Four years ago the Australia team looked very different, more singles and an even higher concentration of creative types. 2/3 of the people in this picture are in Australia with me now but the others left their footprints. Four years ago Ryan and I had just begun our relationship but the future was uncertain and no commitments had been made. I didn’t even know at this point that he was seriously praying about Australia. Four years ago I had no idea how things would change.I’m pausing for a bit of reflection because I needed a break from the paper I’m currently working on for the university and because I find myself in a wonderful place where I miss what could have been but I’m so amazed at what God has done. I can definitely idealize the way the team dynamics would have played out if four years ago we could have all snapped our fingers and been in Perth together. But I can currently see some of what would have been lost if we had circumvented God’s process. This is the benefit that we have from being able to look back. You know, the whole hindsight is 20/20 thing.
I’m thankful that my path crossed with these amazing people. I’m thankful for the winding journey that kept me away from Australia until now. I’m thankful that I can see evidence of God’s faithfulness in my life and all who are pictured here. Change is rarely easy yet sometimes change can be amazing.
Perth International Arts Festival opened this weekend with an amazing light show through Kings Park. Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak explored the Australian landscape through lights music and story telling.
The pictures from my phone don’t do it any justice. But it was pretty spectacular even with the crowds of other people surrounding us. Just listening to the music was mesmerizing. Another wonderful free Perth event was a great way to end the weekend.
There are many different ways to learn about a city. Sometimes you need a local guide to talk about why certain things are the way they are and to point out places or things that you might otherwise overlook. Ryan and I decided to try out a local tour that seemed interesting and it turned out to be well worth our time and money. If you come and visit us, we’ll probably send you on this tour too. (Check it out: Oh Hey WA!) It was a great way to see the heart of the city, hear about local history, art, food and the future of what’s happening as well.
From the oldest building in Perth to the current revitalization of buildings in the city. We were introduced to all the basics and then some. This tour answered some of the questions I had about spaces I was seeing in the city as well as asked me to look up, down and around some corners that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
The street art in Perth is pretty amazing, especially if you know where to look. And when the tour guide mentioned two different pizza places in the city, she had Ryan’s attention. One spot even has half priced pizzas on Wednesdays. I know where we’re eating soon!
We also were introduced to some of the buildings and art installations that light up in the city. This has inspired us to take more evening walks. I’m hoping that those walks will lead us to a couple of the cool bars that our guide also mentioned. Evidently there use to be no nightlife in the city but recently bars and restaurants have been opening up and making their mark. After 5 o’clock there is a reason to be downtown now.
One thing I have noticed before was the mix of old and new in the city. This tour just emphasized that this juxtaposition is the result of a lot of intentional work and planning. And of course, I loved being introduced to some of the Noongar (aboriginal art) that can also be found around the city. This was a wonderful way to spend our morning and now we have even more ideas of how to explore and enjoy this great city.
I love that I can read passages in the Bible that I know well and still learn something new or have something revealed in the text that has never occurred to me before. I appreciate listening to a sermon and hearing a Biblical perspective that reorients how I look at a story that I would otherwise gloss over because I am “too” familiar with the words. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen gave me a fresh, introspective view into the story found in Luke 15:11-32. This heavy, thoughtful, beautifully written book contains Nouwen’s reflections on the three main people portrayed in Rembrant’s famous painting titled The Return of the Prodigal Son. Nouwen takes a nuanced look at the Prodigal Son, the Elder Son and finally the Father. He teases out the differences between the Biblical account and the painting and he goes under the surface into how he sees himself in each of the main subjects. Needless to say, his conclusions run deeper than the typical Sunday school lesson.
I find it easy to see how I have been like the Prodigal Son and the Elder son at various stages of my life. I don’t have to search hard to find my own arrogance, selfishness and brokenness. But I have never thought of myself as being able to identify with the Father. In light of us moving to Perth and my desire to daily live out Romans 12:12, I sincerely appreciate Nouwen’s thoughtful look into the Father. He reminds us that in Luke 6:36 we are told to, “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” And Nouwen gently works through some of the ways that he himself has learned to identify with the Father. He writes, “Grief, forgiveness, and generosity are, then, the three ways by which the image of the Father can grow in me.” As I read through how these characteristics can be shown in our lives, I saw what I wanted to have displayed in my life and my ministry. And Lord willing, as I continue to grow in my faith, these aspects of the Father will show themselves more and more in my life.
This is a book that will find it’s place on my shelf to be read and reread as I continue to live out this internal wrestle between the Prodigal Son, the Elder Son and the Father who all reside in me.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Berenice Rarig prays for Perth by name. Each precious individual listed in the Perth phone book gets the same beautiful treatment. First she lovingly pens their name into a small booklet and then she prays for them out loud, by name.I love this picture of her hands because they are beautiful and messy. Not only is she praying for her city but she is getting to know her city. How many unique individuals are represented in the phone book, sub cultures, ethnicities and countries. Their names are part of their story and they are being prayed for and prayed over.
Berenice began this work in 2013 and it is very much a labor of love. For a city of about 2 million people, there are a lot of names to write and just as many prayers to be spoken. It’s taken a few years to get to the Ls. Each name someone’s child, mother, father, friend. I’m looking forward to seeing how this work evolves and what the booklets become as she gathers them and works her way through the alphabet to the Zs. What an amazing ministry to the city. Today we are asking for you to PRAY that God would do miraculous things in getting us to Australia- for His glory. We want to be walking the streets that have been prayed over, shoulder to the shoulder with people’s whose names have been penned and prayed for. We know that a lot can be accomplished even through simple prayers. Be a part of His work. Join us and pray!
*For more information about Berenice Rarig, her work and her art, you can check out her website: berenicerarig.com and my previous blog (Anticipating Prayer and Introducing Berenice Rarig) which includes a recent video of some of her latest work. If you look closely you’ll even see her praying through the Perth phone book as part of the installation.
Ryan and I are preparing for and anticipating 30 Days of Prayer beginning on September 15th. Look for more information coming soon! One of the things we want to do during this time, besides uniting our friends, family and supporters in prayer, is to share some postures and ways of praying and/or thinking about prayer that may be new, different or simply reminders of what we already know but might have forgotten in our busyness. Shared here on MTW’s blog, Berenice Rarig on Art and Culture: A Video, is a beautiful video of our team leader’s wife in her creative element. Berenice is an installation artist. She has an amazing heart and an understanding of the gospel from a unique and beneficial perspective. I hope this video inspires many discussions and thoughts about God, the nature of God and the creativity of God.
We are amazingly blessed to be a part of a team and a part of an organization that doesn’t just give lip service to prayer. And during the 30 Days of Prayer we will be highlighting some of the ways our team prays as well as inviting you to pray along with our organization during their international day of prayer. I look forward to sharing more of Berenice’s art including one of the pieces that you get a glimpse of in this video.