Monday, December 8, 2008

Top 10 Things I'll Miss About Australia

In no particular order...

10. The Sun, The Sand, The Ocean. enough said.
9. Running around the Swan River with a backdrop of Perth city and kite boarders on the river.
8. Stopping for coffee/tea time every 2 hours...may need to incorporate that into my NA life.
7. The plethora of outdoor adventures at my fingertips- surfing and scuba diving will be missed the most.
6. Tim Tam Slams. If you're lucky (and you throw me a party or stop by the Heywood house within the first few days of my arrival) you may get to experience one of these.
5. Generous terms of endearment. Ranging from "mate" to "love" to "sweet" to "gorgeous"...who doesn't like being called "gorgeous" by a perfect stranger??
4. The Aussie abbreviations. Adding a "y" or "o" to every word is just fun. So don't judge me if you hear me call sunglasses, "sunnies" or a wetsuit, "wetties" or mosquitos, "mozzys".
3. Perth public transport. This is complete sarcasm.
2. The Great Barrier Reef. I think everyone owes it to themselves to see it.
1. The environmental influence that now has me taking 2 minute showers, worrying about gas emissions from flights and driving, and checking the labels of all my products.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Adventure Asia!

the title of my blog is temporarily inaccurate and should take on the name "Asian Adventures" for about a week. 2 hours after my last final exam, i was boarding a plane to Singapore to catch up with some old friends from Sask. Aleasha and Jamie have been teaching abroad for the past 6 years and it was soooo good to see them and to meet their two adorable little kids, Jaxon and Ruby. seeing familiar faces and hearing people talk the same way i do was a much needed gift after 5 months of feeling like a freak (try saying the word "bunnyhug" to anyone outside of Sask's borders and you'll know what i mean!). we packed the maximum amount of tourist activity with a good amount of relaxation and all around fun times into my 3.5 days in Singapore. the mix of 3 cultures in Singapore is fascinating - the population is split between Chinese, Muslim and Indians. we went to Little India and Arab Street to take in a mini-version of these people's homelands. saw lots of interesting (and scary-looking!) foods to eat and gorgeous art work, hand made clothing and wares. Singapore is probably one of the cleanest cities i've ever visited. the government has completely regulated the society to the point where they have limited the number of cars that are on the streets to reduce gas emissions, have illegalized the chewing of gum (to prevent littering!) and are still allowed to cane people! it kind of made me think of a city in a bubble, being controlled by the powers above. despite all this, singapore is a bustling city with beautiful jungles within the city, friendly people and lots to see and do. spending some time with leash and jamie was a ton of fun and reminded me of how kind, generous and down-to-earth my fellow saskie's are.
and now, here i am in hong kong, continuing the journey through asia. this is my last stop before i head to cairns and sydney to complete my final travels before i head home. i'm sitting on the 32nd floor of a sky rise overlooking hong kong city, amazed at the view before me. another old friend, harmony mcmillan, is teaching at a school in hong kong as well. i spent my first day yesterday walking around with my jaw dropping at the size, activity, number of people and busyness of hong kong. i've never seen anything like it before. harm took me out for a night on the town that included some delicious chinese food from one of her favorite spots, a trip to some market stalls to check out the latest knock-off products and my first ever chinese foot and shoulder massage! good food, good shopping and good rubbing made for a good night. today i'm doing a hike on hong kong island called the "Dragon's Back Hike" which is supposed to be one of the best short hikes here. i think the biggest challenge will be finding my way through the cities public transport to the starting point of the hike. sadly, tomorrow i'll be leaving harm and her hong kong life, but i'm looking forward to seeing Cairns. i'm meeting a friend to do our PADI scuba diving certs while we're there- can't wait to see the Great Barrier Reef up close and personal! pray that the sharks will be full next week. :)
life is full and i'm loving the adventures of new places, new sights, new faces....not long til i'll be back seeing some familiar old ones in the homeland. until then, cheers!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lately the country tunes have found their way to the top of my ipod playlist. And the crooning of nostalgic cowboys has made me feel a tad bit nostalgic myself. Usually the country music leads me to the bottom of a whiskey bottle and thoughts of my lil broski, a diehard country fan (one, both or neither of those statements may or may not be true), but right now life is dealing the right mix of ingredients for a little bit of sentimentality. A journey is coming to an end, bringing the emotion, expectation and thoughts that come from reflecting on the past and looking to what's next in life.

