Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend Away

We had been feeling a little bit house-bound, so off we went!


Mmmm... homemade ice cream!
We are totally health-conscious, but we're not rigid. That's no fun.
There's always room for sweet things every now and then.


We drove through Geelong to Torquay (a famous surf spot), to hit
the Great Ocean Road
.
There were gorgeous beaches along this long, windy road...
and they were practically deserted. Summer fun, here we come!





This isn't a great photograph, but our campsite was nestled in
a beautiful little corner of
The Great Otways National Park
.
To the left in this photo is a stream that runs from the waterfall,
pictured below.


Rise and shine!
We woke to the sound of raindrops on our tent. I don't mind rain when we're camping at all, as long as we can set up camp while it's dry, and take things down when the rain has stopped. In fact, I love listening to the rain, or to the sound of waves crashing on a beach. Our next camping getaway (hopefully next weekend!) will be to some clifftops overlooking a beach. Fun and free!


Here's the waterfall I mentioned above. It's called Stevenson Falls. It was an easy 1km walk from our campsite, and it felt like we were walking through a rainforest! I bet we were. What makes a rainforest a rainforest??


This is a sprouting fern. We saw loads of them in New Zealand, and more on our walk to Stevenson Falls. Some interesting facts: the Maori people of New Zealand have adopted this as their symbol, calling it the koru. The koru is the Maori name given to the newborn, unfurling fern frond and it symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. It is an integral symbol in Māori carving and tattoos. The koru is used in a stylised form as the logo of Air New Zealand and as an iconic symbol of New Zealand flora.


Here is a full photo of the fern with the koru sticking out on top.


The icing on the cake of our weekend was mountain biking! The trail doesn't look like much here, though it was quite challenging for both myself and Mark. There were lots of fallen trees of all sizes to maneuver over. I often chickened out and just walked my bike over the logs, but I did succeed in crossing a few of them! The landscape varied quite a bit. Overall it was refreshing just to be out in the wilderness, breathing fresh air and getting a good workout. It was fun, albeit tiring, and I can assure you we will both sleep soundly tonight.


The latest scoop on my job situation... I didn't get the Refugee job as I had hoped. I was initially very disappointed, but I feel completely fine about it now. I was looking forward to working with my African brothers and sisters once again, and other refugees. How sweet it would've been to develop such friendships here in Australia. I particularly miss Africa, their way of life and how life felt when I was there. My initial thought is that maybe Africans tend to have their priorities right, but I'll have to give it some more thought (what exactly I miss). I might be able to volunteer with the Multicultural Council, so the door isn't completely closed to my involvement with them. Anyhow, I'm not sad about it because I'm confident that if God wanted me to have that job, I would. I submitted a great resume, and proceeded to have a great interview. God must have something else in mind for me. What? I don't know, but at the moment the only open door has been to work at Starbucks. As they are interested in me managing a store next year, this option might not be a bad idea. I can only really take it a day at time. Tomorrow is my first day working at Starbucks in Port Melbourne, and I'm excited about it and thankful to finally be working. Please pray for me! I hope that it will be apparent if this is the job for me... that I will move up the ranks quickly if I should stay with them. Otherwise, I hope God will direct me elsewhere. Life is short, and I want to be where He wants me to be, even if it's behind a coffee bar. With this job, I could easily study in the evenings, which I hope to do as soon as we become permanent residents. I can also easily be involved in other things, like church things, or playing basketball (which I'm thoroughly enjoying). Dad, you would be proud... in our game last Wednesday we were tied with 40 seconds to go. I stole the ball for a left handed lay-up, was fouled, and then proceeded to make both of my freethrow shots! We won by two points =)

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little tour of our place in Hoppers



That's what I call it for short: Hoppers.

We are living in Hoppers Crossing, a suburb (only) 25 minutes outside of Melbourne. I love that it's SO close to Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bin), because there's lots to do and see there! Not that we've seen and done lots there, but we will...

