Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Getting settled

The question everyone keeps asking is, "Are you settled yet?" We've been in Australia for 4 months now, and in Ballarat for just six weeks. Moving from Hoppers Crossing to Ballarat felt like moving countries again. We had made good friends and I was enjoying my work mates in Port Melbourne. We were always looking forward to moving to Ballarat though... to finally having our own place again and being able to set up a home. Below: our cottage on Duncan Street.

You're welcome anytime!

Now, six weeks after moving here, I can say that I'm starting to feel settled. Starting. Really, things are just beginning, so it will be a while before we are in a routine of things. For instance, basketball starts this week for me. I will be both playing in a women's league, and coaching 16 - 18 year old girls. I'm nervous but also looking forward to this opportunity. Also, the leaugue is paying for me to get my Coaching Certificate, which I'm excited about. In other things, I have yet to be made Assistant Manager at the Starbucks I'm working at, but I'm hopeful that will happen soon. In our quest to find a church, we think we've found one (yah!) but until that is confirmed we are still unsettled in that area. We had the pastors (a husband and wife team) of that church over for dinner this week, and our time together was good. We'll tell you more when we know more. With Mark, first he was covering for a maternity leave, then we moved up to Ballarat and he was asked to travel two hours away, three days a week, to cover for some other absent doctors. He is away as I type this. This finishes this week though and from next week he will be able to practice his permanent (for now) schedule of five days a week in Ballarat, and one day a week back in Hoppers Crossing. So, for the both of us, these next few weeks will be a time of settling.

The best word I have to describe Balllarat is 'charming.' It's small, but not too small. Everything is within reasonable biking distances. I'll try to take some photos for you on my way to work. I have to say that I am really enjoying biking everywhere! It was a bummer having our our new-to-us car die on us mostly because of the money we sunk into it, but now I even feel blessed. We're lucky that the weather has been so great lately. It's beautiful and refreshing riding during the day, and peaceful and magical riding at night. We bike to work, to the grocery store, to friend's houses and to church. The aren't many bike commuters in this town so people are always amused at us, but I'm excited to demonstrate another way of travelling that is good for one's health and the environment, and it saves money on car expenses like petrol. To my fellow friends out there travelling solely by bike and public transportation: way to go! I feel united with you... bike riding is that special.

And last but not least, the newest edition to the Colvin househould: Bella! Her name was inspired by Rob Bell, a pastor/author/short-film writer that we have been interested in and appreciated lately. Mark has just finished reading two of his books, Sex God and Velvet Elvis. I've really enjoyed many of his NOOMA videos. Check him out if you haven't already.

Bella is VERY affectionate. We got her a week ago, at six weeks old. Her favourite place in on us somewhere, usually on our shoulder or face (if we let her). She loves cuddling and just wants to be close to us and play with us. We almost called her Beso (kiss in Spanish) because she loves nibbling our ears and licking our lips (Yes! but I never let her. She's cute, but not that cute. No kitty breath near my mouth.)

That's it for now. Again, our address is 3 Duncan Street, Ballarat, 3350, VIC, Australia.

p.s. I just thought I'd share one of my favourite things about work: a regular customer named Bill. I love Bill because he reminds me of all my homeless friends. Bill used to be a teacher and was tragically, brutally beaten up by students (a long time ago). He is now 'different.' I'm not sure what exactly is going on in his head, but he lives with a very mangled arm, and has the looks and similar mannerisms of a mentally disabled homeless person. He always smells and sometimes clears half of our store upon entrance. His clothes are often dirty, and his hands caked with dirt. What I love about Bill is that he's always reading, and often reads aloud to us. He breaks out in song every day, usually Australian ballads of sort. And his laugh... he sometimes goes on and on to me, and I can't unserstant a word, and then he laughs at what he's just said and I laugh because his laugh is so funny, so contagious. I also love the my co-workers all treat Bill with respect. I can't say the same for all of our customers. Just yesterday Bill was telling me about a book he is reading on the Bible. Bill was telling me about the book, about how he was enjoying it, and then he said, "And you know what Rachel, I read that Jesus is going to come back again one day!" He said it with a brief glimpse of delight and wonder in his eye, like a child. It was beautiful and made me stop and reflect, and delight and wonder as well.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