I think its rare that life affords us the opportunity, chance or means to step away from all that is familiar and look in on our little lives from a removed, outward position. When it comes down to it, we establish our circles of friends, our jobs, our family, our home, our church, our schedule and we build our lives around these things. Even become consumed by these things. And stepping away from it all for a long period of time has been the best knock in the face that I've gotten in awhile. God has given clarity through the discomfort of the unfamiliar, the longing for family and friends, the challenges of adjusting to a new country. Being broken and humbled is truly the best place to be in life. It gives an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God the room to work that we wouldn't allow Him when we try to do things on our own. What amazing revival His work brings to life! He has convicted my heart in ways that I refused to face when I was at home. He has made me crave solitude so that I may be silent before Him- be still and simply think of Him. He has shown me things about my life that need to change, people I need to love better, ways I need to give of myself, my resources, my energies. I came to Australia with the expectation of experiencing a new life and instead, God gave me vision, purpose and clarity for my old one. I feel a sense of renewal, of refreshment, of vitality to live a life worthy.

As people, we were created for relationship. With God, with people. We are relational creatures that function, react and thrive off having our lives woven together with others. It's a beautiful thing. God's shown me how much I've missed out on the joy of relationship because I let my own pride and selfishness get in the way. I've realized how much I cherish and treasure the people He's woven into my tapestry of life, and that I never want my schedule or my business to get in the way. And even moreso, He's shown me that my life source is Him. That the only way to experience true joy, real life, richness and depth out of life, is through deep and authentic relationship with our Creator. The simplicity of it is profound, and yet really living this way in everything I do is a life-time task that will never be perfected.

What a journey its been! I can't even scratch the surface in this little blog of the things I've felt, the new experiences I've had, my changed view of the world and the people in it. As the idea of home becomes nearer each day, I can't help but be thankful for such an opportunity as this. I have the feeling that God still has fresh insight and teachings for me that will continue to be revealed post-Aussie.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bali, Indonesia

yes, i am going to Bali, Indonesia. random you say?...well, yes. but not really when you consider that Bali is Australian's number 1 tourist destination due to cheap flights, cheap food, cheap hotels, pretty much cheap everything. and seeing as i'm supposed to be getting a full experience of australian culture, i figured that it didn't seem right to miss out on a big part of their lives- vacation.
me and a friend have planned a week of adventure that includes surfing every morning (finally without a wetsuit!!), mountain treks, cycling through rice paddies, kite boarding lessons, trips to the local markets, and not getting robbed by sketchy balinese men. which is a common occurrence there. we are also hoping to avoid the death penalty, which seems to be handed out like candy there. good thing i am writing this close enough to departure that my mom won't be able to reach me to forbid me from going....
i'm also looking forward to partaking of one of my passions in life- food. balinese food is meant to be delicious so i'm excited to see what the locals have to offer. i'm told that the aim is to avoid "bali belly" by staying away from the water and anything that looks like its been put on your plate straight from the end of a fishing rod. we'll see how i go....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A brush with death

My biggest fears since coming to the land of bountiful flora and fauna has been an attack by one of the 3 S's: snakes, spiders or sharks. Always lingering in the back of my mind as I step into the ocean is the thought that a great white could be lurking in the waters, waiting for me to come out deep enough that it can eat me up in one quick bite. Yet, I always rationalize in my mind that it is more risky to drive in a car than to go swimming in the ocean- statistics say that there is more chance of getting in a car crash than getting eaten by a shark. I think God was trying to drive home this point to me on Sunday and reassure me that the waters are safe and I need to be more careful on the streets.

