;
Patiently teaching me to cook in two hour cooking preparation lessons;
Jan always insisted on eating healthily;
She was never afraid to challenge people about their belief in God’s son Jesus;
On Wintery Saturday afternoons Jan would prefer to go out but I would be happy to escape to the shed (garage) to do my home projects;
I would buy blocks of Chocolate on special and have to hide them from Jan. I’d have some and return another day to find an empty packet;
For my birthday I received a box of chocolates which I put in the pantry. When I arrived home one day she told me “I hope you don’t mind but I gave the chocolates to someone who needed them – What could you say! When ever someone visited she would always want to give them a rose or a poise of flowers from the garden.
As we all know Jan was a passionate New Zealander and the Union, League and Cricket matches were always an exciting time as we watched in our family room. She always looked forward to us visiting her parents and homeland.
As a carer, particulary over the last 6 months, Jans requests became quite demanding and I would wonder how I could cope let alone how Sonia would cope. I found that I had to just take one day at a time and tell myself that it was the cancer speaking and not Jan
We would often quote from the marriage vows for richer or poorer in sickness and in health. I am also indebted to the care extended by friends and family.
Over the last few months when Jan visited hospital etc she would ask the nurses doctors and patients if they would like their colours done and would duly give them a copy of Summer Winter, Spring or Autum colours which would best suit their skin and hair tones. So Jan passed away and has been buried in her colours of Summer.
Also when she was in hospital she would handout to patients a card with an appropriate bible verse eg
Trust in God:
He is in control of everything!
Or one about Gods Love
A couple of sayings
"My time is in Gods hands"
"Don’t worry Pray about it" Which comes from Philippians 4v6?
"She’ll be right"
"Pop your clogs"
"I’ll be pushing up daisies"
"It’s all over Red Rover"
"Move right along", especially her brother’s feature length home videos
"See you later alligator; don’t forget your toilet paper; in a while crocodile"
And she pinched ‘Hector connecter’ from me
Jan had a number of sayings and Bible verses up around the house from the laundry, to the family room.
"Tough times never last Tough people do", "Being a mother is a worthwhile job, I’m a worthwhile mother! And a worthwhile person."
"I’m fearfully and wonderfully made", "I’m unique in Gods sight", from Psalms
Be joyful in hope,
Patient in affliction,
FAITHFUL IN PRAYER
In the Big Picture One thing that Jan focused on we find in Hebrews 12 v2-3
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus
He never lost sight of where he was headed-he could put up with anything along the way
Jesus remembered where he was heading and with all his heart He wanted to get there.
Without a sense of where we are heading we will Not run well.
I truly loved Jan and I will miss her greatly.
For my Birthday Jan gave me a card which said " You’re still the one" As a conclusion I’d like to read it to you.
Trevor provided this "Teacher’s Prayer" to share with our community
I want to teach my students how
To live this life on earth,
To face its struggles and its strife
And improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book
Or how the rivers flow,
But how to choose the proper path
Wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth
And know the right from wrong
And gather all the beauty of
A flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow
In wisdom and in grace,
Then I shall feel that I have won
And I have filled my place.
And so I ask Your guidance, God,
That I may do my part
For character and confidence
And happiness of heart.
We encourage members of our school community to share their memories of Jan. Colourful sheets of paper are available at the Front Office for recording your memories so Trevor and Sonia have a permanent reminder of Jan's impact on others. Following are a few memories...
Chris O'Sullivan Deputy Principal Covenant Christian School
I first met Jan about 25 years ago when our eldest son James was tested for admission to Kindy at a very small Christian School, Covenant. Jan made us feel very confident about Covenant and its' teachers. She said "Well he's not very obedient, is he?" She was right.
Over the years, I have known her as a collegue, a friend and a very involved parent at the school. She was passionate about serving God, about her family, and about education. As the school's original teacher Jan has become a symbol of what the school is about - committed Christian families working together. This year, despite battling cancer Jan came to school and spoke to many secondary classes about "The Covie Calling" - that God had called students to be at school, just as she had been called to teach. Her bravery and fortrightness impacted the young people.
This year she was at the 30th birthday celebrations along with the cupcakes, a tradition which I believe she started. Again, at the fundraising dinner, despite having been told she had only weeks to live, she stood to urge people to donate, impressing on us the importance of early years Christian Education.
She would pop in to my office often over the last few years to tell me what we were doing right (sometimes) and what we were doing wrong (quite often). How relieved I was if we were doing something well.
Jan loved teaching and was a great teacher. She loved children and families. The two organisations we can donate to today, that Covenant building fund and a Sri Lankan Orphanage supported by a great friend.
I spoke to her last on the phone less than two weeks ago. We talked about flowers, in particular lavender and flannel flowers, and we talked about prayers for her fellow patients, those she had just met in hospital. Even then Jan was busy witnessing to others.
The flowers here today represent all those whom Jan has impacted, students, friends, family.
Jan will always be remembered as Covenant's first teacher and one who in her final years as in her first impacted us all with her faith and love.
Pete Muddle, former student, current teacher and parent of current students
It is a privilege to have been asked to share a few brief thoughts about Jan Bridges, who I knew as Miss Goodwin, my first grade teacher in 1982. There are things you always remember about your infants teachers. Jan was a great teacher. She was so caring and wanted us to learn how to read and write, but much more importantly to learn to know and love God. And she was tough too. I guess I needed that at times! I remember that you didn’t want to be taken into the little room between the classrooms in B block, where she would pull out the hard-soled rubber thong for any student who wouldn’t comply.
