Australia as seen by car :: Wanna take a drive with us?

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Joshua loves seeing the big trucks on the road. It's not unusual to see huge trucks like this on highways and even normal, every day streets. It's not my imagination that the lanes are narrower here. They are. Thankfully, truckers are good drivers here. Plus, I'm sure it helps me slip by when I hold my breath and hold my door handle tighter...
Joshua loves seeing the big trucks on the road. It’s not unusual to see huge trucks like this on highways and even normal, every day streets. It’s not my imagination that the lanes are narrower here. They are. Thankfully, truckers are good drivers here. Plus, I’m sure it helps me slip by when I hold my breath and hold my door handle tighter…
These random stops for breathalyzer test aren't uncommon. It was 11am. It's actually encouraging to see in light of this being a country with the greatest-per-person drinking ratio (I believe).
These random stops for breathalyzer test aren’t uncommon. It was 11am. It’s actually encouraging to see in light of this being a country with the greatest-per-person drinking ratio (I believe).
Genius Aussie Idea #1:
Genius Aussie Idea #1: “L” & “P” plates. They are signs that people, by law, have to hang in their car when the driver is a Learner (L) or Permit-holder (P). A great, subtle way of saying, “watch out/gimme space!”
Great Aussie Idea #2: Keep Left signs. Knowing how many international drivers they have here who grew up driving on the other side of the street, these constant reminders have saved me more than a few
Great Aussie Idea #2: Keep Left signs. Knowing how many international drivers they have here who grew up driving on the other side of the street, these constant reminders have saved me more than a few “ooops” swerves.
Great Aussie Idea #3: The bus-only lane and the light that turns green just for them, a few seconds before all other lanes of traffic. Genius way to help keep buses on schedule.
Great Aussie Idea #3: The bus-only lane and the light that turns green just for them, a few seconds before all other lanes of traffic. Genius way to help keep buses on schedule.
Great Aussie Idea #4: lights above parking spaces. Red=occupied, green=hurry up and snatch it. Why didn't I think of this?
Great Aussie Idea #4: lights above parking spaces. Red=occupied, green=hurry up and snatch it. Why didn’t I think of this? Now that you’ve landed the parking spot (often hard to find) is the 12-point turn because the spaces are so small.
Speaking of buses, here's what they look like, Mom.
Speaking of buses, here’s what the school buses look like, Mom.
The 1,439th purple car we've seen here. I'm serious. Not sure what the draw is to this color but more than a few people love purple. We jokingly increase the count every time we see one.
The 1,439th purple car we’ve seen here. I’m serious. Not sure what the draw is to this color but more than a few people love purple. We jokingly increase the count every time we see one.
Uniforms are the new black here and these cute kids are coming home from school.
Uniforms are the new black here (all schools use them–and identical sun hats during half the year) and these cute kids are coming home from school.
Roundabouts. 11 months into our time here and I still have to think--and sometimes say out loud--
Roundabouts. 11 months into our time here and I still have to think–and sometimes say out loud–“look right!” Traffic from the right has the right-a-way. Let’s just say I’ve heard one or two honks that have helped me remember.
Land is crazy-expensive here so people tear down houses and maximize the space by building as many apartments or small houses as can fit on it. Thus, the addresses seem odd, in writing. Unit one is 1/19 and unit two is 2/19.
Land is crazy-expensive here so people tear down houses and maximize the space by building as many apartments or small houses as can fit on it. Thus, the addresses seem odd, in writing. Unit one is 1/19 and unit two is 2/19.
And since land is so valuable, often it's sold to a business. Their zoning often makes me laugh as you'll see a house next to a business (like our chiropractor's office here) next to another house.
And since land is so valuable, often it’s sold to a business. Their zoning often makes me laugh as you’ll see a house next to a business (like our chiropractor’s office here) next to another house.
About every 10 minutes as you drive, you'll see a strip of shoppes that look something like this. There will usually be a Post (post office), a Chook/Charcoal chicken place, a Milk Bar (little convenience store), another restaurant like a Chinese takeaway (takeout) and, maybe, an Op Shop (like a Goodwill)
About every 10 minutes as you drive, you’ll see a strip of shoppes that look something like this. There will usually be a Post (post office), a Chook/Charcoal chicken place, a Milk Bar (little convenience store), another restaurant like a Chinese takeaway (takeout) and, maybe, an Op Shop (like a Goodwill)
Many houses have built-in shutters or block-out blinds. The sun does seem brighter Down Under, thus the mandatory sun hats for kids.
Many houses have built-in shutters or block-out blinds. The sun does seem brighter Down Under, thus the mandatory sun hats for kids.
The kids' toys in stores reflect the country's love of caravans (RVs and pop-up campers). When people holiday (vacation) here, it's often by camping and/or caravaning, for cost.
The kids’ toys in stores reflect the country’s love of caravans (RVs and pop-up campers). When people holiday (vacation) here, it’s often by camping and/or caravaning, for cost.
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Outreach using a short film :: God’s pursuit of college students

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.)

