Happy Sunday from Calvary Church in Brookton. Brookton is about 90 minutes from Perth and we’re thankful to be able to worship with this congregation once a month. This week Ryan will begin spending Wednesdays out in this area and that includes teaching a weekly Bible Study at Calvary in the afternoon. We’re thankful for this community and the time we get to spend here with these wonderful people. Please pray for this church, that it would continue to be a light in the Brookton community. And pray for us that we would serve well being humble and open to the opportunities that God presents for us in Brookton and the wider Wheatbelt area.
Think the Post Office is just for mailing things? Think again. In the US we can do some passport things at the post office and also buy a few post related items like greeting cards or packing materials. But in general a US Post Office is simply for the mail. Ryan and I were expecting the same from Australia Post but we’ve been pleasantly surprised. Australia Post is so much more than just mail. Our neighborhood post office is amazingly useful and the staff are also very helpful.Example 1: Since we now live in an apartment where packages can’t easily be delivered, we went to the post office to see what they offered. We were expecting some sort of paid PO Box service but instead they have a free service where we are assigned a number and our packages can be mailed directly to the post office, we get an email that they’ve arrived and then we can pick them up when it’s convenient for us. This even works for things that have to be signed for. Easy!
Example 2: Ryan went to the post office to buy envelopes in order to mail the transfer of ownership paperwork for the car we just bought. When he got to the counter, the man noticed the paper and told him that he could process it right there. Ryan saved a stamp and a trip to the Department of Transport (the Aussie DMV). The post office here not only does passport services but they process other paperwork too. Super convenient!
Example 3: The post office here also sells all sorts of things. They have the typical mail related things but they also have books, gifts, Christmas lights, shredders and other general office supplies. They even have a flyer that comes out with their latest offerings and sales. Practical!
Getting to know Australia means getting to know the basic services we need and the post office has been a wonderfully pleasant surprise.
Sometimes I want to cherry pick the Bible, claim and use the parts that best suit my ideals and motivations while leaving out the unsavory, hard to swallow verses. After all, sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to live out or even defend Christianity if I could distance myself from the more confusing or eyebrow raising bits of scripture. But getting out a sharpie and crossing out verses is really not the answer. After all 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” So to be thoroughly equipped, I can’t run and hide from any of God’s word. Instead, I must dig into the Bible, seeking to learn, understand and apply scripture properly.Although I don’t think pastors need to always preach through books of the Bible, I do think that this practice forces pastors, as well as congregations, to face scriptures that would otherwise not be preached on because of their seemingly difficult or perhaps obscure content. I’m thankful to have sat and learned under many pastors who do not shy away from the deep, rich challenges of scripture. Today was no exception because we heard a sermon on Deuteronomy 22:1-12. Feel free to read these verses yourself but my point here is not to critique or even expound on the sermon. Instead I wish to say that I walked away from church this morning, not only encouraged but emboldened in my faith. Today I was challenged to be set apart and different because I am a Christian. And I was also pointed towards Jesus in how I view people as well as God’s creation. Learning about the cultural context is important, however, scripture is still alive so we can’t forget to see God’s word as relevant and applicable to our current lives.
This is a good reminder for me as I continue to read the Bible and sometimes am tempted to skip reading or dismiss certain scriptures. All scripture is useful. All scripture is God-breathed. And these are the words that can fully equip me for whatever task is ahead.
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.If 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!
“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 15:5-6A 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!
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.But 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.
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. Maybe 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.