Going Down Under

…My life abroad

Another week goes by September 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 10:24 am
Mitchell and I at the aquarium!

Mitchell and I at the aquarium!

We are just about at the halfway point of the semester, and let me just tell you how sad that makes me feel! It is bizarre when all of my friends at home are just beginning theirs. And a reminder of how wooonderful it will be to be stress-free all of November and December! aah. Last year, Christmas snuck up on me after Ecuador. This year, I can celebrate Christmas until I’m blue in the face. hah. And you know I will : )

So what’s been up this week? Well, Saturday night I had the joy of going to an AFL game. That stands for Australian Football League. Football = Rugby down undah. So it was an all-out rugby game, the equivalent to attending a pro-football game in the states. It was amazing. Sports is like religion here, and the atmosphere was crazy. Naturally we geared up in our red and white to support the Sydney Swans. Swans may not seem like a very ferocious or – dare I say – manly name for a team, but don’t worry: They wrecked house. We won by like 60 points. The “touchdown” goalposts are different: There is an inner set of poles and then two outside of them. If you get the rugby ball through the outer ones, you get a point. Little to my knowledge I screamed (after an outer pole touchdown) “ONE IS GOOD… BUT TWO IS BETTERRRR!” only to be silenced by a friend who informed me that you can only get 1-pointers or 6-pointers. Hey, you learn something new every day. Anyways you all should watch rugby, it’s pretty great. I woudln’t say that unless I meant it because we all know how I feel about most sports… *vomit* Let’s just say it was the first time I haven’t just gone to a game for the social experience in a while.

In other news, today and yesterday I have spent some time with my friend Mitchell. Mitchell is not just any friend; he happens to be a fellow Mechanicsburg-ian! We went to middle and high school together, and he was visiting Australia for 3 weeks on his spring break. He’s studying abroad in New Zealand this semester. Yesterday we hit up the aquarium and today I fixed him a feast at my host family’s house (with permission). He tried a tim tam for the first time today. For those of you who wonder about this delectable treat from afar, no worries, I will be bringing them home (if they will fit amidst my shoes). Anyways, it was a lot of fun to catch up with a friend from across the world that knew what I was talking about when I confessed that I missed Neato Burrito. Who knew I could relate when he said he wished he’d brought his DARE t-shirt. Who could mutually miss Andrew Barge. I am going to New Zealand the last week of my time here and should see him again when I step onto his study-abroad turf. What’s even better than traveling is meeting up with other friends that are doing the same. : )

Well that’s all for now. I am off to a “gig”. My host brother is playing tonight at a venue in Newtown and our fam’s heading out to cheer him on.

Oh ps… I’m going to the outback this weekend. *excitement building* More on that soon to come!

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Return from laziness August 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 8:20 am

Oh dear.  It’s been forever and a day since I last wrote. 

I hate to sound annoying, but it’s the truth – I do so many fun things everyday that I couldn’t possibly write them all down.  I am seriously having a ball.  And learning so much my brain hurts.  Let me give a few examples.  Since I lost wrote, I:

– Went to the capital city of Canberra with my program for a weekend.  We went to 3 embassies (Indonesia, China, US) and talked with diplomats about foreign policy.  Went to many museums and saw new and old parliament houses. 

– Went to the opera house to see an orchestra and opera concert

– Had a great 21st birthday involving a thai dinner out with my host family and dancing the night away in Sydney

– Went to my first connect group (small group) at church and it was awesome!

– Climbed the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

– Went to Manly Beach a few times (still too cold for sunbathing)

– Saw some friends do a gig at a hotel in Glebe, a trendy artsy part of town

– I had a huge presentation about Australian Immigration worth 30% of my grade for my ASC class and it was wicked stressful but it went well and it’s over.. phew

That’s just a few highlights.  It’s been a great past couple of weeks.  This weekend should be no exception.  Tonight I am heading to the Darling Harbour Imax theatre to see The Dark Knight for the 2nd time.  I submit that this is worth my time for all those of you who wonder why I’m seeing a movie I could see in America, because Heath Ledger is Australian, hence I am celebrating Australian culture. : ) 

If I sound pretty ridiculously happy….well I guess I am. hah.

sorry it was short, I will be a better blogger this week les prometo (i promise)

Andrea

 

Sunday in the City August 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 1:13 pm

Today we had quite the church-hopping experience in Sydney.

