Monday, May 31, 2010

And our trip concludes

Today is our last day in Aussie land. I've greatly enjoyed my time here and have made lots of new friends, but I think I am ready to come home. I've been thinking about my time here, and let me just say it has been awesome. The trip didn't shape up to be what I had envisioned it but it was still amazing, and God really did use us, sometimes in unexpected ways. Kevin Dunn, one of my good friends, has gotten himself a job here as the interim youth pastor for the church we've been working with. Several of the girls on the trip have had their calling into missions confirmed, some of us have had the fact that we're *not* called to missions be confirmed. But all of us have made relationships we will never, ever forget.

My Australian Mum and Dad have been amazing, and I think they will become two people that I will never forget. Sometimes people just come into our lives for a very brief period, but that brief period is indelibly marked in our memories. I do hope to come back someday, with Brad and maybe my kids, to continue the relationship I have with them. Geoff and Denise have been excellent hosts, and truly have been surrogate parents for us while we've been here. They drove us around, packed our lunches, did our laundry, and even listened to Mae and I when we were having an emotional evening. Their testimony is awesome too, and I know that they have been a blessing to me while I've been here. And Geoff is stinking funny. We have so many inside jokes now.

It has been awesome to come be part of a Christian community that I would not have ordinarily have been a  part of. God truly is the God of the whole world, and I've been able to see just a tiny slice of what that looks like. God is the God of the indigenous peoples of the Bush, God is the God of the Australian children, God is the God of the Australian people, God is the God of the U.S, and God is the God of everyone. That's a fact i've been aware of for my whole Christian life, but now I've been able to experience it a bit.

Something else I've been reflecting on is the fact that Australia has a strange paradox. On one hand, they are a very secular nation. They can be antagonistic towards all religions, they do not necessairly claim spirituality as important, nor do they go out of their way to be especially intolerant of spiritual matters. But on the other hand, the secular government pays the public school districts (at least that is true in Queensland) to employ Christian chaplains in their schools. Those chaplains are basically free to present the gospel and teach kids in public schools about God. Our mission trip included going into public schools and openly sharing a very Christ centered message, and it was encouraged greatly. That would never, ever fly in the U.S. I've also noticed that the Christian community here, while very similar to in the States, seem to have a big heart for evangelism. They intentionally share Christ with unbelievers and make it a priority to see people be saved. It isn't that the U.S Christian community doesn't do that, but it seems to be a bigger priority here. I'm guessing it's because the Christian community is smaller and there is a bigger percentage of the Australian population that does not claim to be a Christian.

That seems to be enough reflection for now. I need to begin packing up all my stuff so I'm ready to head off bright and early tomorrow morning. I'll be back in the States on Wednesday at about five thirty pm. Of course, that means I live wednesday twice coming back (yay time differences!). Wednesday is going to be the  longest day ever.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Past Couple Days

The past couple of days since our trip were spent at Mueller College. On Wednesday we slept in, went to school for two periods, and then my Australian Mum told us we should come home. Now that I think about it, that was probably a wise decision. I didn't realize how sleepy I was from the trip! Thursday was kind of the same, except in the afternoon our group had meetings to prepare for the chapel services we were doing on Friday. We participated in the senior high chapel for a short segment about the trip we went on, and then for the primary schools we did the whole chapel. We did a lot of the same things we did on the mission trip for these kids, but they really seemed to enjoy it. The little kids went all out with the singing and dancing we taught them! I'm in the process of getting some pictures of that, but since I was on stage most of the time, my camera has very few pictures on it. Such is life, I suppose!

Today we are going to the Gold Coast. We were supposed to leave about five minutes ago, but our Australian Parents aren't ready yet. Let it be known that I am (for once) not the cause of being late! Haha. Anyway, we were going to beach it up today but it's pouring down rain. So plan B is to go to the gold coast anyway but do a lot of shopping and such. We're also going to the Outback Spectacular. It's apparently some sort of educational dinner show deal. All I know about it is that I get steak. That should be yummy.

