15 students, 2 nine hour bus rides, 3 nights sleeping in a sheep sheering shed, and 2 days in the hot, dusty outback No Showers!

This blog is written by Sierra Howard. Sierra is a Spring 2018 student from Azusa Pacific University.

My first thoughts when I heard “no shower challenge” were pretty neutral. I had done it before for various camps and missions trips so the feat didn’t seem too daunting. I looked around the room though at some of the other students and saw a look of horror in their eyes.

4 days total:  

15 students

2 nine hour bus rides

3 nights sleeping in a sheep sheering shed

and 2 days in the hot, dusty outback

NO SHOWERS!

I can’t say I blame them for being a little nervous about the trip. Despite some hesitations, we all chose to fully commit to the experience and take on the challenge.

Day 1: The first day was not bad at all, but that was to be expected. After all, it had only been a matter of 12 to 15 hours for some of us since our last shower. Although, I did miss the feeling of a nice, hot shower after spending nine hours on the bus sitting in recycled air. Sitting around the nice, hot campfire was the next best thing though.

Day 2: Waking up after our first night in the outback was actually really nice. I got up, got dressed, put in my contacts, tied my hair up in a ponytail and was good to go. I appreciated how easy it was to get ready for my day and although my hair already had started feeling kind of gross, it didn’t bother me much knowing that everyone else was in the same boat. I will say though, my baseball hat quickly became my best friend!

Sierra holding Australian Cattle dog puppy

Sierra holding an Australian Cattle Dog puppy

Day 3: My hair was definitely feeling pretty greasy by the time I woke up on our second morning at Bonus Downs.  However, I felt completely fine after once again hiding that grease underneath my baseball hat. Aside from my gross hair, I didn’t feel too much different after not showering for a few days. Sure we were all extremely dusty, but we were camping. Everything was dusty! There wouldn’t have been much point in showering to get the dirt off because we would’ve regained it the moment we stepped out of the shower. I used some facial wipes to clean my face at morning and at night and definitely applied plenty of deodorant, but body never actually felt that dirty.

Jacob, Sierra, Paige and Dalton enjoying their ride

Jacob, Sierra, Paige and Dalton enjoying their ride

Day 4: Our last day was anticipated to be the worst. It had been a while since any of us had showered and we were getting back on the hot bus for another nine hour trip. While it would have been nice to have cold water to stand under and wake ourselves up after the fun, but exhausting weekend, at this point, it still wasn’t too bad having not showered in a while. Surprisingly, I never noticed anyone really smelling bad. Although, it is possible that we just all smelt bad at that point and had gotten accustomed to the stench!

Enjoying the company of our host Madonna at the Ooline forrest

Looking back at our weekend without showering, we definitely all felt pretty gross by the end, but it wasn’t as bad as many of us thought it would be. Something about us all being in it together, made you feel less gross and at the very least, all seeing each other look like a mess together was definitely a bonding experience. There is something about seeing everyone at their worst state that really breaks down barriers and allowed us to be more vulnerable and open with one another. We got to see each other without being done up or put together, without putting on the facade of perfection that we feel the need to have for the world. We got to see each others flaws and imperfections and with that, we gained a whole new level of comfort. You could tell the dynamic within the group had shifted by the end of the trip and it was cool to see the whole new level of closeness that had formed since we had arrived in the outback on the first day. Overall I would most definitely count the no shower challenge as a success! However, I must say I didn’t waste any time taking one as soon as I got home and it was most definitely one of the best showers I’ve had!

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Truly life changing, and for the better!

This blog is written by Emily Schnefke. It comes from her personal blog “A pilgrimage“. Emily was a Spring 2017 student from Missouri Baptist University. Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been lightly edited. 

It’s been one year since I hopped on a plane incredibly excited but very nervous for a semester full of unknowns. I had no idea what those 4 months were going to bring, but I was excited for the journey. I met the group in LA, 22 strangers who soon became close friends, and we all made the flight to Brisbane.

Reflecting now, I am so incredibly thankful for the amazing memories that I made with all of these people, including that flight where we all were just getting started.

