In order to prepare for our job as ambassadors for Rural and Remote Mental Health (RRMH), Ryan and I are learning about the programs they provide and the reasons they tailor their information to the different audiences.  One of the programs called Resource Minds speaks directly to the miners who typically work FIFO (fly in, fly out).  This means that for a part of the month, the workers fly into a remote work site, work long hours and then head back home the other part of the month.  More on Resource Minds in the future but for now I wanted to introduce you to John Schumann, Australian singer-songwriter.

I’ve been watching some of the Resource Minds videos and John Schumann is a great representative and spokesman for RRMH.  He speaks the language of the mines and connects well with the workers and their bosses.  For more about his connection with RRMH, you can read the article below.

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What I’m doing may not look like a typical social work job but that’s ok.  I’m already learning valuable lessons about culture in Australia, the importance of how messages are presented when it comes to sensitive topics like mental health, and gaining resources for future engagement.

God’s Destination

In the world of missions and ministry, it is not entirely uncommon for someone to start down the road to a certain destination, only to find themselves somewhere else.  Many people begin raising support, talking to churches and gathering prayer warriors, but never end up where they first said they were going.  Many times it’s not anything wrong, it’s just a different path.  But so often the church and supporters don’t view this change in destination as a positive thing.  It’s often seen as a failure.

I’d like to encourage anyone who has ever been in that situation that you’re not a failure.   Or maybe you’re a supporter or on a missions committee that has seen someone move towards a destination but not ever make it.  I’d like to encourage you to look to see what else God is doing in this situation.  Of course there are exceptions but I’m writing to those who are truly seeking God’s face and His direction.  Sometimes that direction changes or leads us where we weren’t planning to be.

Paul, who is arguably the greatest missionary of all time, even experienced changes in his initial plans.  At the end of Romans we see him writing to the church, saying that he will visit on his way to Spain, he even asks for their financial support.  However, we have no conclusive evidence that he ever made it to Spain.  But no one I know thinks less of Paul because of this.

Between my years working in Papua New Guinea and arriving in Australia, I considered at least four other countries.  I could have chosen any of those places to work.  God could have directed my path elsewhere.  I could still be single but God blessed me with a wonderful husband and directed us to Perth, Australia.  In the future we might end up somewhere else entirely.  But as long as we’re seeking God, He’s opening the doors, we’re praying for His wisdom and following that direction, we can be assured that we are where we should be.  I am where I should be.

Even Paul might not have been able to complete his journey as intended.  But like Paul, God directs us where He wants us.  Be encouraged.  Changes in direction are not always a sign of weakness.  Changes in a destination are not always a failure.

Road trip with a Purpose

Beginning at the end of July Ryan and I will be participating in a 48 day road trip around Australia, spending time in every state and territory while promoting mental health awareness and prevention programming. I was hoping to be able to share a map of all the places we’ll be visiting but there are still some details being worked out. However, I can share more about the organization we will be representing.

Rural and Remote Mental Health does prevention work throughout Australia with programing tailored to the needs and desires of specific communities. There are currently three main programs: Deadly Thinking, Resource Minds and Rural Minds. I’ll be going into more details about each of these programs later on. But for now the important part is recognizing that this organization is providing resources where they can make the most impact, in the specific communities that need them. Ryan and I have a lot of learning to do and we are looking forward to the partnerships will develop during this trip. And it doesn’t hurt that we get to see a whole lot of Australia along the way!

5 Facts About Adelaide Australia

Today I am on a plane to Adelaide.  I’ll be gone only two nights but it was important that I had some face to face time with the organization Ryan and I will be representing during my first MSW internship.  More on the details of the internship on Friday.  But today, here are 5 facts about Adelaide.
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  1. Adelaide is the Capital City of South Australia.
  2. Adelaide is named after Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, a German married to King William IV.
  3. Adelaide has a population of about 1.3 million people.
  4. Burger King is called Hungary Jacks in Australia because there was already one small restaurant named Burger King in Adelaide so the franchise had to change their name when expanding to Australia.
  5. The people in Adelaide petitioned for the Beatles to come to their city during their 1964 Australia tour.  They even turned out an impressive crowd of 300,000 people (close to half of Adelaide’s population at that time), which was the biggest crowd of the Beatles entire touring career.

