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.

National Park #1- Yanchep

Today Ryan and I bought a year long pass for WA National Parks.  This is our newest excuse to check out all the places we can in WA.  Friends of ours visited Yanchep earlier this week and the pictures looked so fun that we figured we would visit ourselves.  Just a 45 minute drive north of Perth, Yanchep is a beautiful little getaway.  And if the lovely landscape isn’t enough, there are koalas!Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 5.19.38 PMCan you spot the koalas?  It was crazy how high up they sleep and on such little branches too.  We walked around for awhile just trying to spot them in the trees.  Thankfully they are all in one area so you’re guaranteed to see at least a few even if they are all asleep.

After the koalas, we took a couple other little hikes around the marshy lake and in an area that use to be a series of limestones caves before it collapsed.  There are still lots of caves in Yanchep, including one that can be rented out for events!  If we go back, we will definitely do some cave exploring.

After finishing up at the park, we decided to grab a bite to eat and then head to a nearby harbor to see the boats and the beach.  It reminded us a little of the harbor in Oxnard but the ocean looks different without the Channel Islands and all the limestone rocks told us we aren’t in California anymore.

Exploring our new home is one of our favorite things.  1 National Park down and we’ll see how many more we get to before our pass expires.

Where’s the Matzah?

Growing up in California, Easter was always marked with the beginning of spring, pastel colors and new baby bunnies and little chicks.  Easter was filled with family and church celebrations, a special Easter outfit for Sunday was a must and supermarket shelves were filled with chocolate eggs, bright colored candies as well as all the makings for a passover meal.  This includes shelves of kosher wine and, of course, matzah bread.

In preparation for a Christian Seder* meal tonight, I went to the store to grab a few special ingredients.  Apples, walnuts and wine to make the charoset, horseradish for the maror, parsley for the karpas, chocolate prizes, a few other things and the special Matzah bread.  While we did find a whole section filled with chocolate goodies, bunnies and eggs, there was no Passover section.  And when I asked about the Matzah bread, the man had no idea what it was, and I was told to look in the specialty crackers by the deli.  Matzah was no where to be found.  There are many different substitutes, unleavened bread in flatbread form, I could make the bread, like I did when I was in Papua New Guinea, or we could use another form of cracker.  However, I am still surprised that Matzah isn’t easily available at this time of the year.

Sometimes I could almost forget that it is autumn here in the southern hemisphere.  The weather is still warm, there are new little goslings in the neighborhood park and it’s Easter after all.  I could almost forget that Australia and the US are different, even more than just the accents and kangaroos.  But then something simple happens and I realize that I am not in the US and there are things here that I can’t take for granted, like easily finding Matzah in the regular grocery store.

*Tonight we will celebrate a Christian Seder meal with a group of friends.  This will have many of the elements of a traditional Passover meal including being celebrated at sundown but instead of hoping for an unknown Messiah, we will acknowledge the Messiah Jesus Christ and take communion together.  I love the history and tradition that is woven into this beautiful meal.  It is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Christianity’s roots in Judaism, celebrate Holy Week and prepare for Good Friday.

Matagarup/Heirisson Island

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 4.38.18 PMFor the past 3 months, Ryan and I have driven and walked over this island countless times, barely giving it any thought.  We just figured it was an island but had no idea of the historical and cultural significance.  And we also had no idea that it was home to kangaroos.  Our place is located in the top left corner of the above picture which shows just how close the island is to us.  Matagarup was a traditional camp, meeting ground and hunting place for the Noongar people.  Today it retains its spiritual significance while also being a place of political activism as well as sanctuary.  Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 4.30.34 PM.pngOn the southern end of Matagarup is a statue of Yagan, an Aboriginal warrior and Noongar hero.  Yagan was famously decapitated and his head was shipped to England to be exhibited as an “anthropological curiosity“.  This statue has been vandalized at least twice and the head removed but he currently stands, proud, head in tact, looking out over the Swan River.

The island itself is very beautiful with little lakes, paths and places where people have camped and could camp again.  The northern part of the island has a few picnic tables, a play structure and a parking lot for easy access but the southern part of the island is more natural.  Although there are paths crisscrossing the whole island and a fence on the southern part to keep the kangaroos safe.