 

I miss the adventures to new and exciting cities, the bus rides commuting to and from school, grabbing coffee in the mall with fellow ASCers, chapel hangs, eating dinner with my host family, and learning in Kimberly’s classroom. During these four months these activities shaped me and molded me into someone who was different than the girl that hopped on that plane to LA. I learned about how beautiful community can be, gathering with others and pouring into them and being poured into. I learned how real God can become in a place where you know nothing else and have to rely on Him for things you made never had to before. I learned how to better be a pilgrim, to look at the places and the people I was around as more than just pretty scenery and faces. I learned that God works to teach us things in unique ways, whether they are beautiful (often times they were) or a bit messy and maybe not what we would have chosen. I learned to embrace life’s question marks, if you think too much they will stress you out but they can be very exciting when you trust God’s plan. Through the ups and downs that the semester brought I learned to completely place my trust in Jesus. To trust in His promises and in His character, He won’t let us down. Now, having been back for one year, I am still learning some of these things, and still learning new things from the trip! I smile (very big) thinking back on all of those late nights studying, eating at the Pancake Manor day one, donuts in the city, rugby with the fam, staying up all night in Sydney, laughing in class with the whole group, Carmello koalas in psychology, star gazing in the outback, and experiencing Straddie with everyone and the many more memories that have become of my semester abroad.

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A group of us smiling whilst snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

I have stayed in contact with a lot of the people in the group and have even met up with some! My pal Anna came to visit me in STL for the weekend and I saw Tanner in Indianapolis while I was coming through for the weekend. I have plans to meet up with two more ASC’ers in May for a week to catch up (its been far too long). Boy, am I thankful the ASC brought me to these wonderful people from across the country. That was such a big part of the program for me, getting to know the group of us Americans as we made the journey together. We were all connected by similar yet individual stories with our semester abroad.

 

So, through the adventure and the unknowns, difficulties included, I got to experience a semester unlike any other. Truly life changing, and for the better! I will forever look back on those crazy four months and be overwhelmed with such joy and thankfulness for such an amazing opportunity.

A Weekend on Straddy

This blog is written by Alex Andrews. Alex is a Spring 2018 student from Wheaton College.

Several weekends ago, the ASC team boarded a ferry and headed over to Stradbroke Island. We spent two days learning first hand what being apart of Aboriginal culture looks like—our first “in-Country” experience. We were met by Matty Burns, an Aboriginal man, who kindly welcomed us onto his land. Matty showed us the cultural dress, ritual face painting, and depicted a story by expressively playing the didgeridoo, a long woodwind instrumental. We learned dances, which was a fun and also incredibly significant experience. Aboriginal dances carry meaning and tell a story, a primary way of telling and passing down information from generation to generation.

Lea (our First Nations lecturer), who accompanied us for the weekend, spoke about Aboriginal values and practices. Aboriginal life is complex and places emphasis on community as well as balance, specifically between humans and the earth. By each individual taking responsibility for the earth and one another, Aboriginal culture maintains a beautiful dynamic of care. Furthermore, this society intricately allocates these responsibilities, ensuring that everyone and everything is taken care of.

Indigenous hand print

Sand art at Cylinder Beach

Later that day we had the privilege of meeting Uncle Norm, who showed us around the bush. He explained the names and importance of the wildlife surrounding us as we huddled for shelter between the rainstorms. Of course, we weren’t finished until we’d all had a go at some spear throwing!

While on Stradbroke Island, or “Straddy”, we also had the opportunity to do sand art on the beach with a man named Craig Tapp or “Tappy”. His excitement for us to join him in this community art project was contagious. None of us knew what to expect, and the majority of us had guessed that we would mostly be observing. However, in less than ten minutes, our hands were stained by coloured sand and we were absorbed in drawing animals, from sea turtles to kangaroos, and filling them with different shades. A group of us ran down to the shore to gather shells. We placed the shells in the body of a dove, completing the artwork.

eagle

Our weekend on Straddy was one of experiential learning and community building. Aboriginal culture is beautiful and complex, yet it has been disregarded, misunderstood, and neglected ever since the Europeans first invaded their land. Since then, Aboriginals have fought for their rights to what was theirs in the first place. Today, Aboriginal men and women navigate what it looks to live in modern society while holding fast to their culture with strength and grace. As a member of Western culture, and the citizen of a country that has also robbed its First Nations peoples of what was once theirs, I have a newfound desire to seek out reconciliation between the two communities.