I got up early and headed out for a morning surf lesson. A friend of mine, actually a Canadian friend of mine (she and her hubbie moved here "for the lifestyle, of course!" ) has graciously lent me her extra mountain bike for my time here, so I've been loving speeding around the gorgeous river bike paths and avoiding the buses/trains as much as possible! My journey to this beach is quite a long one- bike for about 25 minutes, hop on a train for another 15 minutes, and then another bike ride for about half an hour...and then finally the beach! It was packed yesterday as it was an amazing 33 degrees celsius with bright blue skies. For the first time, it was too hot to wear a wetsuit in the water! The surf lesson went fabulously, followed by a few hours hanging out on the beach with some friends and then I started the bike ride home.
I had just gotten off the train and was about to start my last leg of the journey home. I gave a quick head check to see that there were no cars coming and started to pull out to cross the street. This is a main road that's always busy cause it links two highways. Just as I was pulling out into the street, I looked to my LEFT and saw a bright purple sports car hooning (note: this is one of my new australian words which means speeding) straight at me! The car swerved to miss me just as I slammed on my breaks and pulled narrowly missed me by about a foot! I almost had a panic attack as I stood there with my bike on the sidewalk, staring at a line of cars waiting for their light who I'm sure were all saying to their passengers, "Another stupid biker, no wonder they always get hit"...quite humiliating to say the least. On the way home I couldn't get it out of my head how close I had come to being plowed over and left as roadkill on Canning Highway in Perth, Australia. It made me think about how irrational my fears of sharks have been and how much more aware I need to be when I'm biking and walking in this country of left-sidedness. So no, I can't tell you any fantastical story about a close call with a great white or a giant jelly fish sting, but I will say that the roads are just as dangerous a place as the great deep ocean.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fun Pics

Perth scenery.
In honor of you, Knuckles!!
Cuba's a staffy.

Cel & I at the caves.

Jon and Ash.

In Augusta, the lighthouse where the 2 oceans meet.

Taking the kids out for a surf.

Jon & Cel's adorable little holiday home!

Beach time with 2 of the many Germans in Perth!

Asher and his two cousins, Bella & Sophia (so prec!).

Celeste & I in Augusta.

My fave lil Aussie boy- footy ball in hand.

Spring is in the air...

This morning I'm sitting at the computer with my second cup of instant coffee beside me (its the only kind of coffee they drink here), looking forward to a gorgeous spring day. How do I know it's spring here? Well, besides the whole city seeming to come alive with a new energy that was missing in the winter months, there are a few other signs.

The hot sun is pulling out 30 degree celsius days and some heat that I've never experienced before in my life! There is no O-zone over the whole continent of Australia which means a penetrating sun that can be quite damaging to your skin if you don't wear sunscreen! Australia has the highest number of cases of skin cancer in the world and its easy to see why! Its hard to believe that this is only the beginning of the warm season...summer gets up into the 40s!

Another sign of spring is the magpies. If I haven't mentioned the birds before, I should have. They're vicious and aggressive here. That was one of the first things I noticed about Australia. The crows are massive and sound like dying cats, the seagulls are even more belligerent than in Canada, and there are so many weird bird sounds and calls ringing through the trees. But anyways, back to the magpies- I was warned by John and Celeste that the beginning of spring is magpie swooping season...basically the mother magpies will swoop down and try to peck your eyes out if you walk under their trees. I thought this was just an embellishment and a rare occurrence until this morning when Celeste warned me again to be careful of the magpies. Apparently a little girl lost her eye last weekend and there are usually about 5 cases of magpies pecking peoples eyes out over the course of spring!! Please pray for me!

Spring also means cricket in Australia. Another new sport for me to observe and try to figure out. There is a beautiful park next to the river that I jog/walk/bike on, and the past few weeks have been busy with cricket matches.

Other updates: my surfing lessons have taken on a whole new dimension since last Saturday and the final triumph of my first "green" wave. As a beginner, the only waves that you generally surf on are the white waves (after a wave has broken). Basically the water just pushes you toward the beach with enough force that you can practice standing on your board and riding the wave out. As you can probably guess, there's not much excitement to this after awhile. Well, this past Saturday I had a great surf instructor (he's been surfing all his life and he's about 45 years old!) and he was a lot more ambitious with us than other instructors I've had. He goes to me, "Jods, come out here and we're gonna catch ya a green one." Clearly I wasn't going to argue even thought I was a bit nervous because the swell was pretty big that day. So I paddled out and he watched the waves for me (picking the right wave is a big part of it) and told me to start paddling at the right moment and I hopped up on my board and finally experienced what it really feels like to ride down a wave! Pure adrenaline. It was exhilerating! I caught 2 more after this, and then got pounded and obliterated by the majority of the rest of the waves. One time I think I was turned in 3 complete somersaults under the water and came up with my rash guard T-shirt completely pulled over my head and covering my face! haha. But I finished the day feeling pretty happy and satisfied.

