Monday, April 30, 2007

a few quotes

from our reading -

"we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap"  -solzhenitsyn

here are a few quotes that daz shared with the students in the class on spirituality at whitley:

one from john oman, grace and personality

"what all life does say to us is that god does not conduct his rivers, like arrows, to the sea.  the ruler and compass are only for finite mortals who labour, by taking thought, to overcome their limitations, and are not...infinite... the expedition demanded by humanity's small power produces the canal, but nature, with a beneficent and picturesque cicumambulancy, the work of a more spacious and less precipitate mind, produces the river.  why should we assume that , in all the rest of his ways, he rejoices in the river, but in religion, can use no more adequate method save the canal?"

and we can't get enough of beautiful m. leunig and his prayers:

"dear god, we give thanks for places of simplicity and peace.  let us find such a place within ourselves.  we give thanks for places of refuge and beauty.  let us find such a place within ourselves.  we give thanks for places of nature's truth and freedom of joy, inspiration and renewal, places where all creatures may find acceptance and belonging.  let us search for these places:  in the world, in ourselves and in others.  let us restore them.  let us strengthen and protect them and let us create them.  may we mend this outer world according to the truth of our inner life and may our souls be shaped and nourished by nature's eternal wisdom."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

good times and more treasures

we had a lovely day together with the wilson family.  they leave 4.30am tomorrow morning for South Africa.  we visited Nan this afternoon and it was good to see her smile as all the kids jumped around in her room making some noise and fuss.



as well as enjoying the many old photos we have discovered some wonderful family heirlooms.  among them all was this incredible hat which was hand-made by my great grandmother (Nan's mum) for her dad.  it is a "Victorian smoking cap."  it is really a beautifully made treasure.  see this link for some historical information.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

special dinner

last night we had a celebration meal to mark the rare occasion of our being in the same country!  we are missing brad (narelle and geoff's brother).  here are some pictures from last night.




Friday, April 27, 2007

Queen Victoria Market


we have already blogged about the joy of the main open-air market in Melbourne.  this week we shopped there again for fruit and veg.  it is quite a bit cheaper than the grocery store and the produce is so much better.



nana is 88

yesterday was Nan's 88th birthday.  her health is fading due to an aggressive tumor behind her left eye but she was still up for a chat.  most poignantly she reminded us that "time passes by so fast" as we asked her about her 21st birthday.



family visit update


after a big brekky at poynton's this morning we picked up the wilsons at the airport.  we're enjoying the short visit to catch up and, of course, grandma and poppa are enjoying having all of their granchildren together for the first time in over 3 years.






family visit

we've been waiting for months for the arrival of geoff's sister narelle, her husband sandy and their two daughters rachel and megan.  they will fly in later this morning from papua new guinea via cairns and sydney and we will have  less than 48 hours together as a family.  they are on their way to south africa for the wedding of sandy's brother.  in a few weeks, narelle and the girls will return to be with us for three weeks while sandy has to return directly to png and resume his work flying with maf.  see this page  and their family blog to read more about their life and mission work in png.

current forge work

in between all our travels, we've actually stayed quite busy with forge work.  together we are grading interns writings - book reviews, creative reflections, essays on mission and church plant proposals.  recently we were asked by the academic director of forge to stand in his position temporarily while he takes study leave to further his phd work.  this role involves our acting as liaisons between forge interns and the academic institutions (bible colleges and seminaries around melbourne), maintaining relationships with the officials of these schools, and managing any issues of accreditation of forge course work and practicum experience.  it is an excellent opportunity to learn and a privilege to do.

during the last few weeks, we've accompanied forge staff to whitley college (university of melbourne's divinity school).  on one occasion we spent time with the principal (president) and the director of mission studies.  we attended chapel, went out for a cuppa with group of students, ate lunch, and sat in on a meeting with these officials and forge directors as issues of accreditation were discussed.  it was quite informative and helpful as we, ourselves, continue to learn and translate for a possible future effort in lexington.

