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.

 

Bible Study Routines

Post-it notes remind me of prayers.  When I started attending Ryan’s Bible study in Camarillo while we were dating, it was already a routine.  At the end of every study he brought out post-its and everyone wrote down a prayer request and then these were passed around.  You write a post-it and then you take someone else’s post-it.  It could be anonymous or you could put your name down but either way that request was prayed for over the week.  I know a few people who would put the post-its up on their bathroom mirror as a reminder to pray.Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 5.19.44 PM.pngOn Wednesdays Ryan now drives out to Brookton.  He teaches the Bible study and each week brings post-it notes so that everyone can share prayer requests.  Even though I don’t usually attend, I’ve started writing a prayer request to send with Ryan because I enjoy getting a prayer request back to pray for during the week.  I love being connected to this community through simple, weekly prayers.  Post-it notes have a lot of other uses but for me, they will probably always be connected to prayers.  I look forward to seeing what God will do through the prayers that will be written on these post-its.

Baseball and Bible Study

When was baseball first mentioned in the Bible? “In the Big Inning.” (Genesis 1:1)  When was baseball mentioned again? “The righteous run to it and they are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)  Alright, so maybe baseball isn’t an important theme in the Bible but it still is just fine (as long as we steer clear of heresy) to mix the Bible and Baseball.Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 11.43.44 AMRyan is currently making the final preparations for his second Bible study out in Brookton and he has the Japan verses US up in the background.  Since we don’t have TV, we get creative with how we get our news and keep up with other things like sports.

Please pray for Ryan as he heads out to Brookton every Wednesday (it works out great with the time change if our friends in the US pray on Tuesday night before you head to bed).  Ryan has set aside Wednesday to visit with people and teach through the Bible.  We’ll see how this time evolves in the future and I may join him on some Wednesdays too later on.  We’re looking forward to marking our time here in Australia as Ryan teaches chronologically through the Bible.  Thanks for your prayers!

Black Swans and Prayers

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.32.07 PMOn a southern bend of the Swan River there is a sandbar that leads to a little island.  It’s hard to see in the picture above but the island is the little scrap of land about an inch to the left of my head.  The river in general is pretty shallow but we walked out across this sandbar all the way to the island and only our knees down got wet (my knees a little more so than Ryan’s).Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.30.28 PMWalking along the sand bar was kind of fun because you usually don’t just get to walk out into the middle of a river and the black swans seemed to be enjoying the sandbar too.  Black swans are an important animal here and were almost wiped out when the river wasn’t being taken care of.  But they are back and since I had only ever seen white swans in the US, I think the black ones are very elegant.Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.31.21 PMOnce we made it out to the island, we sat down and spent some time in prayer.  We previously set aside time to pray every Wednesday but with our new schedule have had to find a different time.  So now we pray on Thursdays.  We don’t always find a new spot to explore and pray but sometimes it’s nice to have a different view.  I’m sure we’ll come back and pray with the black swans again.

Happy Sunday from Brookton!

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.  Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 3.18.42 PM.pngPlease 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.

 

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!

Flooding in Two Places

We can easily compared the weather here in Perth to the weather in Sacramento.  Although the patterns may be a bit different, the average highs and lows are pretty similar and both areas are also known for their droughts.  The only major difference is that, on average, Sacramento gets two more inches of rainfall a year.  It’s currently winter in California and Summer in Perth but there has been an unusual amount of rainfall in both places which has lead to widespread flooding.  Although it needs to be mentioned that despite some unseasonably cool days, the rain here has been accompanied by warm and muggy weather so it’s definitely not winter here.

In Australia there has been enough water to create a waterfall on Wave Rock where Ryan and I visited on our trip in 2014.  It’s probably amazing to see in person but possibly dangerous to get to currently because the flooding has been along both the Swan River and the Avon river.  Here are a couple news articles if you’re interested: WA Towns Flooded and Heavy Rain Wreaks Havoc. The Swan River runs right in front of our apartment in Perth but the flooding hasn’t been in our area and we checked out the swollen Avon river while we were out in Brookton this weekend.  Some of the bridges to the north of Brookton are close to being covered and some of the places mentioned in these news articles are names we recognize because it’s an area where we could potentially work in the future.

As for Sacramento, my parents are a couple feet away from flooding which isn’t uncommon but if you can see in the picture of us, we’re standing on the deck and the grass below us is typically completely dry.  For a good number of years, the Sacramento river hasn’t even flooded it’s banks.  But now thanks to a very wet winter, not only is the drought in Northern California mostly over, some of the dams are reaching capacity and causing potential problems.  Evidently there is a spillway near Oroville (Thousands in California Told to Evacuate) that could possibly break sending water down the Feather River which feeds into the Sacramento River above my parent’s home.  My parents don’t need to evacuate yet but they have a plan and places to stay if needed.

Please pray for those being impacted by the flooding in both Western Australia and in California.