St. Mary's Cathedral in Hyde Park

St. Mary's Cathedral in Hyde Park

We spent the morning at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which is a well-known Catholic church in the city.  It is a landmark of Sydney and rightfully so.  It was a beautiful mass, with an amazing boy’s choir and the sights, sounds, and yes even the smells (catholic churches have this amazing incense they use) will kind of be a standout memory of my time here.  It was long and I was always confused of when to stand/sit/kneel and I don’t know any of their prayers and things by memory like the rest of the congregation and we couldn’t take communion and I spilled my coffee all over the pew but other than that, it was great. haha.  Honestly, I think the Catholic church has some beautiful traditions and it was a great service.  We also caught the end of the City to Surf marathon start.  Every year there’s a big run from the cathedral to Bondi Beach (which is many many miles and a beautiful run past the sights of the city), and the announcer was hysterical.  This is no surprise based on the Olympics announcers so far.

Speaking of the Olympics, after church we went into an electronics store for one of my friends to develop photos and watched the swimming competition for like an hour all crowded around the HD tv in the store.  We even sat and made ourselves at home… they probably hated us in there haha.  We then walked halfway across sydney (in the pouring rain and me in heels… will i ever learn?) and went to one of the most famous restaurants in Sydney, Pancakes on the Rocks.  I don’t know how old it is but this place steamrolls iHop and it’s been there for ages. After the restaurant we walked around Circular Quay again, which is the harbor where the bridge and opera house are located.  You couldn’t possibly get sick of the place.  There was a lady doing a contortion act and we watched the whole street performance forever.  She made a lot of sketchy jokes during the act but she fit herself into a teeny box and hey I can respect that.  She’s called Bendy Em.  Oh dear.

Tonight we went to Hillsong like we have been doing every Sunday night.  It was an incredible service.  We actually got there on time this week, imagine that, because public transportation is no longer my enemy, and had seats right up front.  The band did Healer tonight and man was it powerful.  I told my friends I “get saved all over again” when I hear that song haha.  It is sooo good.  And the message tonight was about intimacy with God and well the service was probably the best church service I’ve been to in my life.  It involved critical thinking, it was passionate, it was entertaining, it was challenging.  It was relevant.  Seriously church is becoming the highlight of my week.

On the way back to Central Station God laid it on my heart to stop and talk to this lady who was begging for money.  My friends told me not to stop because she’d take my wallet.  I’m not that street smart and she probably could’ve but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.  We talked for a bit and I asked if I could pray with her.  She goes, “What do you want me to think about while you pray?” Like it was a foreign concept.  I said it didn’t matter, I guessed she could think about God’s love.  It kind of caught me off guard.  She then asked me to pray for her dead dog named Bono.  I thought it was kind of a funny request but then again with a name like Bono…sure.  She was great.

I think people are far less scary and dangerous than we make them out to be.  I walk past so many people and judge them as I pass.  In service we talked about how we convince ourselves that the first time we walk past a beggar, our heart is tugged but we usually don’t stop.  the 2nd time, it’s tugged a bit less.  the 3rd time, we rationalize that if we gave them money they would probably use it on booze or drugs instead of food.  4th time, we’re thinking we’re doing them a favor by not stopping.  It’s so true.  I want to stop the cycle I’ve gotten into.

 

I’m Yoooooooooours August 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 4:05 pm

Tonight I went to see Jason Mraz play in Newtown, the equivalent of the village in Sydney.  It was a small venue and Anna and I got the last two tickets to this show… so we were in the very back, but we loved every minute of it and it was worth the ticket price.

You’ve probably heard Jason’s song “I’m Yours” because it’s on MTV and stuff.  It’s a reggae summer-

okay so I didn't take this picture... but he wore an outfit like that tonight haha

okay so I didn't take this picture... but he wore an outfit like that tonight haha

y kind of song that makes you think of being at the beach.  Or you might have heard “Remedy” or “You And I Both”, some of his other more popular songs.  He is a phenomenal musician.  Usually I don’t like all of an artist’s songs, but he is one of those musicians whose songs are ALL good.  He writes them himself of course and his lyrics are great.  Concerts are better when there’s lots of crowd participation and this was definitely one of those shows.  Anna is a diehard fan that’s been following him for years so it was wicked fun to go with her and catch her excitement for it.  Every time I go to a concert like that, I am just so thankful God gave us music.

Anyways… go download some Jason Mraz.  I’m gonna go throw a boomerang or something. : )

 

Let the games begin! August 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 2:33 pm
Our boat heading to the Whitsunday Islands

Our boat heading to the Whitsunday Islands

What a week this has been!

For starters, I booked my “spring break” (weird, huh?) trip this week. Me and several friends will be cruising the Great Barrier Reef during our holiday in late September and my flight is now purchased. The sailboat we will stay on is all-inclusive, so we will sleep and eat on the boat as we travel from Airlie Beach over to the Whitsunday Islands, all along the reef. I’ve heard a rumor that the Great Barrier Reef is disappearing; I’m not a scientist or anything but I figure I better get myself over there to check it out while I can! It’s sad to think about these things, but the chances of me coming back to Australia in the near future are pretty slim so I am trying to live it up as much as possible. The boat also includes scuba-diving throughout the trip, so that will be a big first for me. Can’t wait.