Feeling Better and Pictures from National Park #2

I’m feeling better but still a little tender in the stomach where the incisions are healing.  Today I’m not resting because I have to be on campus for our internship introduction but I’m thankful that I can sit in a classroom and not have to be too active.  More details on the internship in Friday’s blogpost so stay tuned.  Please pray for me this week as I’m pretty busy but still in recovery mode.  In the meantime, here are some pictures from last Thursday’s pre-surgery outing.Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 2.44.44 PMFor various reasons we haven’t been hiking for awhile so hiking and another national park seemed like the right pre-surgery activity.  We drove about an hour to visit Serpentine National Park and parked using our WA Park Pass.  We were greeted almost right away by two kangaroos enjoying their breakfast in the picnic area.  And we were happy to see monarch butterflies as well.  The three hour hike only took us an hour and a half but it was still enjoyable and the views were lovely.

When we went back to check out the swimming hole again, we found even more kangaroos that hopped away before we could snap a picture.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually but it’s still fun to see kangaroos just hanging around.  This park was a sweet little gem and we are looking forward to heading back for the longer hike as well as swimming when the weather warms up again.

Inconsequential Differences Between Australia and the USA #1

While I’m recovering from surgery I figured I would set an entry to post that I’ve been thinking about for awhile.  Australia and the US have a lot in common and many more similarities than differences.  However, there are differences.  There are some big differences, like driving on the other side of the road that cause us to have to think more intentionally each time we get in the car or cross the street.  But many of the differences are pretty inconsequential.  They don’t really change things for us, they are just different.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 9.56.16 AM.pngInconsequential difference #1 is the way hanger necks are shaped.  Can you tell which ones are US hangers and which ones are Australian hangers?  The ones with long necks are hangers we brought with us in our shipment.  The short necked ones were bought here in Australia.  This really makes no difference to our lives except that Australian hangers are too short to allow for things to be hung to dry on a doorframe.  Maybe no one else does this (I get it from my mother:-) but sometimes we hang our wet shirts on a doorframe if they don’t go in the dryer.  Maybe this isn’t a thing here because almost everyone has a clotheslines.  Houses in Australia don’t have dryers or don’t use their dryers as much as typical Americans.

So there you have it.  Entry #1 in the newest series of Inconsequential Differences Between Australia and the USA.  I’m sure you are all so fascinated that you will never look at hangers the same way again.

Who Needs a Gallbladder Anyway?

Living overseas means always looking for cultural experiences.  And spending the night in the hospital is one of those that you don’t look forward to checking off the list but it definitely counts as a cultural experience.  Up until tomorrow (when I will be having my gallbladder out and be spending the night at Hollywood Hospital here in Perth), I’ve only ever spent the night in one other hospital as an adult.  And it was indeed a cultural experience because I was in Ghana.Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.52.10 PMI was hospitalized for malaria and can’t remember now if it was one night or two or three but I recovered well enough and went on to hike, find rainbows, chase waterfalls and generally enjoy myself for the rest of my semester abroad (although this picture I think was taken in Togo).  I don’t have too many memories of the hospital other than they left the lights on all night, everyone else in my shared room had family coming in to visit and take care of them, the hospital provided beans and cooked plantains for my meals and when I left, I paid for the whole bill with just what cash I had in my wallet (which wasn’t much).Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.54.26 PMAnd now we’re in Australia, we’re still finding rainbows and tomorrow I will be comparing my hospital experience to the one I had a little over 10 years ago in Ghana.  I’ll let you know about the lights and the shared room.  But I’m pretty certain I won’t be fed beans and plantains.  And I’m 100% sure that I won’t be able to pay for the bill with the cash I have on hand.  I’m thankful for credit cards and insurance.

Even though this is a pretty routine surgery, I still appreciate your prayers.  Please pray for no complications and a quick and easy recovery.