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Bean bags and iPhones everywhere in the student union today on campus. Can I be a college student now instead?

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.

a short getaway

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.

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I sent this picture to my mom and she put to words what I hadn't been able to: the difference between winter here and in Lincoln, Ne is that winter is green here. I've been too busy being girl-out-of-Florida cold to realize that. It pretty much doesn't freeze here, so that means trees and grass can still be seen in color.
I sent this picture to my mom and she put to words what I hadn’t been able to: the difference between winter here (now) and in Lincoln, Ne is that winter is green here. It pretty much doesn’t freeze here, so that means trees and grass can still be seen in color. (There are hills/mountains within a few hours that get snow and skiers, though, I’m told.)
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Our friends’ house, self-named the “Nut House” — a fun gathering place for their kids and grandkids when they’re not kind and allowing new friends like us to getaway there. We were hoping to spot kangaroos at the end of the street as they like to gather there, but…alas, not this time.
The challenge portion of the 24 hours came in 2 parts: getting a fire started in the fireplace (read: sole place of heat for the house) and making dinner after the chicken broth never made it into the car. As for the fire, Scott was the man in figuring that out (cheers from us). As for dinner, let's just say I got creative with making my white chicken chili. I decided to knock on doors to see about landing some broth. After patting myself on the back for my meet-the-neighbors/don't-have-to-drive-forver-to-store when a sweet grandma 2 doors down handed me a cube. I realized my self-kudos was to be short-lived as I ground it between my fingers into the chili and suddenly -- thankfully only 1/3 of it used -- realized it was dark brown and not at all smelling of chicken.  Not to bow to failure, I threw in a packet of instant chicken noodle soup I found in the pantry (fished out all the noodles I could and used the seasoning). White chicken chili...with a hint of beef and noodles, anyone?
The challenge portion of the 24 hours came in 2 parts: getting a fire started in the fireplace (read: sole place of heat for the house) and making dinner after the chicken broth never made it into the car. As for the fire, Scott was the man in figuring that out (cheers from us). As for dinner, let’s just say I got creative with making my white chicken chili. I decided to knock on doors to see about landing some broth. After patting myself on the back for my meet-the-neighbors/don’t-have-to-drive-forver-to-store when a sweet grandma 2 doors down handed me a cube, I realized my self-kudos was to be short-lived as I ground it between my fingers into the chili and suddenly — thankfully only 1/3 of it used — realized it was dark brown and not at all smelling of chicken. Not to bow to failure, I threw in a packet of instant chicken noodle soup I found in the pantry (fished out all the noodles I could and used the seasoning). White chicken chili…with a hint of beef and noodles, anyone? Turned out quite edible, especially slathered in sour cream, tortilla chips, coriander (cilantro) & fresh lime juice
Kids enjoyed their first trundle-bed slumber party. We were pleasantly surprised they fell asleep fast.
Kids enjoyed their first trundle-bed slumber party. We were pleasantly surprised they fell asleep fast.
You know you're in Australia when this is the hot-drink bar at someone's house. I'm forever spoiled.
You know you’re in Australia when this is the hot-drink bar at someone’s house. I’m forever spoiled.
A highlight for me was the fireside date Scott and I got after kids went to bed. Mesmerizing flames with a warmth and smell hard to find elsewhere.
A highlight for me was the fireside date Scott and I got after kids went to bed. Mesmerizing flames with a warmth and smell hard to find elsewhere.
We have a new Hungry Hippos fan. She'll even play by herself.
We have a new Hungry Hippos fan. She’ll even play by herself.
On the way home, we found a Greek restaurant and ordered our new favorite meal: slovlaki (shaved kabab meat, usually lamb), greek salad, chips (fries, not so Greek) and calamari rings (don't tell the kids--I'm pretty sure they just assumed they were onion rings).
On the way home, we found a Greek restaurant and ordered our new favorite meal: souvlaki (shaved kabab meat, usually lamb), greek salad, pitas, sauces, skewered fried goat cheese, chips (fries, not so Greek) and calamari rings (don’t tell the kids–I’m pretty sure they just assumed they were onion rings).
Tomato sauce (ketchup) usually provided by request and for an additional cost.
Tomato sauce (ketchup) usually provided by request and for an additional cost.
Thanks, Brian & Christine!
Thanks, Brian & Christine!