I’ve just gotten back from SPIRO camp today. SPIRO means Spiritual Emphasis. They just “abbrev” everything thing here. I totes def fit in. Every year, the Wesley student body takes a retreat a few hours north. It is something that almost all students and faculty members attend, and it lasts for about a day and a half. I was really looking forward to it, not only because spiritual retreats always leave me refreshed and hungrier for the things of God, but also because I really wanted to get to know some Wesley students. We see them on campus but many of my classes are filled with Americans. Since Wesley only has a couple hundred students and our study abroad group is around 30, the ratio of yanks to aussies is a little higher than I’d like it to be. It’s easy to just hang out with Americans and never get to know the students that are from Sydney. So, the last few days helped us to do just that. Our speaker was actually a guy from Texas named Richard Farmer. I guess he’s pretty famous… I hadn’t heard of him before but he did a great job. He is a pianist in addition to being a preacher. Check this out: A few times, he’d be sitting at this grand piano on stage, and he’d ask someone in the audience to call out a favorite phrase from the bible or line from their journal – anything that he could use as the basis for a worship song. Then he’d ask another person to randomly call out 5 notes. Any 5 notes. One kid gave C, C#, D, D#, E – the chromatic scale. Kind of mean for writing a song, a tough set of notes to do something with. And then he’d take those notes and words and write a song right there on the spot. It was beautiful. He did an incredible job. We talked about being an artist as a Christian and what that means. Man, going to an arts school is amazing. We also had heaps of fun sitting around singing to the many guitars the guys would break out around the fire, and had lots of laughs and lots of hot chocolate. This camp food was also a grade A+. Kind of steam-rolled Pen-Del. All in all, it was such a great chance to get to know the spirit of Wesley. Their worship team played a bunch and let me tell you… seeing hundreds of students from my college jump to worship was pretty fantastic. There is a passion for God at Wesley that I wish you could see for yourself… it’s too hard to describe it. But let’s just say, this is such a neat time of encouragement in my faith. These students are excited about God and using their talents for him.

Tonight when my housemates and I got home from camp we watched the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The ceremony was crazy!! I mean, a GOOD crazy!! Um all I can say is my jaw was on the floor from start to finish. Sarah Brightman’s hair extensions were hilarious. So were the Australian announcers during the whole thing. during the part with marrionettes the one guy said in a tired voice, “So for any of you who have seen a real performance of these puppet operas you are probably glad to only see the reader’s digest version tonight…” and things of that sort. Australian announcers are one of the gems of this place. When Ecuador walked out in the country parade, I was so proud! It was neat to identify with another country at the games, and no doubt for the next olympics I will feel the same way about Australia. It feels like home too. We will be watching the olympics closely from here and cheering on both the Americans and the Aussies!

Well it’s way past my bedtime and I have a full day of activities tomorrow… including service hours and a Jason Mraz concert. Till next time!

Peace,

Andrea

 

Try Scary Traditional Aussie Food: Check August 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 1:20 pm
Here it is. Tasty?

Here it is. Tasty?

Tonight, for the first time ever, I did a very very Australian thing.

I ate Vegemite.

All I have to say is: ew.

Maybe it’s an acquired taste. We ate it how you’re supposed to eat it, spread very very thin on buttered toast. It’s made up of yeast or something so it’s very salty. Cristina described it as being like “eating dried-out soy sauce”. Our host mum said she used to eat Vegemite sandwiches as a kid growing up. Makes you all the more grateful for good ‘ole PB & J.

 

So this one time I went to Hillsong… August 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 11:26 pm
The City Campus

The City Campus

Whenever I told people I was going to Australia this past year, the first response I would get would be, especially from the Frequency Youth crowd, “SO… DOES THAT MEAN YOU’RE GONNA GO TO HILLSONG?!?!?!?!”

It’s funny how a continent can be associated with a church like that. Hillsong is internationally known. Their music is especially popular in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. My church in Ecuador was always talking about how they wanted to model their worship ministry and even their entire church after Hillsong. It appears that they have “gotten something right” with such a following. But there are some weird televangelists with a following too and although I have always loved the Hillsong United CDs and used them often for our worship team, I was interested in seeing what the church experience would be like there.

Hillsong “The City”, the original but smaller campus, is located about half an hour’s train and bus ride away from my house. The church does a great service by sending a free bus to central station to pick churchgoers up and bring them to and from church. Probably because the church is located in Waterloo, which is a part of town we have been told not to go walking in at night by ourselves. Some of its surrounding sections are pretty rough. I have been to this campus 4 times now, two for my service placement on Saturday mornings and twice for Sunday church services.