Anyways, there are only 3 more weeks of classes left and then a study week which will include me leaving Australia to go on a little trip to Bali, Indonesia. After that, there are two more weeks of exams and then the semester is finally finished! Hard to believe. Although I still have 8 more weeks here, I know the time will fly and there is still much to do before my Aussie adventure comes to an end.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I just got home from a weekend away as far south as you can go in Australia, in a little town called Augusta. I think it might be the most beautiful place on earth. Augusta is at the point where the Indian Ocean from the west and the Arctic Ocean from the south converge. This in itself creates some pretty amazing displays of nature. Augusta also has a river that runs through the town and into the ocean where lots of sea life tends to drift in and out and amaze us viewers on land. It was amazing to see dolphins swim by as I jogged by the river and to catch a glimpse of a whale out at sea during an early morning surf. This was probably my favorite part of the trip- the surfing. Celeste's brother-in-law is a major enthusiast of any outdoor adventure/sport, so he's taken me under his wing to show me the more adventurous side of Australia. We made it out every morning around 7am for an hour or two of the best surfing I've experienced thus far. The swell was a perfect size for a beginner like me, the sand bed was a heck of a lot nicer to crash down on than a hard, pointy reef, and the aqua-marine waters were absolutely fantastic. Another sweet part of the trip was getting some time to go for walks or jogs by the ocean and river and admire the stunning beauty of the nature around me. I caught myself quite often wondering how in the world God came up with all this stuff around us. The power of the waves to the awesome display of a rainbow from horizon to horizon continues to woo me.

The pics are of a cave tour that Celeste and I did. The underground cave was filled with stalactites and stalagmites and took an hour to walk through. It was pretty awesome! More Augusta pics to come once I get my camera working!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A New Country, A New Sport

You really know you're in a foreign country when the sport being played on TV makes no sense and looks completely weird and strange to you and you have trouble even figuring out which way both teams are going! The past few weeks have been a lot of that confusion for me, as the AFL Footy season playoffs have been underway. "Footy" is the Aussie-rules version of American football, but it really looks nothing like the NFL or CFL football that we know and love in NA. Jon and Celeste (the couple I live with) are die-hard fans, so I've basically had no choice but to learn the rules, cheer for the "right" teams, and devote my evenings to watching footy. And I'm not really complaining at all. Footy is a fast, intense sport with very little stoppage of play, lots of bone-crushing hits, and impressive athletic grandeur. The guys wear tight little shorts and jerseys that would never fly in professional leagues at home, but are a total hit in Australia. Here's a little clip to give you a feel for Aussie-rules footy.

With the grand final being played on Saturday, I'm sure I'll see a whole new side of Aussie life. We're heading to a local pub to watch the game, and I'm pretty sure all eyes will be glued to the screen across Australia at noon on Saturday. Australians take their footy quite seriously.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Trouble with Oz...

After being in Australia for nearly two months, I thought I owed it to you all to dispel any notions that this tropical island is a complete oasis and paradise on earth. Yes, the beaches are amazing, the winters are warm, the summers are hot, the people are charming and the animals are cute. I’ll even go as far as saying that the Aussie lifestyle is extremely appealing and that the most used and favorite expression “No worries, mate!” is the life moto of the majority of people. The patriot in me is constantly comparing, looking for ways that Canada (and yes, even the US! Sorry Mom!) holds its own against the idyllic continental island that is Aussie. And so, with this in mind, I am happy to inform you that I have come up with a list of “troubles” with Oz to share with you…

1. They speak English. This might sound like it should be a positive, but hear me out. The trouble is that Australians speak what I like to call a “dialect” of English. Do you know what the word “ta” means? How about “chook”? If I were to invite you to evening tea, would you come with an appetite, or with the expectation of some tea and cookies? It is in these basic conversations that I often find myself confused, processing words 2 minutes after they have been spoken, and asking someone to repeat a sentence 5 times before I understand. Speaking English may be more of a liability because the full on slang that Aussies throw at me leaves me with a blank, bewildered expression most of the time.

