News From Australia

Getting mail has already been an event in Australia.  We have received most of the mail sent to us but we’re pretty sure some things have been misdirected and/or lost along the way.  Maybe they’ll show up in time.  We’re also working on getting a post office address sorted so that we can receive packages without the package being left at the front door of our apartment building where anyone could grab it before we picked it up.  Despite these minor setbacks we have been receiving some mail and we even received mail from ourselves:-)  We wanted to see how our organization’s mailing service worked firsthand.Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 10.24.35 AM.pngIf you’re on our mailing list and we have your address correct, you should have received our latest newsletter in the form of a postcard.  It’s pretty large so you can’t miss it.  We are not abandoning our typical emailed news but every once in awhile it is nice to receive something that you can hold in your hands.  If you didn’t get one and you think you should have, please contact me and we’ll get your address correct for next time.

Following us on social media will give you a definite leg up on our news but here is what we wrote in the postcard just in case you missed it:

We love the Perth skyline.  Our temporary apartment, on the 18th floor overlooking the Swan River, is a 30 minute walk from downtown.  We’ve starred our balcony.  Can you find it?  It’s a beautiful place to live and a great introduction to the city.  We are abundantly grateful for generous people at the local church who have provided the apartment and furnished it for us.

Pray for us as we begin intentionally getting to know people in our community.  Being in a high-rise has its challenges for building relationships, but chocolate chip cookies have helped open some doors.  We also have three little shops right at our doorstep.  Please pray for ‘I’ and ‘H’, two of the clerks we are getting to know.  Dance lessons, city walks, the farmer’s market and more, are all ways we are getting to know this city and the people who live here.

In February, Joy begins her masters program at UWA and Ryan will begin a more official ministry schedule, reaching out to and building relationships in Brookton and the Wheatbelt.  We hope to continue to make friends and build community, sharing our lives and sharing Jesus, as we navigate through this wonderful, beautiful city.  Thank you for praying for us and for Western Australia!

God’s Glory in a Loaf of Hands

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 15:5-6Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 7.15.54 PM.pngA few weeks ago our team sat around a large round table, all together for the first time ever.  6 couples, uniquely gifted and wonderfully diverse, gathered in Australia for the sake of the gospel.  We are thankful to have such an amazing group of people surrounding us and walking through this transition with us.  It is not by accident that we are here.  May God use these hands for His glory!

Getting to Know Perth: Fringe Festival

Perth may be a small town masquerading as a big city but there seems to be some event or festival happening all the time.  Maybe it’s the time of the year but in addition to Australia Day and Chinese New Year events, Fringe Festival has taken over the city.  While out on the town yesterday evening there were lines of people waiting for shows, live music playing and a general festive tone.  Nothing was too full or busy for a Friday night but couples, groups of friends and families were all out enjoying the evening.

We explored Perth in a different way these past couple of weekends.  We walked around and watched some of the street performers, and I loved the mermaid tank.  Since we live in East Perth, everything is an easy bus ride or walking distance from our place.  We stumbled across the dress rehearsal for an open-air Opera on our way home yesterday and since it looked fun we’re headed back tonight for the show.screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-11-46-10-amBut so far the highlight of Fridge Festival for me has been the Djuki Mala dancers.  I went on Tuesday with friends to see their fun show.  It was a great mix of traditional Aboriginal dance and storytelling mixed with modern music and stylized performances.  Bollywood, Michael Jackson and singing in the rain, just to name a few.  It was a very fun way to spend an evening, getting a little more Australian culture with a fun, energetic twist.

Preparing for UWA

It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been in school.  And starting next week, I will be a full time student again.  I’ve been organizing the paperwork.  I’ve bought basic school supplies.  And I even did a bit of reading at the beach for my first seminar that begins on Monday.  It brought back flashbacks of my undergrad at UCSB where I certainly tried to study at the beach but was never really successful.  Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 4.03.53 PM.pngMaybe the beach won’t be the ideal place to study for grad school either but I will not make that decision until I try at least a few more times.  Please pray for me in this new endeavor.  Pray that I would learn well and be able to understand the coursework.  Please also pray that I would connect well with my professors and fellow students.  I’m looking forward to having a student community again.  And I’ll be sure to let you know how the beach studying works out.

American Politics in Australia

I’m an American, a citizen of the United States and unless something unexpected or drastic happens, that’s not changing anytime soon.  However, I’m living in a very multicultural city in Australia and meeting new people every day.  It doesn’t seem to matter what their background, pretty much everyone has some sort of interest in US politics.  I couldn’t escape the conversations if I tried, so I don’t try to avoid them, I listen.  Listening allows me to hear what others think and also gives me input to continually reexamine and check my own attitudes and assumptions as well as values and beliefs.  I am generally encouraged by these conversations and my personal convictions are strengthened, although I am often challenged to look deeper into certain issues and policies.  Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 1.59.50 PM.pngConversations aside, I do realize that I am somewhat removed from US current events.  Although, the news here covers the main issues and my Facebook feed is an ever present reminder.  But I’m not in the US so, even if I wanted to, I can’t join the marches and protests.  I am not around to be a part of certain US organizations that are on the frontline when it comes to refugee resettlement.  I don’t have the time or the energy to devote to writing to US political leaders or to organize something more substantial.  Even if I was still in my safe, insulated US community, I would probably find it difficult to engage appropriately with the current policies that I agree or disagree with.  This is what, in my experience, often leads to apathy.  I can’t be the only one who recognizes something should be done but then doesn’t have the time, energy, resources and/or knowledge to do anything that might be deemed worthwhile.  So what are our options?

