What an amazing day!

Excerpt from Spring 2014 student Breanna Reeder’s blog “Australian Adventures”. Reproduced with permission.

Today I woke up at around 6:30am because I am still a little bit jetlagged and the once the rest of my roommates were awake we went for a coffee run. We went to this place called zarraffa’s which is like a starbucks. From there we just walked around little shops and we went down to the shore line and took pictures and out our feet in the ocean. The view was so beautiful and the water was so clear. Even after only being out for a short while, we were all  hot so we stopped for some gelato, I had strawberries and cream and it was delicious! We were out until about noon and came back for lunch and then headed out to the beach again, with swimsuits this time. (they call them swimmies, and they call sunglasses sunnies.) I also asked them if there were beach tags for the beach and the had no idea what I was talking about and so I explained to them what beach tags were and they thought that was such a ridiculous idea. Once we were at the beach everyone went into the ocean and we hung out in the water for about an hour and a half (I put sunscreen on 3 times and still got burnt, the sun is 7x hotter here). Once we came out of the ocean we walked around town more and looked at little shops again. Everything is so expensive here. All the dresses are anywhere from 50- 120 dollars. I asked the Australians if they ever went thrifting and they didn’t know what I was talking about. After I explained it to them they told me that they called it op-shopping and yes! They loved to go op-shopping. We left the beach and came back to our little apartment to shower and get ready for dinner and a time of worship.

Worship was held in one of the apartments and it started with 3 worship songs that I had never heard before but I loved them all. This wasn’t just a time of singing, it was clapping, singing, dancing, praying. It was just so beautiful and so full of the powerful Holy Spirit. This amazing worship was followed my 2 speakers. One of them was the president of the University and the other ones name is Andy and he had a ministry called Red Frogs. Their ministry started by Andy and his friend getting into a college party because they offered a college frat Red Frog gummy candies. This was how they were allowed inside the building. Once inside, they go to people who are way too drunk and in danger of hurting themselves and they help them. Andy said that this ministry is in every university in Australia except one but they are working on that one now. One of the coolest things about this ministry is that they are in the right place at the right time, they are saving lives.

This retreat is just absolutely wonderful and I am so thankful that I was able to meet Australians that will be in my classes with me. However, I haven’t done any school work since the middle of December so “I reckon” (the Australian phrase for “I think”) that it will be a little difficult getting back into the swing of things.

I was so scared of this new adventure and so far it has been nothing but amazing. I am so thankful for all your prayers and that God had blessed me with this wonderful experience.

1911904_10202661473350368_846554206_n1Driving to the retreat!

img_4649Beautiful Beach!

img_46512Clear waters.

img_46764Eating gelato

1654037_10201824516001916_534439881_nSome of the girls in the ASC program with me!

1656178_10201824517361950_247015629_nOn our way home- Hungry Jacks, its like our Burger King

Advertisements

Prayer to Masks

By Abby Sells   (Taylor University, spring 2013)

It has almost been a year since I left for my semester in Australia. My deepest hope when I was there would be that even when I left my heart would always be affected by what I learned. Thankfully the Lord continues to put speakers, classes, friends and opportunities into my life that engage what I learned during my four months in Sydney.

Recently, I read a poem in my world lit class by Leopold Sedar Senghor. Though it is about Africa, my heart was reminded of the Aboriginal people and stories I heard.

 

Prayer to Masks

Mask! Masks!

Black mask red mask, you white-and-gold masks

Mask of the four points from which the Spirit blows

In silence I salute you!

Nor you the least, the Lion-headed Ancestor 

You guard this place forbidden to all laughter of women, to all smiles that fade

You distill this air of eternity in which I breathe the air of my Fathers.

Masks of unmasked faces, stripped of the marks of illness and the lines of age 

You who have fashioned this portrait, this my face bent over the alter of white paper 

In your own image, hear me!

The Africa of the empires is dying, see the agony of a pitiful princess

And Europe too where we are joined by the navel. 

Fix your unchanging eyes upon your children, who are given orders 

Who give away their lives like the poor their last clothes.

Let us report present at the rebirth of the World

Like the yeast which white flour needs.

For who would teach rhythm to a dead world of machines and guns? 

Who would give the cry of joy to wake the dead and the bereaved at dawn?

Say, who would give back the memory of life to the man whose hopes are smashed?

They call us men of coffee cotton oil

They call us men of death

We are the men of the dance, whose feet draw new strength pounding the hard earth. 

 

I did not understand this poem at first and thought my professor did an amazing job at bringing meaning to the poem. Briefly let me share how my professor helped me connect this writing to the Aboriginal people I met.

The first half of the poem is the image of a man going before the Masks–the ancestors of his people. He talks of the extreme reverence “In silence I salute you!” Often, I was amazed at the respect that the Aboriginals had for their land for their people. The poem conveys that this is eternity to this man–whether or not I believe spiritually in the same powers I can recognize that these are not myths but truth to him. I spent a weekend in an Aboriginal community where I wrestled with what ‘truth’ meant. This poem reminded me of how I learned just how westernized Christian my beliefs were and my inability to give grace to others who believed in a different spirituality.

The second half of the poem implores the ancestors to listen to this man’s call. He recounts the horror done to Africa by Europe–it is real and it is painful. I remembered many of the faces of people who shared their stories and the injustice that was brought upon the Aboriginals. Moreover, the narrator says no longer must the Africans succumb to the stereotypes. The world is moving and his people must show up–“let us report present at the birth of the world”. He’s gathering those around him, rallying that they believe not only are they worthy as humans and as a culture but also as a necessity to the world around them, “like the yeast which white flour needs”.  The man says who will bring rhythm to this machine world? The African people can offer something no one else can. And most powerfully that they are not what the world has defined them but, “We are the men of the dance, whose feet draw new strength pondering the hard earth”. This powerful image reminded me of the song and dance of different Aboriginal clans.

Hopefully I do no injustice to relate Africans and Aboriginals for surely they are entirely two different people. But the message appears familiar to me in what I learned this past semester as Aboriginal people are striving to find a place in this world—a fine balance of their traditions and a westernized world.