Thursday, May 29, 2008

God's hand in my relationships

yesterday i had lunch with MY dear RA-brittany. our lunch was too short, but wonderful. she's always been good at making me feel loved and encouraged. one of the things that stood out to me in our conversation was how amazing God is. he brings people into our lives at certain times, and coordinates who knows how many things to make it happen. and in retrospect, its so obvious that only God could have brought these things about.

for example, when my freshman RA got mono and was pretty much MIA after the first month of school, it really wasn't ideal. but if we hadn't had that period with no RA, i might not have taken leadership on our floor and applied to be an RA (and i don't like to think of all the dear friends i would have missed out on if that hadn't happened!) and i am almost positive i wouldn't be friends with brittany because she wouldn't have been my RA.

i dearly loved my time in australia, but being home for the past week and a half has made me so thankful for the relationships in my life right now. whether i'm apart or near to these people, God continues to show himself to me through them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

take two

sometimes things don't work out how i plan-
for the past few months i'd been working to get my cna license in oregon so i could get one in washington in the hopes that i could work at the hospital this summer. for some reason, things took exceptionally long and i didn't have my license before i headed to australia. and when i got back there were even more delays. so instead of waiting another 4-8 weeks before a license arrived, i made the decision to start working without one-at the same place i worked as a caregiver last summer and quit.
God has a way of making his will known when i ask, but sometimes its quite unexpected! i had to trust that when i walked through those halls again, when i sat through orientation for a second time, when i took a deep breath and made the plunge, that i was being obedient.
after orientation on tuesday and cpr class tonight, i start in the morning. i am praying that this summer will be better. i know what i'm getting into. i'm working part time. i'm working a different shift.
but i have the same God who is faithful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

i'm leaving on a jet plane

may 18, 2008
cairns airport
5:30 AM

after four hours of sleep, it was time to get up and load our bags. i'm sure carl was a little relieved that it was for the last time. he played us not one but two sappy songs on the short ride to the airport. it was quite sad to hug my favorite australian bus driver good-bye. and now hours of flying to go...

LA airport
9:10 AM

i love the usa! being back in the states feels better than i imagined it would. my excitement to be back is definitely growing-especially now that our long flight is over with. only one more plane ride to go!

memorable moments-
airport shopping with tyler and jon
pictures with brad and george
amy as my seat buddy
amy praying that our empty seat would stay empty (it did)
2 sunrises for the same day, may 18
my stupid mistake with customs form that required a new form (and a fake bill from the flight attendants)
calling my family

home isn't much longer now!

only in australia

a few more australia favorites-

give way instead of yielding
way out instead of exit
bottle brush trees
patrolled bathrooms
toliets instead of bathrooms (and women without arms)
sweeties and lollies
the big pineapple
the big mower

last supper

may 17, 2008
hides hotel
10:30 PM

one of our last rides in our bus led us to the cock and bull pub for dinner tonight. after much deliberation, i ordered chicken schnitzel with chips and salad. as we waited for our food, jon taught us a new game: up jinkum. passing a coin under the table undetected is harder than it may seem. =) jon, bryan, megan and i were against jodi, jennee, josh and reneca. it took a few practice rounds for us to get the hang of having a nickel in our hands just right, but it was quit fun!
i had my second drink from a bar for this trip-coke! same as last time. =) it looked a little funny to see all of the fox students gathered around the bar deciding what the order.

the winners were announced for the australian cultural experience checklist-to my surprise i got 2nd prize! since several other people had the same score as me, jim randomly selected a name and it was me! eating donuts, petting dead snakes, eating weet bix and spaghetti for breakfast and trying vegemite really did pay off! i gladly accepted my prize of $10 american. reneca got first prize of $25 with a score of 33 (compared to my score of 31.)

carl was presented with a gift certificate and a t-shirt which appropriately read, "do not disturb: already disturbed." i'm not sure if he was "59 days excited" but he seemed happy. reneca and i shared a delicious dessert named "death by chocolate." it was chocolate mousse topped with chocolate brownie/cake topped with chocolate ice cream covered with whipped cream, nuts and a strawberry. wow.

our 2nd to the last ride in the bus was back to the hotel-this ride was short, included a re-enactment of spot-o for the camera and was full of instructions for the morning: most importantly, bags at the bus at 10 past 4, four ten, 4:10 in the morning...OR take a cab to the airport. =) and we were all given proper warning, so according to carl, whinging is not allowed.
"i have to wake up that early too-and i don't get to sleep on a plane." -carl

the rest of the evening was spent organizing our gift for jim and chris and sharing pictures.