The past month has been hectic (what's new?), but overall good. Our month old brand new-to-us $3000 car DIED (we are borrowing a car from a friend until Jan. 20th), I had ingrown toenail surgery on Dec. 6th, we moved from Hoppers Crossing (near Melbourne) to Ballarat on Dec. 15th, friends from England stayed with us for Christmas (Dec. 24th - 30th), and our phone and internet lines are not properly working yet-- hence part of the reason why we have not been in touch (though we noticed a lot of you bloggers out there have been slacking as well. Must be the holidays!). I say things are overall good because Mark is enjoying his new company/job and is seeing excellent results with the technique they use (NIP). It's also nice to finally be getting settled into a house and into a job for me. I'm moving to full-time at Starbucks next week. I started my training for Supervisor today, and was also told by Starbucks' District Manager that he was arranging the date for my Assistant Manager interview for me today. Hopefully that will indeed happen soon (in the meantime I'm still looking for/open to other options). Oddly enough the most difficult times for me are when we go to church. I get really depressed/emotional. I think it's because I miss my old churches (Jubilee, SBCC, etc...) and the Christian relationships from them. I prayed for deep, passionate, and meaningful Christian friendships for both myself and Mark in Hull, England and the Lord provided. I need to pray the same for here. Pray with me!

Above: for New Year's Eve we went to Matt's house (in the Starbucks photo below). He's my co-worker in Port Melbourne. He had a little party. Then we left and met up with some friends at Waterfront City in Melbourne for the fireworks! They were fabulous. We brought a blanket and had front row seats. The Lord blessed the evening as well as we sat by a man who just got back from Uganda. He works with Watoto (a children's choir). My friend who was with us also recently went to Uganda and so they were excited to talk to each other.

Matt did a beautiful job of making my favourite drink for me, a toffee nut latte with extra whip and extra toffee nut sprinkles. I won't be having these for a while though... I've given up dairy and wheat/gluten for a month to see if my skin improves. After only a week it has improved, but we'll see how it goes after a month. It used to go up and down anyway. Of the two I think dairy is the real culprit... I'm hoping it's not both as I enjoy eating both!

Above: Katie and James, the highlight of our Christmas. These are two of our friends from Hull, England, still currently travelling around Australia in a van (they're in Sydney at the moment). They decided to come to our house for Christmas! We had a fabulous time. It was SO good to be with people we knew that knew us, and we got to know each other even better. We played games and watched movies and went sight-seeing together and had some good conversations. Thanks for the great visit!

James and Mark went to a Cricket game on Boxing Day. Australia vs. India. I think the 5-day game ended in a draw.

Our backyard. Sorry it's so small. I'm not sure how I can make it bigger for you. It's small, with cemented area and a clothesline in the middle, and it's surrounding by trees (which I love!). The weather has been great and I've been able to lounge around in a bikini tops and skirts! Hooray for summer! It was beginning to feel like Narnia for a while with a never-ending winter.

Our back porch looking into our backyard. Notice the shed in the backyard, the dark doorway which leads to an outdoor toilet, and our dryer which is in our laundry room, also outside of our house. The door to our kitchen is just past and to the right of the air con unit on the right wall.

I'm considering starting another blog to share thoughts about my passion: ethical consumerism. There is so much I want to do with this passion, which will really start after the house is fully unpacked and sorted (we're almost there!) and the internet is up and running. I'll let you know when it begins...

Hope all is well with you!

Again, our new address: 3 Duncan Street, Ballarat, 3350, VIC, Australia.