Lat night, Scott and I prepped our backpacks and downloaded the 6-minute film. This morning, the kids and I bought headphones at Big W (Aussie version of WalMart), swung by the office to pick up Scott, then drove the handful of minutes to Monash University*.
Our Cru friend and filmmaker, Chris, produced “The Parting Gift,” a few months ago and today we were hoping to show it to college students to launch into spiritual conversation. (Read about the film in a previous newsletter.)
Scott: I was feeling less anxious than I normally do when doing an outreach. The bubbly 4-year-old holding my hand probably helped.
The only student who allowed me to share the film with him was Bruce, who is already involved with Cru’s international student ministry. Everybody else politely declined saying something like, “It’s not for me” or “No thanks, mate.”
I talked with one of our other missionaries afterward and he seemed to indicate this is typical. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to engage with more students, but grateful for the sobering affirmation of how spiritually hard most hearts are in Australia.
Angie: The 6 of us prayed for our time and broke up into pairs to go talk with students. Scott took Lizzy, I took Joshua and two other Cru friends went together. I was excited but the nervousness kicked in as my 2-year-old buddy, our pram (stroller) and I navigated through the crowded student union.
Coffee for me and babychino (baby coffee…really milk) for Joshua, we sat down in a student-run cafe called WholeFoods (“For the people, not for profit”) that had a fun earthy/grunge feel that can only happen when you have students from all over the world, they way you do here.
A senior from Russia named Vlad sat caddy-corner from us. I’d overheard him talking to someone about a stock market game he was playing on the computer and asked him about that, and started a conversation. The international business/geo-sciences/philosophy major agreed to watch the film and rated his interest in Jesus before the film a 3 on a 10-point scale (10=very interested). When I asked his thoughts afterwards, he said it was good, artistically, but he was still a 3. A nice guy, easy to talk to. We talked a bit more, I thanked him and we left the table.
We headed to leave and join the other teams, but as we passed a table of 3 girls, Joshua must have caught one of the girl’s eyes and she started talking to him. (I tell you, small kids and dogs are great for conversation start ups!)
Good conversation with Sasha and Shaunti, even as they were both a 3 for their interest in Jesus. Their friend, Linda was a 10, though! Turns out Linda is a relatively new believer. I had to smile, thinking this is likely the first time she’s told her secondary-education friends that she is a Christian. She seemed glad to hear about a Christian group on her campus.
I think my favorite part of the film — and the brief discussion afterwards — is God’s never-ending pursuit of us and how evidence of that is the very conversation I was having with those 4 students. Even if their “number” didn’t change, it’s great to know God put Himself on Vlad, Sasha, and Shaunti’s radar today.
P.S. I see how God answered prayer, specifically that our kids would be a blessing and not a distraction to the students we talk to. That happened! A 2-year-old is a potential running-off rocket coupled with potential in the area of meltdown-at-unexpected-times. He sat patiently and I almost couldn’t believe it until I remembered I’d asked people to pray.
Want to try?
*Monash is an incredibly international university and enrolls approximately 45,000 undergraduate and 17,000 graduate students, making it the university with the largest student body in Australia.
What do Americans do on a cold 4th of July in Australia? Take a 24-hour, no phones or computers getaway! Pack up a car boot (trunk) to the maximum with sheets, towels and food (nearest grocery store 30-45 min away from our destination).
Then, take a nap, and drive 2 hours to a friend’s vacant house.
P.S. I’m heading in Wed at 11:15am (Tuesday 9:15pm EST) for a follow-up ultrasound to make sure I’m healing well from the miscarriage and that nothing’s left inside that might cause infection.
I know. I know. It’s full. And — somehow — our bin got missed, even though we thought we had it in the right place on the curb. And the recycling truck doesn’t come back around for 2 more weeks. And our red regular-garbage/rubbish bin is almost full.
Don’t panic, Angie.