All 3 childrenin the Muddle family were privileged to be taught by Jan, and she was Covenant Christian School to so many people. I remember her encouragement, her warmth, her caring nature, her love and her compassion. She readily made herself available for help and counsel. She was a brilliant teacher.
When Jan taught you, she also took on your whole family in love and prayer. Many years ago now, our family went through a testing time too. Jan was an amazing support to my parents, in particular to my mum who died when us 3 kids were young teenagers. To Trevor and Sonia, I want to celebrate the life of Jan, and I understand the pain you share today. It is so hard.
Jan was one of those wonderful teachers that inspired me to go into teaching – and into Christian education. I count it a great blessing to now be able to teach at Covenant, and to have been reunited with Jan in recent years. She has been a real encouragement to me in my job at school, and was always very quick to remind me of what is really important when I have needed guidance. Recently she spoke to many Secondary students about Covenant and how special a place the school is. She made quite the impression on the students (at a time when she wanted to praise God but could have been forgiven for wanting to spend her time on more self-seeking pursuits).
Jan’s life and witness made a big impression on me. The Lord Jesus shines through her life as a witness to His goodness and Love. We know where she has gone. And I can imagine God saying, well done good and faithful servant.
Mairwen Chapman, a mum at Covenant shared this eulogy at the Thanksgiving Service...
My friend Jan was Fun, Outspoken, Wise with experience, She Got the job done, Knowledgeable, Insightful, Generous, Decisive, Prayerful Passionate about Christian schooling, Adventurous, Trustworthy, Lived a life of practical spirituality, Brave, Humble, Understanding and dedicated mum, True partner for Trevor.
I met Jan in 1995 at Manly Maternity because a friend told me to look out for a lady called Jan from Manly Baptist who was also pregnant. As it turned out, I found her there as her daughter Sonia was born the day before mine, never realising we’d become good friends.
We met regularly in the years before school in a small mum’s bible study group where we all encouraged each other as mums and in our relationship with Jesus. As always, Jan built others up, and was always smiling and laughing, playing with the children and praying.
She loved getting my kids outside and rumbling with them and playing games, especially my boys, patiently teaching them ball skills when she dropped by – often unexpectedly.
Our girls started at Covenant in 2001, and a new journey of friendship as school mums began which involved witnessing her enthusiasm on the sidelines of soccer and netball, her creativity in the holiday activities for my daughter which I never thought of let alone organised, and being encouraged to join the school association, and of course the continuation of the girls birthday parties.
Jan had always enjoyed my garden with me, but in third term I treasured our wanders – checking out new flowers and produce – and her appreciation of the herbs, fruit and flower bunches I sent home with her. This was especially so when she turned up one morning on my wedding anniversary and announced that she wanted my husband Craig to do the power point for today – just then he rings, and as I listened in I heard how little time she had been given – so typical of Jan to face life squarely without bothering others with her own woes but to concentrate on the positive. My best memory this year however is of Jan on the dance floor at my birthday party having a ball and especially during the Queen song I put in the mix for her.
My bond with Jan ultimately remains our common faith and hope in Jesus, which one day we’ll both enjoy for eternity. So I’d like to share a passage from the book of Philippians in the message version of the Bible, that sums up her walk with God, her future, the message of the Gospel she preached and did her best to live out, the way she worked with others for their good, not against them, constant prayer, God-centeredness, and to take the good lessons and input from Jan’s life and to Put them into Practice!
In closing , just a few weeks ago we were talking about next year and she got me to write this down – What do I really want to do in 2009? What do I need to do in 2009? And What would I like to do in 2009? And bring it before God in prayer – not a bad thing for us all to think on.
____ Neil Pierson - Marketing & Promotions Covenant Christian School
In February this year I started working a couple of days a week with Covenant Christian School helping with their marketing.
The first project was a website so I started by reading the school’s history. Naturally Jan featured in this. I first saw Jan in May this year at an AGM. She had stood up and was encouraging people to join and expand the school association.
I then heard Jan was going to be speaking to students about her experiences as part of the school’s 30th birthday celebrations. I searched the school and snuck in the back of a classroom with my camera. She wasn’t thrilled with the camera.
I went with her to another classroom. It was wonderful to see her in action and I saw something of Jan the teacher. She stood up un-introduced and started to talk. She brought order. She ignored the bells. She spoke with passion. She not only was sharing her memories but wanted to hear from students their own memories. She prayed for the students.
Later that day I was sitting in my office. Jan came in after she had been to several more classrooms. We discussed my plans for marketing and she gave me advice. She then placed her hands on my shoulder and prayed for me. She prayed that I would know I was called to Covie for this time.
I realised that this day was significant. Here was a woman who believed in the school. She wasn’t living in the past. She wasn’t wanting to go back in time to the “old days”. She was looking to the future. She knew she was going home soon. It was like a passing on of a baton to another generation to run the race.
There have been times since when I have been in my office and have felt the weight of Jan’s ongoing prayers. Jan would call and encourage Wendy the Registrar and myself in our work or leave a message if we were out.
In September we were launching a School Tour on DVD. I found out Jan was not going to be attending the dinner. I sent her a copy because I wanted her to be one of the very first to see it.
Fortunately she was able to attend. She was thrilled with the DVD. She looked radiant that night. When someone questioned the value of the new building she jumped up and answered with great passion. Jan contacted me asking for more copies of the school DVD to hand out, posters and even brochures to pop in letterboxes in her street.
The week Jan was promoted to glory I agreed to continue to work with Covie for another year. I enjoy it but I also know Jan would have liked me to keep going.
My life is richer for having met Jan. I will miss her encouragement. Now she has joined a great cloud of witnesses spurring us to continue fighting the good fight.