2. Rat tails. Need I say more? They’re popular here. Worn with pride. Even dyed quite often. I don’t know if North America missed the memo, but as far as I know, rat tails went out of style at the beginning of the 90’s and they haven’t been welcomed back since.

3. Paying $3.30 for a black coffee. The economists out there may call this inflation but we have another word for this in Canada- robbery. Across the board, everything here is shockingly expensive. I like to tell myself that when I say no to buying a cookie it is out of self-discipline, but the reality is that a $5 sugar rush is just way too expensive for a student budget around here!

4. Lack of competitive college sports. All humor and sarcasm aside here, this is one of the major downfalls of Australian universities. My life has been consumed with nail-biting, sweat-producing, heart-wrenching feats of athletic prowess through The Ohio State University. And I’m talking purely from a spectator point of view here. There are no Saturday morning tailgates, no F Michigan t-shirts, not even a glimpse of any type of a band or cheerleading squad. No one wears a shirt that says “Curtin University SOCCER” or “CU BASKETBALL” on it. I have learned, however, that if you show up at lunch time to the far corner of the rec center basement, you may find a rowdy game of basketball being played between some of the faculty members. I guess this will have to do.

5. Vanishing Sidewalks. I started noticing this when I was out jogging and suddenly found myself no longer on the sidewalk, but forced onto the road where cars were coming at me from the instinctually opposite direction than they should’ve been coming from. Slight safety hazard. The river and ocean jogging paths make up for it, but within the city, Perth is not a very jogger-friendly place.

6. Moving from Ohio, USA (Unlimited Surplus of Amenities) to Perth, WA (Wait Awhile) has shown me that I am a spoiled brat. In Perth, the people say that they have to “Wait Awhile” before they get what the rest of the world had last year. I am so used to having everything that I want available when I want it, that it has actually been a shocker to not be able to get certain items or to walk up to the grocery store and find that it is closed! We don’t realize how blessed we are with material things in North America! The bratty side of me complains about all this, but I know that it is good for me to get a small taste of what it is like to not have all things readily available on a whim. The realities of situations in Third World countries are so incomprehensible for me.

You can probably see by the superficiality of this list that these aren’t real problems, but they drive home a simple point in my mind. Australia is awesome, great, enjoyable, fun but…it isn’t home. I am loving the adventure of this country but I have also come to realize that North America is where my heart is.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Surf 101

It's Sunday night and I am salt-saturated, sun burnt, wind burnt, sore all over, bruised in random places, exhausted and...thoroughly satisfied. I just got home from my first adventure in the Indian ocean on the back of a surf board. I went for a two day trip up north to a little town called Lancelin that is known for their good learn-to-surf waves. Along with 11 other random people, all students or travellers, I had two 6 hour days of learning all about surfing. From safety to water etiquette to getting up on the board to turning, the hours flew by and it was a ton of fun. Our instructors were a few hardcore surfers who are pretty much as Aussie as you can get! Check out some pics below of the action.

Our knowledgeable instructor, Rob. Learning the basics
The surf shack

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hard-hitting but Heart-hitting...

I've been spending a lot of time alone lately. Something to do with being on a continental island on the other side of the world....I dunno. But here's the thing- my moments of aloneness and solitude have been some of the richest moments of my life. The solitude I am experiencing away from others has translated into some of the most intimate and fulfilling communion with the Lord.
Listen to this quote.
"The Christian man, in his present state, is like a bird in a cage. His body imprisons his soul.
His spirit, it is true, ranges heaven and earth and laughs at the limits of matter, space and time.
But for all of that laughter, the flesh is a poor scabbard, unworthy of the glittering sword.
A mean cottage unfit for a princely spirit. This body is a cog, a burden, a fetter." - C. Spurgeon

