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.

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.