My service placement is incredible. I don’t know if I already wrote about this but it’s a ministry through Hillsong called Hillsong Kids. It was started years ago as a way to reach out to children in the city, including many children from aboriginal families. Each Saturday myself and 10 of the other girls from the ASC show up around 8:30 and they feed us breakfast (namely, Nutella. goes over pretty well) and talk with us about different things to expect and disciple us. Then we split up into teams and hit different parks around the city, picking up children door-to-door and playing games with them at the park, as well as presenting the gospel and having a brief devotional. The kids are pretty bad, I’m not gonna lie. This Saturday at my park in Gleeb we had about 8 kids show up, mostly ages 6-12, who sprinkled their sentences with plenty of F-bombs and must’ve given each other the finger several times. But there were some incredible tender moments with them, when you would see their innocence, and realize how valuable this ministry is. Even if it is just a drop in the bucket of showing them Christ’s love. Anyways, that is my ministry through Hillsong and I am really enjoying it so far.

One cool thing about this semester will be going to church in the evenings. I asked Tyler, one of our ministry leaders who’s college-age, what would be the best service to go to for me. There’s like 9 to choose from so I wanted to ask. He suggested the Sunday night service, and I love it so much and I’m so glad he said that. This service is mostly people in their 20’s and 30’s, and it’s such an amazing experience. First you get the bus at Central, and when you walk onto the bus the driver is some young guy who’s like friendly to the nth degree, welcoming you to Hillsong and stuff from the moment you step on board. On the bus you realize what a diverse church it is. I think every nationality must be represented in a service. Which is amazing. You pull up to the church and there are tons of greeters outside, and the ushers walk you right to your seat, starting from the front and moving back. They have to do that to prevent chaos because so many people are flooding in, all wanting good seats. The building itself is nothing pretentious, it’s a brick building and a basic structure. They don’t have fancy furniture or anything. It’s a lot of black walls and gray carpet, a modern feel but no frills. The sanctuary seats about a thousand, maybe more. They add rows quickly for overflow congregation members during the services. There are around 16 extension services in other parts of Sydney and abroad. When the worship starts, it’s pretty fantastic. All the people that you’ve heard of like Joel Houston, Brooke Fraser and them are touring with the United Band, but the worship team is incredible and you think… wow this is just like the CD. They don’t just do their songs – last night for example we sang Open the Eyes of My Heart and Here I Am to Worship, along with My Future Decided and Saviour King. People go up to the front for worship and there’s plenty of jumping. The multimedia is incredible, with a big screen on each side and then a triple screen in the center that they use for lots of different parts of the service. Last night kicked off “Sunday Night Live”, a 4-week sunday night series that is an illustrated sermon format with lots of extra media (like video clips and stuff) and special effects. It’s designed to be a great service to bring friends to. It was amazing last night. God really moved. They had a painter on stage making this enormous painting during the beginning of the sermon, when the pastor read the creation account and there were all these effects and videos and such. And then at the end of the painting, the guy preaching walked over and was like, “Look at this painting. It is speaking to me. Look at the colors, I want to worship this painting. I want to give it awards… it has changed my life”, and being that it’s a responsive crowd, everyone is laughing because he takes it really far. Then he stops and says, “It would be ridiculous to praise this painting… and not praise the actual painter.” It was all about how we worship the work of God instead of God and fail to recognize Him as Creator. It was such a great message. They used lots of scripture and also quotes from CS Lewis and others. The altar call was powerful and lots of people were saved for the first time. They do worship at the end, too, and in between songs they’ll break out into spontaneous worship. then when church gets out everyone heads out of the sanctuary to the “garage”, a huge room that’s warehousey with a coffee cafe and places to chat. Last night me and a bunch of the other ASC girls were given hot chocolate and biscuits and plugged into connect groups by students from the Hillsong College. So Tuesday I am gonna go to my first connect group, which is like a small group for people my age (18-25 range). It’s pretty exciting.

I was telling my parents last night on the phone how neat is was to actually attend this church and be involved, but how I recognize that like any church, it isn’t perfect. I’m sure there are a lot of areas that need improvement. But it’s a great model of how to run a large church well, from what I’ve seen so far. Even though it’s huge, they’re so relational and it’s so simple to get plugged in. I may attend powerhouse on Wednesday nights (the 18-25 service) and I also might go to the women’s ministry on Thursday mornings, since I don’t have class then.

Well that’s enough for one entry… more than enough sorry haha… also apologies all around for my failure to blog in the last week or so. Honestly, life has been so busy that I have barely had time to call home once in a while. But that’s a good thing – I’m glad I’m busy and living it up. Hope you’re all doing well.

Love, Andrea