Ok, deep breath out. Not the most light-hearted quote. Charles Spurgeon is not known for his soft deliveries. It's solid, hard-hitting truth...but it hits the heart and resonates there. Because deep inside, we all know this body, this life, these present circumstances, are not what we were made for. There's something more that our souls know exists...and I need to be reminded of this often or I find myself getting wrapped up in the scabbard and forgetting about the true treasure- the glittering sword.
I've been listening to these amazing podcasts that a friend recommended to me a few months ago and I've been hooked on them ever since. They've been challenging, inspiring me and hitting me pretty hard upside the face quite often. A good slap in the face is healthy in my opinion...keeps you on your toes. They're by a guy named Matt Chandellor out of the Village Church in Texas. First of all, he speaks truth in a powerful and relevant way. He drives to the core of the message and focuses on the essence of what really matters. Plus, he's freaking hilarious. I've been caught laughing out loud multiple times, most commonly on public transport which is probably the most somber and silent atmosphere out there. Somewhat awkward but thoroughly enjoyable.
Matt Chandellor.

wool socks, hypothermia and cuba.

it is the dead of winter in perth, WA. how do i know this? why do i have pictures of the beach if its winter, you ask?? or a more common question, does australia even have a winter? well, that depends on how you define the term "winter". because to my aussie comrads, winter means pulling out the wool socks (the ocean breezes tend to get a bit chilly!), slapping on a wetsuit before braving the waters of the indian ocean, and spending the evening hibernating indoors due to the dreadful cold of the winter nights (some even get down to 5 degrees celcius- shocking!!).

no wonder i am an oddball here. first of all, i see ocean and that means swimming. i will not lie on the beach for hours. ew. so no matter how white and pasty i am, and how weird i look diving through the waves while everyone else is covered from head-to-toe with an ultra-heat retaining wetsuit, i'm gonna be in that water. sask lakes have taught me a thing or two... mostly about hypothermia and how to make use of your limbs when you've lost feeling in them, as well as the best methods of recovery once your lips are blue and your sentences are slurring. we're tough up there.

next of all, i have not owned a pair of wool socks for at least 15 years and i intend to keep it that way. if i can manage through -30degree weather in canada, i think these "winter" temps of 20+ degrees celcius (thats around 70degrees for all my american friends) will not be my undoing.

and finally, i have struck up an unlikely yet beneficial friendship with a young girl named Cuba. we have similar interests in mind...enjoying the coolness of the evenings, walking together along the river, pondering the greater things in life. no words are necessary between us. she is longing to escape the confines of 3 fences and the back of a house, and i am looking for a protector, a little security. its really quite beautiful, actually. cuba is one of the only aussies who will join me on my night time outtings to take in the AU stars and revel in the beauty of the amazing landscape seems that all the two-legged aussies prefer to hide behind their tv screens and space heaters (shocking statistic- australia currently has the highest obesity rates in the world!) at least until the end of august, i am told.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


This week I have realized a very important fact about my life here: I am a student. I have homework. I have research to do. I have group assignments to begin. And I have to learn where the library is...

In the excitement and emotions of being here, I confess that I allowed myself to fall into what I like to call the "First Weeks Floating Phase". It is that blissful time in the semester when you float into class, pick up the syllabus, float through the lectures only somewhat paying attention, and then float out of the class, letting your mind float away from the class and to more important objects of thought like plans for the evening or the next meal to be consumed. I have been floating in this realm for the past four weeks and have had an abrupt wake-up call the past few days, which have mostly been spent in the computer lab and pouring over my textbooks. I have decided that the floating phase has come to an end.

Other news in my life- I have a new family! They are absolutely amazing and I am already feeling comfortable with them and at ease in my new home. I am helping Celeste (the mom) with random stuff around the house, as she suffers from terrible migraines that sometimes make it impossible for her to get out of bed in the morning. She is a joy to be around and we became friends instantly. Her husband, Jon is also great and they have a 6 year old son, Asher. It is such a blessing to be living with them, one that I likely would have taken for granted had I not experienced such a contrast from my first home here.

There's something really beautiful that happens when all that you count on is gone. And I mean gone for more than a day or two. Removed from your life for an extended period of time to the point where you ache for the familiarity and comfort and reassurance that comes with it. And until now, I have never truly experienced the depths of this feeling, nor have I had to prove what I profess to believe when I say that Christ alone is enough. That when I take away everything else- family, friends, a friendly place to come home to, a familiar face, time spent the way I want to spend it...I am still perfectly content. Content in the truth of Christ alone and His saving grace for my life. The past weeks have been so challenging for my heart because God has made me aware of how tightly I am holding onto worldly things and how closed my fist is around certain parts of my life. And that until I open up my fist and consider these things a blessing and not a non-negotiable, I will be controlled by self and the things I cling to so tightly, instead of Christ himself. It is a self-examination that has resulted in the realization of my conditional contentedness, which in reality is conditional faith and love for God. It is taking God in a conditional way with my own expectations and not simply following, obeying, loving. This is what we are called to do as Christians, and God is showing me more and more, through my sinfulness and imperfections, what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ.

