I haven't been here in awhile, have I? Well... I have a pretty good excuse though. Jared and I were in AUSTRALIA for about 2 weeks during March, and the couple weeks before and after were just super busy with trip preparations and then catching up on life after being out of the country for 2 weeks. So yeah. For the 2 or 3 or you who might have missed me here ;-), that's my excuse. I hope to get back to posting regularly starting next week.
For now, I thought it would be appropriate to break the silence with an Australia-themed Good List. Hope you enjoy!
10. The INCORRECT WEATHER PREDICTION we were happy not to experience. For several days before leaving Kansas City, the forecast was predicting steady rain for almost the first full week we would be in Australia. That didn't happen at all. It was stunningly gorgeous almost every single day, with the exception of one day of heavy rain and a couple hours of overcast skies the day we spent in Sydney. Other than that, blue skies and sunshine!
9. The FRESH SEAFOOD. Oh, man. I must have eaten salt and pepper calamari at least half a dozen times and wouldn't have gotten tired of it if I had eaten it every day. And most of the times that I did so, we were sitting so close to the ocean, I could hear it. Bonus! So fresh and yummy!
8. The WALLABIES. The very first day we arrived, our hosts drove us up into the Bunya Mountains, where wallabies were as plentiful as the squirrels in America. And honestly, they appear to be even more plentiful since they are just hanging out all over the ground instead of hiding up in trees. So stinkin' cute! I wanted to adopt every single one of them!
I'm pretty sure this little dude was trying to share his lunch with me. :-)
See the little joeys? So cute!
See what I mean? They were EVERYWHERE! And I LOVED IT!
7. The BEACHES and their various SEA CREATURES. So refreshing. So beautiful. So interestingly scattered with wildlife.
Anna Bay, Raymond Terrace:
Manly, Australia (off the coast of Sydney):
I couldn't get over the colors in some of these guys. Crazy!
Tiniest little hermit crab I've ever seen.
6. The BEARDED DRAGONS that were so plentiful along the Sunshine Coast, we literally had to be careful where we stepped. I almost dropped my camera when I saw the first one right at my feet. It was so extraordinary to me, I couldn't believe it was real and just freely wandering around in nature. I LOVE THESE DUDES!
5. The EXQUISITE assortment of BIRDS. I mean, I'm not saying America doesn't have some pretty birds. But it's a whole new level of special when at any given moment you can look up and see parrots, cockatoos and kookaburras (among other things) hanging out just a few feet away. And if that's not impressive enough, grab a handful of birdseed and see what happens. ;-)
4. OAKVALE FARM, a wildlife reserve that is owned and operated by a couple who are members of one of the churches whose pastor hosted us during part of our time there. (Actually, he was the one who really arranged the whole crazy adventure, initially reaching out to Jared to speak at a men's conference, but then contacting other area pastors and ministry leaders to help make the trip a little longer and more worthwhile and productive. But more about that in a minute.) For now, LOOK at these animals! I could have cried. Actually, I think I did a little.
I SNUGGLED A KOALA!!!
AND FED A LITTLE KANGAROO RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND! He was in no hurry, either. See how he's holding on with both paws? I wasn't going anywhere until he was done. ;-)
Hey, Girl... How YOU doin'?
3. HATCHLING SEA TURTLES!!! I LOVE wildlife. Pretty much every bit of it in any form I can find. It's all so thrilling to me. But this was unlike anything I've ever experienced, definitely in a class all its own. We only had the briefest little window to try to take pictures and video, because the little turtles are attracted to light. That's how they find their way to the ocean. Under normal circumstances, the white of the cresting waves rolling into shore is the brightest point on the horizon under the night sky, so that is what they're drawn to. Needless to say, a bunch of camera flashes or glowing phones could disrupt that terribly. So not much to see in pictures and video here, but I encourage you to look it up on youtube. This process is utterly fascinating and well worth a few minutes of your time.
2. THE CHURCHES. In addition to the conference, Jared preached or taught at 4 churches while we were there, one each Sunday morning, one the last Sunday night we were there, and one during a special Tuesday night gathering so that representatives from several area churches could benefit from Jared's teaching while he was "in the neighborhood." What an incredible blessing to worship alongside so many of our brothers and sisters in their various churches, all very different in style and size and space, but all so clearly focused on the Gospel. Such a rich experience!
1. THE PEOPLE. Truly, I could write for days. Chris Thomas was our primary contact/host and the mastermind behind this entire situation, and I am still kind of in awe of how much he packed into that timeframe with such deliberate focus on furthering the kingdom, but also with such a thoughtful and generous heart toward us. Jared WORKED while we were there for sure. He spoke something like 10 times in 12 days, and we had quite a few days of several hours of travel along the way as well. BUT every single person who hosted us (beginning with Chris's parents picking us up from the Brisbane airport and driving us right into the Bunya Mountains) not only did everything they could to make sure we were comfortable and rested and well-fed, etc., each of them went well beyond the extra mile to help make our visit so special and memorable. We truly felt like we found a whole new family there, and we SO hope this was not our last visit. So grateful for the family of God and how quickly they truly feel like family all across the globe.