Bay View Park

A poem by fall 2013 student, J.T. Cummings

Water trickles under the dock at Bay View Park. A heaven on earth.
Alone with one’s thoughts, in silence, he sits.
Meditating, listening, hearing what his heavenly Father has to say.
Broken, undeserving: Feelings that pass through the mind.
Relax. One’s mind begins to wander. Peace. Taking the burden from one’s soul; God arrives.
Anticipation of God’s direction, the summer breeze. Rest.
The water is still. The birds chirp in the distance. The sun sets.
God, a beautiful artist. The sky filled with colour.
Whole once again. Redeemed. One sits in his presence.
Serenity. Tranquility. Bliss.

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Playing catch up…

Excerpt from Spring 2013 student Fiona Tranquillo’s blog “My Aussieland Adventure”. Reproduced with permission http://myaussielandadventure.blogspot.com.au/

Wow… I feel so behind! There are so many things that I’ve been wanting to blog about, both for my own records and to share with you, but I simply haven’t had the time! So, now that I have a few minutes, let me catch you up on what has been happening…

-CRONULLA: Last weekend, a big group of us went to Cronulla Beach. The train ride was about 45 minutes, but it was so worth it. We actually didn’t spend time at the beach… we went to the sand dunes that Ty, the ASC intern, had recommended! It was a blast. Living in Minnesota, much of my childhood sledding time was spent thinking about how incredible it would be to sled without being cold. Well, that weekend, my dreams came true… rolling down the sand hills, sliding down the sand hills, sand angels… the whole shebang.

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-LEBANESE FOOD: Also last weekend, a group from St. James invited Tarah and I out with them after church on Sunday night. They took us to this fancy Lebanese restaurant and treated us to a feast of new, interesting, DELICIOUS cuisine. The food was great, but the fellowship was better. I can’t even tell you how fun it is to hang out with Australians. It’s those moments when I’m just chillin’ with Aussies like it’s no big deal that I realize what an incredible opportunity and experience I have been blessed with.

-DIGERIDOOS, SPEARS, AND BOOMERANGS: Last week in my Indigenous Cultures class, we had a special guest. Ross Smith, a famous Aboriginal artist, spent the whole morning with us in the park. First, he taught us how to play the digeridoo. It is an Aboriginal instrument and it is SO unique. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up; it’s worth a listen. Basically, we all stunk and couldn’t make any correct sounds, but we sure had fun trying. Next on the schedule was spear-throwing. After learning the techniques, we had a contest to see who could throw it the farthest. I failed miserably, but I must say, I felt quite empowered. 😉 Lastly, he taught us how to throw and catch Aboriginal boomerangs. You probably guessed it… I was real bad at it. BUT, it was a blast. On top of all that, he set up a display of his artwork, and he offered us extremely generous deals on all of it. It was such a unique, cultural, fun, rewarding experience.

-COFFEE SHOPS: I started a new “tradition.” During the first few months, I didn’t let myself spend any money on coffee, but my resolve has now crumbled. On Tuesdays, I get done with class at noon and don’t have anything the rest of the day. I’ve decided to leave Wesley right after my class, hop on a bus or a train, get off in a town I haven’t been to, and explore. After looking around awhile, I ask a local to point me towards the best coffee shop, then I settle in for the rest of the afternoon with a delicious drink and whatever work I have to do. It has been one of the most refreshing things I’ve done here. It is very unlike me to be okay with going off and doing something by myself, but it is something that I have learned to really enjoy since being in Australia. Taking the time to go out on a little adventure by myself, reflect, and drink hot, yummy drinks has brought me fresh energy, perspective, joy, and peace. So far I’ve explored an adorable town called Summerhill and a very multicultural town called Campsie

-CABRAMATTA: For the past two weeks, all of the schools have been on holiday. Since both my host parents work in schools, they have been on holiday, too. So, last Thursday, since I didn’t have class until the afternoon, Bee-Hoon planned to take Tarah and I out for the day. What a special memory! She loves introducing us to new cultures and to the foods of that culture, so she took us to a town called Cabramatta that has a heavy Vietnamese influence. On the train ride there, she taught me how to crochet these California poppy pins that she makes, and once we got there we looked around the shops and she treated us to Vietnamese treats and lunch. I had to leave early to go to class, but having Bee-Hoon want to spend that time with us is something I will hold close to my heart, and something that makes me smile every time I think of it.