Just for fun here are the things I've eaten while here that I hadn't tried before or wouldn't eat at home:
-Vegemite (gross!)
-Avocado mushed up with lemon pepper in it on crackers (yum!)
-Weet Bix (it's a big brick of wheat cereal. I put milk on them with rasins. I'm definitely bringing a box home).
-Milo (a powder you add to hot or cold milk/water. It's almost like hot chocolate but not quite.)
-Crunchy Peanutbutter (or peanut paste, as they call it here)
- Naan bread (Part of indian cuisine. It's like a flat bread but it has a filling in the center)
- Butter on a sandwich (I can't convince my mum to stop doing this!)
- Spaghetti for breakfast
- Pumpkin soup (gross!)
- Mango and passion fruit ice cream (semi-homemade. They blended in the fruits themselves and then refroze it. I didn't particularly care for this)
And I think that's about it so far...

I need to get myself on a bus to the Gold Coast though!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm back!

Well, I am back from my mission trip to the Bush. The first day we went to some public schools in some little country towns. We did mostly primary schools, but we did go to a highschool. We did a few programs that included doing puppets (singing), a puppet drama, a drama called "Mankind" about how we were created one way and then it got ruined, and our fearless leader, Paul, did some tricks. The kids really seemed to like it. At the high school Paul did some tricks and we (Cast and Crew) did our "Everything" skit. You can find the skit on Youtube if you wanted to see it. I thought it was incredibly interesting that in this liberal country that we could still go into public schools and preach the gospel without being restricted. We couldn't do an alter call or anything, but we unashamedly presented the gospel in its entirety to these kids. The public schools here even have chaplains that the government pays for, so if they did have any questions they would have someone to go to who is a Christian. I think it's really neat and such a great opportunity for us! After the schools, we went to this tunnel.
It had bats in it! I almost peed my pants. We stayed at a little church the first night, and then from there we moved on. The next couple of nights during our tour of the little schools we camped. It wasn't too bad, and we had tents for these nights. We stayed at a camping "resort" so the shower was super nice. I couldn't really complain about it.

From our stops in Mount Perry and the other little towns, we had a fun day. We went to a place called Grand Keppel Island. It was so very relaxing and fun. It was pretty laid back. We could do some water sports, but I chose not to. I walked along the beach taking pictures and did some light hiking. Here are some pics from the Island:

After our day on the Island we camped (same place as above) and then moved on to Wooribinda. This was the aboriginal community that we worked with. Here it was a pretty rough place. There was a lot of poverty, drug abuse, laziness, and just uneducation. It was mildly disturbing seeing such a place in a country like Australia. Here we did a day program with children near the shopping center of the town (a small grocery store) with puppets and some dramas. Then we went back into the school we were staying at (which was on complete lockdown while we were there) for the afternoon. Many of us were very tired so we took a nap. In  the middle of our nap we heard big crashing noises against the aluminum door. Kids were throwing rocks at the door! The children at Wooribinda are quite wild, they are largely left unsupervisied by their parents. Young girls are moms because they get lots of money from the government from having kids, and the older parents are usually too strung out on drugs/alcohol (even though alcohol is banned from the community as per the Australian Government) or are too caught up in their own stuff to care about their kids. Children as soon as they can walk are pretty well left to their own devices and willl often be seen wandering the streets alone. There is a church there that is headed up by a missionary from Germany. Martin, the missionary, and his wife are incredibly discouraged. The people of Wooribinda are very heard hearted and very few of them actually listen to what Martin (or us for that matter) have to say. Martin has been there for nine years and has seen very few results. All that to say, Wooribinda is a very desperate place. I want to see them saved, but unfortunately they just seemed so hard hearted. It made me incredibly sad. Anyway, after the rock throwing incident, we did a program in front of the church that evening. There were a lot of kids that came, so we did a lot of the dramas and puppet shows again. The boys did a lip sync of a boy band song and us girls did a black light song. We wore white gloves and moved our hands under the lights, it was pretty cool. But again I sensed a complete hardness of their hearts. Like our message just wasn't getting in. I just hope and pray that some seeds were planted. After the show it was a relatively quiet night, thank goodness. We had been warned that sometimes weird things happen, but we had a realtively quiet time. We helped with the church service on Sunday morning, and then we were off. Here are some pics of Wooribinda:
These were some of the Aboriginal high school students.
One of the puppet songs we did during our morning program.
Paul doing a trick during our evening show. Doesn't he look so Australian?
Paul drew this while the song "How He Loves Us" by David Crowder was on, during our evening program. I thought it was really cool.
This is the Church. Very small, only one room. The inside was not decorated at all.

