It was early this month when I smelled it. I came to this country in the heat of summer, a heat that drew everything out; intensifying smells and therefore my meeting them. But you know, we’ve been in winter. Scents were dulled. Until now, as spring begins to show. This month some heat returned. I stepped outside of my caravan and recognized the air. I’ve craved the first food I ever made in Australia — a hurried bowl of rice, chicken, spinach, Greek yogurt, & salt. My tongue is not looking for Solo (an intense lemonade soda) but my nose remembers that Solo is what I drank in the original heat. It’s what I drank the last time the air smelled this way. It’s jarring that there are even familiar things here. To recognize something from the past, even a seven month old past, disturbs my own perception of myself.
“I thought I was new here.” I think.
“But don’t you remember…?” My nose replies.
“So I’ll settle a bit.” My head cautiously decides.
A slice of Australia is beginning to feel familiar. My nose was one of the missing pieces, I guess. And it reminds me that I look forward to the day I can move somewhere and know, with some certainty, that I will be settling there for “long term.” For more than a year at a time.
For three weeks I’ve been writing the opening paragraphs for blog after blog. I have five unfinished pieces hanging around the “Drafts” folder. Everything sounds stupid or inadequate or this or that. I don’t just do this to myself, though. Whenever I’m at a meeting, or in church, or listening to a presentation, I’m constantly editing their word choice. I mentally rearrange their quotes and statements and statistics to create a smoother flow. I’m no expert. I just get antsy in September, looks like.
Instead of making myself crazy with that nit picky rewriting, and to finally publish something here, I will tell you what’s been happening without being a perfectionist.
Josie, Ian, and Kia & Kiana have gone to Vanuatu. Besides running the OMS office in Australia, their ministry focus is on isolated Chinese communities in the South Pacific. They are spending two weeks following up recent believers, encouraging them, and seeing how God makes a way to share about Jesus. It’s been one week already, so the time is flying by…at least in Melbourne. I don’t know how they feel! Honestly, I was not looking forward to their leaving. Last time they were away I’d not been here very long, and I felt a little lost. This time it’s been better — prayer meeting, OMS visitors from America, and meetings have made the first week go by in a flash. I’m also really excited for how God has used them, and will, in Vanuatu. They will have plenty of stories when they get back, I’m sure. Please pray for their protection and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in this final week.
Last week/this past weekend, OMS America sent visitors. Men for Missions (MFM) is a ministry of OMS that encourages men to do, go, and give whatever God asks of them. As a part of that purpose, they lead short term trips to support and encourage OMS missionaries on the field. Through MFM trips, OMS has also gained long term missionaries. One of them being Tom, HOPE61’s director. MFM’s international director, Warren Hardig, visited us with his wife Velma and two long-time OMS & MFM supporters. We had them to the weekly Thursday prayer meeting. I was able to help set up for an evening meeting and provide some transportation on Friday. On Saturday I took them out to the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden. (Really beautiful, good walks, by the way.) We also walked around Healesville a bit and ended the day with dinner at the Lau’s.
For HOPE Thailand was postponed. For HOPE Thailand was the fundraiser I’d planned to raise some money for HOPE61’s upcoming work in Thailand. I needed ten groups/pairs to help me, though, and only had one. I made the decision to reschedule for sometime next year, and instead have a recruitment meeting.
I’ve been planning Tom’s schedule. Tom, HOPE61 director, will be visiting Melbourne from October 12-20. I’m happy with what I’ve got on his schedule so far…small group meeting, Unshackled meeting, Thailand meeting, and he’ll speak at Report to the People. (OMS Australia’s annual meeting to report to donors and supporters.)
Still waiting to hear on beginning prevention work. You might remember that I presented a church with a proposal for curbing and preventing the demand for human trafficking, starting with men and addictions to pornography. I’m still waiting to hear back, but still feeling good about God’s guidance in it.
What’s in a Name? is looking good. What’s in a Name? is the art show to be cohosted by Unshackled & HOPE61, further cementing a partnership I’ve really enjoyed. This is an opportunity for local creatives to make an expression about human trafficking to the broader community, and for both Unshackled and HOPE61 to share our missions in a new way. We have some submissions but are still looking.
Finally, my fundraising is in dire straits. OMS estimates that I need to have $3000 (USD)/month, but I have just $525/month committed. Why did I leave the US with this situation? When I first came to Australia I had a decent amount of “cash” in the support account. And after my rollercoaster journey of Phillippines, Ireland, Philippines, Ireland, America, Australia… it was getting difficult for me to raise the support I needed. We hoped that a short trip to Australia and then a returning fundraising trip to America would help. But as you know if you’ve been reading my blog a while, God’s plans are often different than our own. The “cash” is now dangerously low, and monthly support is not the level it was seven months ago. My chief reason for communicating this need here on my blog is to be upfront, honest, and ask for your prayer. I really believe that God hears and responds to our prayers (II Kings 20:2-6), and I need your voices joined with mine. He has never, ever, not once, failed to provide for me, especially through His Church. I trust Him, and I know He’ll hear both your prayer and mine. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, sacrificed financially, and taken time to encourage me.
Tomorrow I go away for two days of retreat in the woods. Just me, God time, and a whole cottage to myself. I’m anticipating hearing God’s voice and coming back renewed. I’m going to pray, read, cook, sleep, watch movies, and walk amid the trees. Can’t wait!!!