Sushi, Service, Fireworks and Frustrations

Excerpt from Spring 2013 student Fiona Tranquillo’s blog “My Aussieland Adventure”. Reproduced with permission http://myaussielandadventure.blogspot.com.au/

My first week of classes had a very delicious ending… sushi!!! As I mentioned earlier, my host mom is from Singapore, so many of the dinners we have are oriental. On Friday, she told Tarah and me that she was going to teach us how to make sushi! I had mixed feelings. First let me say, I do NOT do raw fish… ew. Just thinking about it gives me the heeby jeebies (I think I just made up that spelling). I was QUITE relieved to see that everything she had for us to use was fully cooked. It was the sweetest thing… Bee-Hoon got everything totally prepped and set up a little sushi rolling station for each of us. She had prepared cucumber, carrots, crab, omelette strips, chicken, and radish. I put everything in every roll and it was SO delicious. Also, good news, I wrote down all of Bee-Hoon’s tricks for the sushi so that I can repeat it at home! This was not easy, however. Bee-Hoon, being quite the thrifty one, told us that taking her recipe AND her being in our blogs was going to require a contract and some major cash. Good news, though, we were able to pull it out of her, free of charge. 😉

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Fiona and her host mom

I think I may have become a sushaholic.

The best part about the night, however, wasn’t just eating the sushi. More than that, I felt like I really connected with my host family and started to feel “at home” for the first time. I was able to joke with them, laugh with them, and just be myself. I went to bed feeling very thankful.

Saturday started off bright and EARLY. Part of the ASC program is that all participants are required to put in 35 hours of service in a placement of their choosing. I, along with about 7 other ASC students, was placed on the Hillsong Street Team. This is a group of people from Hillsong Church and Hillsong College that go out every Saturday morning to different harder areas of town, knock on doors, and simply build relationships and help in any way they can. If often consists of yard work, but other times is just being good company for people who are often lacking in that area.

It was a really neat experience. Most of my group’s time was spent talking with this older woman named Shirley. We didn’t clean her house, preach the Gospel, or bring radical change… we simply sat and enjoyed chatting with her and listening to whatever she had to say. This was a bit of a challenge for me. So many Americans are engrained with the belief that service means doing. I left feeling like I hadn’t actually DONE anything to help. The more I’ve thought about it, however, the more I am finding value in the simple act of being there for Shirley and building a relationship with her… showing her that we care. I think that being on this team will challenge my view of service and teach me that spreading God’s love and light doesn’t necessarily mean serving a meal or handing out Bibles.

Saturday had a pretty slam-bang finish. I’m not sure what the occasion was or how often it happens, but we had heard that there was going to be fireworks that night. To sum it up… it was magical. Darling Harbor is one of my favourite spots so far, and seeing it lit up with fireworks was incredible. The icing on the cake was some really good conversations with a couple of girls in the group… some serious bonding, which I’m a huge fan of.

There were many wonderful highlights of the weekend, but there was also a lot of frustration. I’ve found myself being frustrated that Australian wifi stinks and that we’re never allowed to use it. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how stinkin’ expensive everything is. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how long public transportation takes. Most of all, I’ve found myself being frustrated with myself for being so darn frustrated all the time! I was expecting everything to be easy and happy-go-lucky, but it hasn’t really been that way a lot of the time. It is in these moments, though, where the Lord is teaching me so much. First of all, the things that are frustrating me are so trivial, and I need to open my eyes to the world around me and to the needs of others. Like seriously… being frustrated about wifi?? Let’s be real, Fiona. Second, when things really are hard… that’s okay! I have been clinging to the words of Psalm 34 that tell us that, as Christians, things are not going to be easy. Our hope is not in a promise of all happy-go-lucky circumstances, but rather, our hope is in a God who will be with us and FOR us no matter what the circumstances are! It is because of that hope that we can “bless the Lord at all times” and “have His praise continually on our lips.”

Praising Him in the good and the hard,

Fiona

In Retrospect: Australia Day

by Ty Tuin

For those who have only known the instant gratification of digital photography, let me tell you a story of patience, perseverance and the pursuit of pay-off.

On Australia Day (January 26th), I shot this roll of film. Delays from the lab and a few misunderstandings later, and here I have the short vignette of images more than a month later.

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The old Sydney buses rolled out for the day

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Orientation in the City

Turning over a new leaf, the ASC decided that trying orientation in the city would be a nice approach to welcoming the new batch of ASC students.

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So excited to see the new students!

At first it took some time for the students to learn how to get around.

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There were rivers to cross.

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And mountains to climb.

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After some lunch and a walk around they were ready to go.

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