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.

an overflowing bin & a parking ticket

IMG_7944I 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.)

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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).

Uh-oh.

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.

Bubble Soccer -- a total hoot, especially at the beginning of the game and after each goal. The teams line up on each end and run toward each other to get to the ball first, knocking each other over and top speed. Should we be laughing and cheering it? Ha!
Bubble Football (aka our soccer) — a total hoot, especially at the beginning of the game and after each goal. The teams line up on each end and run toward each other to get to the ball first, knocking each other over and top speed. Watch video.
One of Joshua's very favorite places to be although his serious face doesn't show it. Maybe he was hearing the faint sound of our parking ticket being written.
One of Joshua’s very favorite places to be although his serious face doesn’t show it. Maybe he was hearing the faint sound of our parking ticket being written.

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.

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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.

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Because you say, "I have gastro" to describe any stomach issue.
Because you say, “I have gastro” to describe any stomach issue.
Remember, it's a very international city. Sometimes you just have to state the basics. On the back of the toilet stall.
Remember, it’s a very international city. Sometimes you just have to state the basics. On the back of the toilet stall.
Kind of like an impulse item at the petrol (gas) station. Oh yeah! I forgot I need to cut the grass. Oh look! I can rent one right here. How convenient.
Kind of like an impulse item at the petrol (gas) station. Oh yeah! I forgot I need to cut the grass. Oh look! I can rent one right here. How convenient.
Our neighbors don't need that rental service. They have turf instead. And that's...not an uncommon sight here. Aussies don't spend lots of time on their grass here. Water and time are too valuable to do that and, truthfully, they'd rather relax and "play." Our garden (back yard) is an example of the landlord's place of value -- it wasn't ever really seeded for grass but rather a compilation of various weeds, we think.
Our neighbors don’t need that rental service. They have turf instead. And that’s…not an uncommon sight here. Aussies don’t spend lots of time on their grass here. I can count on one hand how many really-well-tended lawns I’ve seen since moving here. Water and time are too valuable to do that and, truthfully, they’d rather relax and “play.” Plus, some spaces like this plot in the front of our neighbor’s house is so small, they probably think. 
Hannah, our babysitter, sitting at the Cru stall (booth) at Melbourne University during the first week of school.
Hannah, our babysitter, sitting at the Cru stall (booth) at Melbourne University during the first week of school.

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!

5 months

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.

Now our confusion is over the incredible selection of dog food in the -- get this -- huge refrigerated section. Next to the yogurt.
Now our confusion is over the incredible selection of dog food in the — get this — huge refrigerated section. Next to the yogurt.

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.

No one hurt, thankfully, we got a little "bump" on the way to Lizzy's second day of Kinder. The lady who hit us was really kind as we talked on the side of the road, very apologetic. But I didn't believe her when she said we don't call police but rather just give each other information. I called the police (000 here) and learned she was right. Police only get involved if there's a big accident. Who knew? Not sure how you can be sure the person at fault will own up to it, but, thankfully she did and we have a new bumper. The things you don't think to ask ahead of time, when you move somewhere: "So, say I get in a fender-bender. What do I do?"
No one hurt, thankfully, but we got a little “bump” on the way to Lizzy’s second day of Kinder. The lady who hit us was really kind as we talked on the side of the road, very apologetic. But I didn’t believe her when she said we don’t call police but rather just give each other information. I called the police (000 here) and learned she was right. Police only get involved if there’s a big accident. Who knew? Not sure how you can be sure the person at fault will own up to it, but, thankfully she did and we have a new bumper. The things you don’t think to ask ahead of time, when you move somewhere: “So, say I get in a fender-bender. What do I do?”

Another milestone, Kinder (pre-school) has started for Lizzy and she loves it.

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First day. (See the red squares she’s outlined on calendar? These are the big 2 days each week, 8:15-10:45am)

 

If I don't come back to the U.S. and it's not because of the kid-friendly play areas in public restrooms, it will be because of kinder. The Australians know how to help kids learn and it's through play. So grateful for Dover Street Kinder and how the 3 teachers (including Ms. Tarnia, here) are already instilling in Lizzy a love of learning as she explores.
If I don’t come back to the U.S. and it’s not because of the kid-friendly play areas in public restrooms, it will be because of kinder. The Australians know how to help kids learn and it’s through play. So grateful for Dover Street Kinder and how the 3 teachers (including Ms. Tarnia, here) are already instilling in Lizzy a love of learning as she explores.