  1. Pray – Pray for wisdom (James 1:5).  Pray for your leaders (I Timothy 2:1,2).  Pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Pray for those who agree with you.  Pray for those who disagree with you.  Pray.
  2. Read the Bible- Justice (Isaiah 1:17), mercy (Micah 6:8), love (Leviticus 19:18), compassion (Matthew 25:25-37), all of this and more is addressed in the pages of scripture.  I didn’t struggle to find verses here, the struggle was to choose just a few.  The Bible is an amazingly rich and holy resource.
  3. Love your Neighbor-  I mean your neighbor in the broader sense of Luke 10 (the parable of the Good Samaritan).  Your neighbors are those people you come into contact with during your daily life.  This can be as simple as loving and serving your family in your home, the person across the street, the man or woman who is driving next to you on the road, the person bagging your groceries, serving your meal at a restaurant, etc.
  4. Do What You Can- There are a lot of important issues that we can advocate for and be passionate about but refugees are close to my heart.  World Relief, one organization that I have worked with and respect just posted this to their blog: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Show Support for Refugees.  There are probably simple things to do online or in your community for almost every social cause that needs attention.

As divided as my Facebook feed is at the moment, I am generally encouraged by the real discussions that are happening, the hypocrisy that is being confronted across the board and those who are rising up to the challenge of practicing what they are preaching.  I can not fight every battle and shout from the mountain tops over every important issue.  But I can pray, I can read my Bible, I can love my neighbor and I can do what I can to live justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In my experience even the best days have lowlights and the worst days can have highlights.  Usually things aren’t all great or all terrible, it’s a little bit of everything, sometimes happening simultaneously.  This week has been hard, it’s probably a mix of culture shock, high expectations, unexpected pressures and poor timing, among other things.  I’ve yelled at my husband, cried tears of anger and frustration and spent more time wallowing than I’d like to admit.  Moving is hard and moving around the world has even more, sometimes hidden stresses.  It’s often ugly but it’s real and it’s what I’m living right now.screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-2-22-52-pmYesterday was Australia Day (even this has it’s own set of controversy over the celebrations but that’s for another time).  We chose to have friends over and partake in the festivities happening right outside our door.  We were excited to see people out and about along the water, hear the music, enjoy the carnival events and taste the food truck treats.  Later in the evening, the plan was to all gather in our home to watch the fireworks display from our balcony.  But then we heard that a plane had crashed into the swan river, killing those on board. (News Article and Videos if you’re interested in details.)  Of course, the fireworks were then cancelled so we just gathered and hung out for awhile before everyone headed home.  This morning we are still able to watch the cleanup from our balcony, which is the picture above.  In all honesty, there is a part of me that was disappointed that we missed out on the fireworks but that is a tiny loss in comparison to the families who lost loved ones.  Another tragedy and one more bad thing for this challenging week.

But I need to remember that this week has not been all bad.  I’ve been to the beach, finished our first Australia newsletter update (coming to your mailboxes soon!), spent time with friends, we had our entire team around a table together for the first time, my husband still loves me (even when I’m not kind to him), I found a fun way to celebrate our anniversary in February and even bought tickets to an interesting show this week as a part of the Fringe Festival (Djuki Mala).  This week I’ve accomplished things, spent quality time with people and planned some things to look forward too.  It definitely wasn’t all bad and it definitely wasn’t too ugly despite some really terrible moments.  I’m thankful for the measured good that allows me to keep learning and growing, reminding me to be appreciative for the things that are wonderfully and overwhelmingly good in my life.

Preparing For Australia Day

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-36-pmWe see what’s happening from our balcony, as the grass between us and the Swan River is slowly being transformed for tomorrow’s event.  Our place will be the hub for our team to come and be a part of this Australian tradition because we’ll have a great view of the fireworks and we’re right on top of all the action.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-58-pmPerth is preparing for Australia Day.  For all you Americans, think Columbus Day with celebrations like the 4th of July.  But just like Columbus Day is drawing criticism because it tends to ignore the people the land originally belonged to, Australia Day also has critics.  The city of Fremantle no longer has an Australia Day celebration and for my understanding of why, you can read my blog post from 2013: Australia Day also known as Invasion Day.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-18-40-pmObserving and participating in these celebrations are part of us getting to know Australia, history and all.  And so we watch as the lawn below us turns into a carnival and a gathering place.  And tomorrow we’ll take part in the sausage sizzle, maybe some of the games and then a group of us will gather in our apartment and watch the fireworks.  Not a bad way to celebrate us being here in Australia together on our first Australia Day.Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.53.27 PM.png