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.

All Scripture is Useful

Sometimes I want to cherry pick the Bible, claim and use the parts that best suit my ideals and motivations while leaving out the unsavory, hard to swallow verses.  After all, sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to live out or even defend Christianity if I could distance myself from the more confusing or eyebrow raising bits of scripture.  But getting out a sharpie and crossing out verses is really not the answer.  After all 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  So to be thoroughly equipped, I can’t run and hide from any of God’s word.  Instead, I must dig into the Bible, seeking to learn, understand and apply scripture properly.Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 3.34.57 PM.pngAlthough I don’t think pastors need to always preach through books of the Bible, I do think that this practice forces pastors, as well as congregations, to face scriptures that would otherwise not be preached on because of their seemingly difficult or perhaps obscure content.  I’m thankful to have sat and learned under many pastors who do not shy away from the deep, rich challenges of scripture.  Today was no exception because we heard a sermon on Deuteronomy 22:1-12.  Feel free to read these verses yourself but my point here is not to critique or even expound on the sermon.  Instead I wish to say that I walked away from church this morning, not only encouraged but emboldened in my faith.  Today I was challenged to be set apart and different because I am a Christian.  And I was also pointed towards Jesus in how I view people as well as God’s creation.  Learning about the cultural context is important, however, scripture is still alive so we can’t forget to see God’s word as relevant and applicable to our current lives.

This is a good reminder for me as I continue to read the Bible and sometimes am tempted to skip reading or dismiss certain scriptures.  All scripture is useful.  All scripture is God-breathed.  And these are the words that can fully equip me for whatever task is ahead.

Getting to Know Perth

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-12-58-pmGetting to know Perth is a priority for us.  We want to experience and enjoy this city while we’re living here.  During the Summer, there are a lot of activities to seek out and enjoy but we’ve been warned that there isn’t as much to do in the winter.  I’m not fully convinced yet because there still is a long list of places I want to explore.  Being out and about in the city also allows us to meet the people who live in, work in and make up the human part of city life.  The people are definitely a reflection of the city.  We’ve been finding activities on Instagram, through friends and also doing internet searches which turn up websites like: Guide to Perth and Experience Perth.  It’s fun to look up lists of things to do in Perth and see that we’ve already checked off a few of the big activities that everyone recommends.  What will our next adventure be?screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-12-03-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.

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.

Preparing For Australia Day

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-36-pmWe see what’s happening from our balcony, as the grass between us and the Swan River is slowly being transformed for tomorrow’s event.  Our place will be the hub for our team to come and be a part of this Australian tradition because we’ll have a great view of the fireworks and we’re right on top of all the action.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-58-pmPerth is preparing for Australia Day.  For all you Americans, think Columbus Day with celebrations like the 4th of July.  But just like Columbus Day is drawing criticism because it tends to ignore the people the land originally belonged to, Australia Day also has critics.  The city of Fremantle no longer has an Australia Day celebration and for my understanding of why, you can read my blog post from 2013: Australia Day also known as Invasion Day.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-18-40-pmObserving and participating in these celebrations are part of us getting to know Australia, history and all.  And so we watch as the lawn below us turns into a carnival and a gathering place.  And tomorrow we’ll take part in the sausage sizzle, maybe some of the games and then a group of us will gather in our apartment and watch the fireworks.  Not a bad way to celebrate us being here in Australia together on our first Australia Day.Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.53.27 PM.png