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A praise--a couple new friends for our family through Kinder! There are two kids, including Reuben here, who are really great kids and their moms are believers! Joshua and I had a playdate with one of the moms, Alyssa, and her 18-month-old last Thursday and I got to know her better. I'm so encouraged for the new friend!
A praise–a couple new friends for our family through Kinder! There are two kids, including Reuben here, who are really great kids and their moms are believers! Joshua and I had a playdate with one of the moms, Alyssa, and her 18-month-old last Thursday and I got to know her better. I’m so encouraged for the new friend! The timing is good because I’ve recently weathered another round of “lonesomeness” (as Mom used to call it), just longing for friends who know my story and I know theirs. It takes time. I know it takes time. 😦
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We’ve found a church home. A place that is a tiny earthly mirror, I believe, of what Heaven will look like with the 22-some nationalities nestled together on a warm morning, one without the common “air con” (a/c) I lived in without thought in the U.S. — most houses and most churches (apart from the very large) don’t have a/c because of cost and the very few weeks it’s needed.
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Our new church family of 150 or so people and all with stories of coming here. Like the woman we met this morning — how do I say her name? — who emigrated from Croatia 50 years ago and sounds like she just stepped off the boat. You have a Joshua? she says to me. Pointing to the small a/v area in the back, she smiles and tells me of her grandsons, Joshua and another one, serving there. And her daughter, Lydia, is right there in front of us. She lost her husband 26 years ago, “but my family is here together.”
Here are my 2 cute Sunday School students watching a short video from the Jesus Storybook Bible DVD series (thanks, grandparents!). Over school holidays, churches don't offer Sunday School and creche (nursery) soas to give the teachers a break, I'm assuming. So, Scott and I took turns with our kids in an empty classroom during the sermon.
Here are my 2 cute Sunday School students watching a short video from the Jesus Storybook Bible DVD series (thanks, grandparents!). Over school holidays, churches don’t offer Sunday School and creche (nursery) soas to give the teachers a break, I’m assuming. So, Scott and I took turns with our kids in an empty classroom during the sermon.
The little creche (nursery) room and my little love-to-line-things-up guy.
The little creche (nursery) room and my little love-to-line-things-up guy. (And I’d love prayer about possibly starting an official creche for our church and a rotation of help so that moms can actually be in the service. Right now, we’re all back with the kids in this tiny room. Only a handful of kids but enough that it’d be wonderful to offer a ministry to the moms and the kids, I think. A bit daunting to find any extra time and also to navigate background check applications and finding help since we’re new, so need wisdom and timing from the Lord about it, if I’m to be the one to start it.
This Valentine's Day Eve was made possible by unexpected gift money and a dear friend and her daughter babysitting the kids. Scott loves Korean barbecue back in the States, so we tried a place nearby and loved it. A perk of living in Melbourne is the incredible global array of people and food easily accessible and, sometimes, even at a reasonable price!
This Valentine’s Day Eve was made possible by unexpected gift money and a dear friend and her daughter babysitting the kids. Scott loves Korean barbecue back in the States, so we tried a place nearby and loved it. A perk of living in Melbourne is the incredible global array of people and food easily accessible and, sometimes, even at a reasonable price! (Valentine’s Day is not a big deal here. Funny how I assume everything American is done around the globe. The local Cru campus ministry was having their before-school retreat (Uni starts back in 2 weeks for their fall) and I asked if they usually have the retreat over Valentine’s Day. Mike — an Aussie husband and dad of 4 — said, “Oh. Is that this weekend?” Ha!)
Nothing says I love you like heart-shaped schnitzel, a commonly-seen item in grocery stores meat counters. I bought some from a very kind store owner from Greece (another story for another time) and made chicken parmesan. Yum!
Nothing says I love you like heart-shaped schnitzel, a commonly-seen item in grocery stores meat counters. I bought some from a very kind store owner from Greece (another story for another time) and made chicken parmesan. Yum!
Since we're talking food, another Aussie food thing I'm finally getting used to. Snags (sausages) go on a slice of bread. Diagonally.  Then, just wrap it up. Kindof. Messy. But not in a bun. I think it's there way they save a teeeeeeeeny bit of money amidst steep prices in everything. But it's growing on me. Plus, you're never not prepared for a BBQ. Oh, we're having sausages for dinner? I'd have to say no, we can't come because we don't have buns but...wait! We can come. I have a loaf of bread. All is well.
Since we’re talking food, another Aussie food thing I’m finally getting used to. Snags (sausages) go on a slice of bread. Diagonally. Then, just wrap it up. Kindof. Messy. But not in a bun. I think it’s there way they save a teeeeeeeeny bit of money amidst steep prices in everything. But it’s growing on me. Plus, you’re never not prepared for a BBQ. Oh, we’re having sausages for dinner? I’d have to say no, we can’t come because we don’t have buns but…wait! We can come. I have a loaf of bread. All is well.
Lizzy exclaims at lunch at Subway, "Look! Australia!"
Lizzy exclaims at lunch at Subway, “Look! Australia!”
Joshua started speech therapy last week with Ms. Fiona and will be going weekly. Feels huge to have found someone we feel good about and to finally be starting.
Joshua started speech therapy last week with Ms. Fiona and will be going weekly. Feels huge to have found someone we feel good about and to finally be starting. Would love prayers for our 30-minute sessions and for greater ability for Joshua to eat raw foods like carrots. Praise is that Joshua’s vocabulary is growing rapidly, after being at a stand-still for so long. Thomas the Train is to thank, in part. Favorite words now include, “Toby,” “Emma” (Emily) and, just yesterday, “Annie.”
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Lizzy pointing out to Joshua where some of her friends live. At this point, most of those are imaginary friends we hear about (no friends in Russia quiet yet) but we can’t wait for the day when the kids do know other kids from all over the world! That’s a big reason we said yes to this adventure to move here — that they would have a bigger view of the world and of Jesus than either Scott or I did at their age. I see it already starting to happen for Lizzy. One day a few weeks ago, I said in passing that we could pray for the Aussie kids every time we saw an Aussie flag. I tell you, that girl sees flags where I’d never have seen them and will just launch into a simple prayer. Something like, “Dear Jesus, I pray for all the kids in Australia to know You. Amen.” May I pray so readily and with as much faith. I think God brought our whole family here to increase our faith as we ask Him to move hearts here…and watch Him do it.