It’s funny (or not) how I talk to myself these days and the topic of those 1-sided discussions. I can honestly say I never panicked about recycling before, but suddenly I’m thinking thoughts that never before crossed my mind like…should I get up in the middle of the night and stick recycling in neighbor’s bin or to the shopping center?
Thankfully, a new mom friend from Lizzy’s kinder (preschool) came to the rescue, offering that her recycling bin had room.
I never thought I’d hug someone over taking my trash before.
Since we’re on the topic of “foreigner tax,” we had another one just yesterday in the form of a parking ticket. For $74AUD. (Fortunately it’s a bit less painful when translated to $60USD.)
We had marked our calendar for yesterday, planning to go see a free Bubble Soccer all-day competition on the beach. We drove 40 minutes south from our house and found a great parking space. It didn’t dawn on me, “This is a block from the water. Would such a space be free?” The path to the park for the game didn’t pass us by the token 1 or 2 parking “pay here” machines. It was only when we walked back to the car after being gone 3 hours that we saw a machine. And saw the faint numbers in front of each car on the foot path (sidewalk).
Honestly, when we saw the white ticket taped to the windshield, we thought the penalty would be higher. (I have a friend whose husband floored it to get through a train intersection before the arms could come down, and he was slapped with a $1200 fine. Ouch.)
But the day was still fun and we continue to learn…and learn to laugh at ourselves and whatever situation we can’t quite navigate as Americans.
The final “foreigner tax” confession is about light bulbs — and how many trips to the store and purchases –it me to get the right bulb. Have you seen such different sizes and…shapes? And this doesn’t even include 2 others not pictured that I tried. To my credit, try #4 fit and worked but, as Scott noted, it was like staring into the sun.
Oh, so I guess I have to pay attention to the wattage and the size? I almost cried. Ok, not really. But almost. Next you’ll ask me to pat my head and rub my stomach and make sure I put the recycling in the right location on the curb.
To end with a good laugh (because we actually are in a good grove and enjoying living here more and more), I give you great glimpses of Australia.
Oh, and the beginning of the school year on college campuses for Cru has gone great! God is moving and we’ve heard of about a dozen or so university students from across Australia who have heard about Jesus (probably for the first time) and made a choice to follow Him. Amazing in light of the country’s secular reality.
Who knows what is yet to come!
September 14, 2014 was the day we flew out, sweaty from Orlando heat and schlepping 19(?) bags (how can I forget the number?) and teary from saying goodbyes. 5 months ago.
And now we’re here. Feeling more like our sea legs are stronger (praise God, how long have we 4 been well now???) and our hearts are more settled.
Scott recently announced, after coming home from the grocery store, that it was a new day — he hadn’t stood in the yogurt section for 10 minutes, stuck in indecision like we’d commonly done in the early days. We celebrated.
Driving on the other side doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Yet I’m still very much aware of my need to pray for God’s help to stay alert.
Another milestone, Kinder (pre-school) has started for Lizzy and she loves it.
The plan was just to go into the City to celebrate Australia Day with the masses. We’d wear our Aussie t-shirts, (skipping the thongs — see below), wave flags, enjoy the train ride into and back, and eat a snag or two (sausages).
We never expected to sit 9 rows up from an Australian Open 4th round match.
In honor of Australia Day this upcoming Monday, I thought it’d be a great time to take questions, if you have one. It could be about Aussie culture, food, does-the-toilet-bowl-really-flush-in-reverse? or whatever.
Our friend, Jayme from Lincoln, emailed to ask yesterday, “I have been wanting to ask if your kids are getting an accent or not?” Love that you asked that! Not yet. Well, wait. It seems like Lizzy’s picked up how the Aussies say “no” with an “r” at the end, like “nohr.” Pretty cute. Lizzy starts kinder (2-day pre-school for 2.5 hours each day) on Tuesday, Feb 2, so ask me after a few weeks of school.
Leave your question in the comments for this post, or you can email me, too.