"When humility delivers a man from attachment to his own works and his own reputation, he discovers that true joy is only possible when we have completely forgotten ourself. And it is only when we pay no more attention to our own life and our own reputation and our own excellence that we are at last completely free to serve God in perfection for His own sake alone."

-Thomas Merton

Friday, August 15, 2008

Settling In...

As you might have guessed from the title, I am beginning to settle in to life in Perth and the Aussie way. I have been here for almost 4 weeks and can now say that I am through the worst of homesickness and am starting to drink in each moment and experience what life has to offer with complete enthusiasm. I remember my international business class talking about the 4 stages of transitioning to life in a new country:
1) Tourist phase (first week I was here),
2) Culture Shock (week 2 and 3- depression/homesickness),
3) Beginning of Adjustment (currently experiencing) and lastly,
4) Complete Adjustment (can't say I'm there quite yet!)
I didn't really think that I would experience this in a mere 6 months away from home, but in hindsight, I have definitely felt the emotional rollercoaster ride that is a part of each phase. It is so crazy taking learned theories from a class and experiencing them firsthand!

The Aussie way is sooo laid-back, and I am noticing this more and more each day. The beach seems to pose enough reason to skip class, hop out of work early, and take an extra long weekend for a coastal roadtrip. The Aussies love to travel and I have swapped stories with a few people who have been up our way in North America. It is so interesting to hear what they have to say about our country (Canada and the US!) and to gain a bit of insight into what they think of us as people! Lets just say that they are not afraid to speak their minds!

I am actually in the midst of moving to a new family to live with and do my part-time nannying stint. The family that I was living with initially was just not a fit for me and for any of you Harry Potter enthusiasts out there, the word "house-elf" comes to mind...I think you catch my drift! It has been a long process but I am feeling optimistic about the idea of moving in with my new family.

I'm going to end this one because I am heading off to meet some friends at the Tavern on campus. Miss you all so much and think of you often!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yes, I am still alive!

And I have no good excuse for my lack of blogging over the past 2 weeks...unless you consider the factors of jetlag, culture shock, homesickness, and a little bit of nervous anticipation thrown in there as well. It has been exactly two weeks since my first day in Perth, but I feel like I have been here a lot longer. This is probably because I have ridden more buses and trains than I have in my whole lifetime, moved into the home of an unknown family whom I am a part-time nanny for, started classes at a new university, fallen into fellowship with a completely new church (95% asian!) and tried to become "left-oriented" so that I am adjusted to walking, driving and jogging on the left side! I really do feel like I am on the other side of the world. I am so thankful that there is no language barrier apart from the weird sayings of the Aussies (more to come about that!) It has definitely been a full two weeks in which I have had a ton of "self time" and have felt the crazy feeling of being completely on my own in a foreign country. It has made me miss my family, my friends, my dog, my house, my school, my church...EVERYTHING FAMILIAR, like crazy!...But it has also shown me a new and greater sense of what it means to rely on and wait for the Lord each day, hour, minute of my life. And that I am really not in control of everything (thankfully!) but that His hand is on my life each step of the way.

As far as my current residence goes, I am living with an Australian family in a beautiful area of Perth, right next to the Swan River. It has made for some really great jogs alongside a gorgeous view. Once I figure out how to post some pics, I will be sure to include some. I am looking after two girls, Isabella (2 1/2 yrs) and Alexia (4 months) who are probably the cutest kids in the world, but are also quite a handful! Their parents are a mix of Italian and Persian so when you throw an Australian accent on a little dark haired 2 year old, it is absolutely adorable.