 

My love of tennis is rekindled at the Australian Open

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.

Off to downtown Melbourne for big Australia Day picnic/free festivities.
Off to downtown Melbourne for big Australia Day picnic/free festivities. (Note we’re wearing jackets — and it’s Australian summer. So odd.) Riding into the City, we passed by where the Open was being played and said to the Lord that I’d sure love to go watch. Was there any wild way He’d provide a way to do that? But I said it and forgot it.
Australia Day celebrates the
Australia Day celebrates the marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales (current day Sydney harbor). The parade was a beautifully-visual reminder of the many, many peoples and nations that now call Australia home.
Just one of the numerous words that don't translate quite the same between Australia and the U.S.
Just one of the numerous words that don’t translate quite the same between Australia and the U.S.
Nope, no idea.
Nope, no idea.
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After the parade, I asked Scott what he’d think of us taking the free tram to where the Open was being played, just to take a few pictures. He said sure, so we took the 10 minute ride. Since we were there, we inquired at the ticket counter about cost for general admission. They said it’d be $40AUD ($32US) each (kids were free). We stepped out of line and I thought we’d go. Scott surprised me by saying, “You played tennis and love it. When might you get this chance again? Let’s do it.” As I was amidst a surprised reply, a man walked up to us and said, “Do you need tickets?” Um…what? The man and his friends were just coming out the exit, evidently having watched some of the game but leaving. “How many tickets do you need? They’re still playing. A great game.” “Two tickets is all we’d need,” I faltered, in a bit of shock, my prayer coming back to mind. (And internally I’m jumping up and down and screaming.) The man handed us two tickets, we thanked him excitedly and started to walk away. I walked quickly back after him, and thanked him again, telling him about how I’d prayed for a way to see the game and that God used him to bring that about. He probably thought I was crazy, but I wanted to give God praise for the lavish gift He gave this high school varsity (of 1 year) tennis player.

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Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, is last year's Australian Open men's single's winner...and just happened to be one of the players playing. We're cheering for Stan as I write, as he's playing in the semi-finals. Go Stan!
Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, is last year’s Australian Open men’s single’s winner and ranked #4 in the world…and just happened to be one of the players playing that day. Tonight as I blog right now, we’re cheering for Stan as he’s playing in the semi-finals. Go Stan!
A huge board displaying the pictures of last year's single's winners (Stan is over Joshua's shoulder) and the brackets of this year's Open and who's won and moving on.
A huge board displaying the pictures of last year’s single’s winners (Stan is in the left corner) and the brackets of this year’s Open and who’s won and moving on.
What a day! We assured Lizzy that God doesn't always say "yes" when we pray, asking Him for something. Sometimes He says "maybe," "wait," or "no." But, I'll sure celebrate the "yes" times like this!
What a day! We assured Lizzy that God doesn’t always say “yes” when we pray, asking Him for something. Sometimes He says “maybe,” “wait,” or “no.” But, I’ll sure celebrate the “yes” times like this!

What’s your Australia question?

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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.