Have Class, Will Travel

Excerpt from Bethany Van Eps personal blog “An Australian Adventure(r)” Bethany is a Spring 2017 student from Dordt College. Reproduced with permission.

As a part of my course requirement here in Australia I have to take CS254: Australian Indigenous Cultures and Worldviews as well as AS200: The View from Australia. These classes are about understanding and embracing the beautiful country we’re studying in and the beautiful people that inhabit it. Through these classes, in an effort to truly let us experience Australia, we’ve been on a number of really neat field trips, taking us out of South/Central Brisbane and letting us explore.

St. Helena (hell-ay-na) Island: AS200
Just off the coast of a South Brisbane, St. Helena Island opened in 1867 as Queensland’s foremost maximum security prison for men. The prison operated as one of the most lucrative businesses for the government housing a sugar mill, limestone kiln, and an award winning stock of cattle. While only 7% of the original buildings are still standing there was plenty to tour, led by our actor/guides demonstrating the prisoner-convict relationship and making the historical tour both funny and memorable. A day of historical touring and playacting helped us learn about Australia’s dark convict history.

(learn more: http://www.sthelenaisland.com.au/)

Stradbroke Island: CS254
Stradbroke Island is a popular tourist destination off the southern coast of Brisbane in Moreton Bay. While this island sports gorgeous beaches and often hosts Australian families on a weekend away, the ASC brought us for an entirely different purpose. As a part of our Aboriginal Australian cultural studies we took a two day trip to Stradbroke in order to learn and experience the history and culture of the island’s first inhabitants, the Quandamooka people. We first learned about traditional dress, song, and dance from Matt Burns, before then then visiting Uncle Norm and touring the elder’s museum which was full of artifacts that told the history of the island. We spent the next morning making traditional sand art with Craig aka ‘Tappi” before taking an afternoon swim in Brown Lake (a lake which looks like a massive cup of tea due to the surrounding trees dropping Tea Tree leaves into the water to decompose). A wonderful weekend full of cultural study and enrichment.

**These pictures are from the lovely Emily Kelly, Anna Gibson and the ASC staff. No phone=Bethany’s pictures lacking any form of quality**

Australian Outback- Bonus Downs: AS200
The Australian outback covers a large percentage of this country’s land and is generally unexperienced by the population at large. In order to learn about this more wild rugged side of Australian history and culture we took a nine hour drive towards the heart of the country and spend 2 days 3 nights in a sheep shearing shed an hour outside of Mitchel. This trip could really have a post unto itself, but I’ll try and shortlist the jam=packed 4-day weekend. We had the privilege staying at a farm-stay called Bonus Downs, hosted by the lovely Madonna and Lyle. Our time there included a property tour, a brief history lesson of the farm, a discussion about environmental stewardship as Christians, a little trek through the mud to catch Yabbies (like a little crawfish), and nightly campfires. Part of our discussion on environmental stewardship included the issuing of a challenge. A no-shower challenge. The purpose? To preserve water, feel connected to ‘place’, bond with each other (and give Bethany dreadlocks). The result? A shower has never ever felt better. While we didn’t get as dirty as students in semesters past and were treated to a bit more luxury, red dirt, mud and campfire

**These pictures are all Anna Gibson’s I believe but Emily Kelly and Alyssa Migliaro posted some really cool ones on FaceBook as well**

Bridgeman Baptist Church- Dhiyaan Service: CS254
Bridgeman Baptist Church is a medium sized Baptist Church located in North Brisbane. This past Sunday in an effort to learn more about how Aboriginality and Christianity are compatible practices we traveled as a class to experience their Dhiyaan Service which is lead by Aboriginal Australian worship leaders and pastors. At this service we were able to see a Galatians 3:28 demonstrated through a traditional dance performed by members of the congregation, both young and old, indigenous and nonindigenous, male and female. It was a beautiful opportunity to witness the blended, diverse body of Christ and was really eye opening for all of us. CS254.PNG**Photo Credits: https://www.instagram.com/australiastudiescentre/ **

Overall this semester has given me wonderful opportunities to explore not only the awesome city of Brisbane, but also the beautiful country it is located in! I’m so thankful for classes that facilitate this kind of hands-on, exploratory learning and have been so blessed in this way! Eighty some odd days of exploring down, twenty some to go! Excited to soak up as much as I can!!