Classes are underway and the Aussies are living up to their laidback stereotype. My professors ask me to call them by their first names, classes take on a conversational tone, and the students seem to feel very at ease in the classroom setting. Surprisingly I look forward to going to my classes each day (will be interesting to see how long this lasts though!). Curtin University (or Uni, as the Aussies call it) is a culturally rich and diverse school. It is rare for me to see another white face in the classroom, as most of my classes have students from Malaysia, Africa, Europe, Australia, China, just to name a few. The diversity of the school is refreshing as well as stretching because I have realized how different it is to feel like a minority! As I mentioned earlier, the church I have been going to on Sundays is predominantly asian students from different asian countries around Australia. I have tasted more asian food than ever and have had the amazing opportunity to worship with some of the most lively and passionate worshippers I have ever met! So encouraging.

That's all for now, but I promise more to come. I used to be a computer tech when the most complex command was loading up a game of Packman, so it may take me some time to figure out how to embed some pics....but they're coming! I miss you all so much and hope to chat with each of you individually while I am over here! Ciau!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Details, Details, Details!

As my mom often reminds me (with a satisfied, somewhat smug look on her face), I am NOT a "details" person. The smug look from Danae is a reminder that indeed she IS a "details" person, and so despite all my strivings to be an independent, self-sufficient woman, when it comes down to it I admit...I still need my mama.

No, I do not thrive off of labeling every folder and filing it with a color coded sticker, and I confess that my eyes glaze over when I open up mail that is not a postcard or a package, and yes, I'm guilty of having a huge pile-up of miscellaneous papers stuffed in my bottom drawer and ok, I am also that girl who has to rush order every single document I've ever needed due to major procrastination and lack of reading the fine print in a letter (or any print at all)...

And so I concede that these things called "details" are way out of my league.

They say that in order to be freed from the things you fear most, you must face them. And so, I will confront Details head on, with a face of determination and an air of defiance that I will not be mastered by such a finicky little thing called Details.

So here they are- the Details of my trip down under (but only the fun ones!)...I left the rest for Danae to figure out. haha

Where: Perth, Australia (West coast)

When: July 21- December 10 2008

Why: Study Abroad, Travel, Adventure

Biggest Fear: Getting attacked by a shark and losing limbs (Either take all or none of me)

Secret Wish: Become a surfer girl

Hours in the airport: 85 both ways

First book to be read along the journey: The Evolution of a Creationist by Jobe Martin

Word I will start using profusely: "Mate"

Aussie Job: Nanny for 2 little girls, Isabella (2 1/2 years) and Alexia (4 months)

I don't want my parents to know that: I plan to acquire a liking for the taste of beer

Inspiring words for the way: "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Academic Goal: Attend all my classes

Academic Reality: If chance for outdoor adventure comes knocking, will completely disregard Academic Goal.

Things I will miss about home: Sask's Living Skies, Buckeye Hockey Girls, UA Church Moms, my sibs, B & D, taking my pup Tia out for runs

Anticipated Weakness for: Australian accents

Airports to Travel Through: Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Perth

Anyways, the adventure hasn't even begun I promise more deets to come!

Friday, July 11, 2008

there's a big blog world out there...

It just seemed like the right thing to do- go away on a trip so you sign up for a blogspot, email all your friends the addy, and then write. Write about your thoughts, your dreams, your comings and goings, your new friends, your life. And yet now as I find myself on the brink of this new blogworld, I'm starting to have cold feet about it all. Parusing on the massive network of other people's blogspots has made me somewhat whelmed. (Not quite overwhelmed yet, cause I'm still here, attempting to do this, right?) Everyone's posts seem so deep, so thoughtprovoking, so humorous, so clever. How did they make it so colorful and where did that music come from??What if the only thing that I can think to talk about is how much I enjoy my kashi cereal in the morning and how putting on a fresh pair of white ankle socks is one of my favorite things? What if my attempts at humour are pitiful and the best part of my blog is when I say "that's all for now.." ?? Yep, bein a blogger comes with some risks. And so for all you serious bloggers out there, I say "Well done" to you. I greatly admire your blogspots and I have probably poured over a few of them myself, getting whelmed and wondering if I can make it in this big blog world...
So here I go with this...I can't promise anything too fascinating or brilliant and if you want a good laugh, you should prob check out Nic Olson's blog cause he is one funny guy...but if you want, I'll do my best and share a lil bit of Aussie life with you as I head down under...
"That's all for now."