Kangaroos have been brought to this island a few times when they have lost their parents or for other reasons couldn’t be left out in the wild.  There are currently 5 female kangaroos living here and a ranger gave us some food so we fed one of them and hung out for awhile.  Three others were off somewhere else but a larger one was relaxing in the shade nearby and didn’t really pay much attention to us.  I did however get the little one to pose and smile for the camera.Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 4.31.41 PMWe will definitely return to Matagarup and continue learning about the significance this island has to the Aboriginal, especially the Noongar, people.  One of the ways I’m doing this is by following Clinton’s Walk for Justice.  Clinton is an Aboriginal man who is currently walking across Australia.  Where did his walk begin?  You guessed it.  Matagarup.

Black Swans and Prayers

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.32.07 PMOn a southern bend of the Swan River there is a sandbar that leads to a little island.  It’s hard to see in the picture above but the island is the little scrap of land about an inch to the left of my head.  The river in general is pretty shallow but we walked out across this sandbar all the way to the island and only our knees down got wet (my knees a little more so than Ryan’s).Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.30.28 PMWalking along the sand bar was kind of fun because you usually don’t just get to walk out into the middle of a river and the black swans seemed to be enjoying the sandbar too.  Black swans are an important animal here and were almost wiped out when the river wasn’t being taken care of.  But they are back and since I had only ever seen white swans in the US, I think the black ones are very elegant.Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.31.21 PMOnce we made it out to the island, we sat down and spent some time in prayer.  We previously set aside time to pray every Wednesday but with our new schedule have had to find a different time.  So now we pray on Thursdays.  We don’t always find a new spot to explore and pray but sometimes it’s nice to have a different view.  I’m sure we’ll come back and pray with the black swans again.

Getting to Know Perth: Rottnest Island

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-9-58-15-amRottnest Island is southwest of Perth in the Indian Ocean and only 11 miles off the Australian coast.  There are express boats that leave daily from Perth and Fremantle.  I’ve been on the Island once before in 2012 when I was single.  It was great walking around, swimming and I even got to take a whale watching tour: A Beach and Animal Day.  So yesterday, since I have a little break before classes begin full-time and we also needed an adventure for Flat Stanley, Ryan and I figured that a trip out to Rottnest to meet quokkas was in order.

These little guys live only a couple other places besides Rottnest (named “Rats Nest” because the Dutch that named the Island thought the quokkas were really large rats).  And they are curious, gentle and pretty cute.  They hop around, hang out and will drink water from your hand.

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-10-02-23-amBesides hanging out with the quokkas, we also biked around the island (which was not my favorite part of the trip).  But the bikes did allow us to get out and see more than I had before.  It’s beautiful here and this was our view as we ate lunch in between snorkeling adventures.  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-10-05-08-amSnorkeling was a highlight.  I loved being in the water.  The weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold so we lost track of time chasing fish and taking videos.  The first place we went in the water was ok but the second place (right below where we ate lunch), had a ton of fish and more bright colors.  I even found a place where I could swim under and through a coral tunnel.  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-10-01-00-amThis picture is for Beverly, although it’s not the official pink lake (we didn’t have time to ride by that one).  Rottnest does have a few lakes with high salt content and I’m sure some other mineral that cause them to be pink!  While biking by this one, it seemed to have a bright salmon, almost orange color that didn’t show up as bright in the picture.Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 10.01.58 AM.pngRyan and I had a great day at Rottnest Island.  If you come visit us, Rottnest is on the list of places you could enjoy too!  And we’ll supply the SPF50 sunscreen.  We applied 3 times and managed to escape only a little singed.  Well worth it for the fun adventure of a day.

Brookton Mission Week

You know you’re in a different place when the warning you get before driving home is, “Watch out for kangaroos.”  After spending the day in Brookton, this was said to us very seriously multiple times as we prepared to drive back to the city last night after the fun quiz evening.  Although we wish we could have spent all week out in Brookton, it was wonderful to be able to take the day and see what the Brookton mission team is accomplishing by pouring into the local kids and community.

Ryan and I feel privileged to have work like this going before us that will continue to pave the way for future opportunities.  Hopefully next year we will be able to fully take part in this week of God-centered fun.  But for now it was encouraging to just get to know people better, see friends from the community and finally get that little feeling that we’ve arrived where we should be.  I’m looking forward to driving out Sunday for the large church gathering.  It will be a great celebration!