it'll be a long day tomorrow. it only looks like 6 hours on paper, but over 25 hours will be spent in the airport or on a plane. i'm really sad to be leaving this wonderful country, but i am so thankful to have been on this trip. australia has been better than i ever hoped for. i'm quite in love with australia, but am glad to be going home to the states. living out of a suitcase and paying for every minute i spend on the internet will be nice to leave behind. but i think i will miss most everything else.

as carl would say, australia is awesome.
you'll love it. i love it. we all love it. it's exciting. 59 days exciting.

booked, boomerangs and bungy jumping

may 17. 2008
hides hotel
4:00 PM

it felt so strange to type in the words, "today is my last day in australia" in my e-mails to mommy and rob today. i don't like the thought of leaving, but i know it has to happen.

on the way to kuranda this morning, carl was acting his part as the tour guide, telling us how exciting and awesome the day was going to be. he was explaining that he was going to get us up the hill as fast as he could. i told him that staying within the speed limit might be a good idea; just as he was shaking his head at me, grinning, a copper came into view.
carl got booked for speeding today. he didn't seem too concerned about it though. since he was only 13 kph over, he was only docked 1 point and apparently queensland is cheaper for fines than new south wales anyway!

we made it to kuranda without any more excitement and it was time to shop. i enjoyed some frozen fruit and a sausage roll as we wandered through the different shops. i also had the privilege of being a wrist model (along with amy + jodi) as we helped jim figure out what size bracelet to buy his wife. in the process of helping, i ended up buying a few myself! =)

our next stop was the rainforestation. it was fun to watch the spear throwing, but even more entertaining was the didgeridoo playing! it isn't as easy as it looks, as few from our group found out. we also got to try our hand at throwing a boomerang-angle at 1:00, step with the opposite foot and throw! my attempt was far less impressive than others, particularly jon and jim's. i think the most fun to watch was the aboriginal dancing-especially when tyler was called up as a volunteer. he was reluctant to make his way on stage, but once up there, he was a good sport and enthusiastically participated.

we left from there to the site for bungy jumping, where those who wanted to try it would "meet their gloomy doom" as carl so kindly put it. he seemed convinced that people were going to die today. jodi, jennee, stephanie and mason were the brave four who chose to jump from such a height for the price of $130. the wait was long, so amy and i taught sean and bryan the dice game. great fun! soon it was time for our friends to jump-and despite all of carl's woeful warnings, they all survived. i enjoyed watching. =)

tonight is our farewell dinner. carl has been rather secretive about tonight's plans, but i'm confident it will be a fun, if not bittersweet evening.

white water rafting

may 16, 2008
hides hotel
11:30 PM

its hard to believe tomorrow is our last full day in australia. i'm a little, no-actually a lot sad to be leaving, but i'm trying to enjoy all of our time here: like today! today may have been my favorite so far.

after visiting the "big" gum boot (representative of all the rainfall in the city of tully), it was time to prepare for white water rafting! i'd never done anything like this before, except maybe the rafting ride in california adventure. =) i was a little nervous, but mostly excited!

after a video on safety, we were reminded about safety on the drive to our starting point on the tully river. i'm felt very attractive and safe (safety hotness!) in my red helmet and bright yellow life jacket.

i loved rafting!! even when we ended up in the water from tipping or practicing floating down the river, i quite enjoyed myself. i started out in the middle of the raft next to amy, with jodi and reneca in front and tyler and amanda behind with our guide, zoe in the back. but i think my favorite was being in the front with tyler. there were a few times where we had to get close and once when i though he was going to push me out, but we were a good team. it was easy to be excited about rafting when sitting next to tyler. our guide kept saying how much she loved our energy. =)

other memorable moments from rafting-
sitting on the edge of the raft to be tipped + being tipped
jumping off the cliff into the water below
carl tackling tyler into the water
carl jumping on our raft in attempt to take reneca in to the water
splashing wars
a delicious lunch of hamburgers, onions and sausages
being dunked by sean and jon

i didn't play spot-o today because the front seat was always occupied by others, but i did enjoy playing 10,000 with amy in a rice bubbles box in a moving minibus. sadly, she won 7 of the 9 games we played-which she was incredibly pleased with herself about. the ride to our hotel was also improved by rice krispies (from the states, otherwise they might have been rice bubbles' treats) from jodi and taking pictures of sleeping people.

dinner was at a bar tonight, since we wanted to redeem our meal tickets as provided by the hotel. for a few extra dollars, i got rump steak accompanied by mashers and salad. tyler, jodi, meagan, joel and amy al got steak too-but all cooked different ways. we were soon joined by reneca, jon and amanda, and later carl, josh, bryan, megan, jennee, sean, stephanie and mason.