Our address, in case you forgot to write it down before:
c/o Kiro Kids, 1 Johnson Avenue, Hoppers Crossing, VIC 3029, AUSTRALIA
Our mobile phone number: +61 403 825 056

We are living in Hoppers until sometime in December. Mark is covering for a doctor on maternity leave. We are living in the clinic Mark is working at. The clinic is a converted house, so it has all we need. We mostly live upstairs, but we use the kitchen and laundry room which is downstairs. When December rolls around, as soon as we find a nice place to rent in Ballarat, we will move there. Ballarat is a city of about 80,000. It is about 1 hour 15 minutes away from Melbourne. Ballarat is where Mark's full-time job will be based at come January, except for one day a week when he will commute back down to Hoppers to cover a day here.

Here's the house/clinic in Hoppers.

It was quite windy outside when I took the photograph.


Below are kitchen shots. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen, especially because haven't started a job yet (though one starts next week, more details at the end of the blog). Mark and I have actually enjoyed eating raw-food creations from a cookbook I recently checked out from the library call "RAWvolution." I like the name =)

I'm so thankful that the kitchen came with some gadgets... I only wish it had a blender.



Straight through the kitchen is a little room where we eat. One wall is covered in mirrors, as you can see. It can make for strange meals, trying not to stare at yourself.



Upstairs is our humble living room. Like the homemade bookshelf? And the TV is on a box.








Mark had the brilliant idea of putting tea lights in holes of the bricks of our shelf. It looks gorgeous at night (if cynder blocks can be gorgeous).






Last, but not least, our bedroom. I forgot to mention, we're not sure if we can put more holes in the walls, so at the moment we've just hung a few things on the few nails already up in the walls. No rhyme or reason really.


Another homemade shelf to match the one in the living room. We like them.



So, that's our pad. Not very fancy, but we're thankful for it. We're really looking forward to moving into a place of our own soon though, a place we can really decorate and make a home out of.

OK-- about my jobs. I've been offered work at Starbucks, just as a Barista and/or Shift Supervisor at the moment. That starts this Monday. What I'm really hoping for, and I find out this week, is that I'll get another part-time job as a Refugee Case Coordinator. I had an interview for it last week, and I think the interview went really well. I'll let you know what happens... Thanks for your prayers! It's actually been a rough day for me, missing family and friends. I still feel akward, not knowing what I'm doing here, and not really having any friends (though I must say Mark and I have met and hung out with a lot of new people this past week -- it's been fun and a huge answer to prayer).

Thinking of you....

Love,

Rachel

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The last whirlwind of a month...

So let's see... I left England on 28 Aug 2007. I can't believe I've been gone from there over a month now! I miss all of you still there. *sigh* So who's coming to visit us first? My landlady, Mel, in November possibly... then James (of First Class) and Katie (of Planet Coffee) in December for our annual Christmas BBQ on the beach, then... who will it be?? (You??!)

The following is a pictures are in sequential order, from our time in the States, to New Zealand, to the land of OZ.

On the way back from Canada visiting Mark's family (photos to come soon!), we took a 6 hour layover and visited our good friends Jess and Tim who had their first child, a little beautiful girl named Adilyn born at only 34 weeks! She is two weeks old and just under 5lbs. in this photo.



Next, my cousin Melissa's wedding. Sorry I don't have any photos of the lovely bride to post just yet. It was a nice wedding, and I was honoured to be her Matron of Honour. She and her Marine-husband, Brian, are moving to Hawaii! How fabulous!


Then we were well-taken care of at Jenelle and Cameron Lemons house in Temecula (in between San Diego and Los Angeles). Grace was able to come down to see us as well. What a treat! Below, Grace is holding Willow, a little girl Jenelle baby-sits. Jenelle is in the middle holding her oldest child, Josiah (nicknamed 'Si' - pronounced 'sigh'), and I'm on the right holding her youngest, Jordan. Thanks for the fabulous time Jenelle! We enjoyed going to their predominantly black church. It was lively with solid teaching. Cam has such a great opportunity working on the staff of that church!



OK-- on to New Zealand, or is it England? Rolling green hills, sheep... did our plane fly the wrong direction? From people's descriptions of it, I always knew New Zealand would look like England (on a sunny day)(and add in some steep cliffs and gorgeous coasts). OK, so it's not exactly like England, but it sure has a lot of similarities. Below is a little lamb which is such a season-shock to my brain. Lambing is in April, not September! Seriously, this will take getting used to. October = spring. December = summer. What?! AND, they don't celebrate anything 'harvest' at all, not even in their autumn-time (March). Janie, do you feel my pain??!!


