The Trees Speak

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-9-47-04-pmPerth 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.screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-9-47-43-pm

Book Review: The Australian Leadership Paradox

Paradox is the right word to use when discussing the relationships to leaders and views of leadership in Australia.  This “lucky country” has an interesting history that has fed into these paradoxes of leadership and authority.  I’m thankful for this book to help navigate some of the unspoken rules and general assumptions that a typical Australian wouldn’t question or think twice about.  But this book isn’t just for outsiders seeking to understand the system.  This book is a great read for Australians who want to unpack what may be obvious in regards to Australian leadership but also what sits, often hidden, beneath the surface.
Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 8.04.45 PM.pngThe Australian Leadership Paradox: What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton walks the line between critique and advice very well.  More than just stating the paradoxes themselves, they begin to tease out the why behind them.  And they also give examples of how Australian leadership can and should change for the better.  These examples are in the form of short stories which give context and I believe make them easily relatable as well.  Anyone who has ever struggled in a position of leadership in Australia could potentially find their story here.  And in finding their story, hopefully see how they could be empowered to change their leadership style for the better without losing some of the great things about being Australian.

This book is primarily talking to Australians about Australians and for that it speaks very well.  For me personally I will have to do my best to apply this knowledge appropriately because so far my interactions in Perth have been with very few Australians.  In the past month, I have met more immigrants or children of immigrants than anyone else.   This is maybe my own personal paradox, coming to Australia, seeking to know and understand Australians.  But instead of being surrounded by primarily born and raised, multi-generational Australians, I’m surrounded by an amazingly multinational, multiethnic community.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but my own definitions of what it means to be Australian are definitely being expanded.

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.

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.

Getting to Know Perth- A Walking Tour

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.

If You Give a Neighbor a Cookie

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-9-51-33-amIf you give a neighbor a cookie, he’ll probably ask for a cup of tea.  And if he asks for a cup of tea, he will probably ask for a place to sit down.  And if he asks for a place to sit down, he’ll probably want to have a chat.  And if the chat lasts long enough, he might get hungry again.  And then he’ll probably ask for another cookie.screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-9-52-04-amOk so maybe that’s a little too simplistic.  But here’s the deal, Ryan and I have always known our neighbors to a certain extent.  And in a home, you just hang around outside and at some point you’ll see and get to chat with the people who live around you.  But we now live in a high-rise and no one can access our floor except us and our 9 neighbors.  Short of reading a book in the hallway, the only way to meet our neighbors is to cross paths while taking out the trash or in the elevator.screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-9-51-12-amI also enjoy baking and so we figured that some American chocolate chip cookies might help break the ice.  Please pray for us as we continue to get to know people in our building and in our community.  Please pray for our 9 neighbors who will be receiving chocolate chip cookies and an invitation for a cuppa (to share a warm beverage) at our place.  Who knows what will happen, but if you give your neighbor a cookie…

All Nations

All Nations is a pretty great church name.  For me it automatically signals Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”  It’s a beautiful picture of heaven, and although we know we can’t achieve it fully here on earth, it doesn’t mean we can’t work and strive towards it here.  Ryan and I have been attending All Nations in Perth for three weeks and we love the community as well as the ways we see this church striving to reach all nations in the city as well as representing all nations in the church body.img_20170115_142203This is the first church I have ever attended that is very friendly to non-native English speakers (and I would say new Christians or non-Christians as well) while at the same time not apologizing for their English worship, English preaching and English fellowship.  For example, the page numbers are always given before the scripture reading so someone following along in the church Bible can easily find the text.  And if the main pastor is preaching, he not only gives a sermon outline but he hands out the entire sermon.  He has a gift to be able to preach this way, sticking very close to what is written but still communicating clearly and articulately.  If it wasn’t for the sound of the pages turning, I would not be able to tell he wasn’t simply preaching from a typical outline.  I love that sound of people turning the pages to follow him, almost in unison, being a part of the preaching.  For non-native English speakers and also visual learners like my husband, it’s great to be able to see the sermon and therefore absorb more of the content.

All Nations also offers English classes during the week as well as a Bible study in easy English.  These classes are not just for church members but for the community.  Perth is a very multi-cultural city and English classes are a way for All Nations to welcome the nations into the church.  I hope that my university schedule allows me to participate in some of these classes and be a part of this interesting and effective ministry.

Ryan and I are thankful to have a place where we can continue to get to know people and surround ourselves with community as we are introduced to life here in Perth.  Please pray for All Nations.  Please pray that we would be effective in reaching all nations represented here in Perth so that one day, before the throne and before the Lamb, we can stand together and sing praises.