People always say there is a first for everything. This is my first trip to Australia, and this is also my first blog. Sarah is on the trip with me and she writes a blog like this. She is unaware, but she inspired me to start this one. :]
So far, we have been here, in Brisbane, for over 2 weeks and it is amazing. The first week was relaxed and we got to know so many new people. I got to meet my host family and find out how wonderful they are. Jason is from Memphis and went to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. In case you were wondering, that is also a Christian University. He met Sarah there and they are now happily married for fifteen years. Sarah is an original aussie. She was born and raised in Brisbane. She is such a fun loving lively person. Jason is the polar opposite though. He is very laid back about everything. Getting to know them has been a wonderful experience.
Following the first week of adventures we started camp Orion. Camp Orion is an outdoor camp filled with challenging activities that force us to build relationships with our groups. We were prepared to be paired off with campers as "buddies" to get to know throughout the week. My buddy had just had surgery on her foot so she was only planning to be there on Wednesday and Thursday. She was a return camper that loved Orion so much that she couldn't sit out. I was a little bummed about the fact that I wouldn't get the full affect of having a buddy but I tried to make the most of it.
Throughout the week we participated in activities such as: initiatives, the dangle, the continuous course, bush walking, absailing, kayaking, leap of faith, and the swing by choice. Every single activity had a different challenging element. I watched as God worked in each of us to bring our strengths together and make a successful team. After the daytime activities we all gathered to listen to a speaker each evening. Each speaker had something special and unique to say. It was interesting to hear their stories and how unique they were. But most of all it was interesting to realize how raw it was. Nothing was sugarcoated. They were open and honest and shared things that were personal to them. Something about that honesty and vulnerability can really bring you closer to someone. They all talked about how God was working in their lives though. Not every story had a happy ending. That is something that is important to realize. Just because fairy tales end happily, that isn't always the plan that God has for His children. Camp was a wonderful time to build relationships with the team and the aussie campers and staff.
After camp we went to a rugby game that Friday evening. It was definitely different than American football. I was surprised at the calm atmosphere. Football games are like a party to me, loud music, screaming fans, and a deep commentator's voice over the loud speaker. The rugby game was very different. There was no commentator to fill the silence. Fans screamed and hollered but not like the fans do back home. I had fun at the game, it just was not what I had expected. Then on Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to go to the Australian Zoo. I got to hold a koala and a humongous snake. It was really cool to see they have a Kangaroo/Wallaby petting zoo. The wallabies ate right from my hand! :] The otters were my favorite part of the zoo of course! Otters have so much energy and I love it. They are so fun to watch while they run around and flip through the water. We left the zoo and then visited the Glass House Mountains. They were so cool because of how random they looked. Asian tourists were there and they wanted their pictures taken with Sarah and I because our faces were painted.
Sunday, after church we had a church wide picnic at Wellington Point. This is a cool spot to hang because it right along the coast. This was also the day that made me miss home a little. It was the fourth of July and I got to thinking about how I typically spend my fourth of July and that I wouldn't be doing that this year. Change is a good thing though. God has a plan for me and being in Australia is definitely apart of His plan. I have learned so much about His work in others and it is good to be surrounded with all of these strong Christian people. The picnics always amaze me. The community of people here is so powerful in their faith. Following the picnic, we held a surprise birthday party for Lucas and then we went to the movies. The girls went to see Eclipse, while Leslie and I went with the guys to see the A-Team. It was a late night to be out to have to start HBS the next day...
Morning came to soon. Exhausted, everyone gathered for Holiday Bible School. We had a great turn out with about 50 kids all together. The theme for the three days was LOVE. We started on Monday with the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors, then we told the story of salvation and how God's love is unconditional, finally on Wednesday we shared the story of the good samaritan. This was probably my favorite day of the week. I was in charge of crafts for the week, and this day we decided to wash their feet. We got them to put a painted footprint onto a wash rag and then i washed each and every child's foot for them. Not a glamourous job by any means, but it was fun to get there reaction. Doing this was very humbling. It made me think more about having a helpful heart. I took on the role that no one wanted without being said. Sometimes that is what is needed to do to learn. And learn is what I did.
I can't forget to mention the Bunt Family Feast! On Tuesday, we all gathered at the Bunt's house and had a "barbie." They held a fourth of July celebration for us! Mr. Bunt grilled chicken, steak, sausages, kangaroo, and crocodile! All of which was delicious. Mrs. Bunt contributed with her specialty in desserts. She made three cheesecakes and pavlova. Pavlova, I have discovered, is a delicious Australian mirange cake like dessert. It was good to fellowship with everyone.
This has truly been a blessing for me, and I pray that God opens my eyes to every lesson He has planned for me.