We stayed on the North Island, in a little tourist coastel town called Paihia. We there we visited the Puketi Forest and saw a diverse mixture of hardwoods, podocarps and kauri. Below is a big kauri tree. The area is also a treasure house for native birds and plants and animals, and includes populations of kiwi, kokako and lesser short-tailed bats.


In some places they built walking bridges because the forest floor turns into a swamp.


The weather was unfortunately bad while we were there. However, it was still winter there, so we can't complain too much. We went ahead and still did a boat tour of the Bay of Islands. We saw a big school of dolphins which was exciting! Our lunch break was spent exporing one of the islands. We'd definitely like to go back to New Zealand when the weather is better...









Finally, Australia!

'A wilful, lavish land-
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand.'
-Australian poet Dorothy Mackellar (1885 - 1968)

Australia is big, very big. The horizon stretches on endlessly, unblemished by a single skyscraper, or any other building for that matter. It is more than seven and a half million sq km in area which means it is as big as the USA (without Alaska) and 24 times the size of Great Britian. Australians are straight-talking, easy-going, and apparel challenged. I've been told, 'Don't come to Australia for respect of authority, modesty or linguistic restraint.'

Some fun 'Strine' or 'Austrayan' words:

Arvo = Afternoon. 'See you this arvo.'
Barbie = The barbeque pit in your back garden, the centre of all social action during the Australina summer.
Bathers = swim suits/swimming costumes.
Beaut = Great!
Bell = 'Give us a bell tommorow' - please phone tomorrow.
Bickies = Bucks, money.
Blugder = Anyone who sponges off anyone else.
Blue = A quarrel, a row, or else, a blunder.


Look at the cute Koala with a leaf hanging out it's mouth! Although there are still many Koalas in the wild, the photos below were taken at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.


What a treat to be able to pet them! They are very soft and cuddly, like teddy bears.


And let's not forget the Kangaroos! We purchased Kangaroo food. If you just shake your hand as if you have food they come jumping over to you.


See the little roo in the pouch??


Scary! Or not? My friends back in England did a good job of scaring me about all of the DEADLY animals here. Well, I'm not afraid anymore. Spiders: a spider-bite death has not occurred in Victoria (the State I live in) since 1956. In fact, the only deadly spider in this region is the Red-Back, but they have anti-venom for it. At a museum in Melbourne on Sunday I was able to learn all about the good and the bad spiders of Oz. Snakes: deaths rarely occur from these guys either. At the Wildlife Park a gamekeeper held Australia's most deadly snake, still with fangs and venom in tact. He wasn't afraid because he understands snakes (and because they have anti-venom). If I see a snake, all I need to do is back away slowly. I'm not really afraid of them anyway since I grew up with them in AZ. Crocs: still VERY scary to me, but thankfully they don't live in this part of Oz. If I am in croc territory, I'm told that I just shouldn't go near the water's edge, but if I have to, to not return to the same place twice. Also, it's best to stay 4 meters away from the water's edge since a croc can only leap 3 meters in a split second. Still scary, I know...


So, how am I doing? Well, it's been tough, I won't lie. I'm confident that God called us here, and He's providing... It's just tough because I don't really have a home to 'settle' into yet. We're in temporary accomodation for another two months. We're thankful for it, because it's free, but it's not our little nest. Probably even more tough is the fact that I don't yet have a job AND I don't actually know what I want to do with my life. Even things I'm interested in (Naturopathy, teaching Art) have to wait until we can afford for me to go to school to get those additional qualifications. Pray for direction and a job. We're also still looking for a church and friends. Mark is doing well and is enjoying his work, so we're very thankful for that. And the other chiropractors and their families have been very welcoming to us. One couple is letting us borrow their car for 3 weeks while they are on a mission trip to India!

We didn't have internet access for a while, but now we're up and running. We also have skype. We hope to find you on sometime, or perhaps we could set up a skype date!

Thanks for your love and support and prayers. We do feel them even across the great big ocean that separates us. Keep in touch!

Love,

Rachel