We are officially two and a half months down under! It's crazy when I step back and think about it. We have a new normal, a new pace of life, new relationships, and a new church family. I suspected life would change once we arrived and settled in, but I was not suspecting how quickly I would become used to it. I've become used to people driving on the "wrong" side of the road; in fact we automatically migrate to the left side when walking down the sidewalk! Trashcans are "bins", restrooms are "toilets", and I'm starting to appreciate being called "mate". Walking or riding my bike is the new normal, as is hearing "so good" said a minimum of a hundred times a day...(make that 100 times every conversation). One more thing, you know you've made it when you're referred to as a legend over here. Some of these things are definitely Aussie things, but others might just be Hillsong language. So we are still in the process of sorting that out. Anyway, Ashley and I have settled into this season of our life and have begun to really enjoy it.
We live in a house with five girls. A Norwegian, a Mexican, a very British Albanian, and two other Americans. All creative students studying in different areas. There always seems to be singing going on, some dancing, a lot of laughter, and even more cooking. It's a bit like a family in the house, which is a blessing. Ashley and I wonder what we will do when we no longer live with people. We will then have to begin talking to each other again. I mean how do married couples tolerate each other all the time? Anyway, we feel blessed to have such a great group of girls living with us. Disclaimer: This paragraph has all negative emotions omitted because our housemates will be reading this blog. Thank you.
School is really great. I absolutely love the classes that I have. Song writing by far is the highlight and yet also the most challenging. It consists of writing a song a week, working with melodies, and creative writing. By the most challenging, I mean it really has stretched me. I have learned to step back and look at my own music objectively and think about what's best for the song. In the workshop we spend time writing and sharing our music. It is so difficult. You should try it some time. You have 60 min to generate a melody and throw some lyrics with it, all the while not using an instrument. Oh by the way you also have to share it with your whole class. Enjoy! In all seriousness it's been amazing though. I have become very intentional about what I feel like God is trying to communicate through the music He has given me. I just approach it now as, "I'll give it a go". It's the Aussie way.
Let's see what else... I have begun to appreciate what I was so formerly used to in life. Things like having two cars (I would be happy with just a crappy one now), Taco bell, going to the movies, hanging out with Ashley's grandfolks on Thursday nights, and most of all American coffee. I miss that. Coffee here is different. I don't really know how to explain it, it's just different. And it's not that there's not movie theaters and fun things to do - but everything is painfully expensive. Ashley and I dropped $39 going to the movies for Valentine's Day. No that didn't include popcorn. No that didn't include nachos, or a soda, or games in the arcade. Just the movie tickets. So I have gained an appreciation for what was just normal about life. I understand that normal is always changing, thus making nothing normal but just seasons of change. Still, I do miss some things about back home.
Ashley is working at a cafe by the school. She has been able to work consistently five days a week. She seems to enjoy it. She's learning how to make coffee and is gaining an appreciation for Australian coffee because her boss makes her drink a cup every shift. She will also brings home some great food sometimes which is awesome. Since she's working with the locals, she's picked up a bit of the Aussie way of saying things. Some examples are "How you going?" (How's it going?) ", "no worries" (in response to "thank you"), and "I'm sorry?" (instead of "what?"),. I personally am not use to their phraseology yet.
The church here is great! I never take for granted being planted in this House at this time. We've heard some incredible speakers, been a part of the new Hillsong recording, but most of all learing to embrace the Kingdom attitude here. There is this overarching attitude of, "Welcome Home". It runs through every area of church life. "Welcome to the family, let's do life together and love on others" seems to just be a way of life for them. We were invited to serve in The Western, a cafe in the church, after our Sunday night services. We get to chat with newcomers, serve them coffee/hors douvers (sp?), and clean up. It's honestly such a great place to serve and personally is stretching me. I have learned so much in the brief time of being in this culture. I am becoming more aware of what I want my attitude to be towards others and what I want my life to look like in service to others.
Well that's it for now. We still have a checklist of things to do while here. See a koala bear, surf at least once, hike the Blue Mountains, box a kangaroo, drive a motorcycle, and get Keith Urban's autograph. Ok, mainly that is my list, I don't know what Ashley's looks like.
We appreciate all the prayers, words of encouragement, and love we get from you.
Much love to all of you!