then it was time for shopping-i bought sugar in several forms: tim tams, smarties mars bars and golden syrup. yum! the rest of the evening was spent eating caramel tim tams and playing nerts. the first round was played by meagan, amy, jodi and i. the 2nd round included jon and sean, as meagan left. this may be my new favorite game! =)

giant snakes, biting ants and cane toads

may 15, 2008
new life pastures
10:15 PM

as we prepared to leave this morning, we realized that we had a lot of leftover food in our possession, including milk and yogurt which we couldn't take with us. carl suggested we find some campers to give it to-so i went on the hunt for hungry looking campers. i found a woman who gladly accepted our donation, but found our situation amusing. but she was grateful for our food and made her toddling son tell me "thank you."

spot-o continued for the rest of our drive, with jim and chris attempting to keep score. that proved difficult when i would smack him for an un-yellow car, giving him a free hit, or when he would cheat. =)
"carl i don't think our female students should return home with your handprints on them." -jim, after carl smacked my leg leaving a handprint, since i had moved my arm out of the way.

some exciting sights of today included the giant mango (which reminded me of an easter egg) and the giant snake. we stopped for lunch in townsville, but amy and i enjoyed leftovers from our dinners the nights before. since we didn't have to buy lunch, we felt that there was no reason not to have ice cream. my macadamia nut and chocolate mud cone was quite yummy.

after all arriving back at the bus, we went on an adventure up castle hill, which overlooked the town. despite the sign that clearly stated, " not suitable for buses, trailers, trucks or caravans" carl decided that it didn't apply to us since we were a minibus with a trailer. after many speed humps (not bumps!) we reached the top to discover a bus zone! we couldn't help but laugh! we were 61 days excited.

later in the afternoon, we stopped at a swimming hole to cool off. since my swimmers were packed, i waded in the stream. i was doing well keeping dry until i sat on a log covered with biting ants which were quickly covering me-not a pleasant sensation. in my haste to remove the painful insects, i became more wet than i intended.

favorite things to drive by-sugar cane, banana trees, plastic bag trees, yellow cars that i see first

finding the camp turned out to be an adventure as well-carl appointed me as his navigator, but even between the two of us, we drove up and down the country road several times (including turning around several times) before finding new life pastures. faulty instructions and lack of clear signs made it almost impossible to locate, but carl seemed to like have someone else to blame for not finding our destination right away. =)

dinner was quite satisfying-roast beef, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and peas all covered in brown gravy. dessert was mulberry cobbler and custard.

this camp was quite helpful in allowing me to check off things from my cultural experience check-list. tonight i was able to "pet" a snack (even though it was dead-but jim said it could count), and hold a cane toad. hunting for cane toads provided several entertaining breaks from our rounds of nerts. jim and i remained the winning team, to the dismay of the other players: carl + tyler, reneca + chris and meagan + joel (which became meagan + sean during the 2nd round.) a fun way to end the day.

white water rafting tomorrow!! i can hardly wait!

sailing + whitsunday islands

may 14, 2008
airlie cove resort
9:00 PM

today was a beautiful day - i sleepily awoke to my favorite michael buble song and prepared for my first sailing experience!

the shuttle to the maxi ragamuffin only lasted about 5 minutes and before i knew it we were boarding the boat.
it seemed a bit small for the 18 of us and the 2 couples who were there when we arrived, especially compared to the large ship from the day before. but our numbers continued to grow until there were about 50 of us on the boat-but somehow we all fit.

i loved sailing! there was enough wind to sail both to and from the whitsunday islands. i loved the vibrant green of the ocean's waves, the wind in my hair and the sun warming my skin. our ride back was an adventure since the waves tossed our vessel a far bit. i found myself on the "low and wet" side of the boat (in comparison to the "high and dry" side) which jon said was representative of my tendency to flirt with danger. =)

i enjoyed snorkeling today, but i think yesterday was my favorite. unlike yesterday though i was dressed in a very attractive, tight, full body stinger suit. the water was more shallow in the areas where we snorkeled but it was still beautiful. because the fish were fed while we were there, i got to be in the midst of swarms of them. one of them even managed to flop around on my back in its excitement to get food.

when we returned from our day of sailing, jodi, amy, reneca and i used some more of our bus passes and explored town while shops were still open unlike our last two nights. amy and i had dessert first-ice cream! we caught the bus back and enjoyed pineapple, toasted sandwiches, chips and hot showers. life always seems to improve when i'm clean and fed.

its hard to believe that our time in this country will soon be finished. i don't think i'm ready to leave-i've fallen a little bit in love with australia.

"what's the difference between a mars bar and a milky way?"
"why that's quite simple, alison. one is a planet, while the other is a vast galaxy." -tyler
today i learned that in australia, a mars bar equals an american milky way, while an australian milky way equals an american 3 musketeers bar. just as reese's peanut butter cups are hard to come by in australia, there seem to be an absence of 3 musketeers bars also.