Another Country

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.23.47 PM.pngWhile browsing through the DVDs at the Perth City Library, I came across this cultural gem.  I’ve been trying to soak in information about Aboriginal history and culture and this is yet another great documentary with a lot of meaningful and practical insight.  If you’ve seen the movie Australia, you know David Gulpilil (the documentary’s narrator), he’s the one who played King George.  He was also the narrator in 10 Canoes.

Watching Another Country was significant for me because it confirmed the clash of cultures that still continues today between white and Aboriginal.  It also emphasizes the basic human need to be productive, have meaningful work and be able to contribute positively to your community.  And I appreciated the insights into some Aboriginal views of Christianity.  If you can get ahold of this movie, it’s definitely worth a watch.  I’d love to have a chat with you about your thoughts and any questions that might arise.

Anzac Day 2017

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 3.29.21 PM.pngAnzac Day is a pretty big deal here in Australia.  I was first introduced to this holiday through the delicious Anzac biscuit.  Click HERE for the recipe I used to make these and let me know if I need to translate some of the ingredients for you:-)  Even Ryan enjoyed this version of these classic cookies and he’s not a coconut fan.  Now that we’re here in Australian, we see that Anzac Day is about more than just a tasty cookie…excuse me, more than just a tasty biscuit.

Anzac Day commemorates the first major military action Australia and New Zealand fought in during WWI.  Today we heard over and over again “Lest we forget.”  Because this military action, along with many others, happened at dawn the first celebrations/remembrances began with a dawn service up at Kings Park and then there was a breakfast in the city.

We did not make it to either of those events but we found ourselves a great spot along the parade route.  And we enjoyed the cool morning while chatting with a women next to us about Anzac Day and the celebrations.  The parade had marching bands, lots of bagpipes and people of all ages marching in remembrance.

We enjoyed hearing the many versions of Waltzing Matilda and other songs too as current service men and women, veterans and family members marched by.  Australia recognizes that they have fought alongside many other countries as well, so some of them (including the USA) were honored in the parade as well.

After the parade we walked over to the park where they held a memorial service.  The Governor of Western Australia spoke as well as a wounded veteran.  It was warm in the sun but we still enjoyed the service and hearing the choir sing about Australia.  Anzac Day is yet another cultural experience for us here in Perth.

Spiritual Reflections in the City

Last week was Resurrection Sunday.  Although Ryan and I enjoyed the church service and our relaxing afternoon, we felt something missing.  Some of what we were missing may have been our typical Easter traditions with family and friends; however, I think there was something more going on.  Yes, there were a lot of people out enjoying the beautiful autumn day (yes, it’s autumn here) but I got the feeling that most people were just enjoying the 4 day weekend because it was time off work.  There seemed to be little or no thought given to the reason behind the holiday.Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 12.43.48 PMMost of the time when we walk around the city, we see churches like St. Mary’s gated off and quiet.  There are a couple large, beautiful cathedrals in the city but I’ve rarely seen people gathering for anything besides a tour.  We also see signs posted for little churches outside of buildings or in shopping centers where they meet on Sundays but rarely do we get see the visible community of God meeting outside of our own church and church family.Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 12.55.00 PMBut today while walking home I saw something different.  I first walked by a little church that had just let out of their service, all ages, different races, gathered outside the doors chatting and enjoying the Sunday sunshine.  Almost everyone had a delicious looking donut in hand and I walked through getting a peek into this community.  And then I came to St. Mary’s Cathedral with gates open, cars coming and going, kids playing on the lawn and signs of life.  It was encouraging to me that these places do have active communities, hopefully the Gospel is being preached and people are being reached.  I know for sure that God is at work even if we don’t always see outward, visible signs.

I look forward to continuing to see how God is at work as we get to know more people in the city and see firsthand the Gospel being lived out.  If you are discouraged by the lack of God and faith in your community, be encouraged that God is at work.  Open your eyes and hopefully God will show you His specific work.  Please pray for us here, that God would be working through us and other Christians in Perth, and we will be praying the same for you.

 

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.

Putuparri and the Rainmakers

One of my current units at UWA is called Indigenous People and Social Work.  Indigenous studies is a very important topic in Australia and so it is no surprise that this is one of our first units.  I feel like everything I previously learned and read about the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities is now being reinforced, expanded and given a new Social Work perspective.  I hope that by the end of this unit I will begin to see my knowledge deepen beyond a superficial understanding.  Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 4.50.21 PM.pngA documentary that was recommended to us is Putuparri and the Rainmakers.  I’m not sure how you would get ahold of it in the US but in Australia you can stream it through SBS On Demand.  This documentary talks about Aboriginal culture, history, land rights, the law and so much more.  It is yet another perspective and another group of voices to add to my understanding and appreciation for Aboriginal life, history and culture.

Getting to Know Perth: Australia Post

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.screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-6-25-38-pmExample 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.