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!