Sunday, January 30, 2011

Melbourne Mish

I never know how to explain or tell you about some of the things I get to experience in Australia. My words seem insufficient to capture the moments of pure joy, the moments when frustration almost leads you to knocking someone out, the moments when the work of the Spirit is tangible. I will attempt to share with you about the amazing week our teens spent in Melbourne, working with the Belmore Road congregation...through some photos and a top 10 list, of course.

10 Best Moments of Melbourne Mish
1. Open Mic Night: We do Open Mic nights in Gosford and have a lot of success with them being outreach activites. We did one on the last night in Melbourne, and it was awesmoe. So many people volunteered to perform. We even had 2 guys from the community, that some our teens met in a train station, come and perform. My favorite acts were Amber playing acoustic guitar karokee and Laura and Evan singing 4 chord songs.

2. Growth: one of the highlights of my week was watching our Gosford teens step up and serve. There was little to no complaining about the work we were asked to do. Through leading prayers and devos, I was so blown away by the maturity of these 13-17 year olds. I'm so proud of them.

3. Kids Korner: we did a play group for any kids in the congregation the last day we were in Melbourne. The kids were awesome and really cute. Our teens planned the whole activity and interacted with the kids so well. Plus, I got my teaching fix for a few more days. 4. Tuesday Night: We. along with all the Belmore Rd youth, were invited to the Carpenter's house on Tuesday night for a pancake supper! We had American lemonade and delicious chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries! Unbelievable. After dinner and a couple of rounds of Apples to Apples, the whole gang headed down to Brighton Beach. We spent a few hours playing ultimate frisbee on the beach with downtown Melbourne in the background. Before we left, we sat on the beach and praised God in song, with waves crashing in the background and the sky painted red.

5. Sharing a room with the Crazies: The housing situation worked out for Amber, Anne, and I to all share a room at the Drews house for the week. We had such a good time, and definitely did not get enough sleep. Without these two, I would not have made it!6. Hanging Out: With the busyness of the holidays, it seems like forever since I got to hang out and catch up with a few members of our youth group. This trip was a great way to rekindle and strenghen relationships inside our group, and with friends who live in Melbourne.

7. Church Picnic: On Sunday following worship, we had a church picnic at a local park. We had a great time sharing a meal and spending time with the congregation. The best part was the youngies (under 18s) vs. oldies (over 18s) tug of war competition. Sadly, the youngies had youth on their side and beat us 2-1.

8. Gardening: We did more gardening that week in Melbourne than I have done in the last 5 years. Even though mowing lawns and weeding flower beds isn't my idea of fun, it was still one of my highlights because everyone had such a great attitude while were doing it. Each person found a project or task and worked so hard that we finished so quickly. 9. The Bus: We crowded 14 people into our 14 passenger bus for the 12 hour drive to Melbourne. You better believe that we were riding three across in the front seat. Then we spent a week driving around the greater Melbourne area in it...lots and lots of bus time. Even though it's a little bit uncomfortable, it was also the sight of so many hilarious moments, like Tim singing Mika songs (yes, he can hit those high notes) and nerf gun attacks. 10. Sister Sara: On the Thursday of the mission trip, Sara (15 years old) called me outside and said she needed to talk about something. I was a little bit nervous because we had had a pretty emotional girls' devo the night before. When I went outside, she told Amber and me that she had decided to be baptized on Sunday when we got home!!! I have been studying with Sara for about a year, and it was so exciting to watch her die to her old life and be raised as a new creation on Sunday. God's timing is always perfect!
Looking back over this list, it is a poor representation of everything that happened that week. It's just a glimpse of an awesome experience where God worked on us and through us. Melbourne Mish is definitely one of the highlights of my time in Australia.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tell Me A Story...

Because international candlelightings are hard to plan on short notice and in an effort to fill everyone in on THE Story of the Century, I thought I'd blog about the details of January 4, 2011--the day I got my bling bling and a great fiance too!

Alex arrived in Australia on December 31st to spend 12 glorious days. Before he got here, I had myself convinced that there was no way he was going to propose. Since he had been here, he kept making comments about how we weren't getting married for 2 years and tried to pull me into every jewelry store in the mall to look at rings. He tricked me. He's in PR, so he's pretty good at "stretching" the truth.
Tuesday, January 4th was a normal great day. Alex and I had a double date with some of our great Aussie friends, Laura and Cristiaen Van Der Meulen, which ended in a giant nerf war (awesome double date activity, by the way). Laura and Cristiaen left my apartment about 10:30 pm and Alex said we should go sit out on my jetty (dock) and watch the boats in the dark. I didn't really want to go because it was chilly and I was tired from play nerf guns, but I agreed anyway. We were sitting on the dock talking about our New Year's Resolutions, individually and as a couple. Then, we started slow dancing, still talking about life, having a nice romantic moment. Before I know it, Alex has pulled away from me and is down on one knee!! He said a bunch of really sweet things, none of which I can remember, and all the while I am thinking, "I can't belive he is ruining this great moment with an engagement fake out." Though he claims otherwise, he has faked me out before. All I can say is "Are you serious?? Alex, is this real? That is really not funny!" (I always thought I wouldn't be one of "those" girls who says "are you serious?" but I definitley was! It's impossible not to say it.) After asking if he was serious about 7 more times and seeing him pull out this gorgeous ring, I knew it was for real. I did finally say, "Yes!" and he promised to be an amazing husband, a spiritual leader, and to love me until the day he dies. Sigh. It was like heaven, just the two of us sitting on the dock, starting our lives together--it was perfect. So there's my sweet little story about love! (that's a shout out for you Jill Nichols)

The Ring: Taking a good picture of a ring is really hard, which I'm sure some of you know. So there aren't any good close up ones yet, but you get the idea from these pics. The middle diamond and its setting are from Alex's Grandmother's wedding ring, so it's over 65 years old! He took her diamond and put it on my band. I feel so honored to have such a precious piece of our family's heritage.

The Plan: no dates have been set yet. I will be in Australia until mid-June like I already committed, then I'll be moving back to Edmond. The earliest we would get married would be in October, but nothing is concrete yet. Just letting everything sink in. I'll keep you posted!
THE spot where he got down on one knee
Just a little bit excited!!!!