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.

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.

#reitersinbrookton

This past week confirmed that even though we’re living in Perth and enjoying the city, our hearts are in Brookton.  It was wonderful to spend a couple days observing the Brookton Mission, catching up with friends and getting to know more people.screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-9-51-37-amThis is one of my favorite pictures during morning tea after Sunday service.  Ryan was  visiting with a group of people from Calvary church in Brookton.  These people all have a special place in our hearts already and since Ryan was out in Brookton during the same time last year, the morning tea time gave him an opportunity to reconnect.  Please pray for us as we try to find the right balance of living in and being present, pursuing people and relationships in the city, as well as spending time investing in, learning and connecting in Brookton.

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.

Heading Over the Rainbow

Tomorrow Ryan and I fly from San Fransisco to Dubai and then from Dubai to Perth.  If everything goes as planned we will arrive in Perth on the 30th.  Ryan and I will ring in the New Year down under!  We’re starting 2017 off in a new country, in a new apartment, new friends, a new team and all sorts of other new things that we haven’t even realized yet.  I’m sure the year won’t be without challenges but we’re looking forward to what is ahead for us in Perth, Western Australia.  Please pray for our transition.screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-10-54-09-amPlease forgive the blog silence into the New Year because we aren’t sure about internet, jet lag and scheduling once we arrive.  However, we will try to be posting to Instagram so you can follow us along the way.  If you haven’t already, you can find us on Instagram @joycandee and @lpturntable.  Next time I post will be from somewhere over the rainbow!

To Ship or Not To Ship?

This has been the question for almost a year now.  Because, around this time last year we were already in sort, pack and sell mode.  We’ve packed and purged.  We’ve sorted and organized.  We’ve added things and sold things.  Given items away and also thrown away items.  Last year we only had guesses of what we would need to do in order to get to this point and how long this process would take.  But shipping day is finally here!img_20161215_072935Last night we did an inventory of most of our earthly possessions and today the items that we are not bringing in our suitcases with us, are starting their journey to Australia.screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-10-31-30-amPlease pray for our items to arrive safe and sound on our doorstep in Perth.  We know that our value is not found in what we are shipping but it truly is mostly about memories for us.    If we had to we could have left more things behind and gotten rid of things too.  But we had the option to ship and we are.  Many of these items remind us of people, places and things that we love.  We look forward to having these tangible memories with us to support and encourage us in Australia.