Blessings from Brisbane,

Bethany ♥

Advertisements

embrace the smallness

Excerpt from Marissa Showalter’s personal blog “Riss Lynn Takes Brisbane” Marissa is a Spring 2017 student from Messiah College. Reproduced with permission.

“It’s good for the spirit to be reminded as an individual or a community that there will always be something bigger, older, richer, and more complex than ourselves to consider” – Tim Winton, Island Home: A Landscape Memoir.

18274728_1545279498817557_2793834575375695077_n

Australian Outback by Mitchell, Queensland. Photo by Alyssa Migliaro

In the last week, I’ve truly experienced Australia the way that most of the rest of the world pictures it to be: koalas and kangaroos, red dirt for days, and starry night skies that take your breath away. That’s right folks, I finally experienced Australia Zoo and the Outback (and I’m not talking about the steakhouse). And what an experience it was.

So two Mondays ago it was a public holiday (Labour Day) here in Queensland, and what 18198218_791562847677225_6166771247237832656_n.jpgbetter way to spend our day off from uni than a trip to Australia Zoo?! Yep, you heard me, I finally went to the home of the Crocodile Hunter. If you thought my level of excitement to be in the Butterfly Sanctuary in Cairns was high, you should’ve seen me Monday morning. Bouncing off the walls is definitely an understatement.

I have never been to another place quite like Australia Zoo. In the U.S., all the zoos I have been to have been crowded, noisy, and very city-esque. This one was sparse, tranquil, and felt as though we were actually in the wild. Some of the animals even roamed free from their exhibits with their trained handlers — such a strange occurrence! You wouldn’t see a dingo being walked down the sidewalk in proximity to patrons at the Philadelphia Zoo, that’s for sure.

18198566_791570347676475_172164663939882670_n

The view from the treehouse on Bindi’s Island

Growing up watching Steve Irwin as the Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet as so many of us did, it was unreal walking amongst his legacy at Australia Zoo. The passion that oozes from his memory and the staff is palpable, and it makes you excited too. This is the Australia that I always pictured from my childhood, this wild and untamed side that invokes all the images of deadly snakes and riled crocs. I even got to hold a koala and walk among kangaroos and wallabies in “Roo Heaven.” SO EXCITING.

But seriously, the Outback trip was AMAZING. It was a class excursion, so the whole group of Americans went. It was 10 hours of driving to get to Bonus Downs, the farm that we were staying at just past Mitchell. This farm regularly hosts large groups and is run by Madonna and Lyle, the sweetest old farm couple you will ever meet. It was a nice weekend away to sort of just chill out, get some peace, and reconnect as a group. We slept in a sheering shed and under the stars while we were there, sat around campfires, and ate TONS of food, a personal favorite of mine. Pretty sure we had a full meal every two hours (well maybe not but it felt that way!).

And can I just say that I love camping?! The smell of the fire, the fresh breeze that

18402200_10211342518710868_3487238319657504312_o

Photo by Anna Gibson

caresses my face in the evenings, the stars shining brilliantly in the sky, the freedom of having no schedule and just being able to sit around chatting and sipping on coffee, singing worship songs, and just feeling God’s presence hovering over us all. Takes me back to my favorite place on earth, Roxbury Holiness Camp, where I’ve camped with my family every year since I was in diapers. There is no place where I feel more at peace or more connected with God than out in His Creation. Praise Him for this beautiful, magnificent, diverse world!

