I was very calm – even serene. I knew I was headed for Australia, and I was happy, but it was all quite chill. Then the plane began its descent and I saw them. The curves of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. My first thought was, “THEY’RE REAL!”
By the time I re-checked my bags and got on the flight to Melbourne, I smelled like airplane. Happily, Josie and Ian were still willing to give me hugs as soon as I arrived at the gate. They gave me purple flowers and took me to eat a delicious lunch at one of their favorite places. It’s in a mall (“shopping centre”) and set up like stands of Asian street food. (Malls here seem to be a bigger deal than the ones I’ve been to in the US.) The Bongers ordered some of their favorites…fried dumplings, rice and chicken on a stick, a sort of fried roll with shredded beef inside.
It was noon when I arrived in Melbourne and the Bongers’s goal was to keep me awake until at least 8 PM. We opened a bank account, got me a cell phone, bought a few groceries (That was when I had my overwhelmed-I’m-in-a-foreign-country moment!), and had an Australian barbeque back at their house. (More GOOD food)
Actually, the whole week was busy busy. Ian just left on Sunday to take a ministry team to Vanuatu and wanted to make sure everything was taken care of prior to his leaving. (In case you’ve forgotten, Josie & Ian are the managers/leaders/directors for OMS Australia. I met them this summer at CROSS training in Indiana.)
On day 2 we tried to rent a car. Unfortunately, I’m six months too young. Ian and Josie took me to Urban, a church their best friends attend, to meet the pastor and some of the church members. We spent some time in the OMS office — and couldn’t use the bathroom because someone had stolen the copper pipes. (The first set of pipes has been stolen & replaced with more copper pipes and once again stolen.) The Bongers kept saying, “This never happens! What is this, a third world country!?” What they didn’t know was that later the electricity would go out. Not just in the office, but in some of the traffic lights too! (The Bongers were running errands when this happened. I was alone in the office on my first full day in Australia and just thought “Maybe this happens every day?”) This evoked further, “This never happens! Australia is a first world country!” No one could finish their work so we went off to Knox shopping centre for some cake.
By day 3 Ian had already scheduled two appointments for me. First I met with a man interested in serving with OMS in the South Pacific; his wife would serve with OMS through HOPE61. We had coffee with him which led to his inviting me to the family’s house for supper. (Note: Every time I say “supper,” I confuse someone new. Here “supper” refers to coffee & snacks after the last meal of the day. In my family it means the last meal of the day.) It also led to an awesome provision by God.
When we’d discovered I’m not old enough to rent a car, Ian said “Well, I guess that means God is going to get you a cheaper car. Or a free one.” Ian planned to email the OMS network to see if anyone could loan a car, but the power outage prevented that. After mentioning my dilemma during our coffee, the man said offered to loan me their extra car, thus saving me a bucket load of money! It runs on LPG, not petrol, so it’s also much cheaper to run. God hears our every need! I didn’t even have the chance to ask anyone to pray about the problem and He’d already planned for me.
(That night I had an awesome supper with the M. family, discussing missions, HOPE61, and how God is calling them. Later that week they said that they would definitely like to take the HOPE61 training.)
After coffee I met with Jess. Jess is groovy. She the coordinator for Unshackled, an initiative of a local church. Unshackled has raised quite a bit of money for anti-trafficking groups, advocated and raised awareness in amazing ways. In May they are holding their second Unshackled Week. Last year, the event drew approximately 1,000 people over its 5 days. This year it will feature eight events focused on CHANGING your life in light of the truth of modern day slavery. Jess has graciously invited me to be a part of the planning committee. My current responsibilities include their Twitter, Facebook, and some light “editing” — just like some of my HOPE61 responsibilities.
Days 4 and 5 I continued work with Jess (we edited a sponsorship proposal from 6 pages down to 3), attended the OMS prayer meeting, had lunch with long-time supporters of OMS Australia, made calls, and everything else that could fit in! I even met Amelia. Amelia is the friend of a friend of the Bongers and somehow found my blog. She had been reading for a bit when she messaged me (while I was still in the US) to see if we could meet when I got to Australia. We met and I absolutely love her! She is from NZ and is a missionary in Fiji, but I hope I see her again someday…sooner than later. I also met Kylie, Amelia’s friend who knows the Bongers. Kylie is also awesome & lucky for me, lives in Melbourne. I definitely want to see her again. (*hint hint in case Kylie somehow reads this. ; )
On Friday the Bongers took me to Frankston Pier to play at the beach. It was so nice to sit in the sun.
Before I show you some pictures, would you please pray for these 2 requests?
1. Computer — my laptop battery has either died or is protesting the change of address. Please pray that a cheap solution would come up soon! Most of my work-in-progress for HOPE61 is on that netbook.
2. Meetings — pray that I would be able to schedule further meetings with those interested in HOPE61 and OMS, this week.
And as always, thank you for your awesome support…and let me know how I can pray for YOU.