Excerpt from Fall 2014 student Rachel Parkhurst’s blog “Walking Through Oz“. Reproduced with permission.
It’s taken me 2 months to experience a deadly Australian creature. And, must I say, Australia has finally lived up to its “creepiest place on Earth for things that will eat you” stereotype. Here’s the story..
So every Saturday I serve on Hillsong’s Street Teams. It’s a Church service that does many things, but yesterday I was gardening at an elderly lady’s house with three teammates. So they’re like, “Oh Rachel, go trim those bushes.” And I was like, okay I can do that, easy enough. So I go to trim these bushes with these scissor things and I think I’m doing a pretty good job when I look up and there is this GIANT spider just sitting in its web right above these bushes. His web is actually attached to these bushes… so while i’m hacking away at these bushes, he’s getting closer and closer to falling on me. So I dr
op all my tools and prance around the yard for about 10 seconds going “AH OH MY GOSH! SPIDER! SPIDER!!!” Then my team leader Ingrid walks over with this rake and hits this spider into the wall of the house and shakes the rake around a little bit, then looks at me and says, “I’m not sure where it is, but these bushes need just a little more work.” And I was like yeahh… about that. So I didn’t go back to work on those bushes, I ended up planting three cute plants, in which case it ended up I planted them right in the elderly ladies garden walkway. Anyways, I figured out I’m not a gardener today. BUT IT ALSO FIGURED OUT WHAT SPIDER IT WAS! It’s a Golden-Orb Spider, except it was black…
Yesterday we also went to an Aboriginal Christian Church. The people were SOOOOO welcoming. When it was time to say hi to your neighbor, everyone got out of their seats walked through the aisles and other rows to say hi to people and give them hugs. They even did this to the Americans. I think I got 3 hugs and at least 5 high fives from strangers. It felt like one huge family. Also, while the band was playing, people would just be like, oh i have a song request, then the band would play their song! Without even practicing it! It was incredible! And there was the CUTEST little baby who literally just wandered around and tried to play the drums and guitar, it was so cute. It was honestly the most eye-opening experience I have ever had. This is what church should look like. It was relaxing and joyful at the same time. Everyone was more than glad to pray for one another, or suggest songs for the band to play, or clap when someone mentioned in the mic what they were currently struggling with. The community of the church was one that I have never experienced before. It wasn’t a group of strangers who came together to learn a new passage in the Bible. It was a family uniting for a weekly reunion to find joy in the celebration and worship of Christ. All I can say is that I will definitely share this experience with my church back home, in hopes that it can reflect the same welcoming and joyful spirit that I found in that church.
ALSO, I went to a South African Sokkie with my host family and their relatives. A Sokkie is a South African dance that primarily consists of shuffling. It’s kind of like swing dancing and ballroom dancing mixed together. It was SOOO fun. I made a few friends, danced twice, did the macarena, and much more. I have attached some pictures from the sokkie, and a picture of that spider!