18402295_10211342166142054_8069937628174962626_o

Photo by Anna Gibson

Among other things, I also learned how to crack a whip (and I would recommend staying a safe distance away if I have a whip in hand), I shook hands with the prettiest horse ever, held some yabbies (crawfish), took some solid naps, and went for long walks in the red soil with the flies swarming (I had a whole heap of them just sitting on my back — if you don’t like bugs, the Outback is NOT for you just an FYI).

18319381_10211341215478288_1538148021146687696_o.jpg

Lauren and I are professional nappers. It’s a gift. Photo by Anna Gibson.

The last night, I also slept under the stars despite the cold (yes, remarkably and to my utter shock Australia does get cold at times!). I remember waking up at probably around 4am and catching my breath as I peered into the dark night. Tim Winton, a famous Australian writer, best describes the experience of the Australian night sky in his memoir Island Home:

In the desert the night sky sucks at you, star by star, galaxy by galaxy, until you begin to feel you could fall out into it at any moment. In Australia the sky is not the safe enclosing canopy it appears to be elsewhere. It’s the scantiest membrane imaginable, barely sufficient as a barrier between earthbound creatures and eternity … you feel a twinge of terror because the sky seems to go on forever.

And it does indeed go on forever, I can attest to that! The night sky does a remarkable job of reminding you how unimaginably small you actually are, and makes the hairs on your arms stand up when you consider that despite the smallness, there is a great big God who knows us personally and CHERISHES us with an unfathomable and inconceivable love! Embrace the smallness friends, because within it the glory of God is revealed. I wish that I could take pictures that would do justice to everything that I am seeing with my eyes so that you all could feel the way I feel as I look upon God’s handiwork. How breathtaking. How marvelous. How awe-inducing. He is good. SO GOOD.

18222238_1545280828817424_8327572436187709036_n

Photo by Alyssa Migliaro

Carry this sweet reminder of God’s greatness with you this week. Take a moment to look at the sky and drink in the wonder of His presence. Thanks for reading.

xoxo, Riss

*Fun fact: did you guys know that 80% of Australia’s population actually lives in their top 20 largest cities? Hold this up in comparison to the U.S., with only 10% of our population in our 20 largest cities. We think of Australia as being a country full of crocodile hunters, when actually the majority of the population is comprised of city-dwellers. Pretty mind-blowing, hey?

Cover photo credit at the top goes to Alyssa Migliaro!

tennyson said it best

Excerpt from Marissa Showalter’s personal blog “Riss Lynn Takes Brisbane” Marissa is a Spring 2017 student from Messiah College. Reproduced with permission.

“Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” These words of Alfred Lord Tennyson have taken on a whole new meaning to me now that I am left with only six weeks left until I leave Brisbane and seven until I return to the States. Tonight I am feeling so keenly the heartbreak that I know is inevitably coming my way. I keep wondering to myself how I can possibly live contentedly back at home after having lived the life I have these past few weeks — and I’m stumped. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do it.

I am so glad to have done this program. I’ve met so many people that I love and have gotten to experience so much. But at the same time, I’m kind of mad at myself. I’ve let so many people into my heart, and I’m going to have to say goodbye soon. I’m already trying to steel myself for the leaving, but I also don’t want to waste a single moment that I could be spending with one of my friends here. Life is too short, and time is too precious.

So I’m stuck with the heartbreak, I guess. I have never identified with Tennyson more in my life. “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” I am so blessed for the relationships that I’ve formed during my time here, and I wish I had the opportunity to grow them even more. I will admit, it makes me a bit sad to think that when I leave I might just become a distant memory to people as well. Like, “oh yeah, remember that one American girl who was here for a little bit? What was her name again?” I will leave, people will continue on with their regular lives, and I’ll be long forgotten about. The next American girl will come to replace me, and I will become just become one in a list of many. I don’t want to be a distant memory. What a depressing thought.

Study abroad, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. But they didn’t tell you that when you finish, your heart will officially be living in two separate continents on the opposite sides of the world. Prayers are appreciated friends, because this is going to be a tough one.

Just some late night thoughts.

xoxo, Riss