After Wooribinda, we went for another fun day to Carnorvan Gorge. It was so beautiful. We camped, this time with out tents, but it was ok because the showers were awesome. We hiked a lot, on Monday I hiked a totall of about 22k. Be impressed. I have so many beautiful shots but here a couple that represent what we did:
Part of the Gorge. This is one of my favorite shots I got.
We finally saw Kangaroos in the wild. There were heaps of them here!
There was a lot of Aboriginal artwork that has been preserved here. In Wooribinda the children took us to some small caves where there was similar art work, but those aren't being "preserved" by the government the way the artwork in the gorge is. The Aboriginals would put pigment in their mouths and spray around their arm, boomering, or other utensils. I learned that Aboriginal art is very different depending on what area you go to and what tribe it originates from.

Danae and I after our 22k Bushwalk (What the Australians call hiking). I'm still sore from that.

Well,this post is getting incredibly long and I need to get ready. My Australian Mum made Mae and I say home from school this morning, so we could sleep in. But we have to go now in time for lunch!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More beach pics and such

There's the last three pics of the Beach. :) Today was full of Church type of activities. Tomorrow will be more practicing for our mission trip. We leave bright and early on Tuesday morning (Monday afternoon for you guys, I believe) for our mission trip. Please be praying for us as we enter the different communities. some of them aren't exactly friendly towards Christianity. We won't be going to dangerous areas, but certianly not areas where Christianity is especially prevalent. We're also giong into tribes that are very much into an almost animistic religion. Many of them have visions of evil spirits and have areas where they do not go because of the spirits being there. Satan does have a foothold in these places and any prayer against that is completly welcome. While we're on the trip I will not have access to the internet, so i'll try to make another post before I leave. We'll be gone for a week, so don't miss me too much! :P

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Picture post. Be sure to read the actual update!

Steve Irwin's family
I think this one is a Wallaby
I'm petting a Koala!
Mommy Kangaroo nursing a joey
Does this one need a Caption?
Fish at under water world
Sea Horse
Sting Ray. The one that killed Steve Irwin, perhaps?
I'm in the Pacific Ocean!

More pictures of the beach will come later I have to rush off to Church now!

The beach!

Yesterday was an awesome day. We went to underwater world, which is like an acquarium. I thought it was kind of lame, to be honest, but it was cool. The coolest part was the sharks. They were all in an aquarium above your head so all the fish, sharks, and sting rays were swimming over you. It was pretty cool.

From under water world, we went to some beaches. The beaches are absolutely beautiful. I have a ton of pictures from them. I'll probably try to post some later, but I can't at the moment.

Today the agenda includes church, AMOS practice (our trip into the outback), and then church again. We leave on Tuesday, I believe, for our trip into the outback. I'm kind of nervous about it, but it will work out i'm sure. :)

On friday evening we went to the Rugby game, and it was pretty cool. I like American Football (or as they call it here, Grid Iron Football) better, but that's probably because I understand the rules a bit better. The game on friday night was a bit boring. There are no commentators to let you know what's going on, no stops in the game, and hardly any violence. It's kind of funny too beause the Aussies aren't very enthusiastic about their games. Some of us Americans (not really me, haha) were the most enthusiastic people in the whole stadium!

Anyway, I need to get going to get ready for Church!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I saw a Koala!

It was a bit of an adventure yesterday. I got to go to a lot of classes and interact with the kids, including a cooking class and a couple of others. Mae and I got to take over a year 7 class and just do some questions with them. We got asked how many times a day we see African Americans. It was quite interesting because it made me realize that Australia is pretty homogenous. There are other ethnicities are around but they rarely mix with each other, not like they do in America. I'm sure in the bigger cities it's different, but not in this little town of Redcliffe.

In the middle of talking with the year sevens, someone came to get us to show us A KOALA IN A TREE. They don't come around the campus much so we all ran out (including the Australians) to go look at it. Here is a picture:

I thought he was really cute.

Today we are going to chapel at the school, and then we're leaving for the Australia Zoo. When we come back from the Zoo we're going to go watch a Rugby League game. It will be a ton of fun, but it will be a very late night and early morning tomorrow. I still haven't switch my clock entirely. Last night I went to sleep at almost eleven and was still up at 5:30. I dozed until 6:30, but it's pretty frustrating. Hopefully being busy will help me to be tired and sleep better, haha.

