Here I am with an update from the land down under! Which is actually probably nothing like you imagined it would be. There’s no outback and there’s no beach (without travel), but there’s tons of beauty and rich international culture. We are now 2 weeks in, and I’m sorry that I have had little time or access to update here because I have so much to share.
Here we are in Brisbane! We landed at 6:00am 2 weeks ago and hit the ground running. Knowing that we needed to adjust to the 15 hour time change, the staff here took us on a tour of the city as we half heartedly explored in a weird mix of adrenaline and exhaustion. Such a fun memory, and it only got better from there!
Week One: A different kind of Culture Shock
After a full week, the jet lag finally passed. Here in Aussie, the universities started classes again this week! We are currently in the middle of their winter season, so they have been on holiday for the past couple of weeks.
Because the uni was not in session, only a handful of students were present in Brisbane so our ministry looked a little differently. We spent a lot of time in training with the staff that have been working here at the University of Queensland for the past several years. The culture shock between Australia and the States was more significant than I had expected it to be! There are an abundance of differences in lifestyles, perspectives, language, food choices, relationships, beliefs, and just plain cultural understandings.
So our first week was spent learning; How to relate to Aussies, the difficult culture for Christians, the antagonistic perspective of many towards religion, the lifestyle of continuous parties and cultural perspectives toward things that are socially taboo in the U.S. but are obvious and open to the Aussies.
Our ministry also involved outreach to the community beyond the University. We spent some time teaching English to internationals and babysitting for Mom’s to participate in Bible Study. We also served for the international mission organization that is sending out missionaries across the world as they hosted events and dinners.
Our deepest relationships have developed from time spent with the local church and with the staff at Uni Impact. We have gotten quality time with them and have been privileged to be able to invest in each other’s lives. This is such an important part of what we are doing because the obstacles that we are facing and the prayers we are praying are all new to us, but this is the staff’s everyday. This will be hard for us for a month, but they will be here long after we’re gone. One of the biggest prayers of my time here is that we will be able to serve them significantly and encourage them greatly.
We also got the chance to be tourists in that first week while we tried to hold our eyes open. We visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where we held koalas, fed kangaroos, and watched a sheep herder do his thing.
One of the Uni students also got us a great deal on tickets to a professional Rugby game, which in and of itself was a big culture shock! And this was a strategic move for our team, particularly the boys, because once you know a little something about the game, you have an instant conversation starter with the Aussies. A common ground between our interests and theirs. A way to get to know a student on a level that may lead to something deeper.
First of all, Rugby is great. There is no stopping after each play, the game just keeps going. But what was surprising was the energy of the crowd.
We were privileged to experience what one of our friends told us was the best rugby game in years. It was the 80th minute, and the Wallabies were about to lose the game. Until at the very last second, after the clock had run out, they scored an unexpected Try and won the game!
My american friends and I were jumping and cheering, only to pause and realize that everyone else had seemed to move on. We walked back to the train in a calm crowd, dabbled with one or two excited fans here and there.
I asked one of our Aussie friends if this was normal, and he explained that everyone around us was pumped! They just keep it all inside, no need to be prideful about the win. One guy had actually been shut down by a security guard when he tried to initiate ‘the wave’ in the stands.
I couldn’t help but compare the experience to an American football game, like LSU or Bama. And remember that we weren’t at home, but could probably learn a thing or two from the humility and consideration the Aussies lived in.
Much to Learn
At the end of the week, I found that my biggest realization was that I have much to learn. So much to learn about my perspectives of the world and of faith, and simply life and lifestyle.
We came here with a perspective of what we have to offer. Believing that the way we do things must be right, because ‘Merica. Only to be immediately humbled by the realization that the Australians and their culture have so much to teach us. So I’ve been storing up in my mind the things I want to stay with me even after I leave the continent. But that’s for another blog post, stay tuned…
Thank you all so much for your continued interest and support! I will try my hardest to get some more updates out soon! Be on the lookout for prayer requests and more info about our ministry that has followed since that first week! Thankful for you all!