We also found out that when we're going on that trip into the outback to work with the Aboriginals, we will be camping for four nights. And get this: NO TENTS. We're just sleeping outside. I am not pleased by that and neither are half of the group I'm with. We were initially told we would only be camping for two nights, but now it's four. And we were told it was in tents but it isn't. :( I am not a happy camper. Hopefully nothing will bite me while I'm sleeping. It would be unfortunate to be eaten by a dingo.

And with that I need to go finish getting ready for my day. Later!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day Two in AUS

Well, here we are on day two. It's 8:40 pm, and I am exhausted. Gotta love jet lag...

Today we hung out at Mueller College for most of the day. We attended some classes. The first class I helped with was an elementary aged PE class. They were pretty cute. Then I attended some high school bible classes. In those classes it was more of a Q and A session about America and our culture. We were frequently asked if we've met any clebrities. Haha. Their perceptions of American culture are a bit funny sometimes. I enjoyed their company very much. For most of the afternoon we had some down time and didn't really do much but hang out with the kids and the staff. Tomorrow we've been promised to have a bit more structure, so we'll see what happens. I guess tomorrow we're supposed to help with Staff devotions and then from there go to more classes with the kids. Friday we will be going to the school until right after Chapel, then we'll be off to the Australia Zoo!

It's been fun hanging out with our host family too. We've eaten supper outside on the decks as well as breakfast (complete with sunrise) on the other deck. Our hosts are very eager to teach us about Australia and it's history/culture (which very much go hand in hand here). Mae and I tried Vegemite after supper, and I must say, it's not that great. But I did try it! I'm going to try bring some of it home (hopefully in small quantities) to make my friends and family try. It wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. But I still didn't finish my little slice of toast with it on there. Haha.

One of our guys was incredibly sick in the night and for most of the day. How unfortunate is that? Travel all the way to Australia just to get a stomach bug the first night you are here. I hope he recovers quickly and doesn't pass it on to any one else!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some pictures, as promised.

This is the view from out the window of the sixth floor of the school.

Some of the children playing at recess. I love their hats!

Thought this tree was cool with the fruit thingies on it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello From Australia!

Well, this is being written from Redcliffe, Queensland, AUS. It's BEAUTIFUL. We got off the plane at about 6:30 am, after not having slept well on the plane. It's going to be a long day, but it'll be worth it. The weirdest part of it all is not that we're 15 hours ahead of Longview, but that we LOST AN ENTIRE DAY. I stepped on the plane on Sunday May 9th, and got off the plane Tuesday May 11th. So far all we've done is eaten breakfast and toured the campus of the School that Mueller Community Church has. It's been a lot of fun, and I have some pictures I'll post later. I'm staying with Polly Mae Benton at Jeff and his wife's house (they're the main contacts here). They have a really cool house, and I'll definitely be posting lots of pictures as we go.

It's really funny because we're all on the internet right now typing about life here in AUS. Haha, it's a pretty funny sight!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Australia here I come!

Well, we're all sitting in the Shreveport Airport waiting to go through security. We got here at at 1pm, and it's currently 3:27pm. And our flight doesn't leave until 4:25. LAME THAT WE HAD TO BE HERE SO EARLY. But it's been fun hanging out with Kevin Dunn and Josh Oh. And Viktoria (the Roudkovski's daughter.

 Liz had her family come into to town, that was pretty exciting. The parents and grandparents were able to see the school, some of them for the first time. They also got to see some of my cool friends, aka the Christian Ministry majors. It was somewhat difficult to pack up her room, getting everything cleaned, pack ofr Australia, do the whole graduate thing. That in of itself was interesting, family crying, me crying all while trying not to trip and fall head first off the stage. Afterward, she had to fend off 3000 people and their extended families just to try and take a few pictures. Too many people, too many families, and not enough pictures with good friends. Unfortuantly, right now as I write this, Brad was heading off to his flight which just got brought back because they were having brake problems. So he might be late for his flight out of Atlanta, but hopefully everything will be okay there.  Graduation was fun, but still really has not sunk in yet, and hard to believe that I am done with school. YEA! Okay, were going through security, hopefully they won't find my bomb. -Written by Kevin Dunn

Oh, dear, Kevin is funny! Well I am going to write more later. Be sure to keep checking back for updates throughout my trip!