thanks to our friend darren (mentioned above as academic director) we've been scheduled to speak along with him at almost all the seminaries with forge connections.  just a few days ago we returned with daz to whitley to speak to a class on celtic spirituality.  this course about spirituality is taught by a professor we were already very interested in meeting - simon carey holt - good books, good blog

what do we know about celtic spirituality?  very little really, that's why daz did all the talking on that (and he managed to artfully integrate everything from a perspective of mission).  we shared with the class (about nine students) during the second half about the new monastic movement in the u.s. and communality as a missional community and participant in this movement.  the students were thoughtful and attentive and, as good aussies, they actually threw some critical questions our way.  in a short period of time, we find it is hard to describe our community of faith and communicate comprehensively who we are and what's our life is about.  with each opportunity we are learning how to do this and we are grateful to daz for lining up so many occasions to do so.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

abstract materialism

this cartoon strip is quoted out of a book i've picked up again.  it is a very good book called "money possessions and eternity."  as is often true, cartoons deliver prophetic and piercing words through sarcasm and humor.  this one was fairly painful for me to read:

"the comic strip 'cathy' depicted a young man and woman discussing various items they'd acquired:

'safari clothes that will never be near a jungle.'

'aerobic footwear that will never set foot in an aerobics class.'

'deep-sea dive watch that will never get damp.'

'keys to a four-wheel-drive vehicle that will never experience a hill.'

'architectural magazines we don't read filled with pictures of furniture we don't like.'

'financial strategy software keyed to a checkbook that's lost somewhere under a computer no one knows how to work.'

'art poster from an exhibit we never went to of an artist we never heard of.'

finally, as both characters stand with blank stares, one says to the other: 'abstract materialism has arrived.'  to which the other replies: 'we've moved past the things we want and need and are buying those things that have nothing to do with our lives.'"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

family treasures

today was ANZAC day in Australia...sort of like veterans day and memorial day rolled into one.  as many as 30,000 people gather at the war memorial in Melbourne to attend a dawn service.  Isaac, Dad and I had planned to attend.  we had our bags ready and alarms set for a 5am departure.  but our plans were set aside after a rough night with poor isaac.  he must have eaten something dodgy at play group because he vomitted several times in the night and by the time 5am ticked around we hadn't had much sleep.  so we stayed home.  instead of the ANZAC pilgrimage we unpacked some old family albums in search of treasures and perhaps some pictures of my granfather in uniform (he served in WWII - he elected to serve as a medic because of some pacifist leanings).  we did find some great old photos


as well as some buttons from his uniform. 


but best of all, some of his handwritten sermons.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

an uncommon request

we have witnessed something rare, if ever, in australia.  the prime minister, john howard, came out last week with a desparate petition for the citizens of australia to pray for rain.

see this link in the age  

glory from kath's garden



pictures in the morning





Monday, April 23, 2007

travel log part III


after another 1,000 km, we are back in  melbourne for the foreseeable future.  we had a lovely visit in country victoria - wodonga, yackandandah, beechworth and kiewa - with geoff's family.  we visited with geoff's grandparents (kath's parents) and stayed with his cousin kelly and her family (dave, teagan and grace). 


if it weren't for the tragic drought, we would have been renewed by the time outdoors on farmland in rural australia.  unfortunately, there is general consensus that the drought is the worst this century.  the prime minister has called for national prayer and farmers are losing cattle and their livelihood.  the prediction is that food costs might increase four fold.  each day was marred by a smoky sky...there is an effort to "back burn" parts of the bush as a preventative measure for the next season.


during our stay, we attended a small house church gathering with kev as he shared about his prison fellowship work.  it was lead by a beautiful elderly gentleman who is a legend in christian circles  (alan hirsch dedicated his new book to him and he's had a profound influence on many leaders in the church here).  we also shared about our life in lexington at grandma and georgie's church on sunday before kev preached.


on saturday, we attended a family birthday celebration for kelly and her one-year old daughter, grace.  we had a delightful time during this "bush picnic."  at the top of the family's paddock, right at the bush line where the gum trees grow, they barbequed snags (sausages), beef and chicken over an open fire and we sang happy birthday and ate a "barbie" cake.  this local family tradition was a unique, treasured experience for isaac and me as visitors.

we also had a brief visit with dear family friend's, the deslandes.  their home is located on a hill overlooking the land that was the maddock farm for four generations.  while we visited, marg took us down the road to see her sister's family.  they are prolific artists - they raise their own alpacas, spin the wool, weave with a loom, paint, sing, take photos and build frames for them.  it was a delight to behold.

geoff felt fully reaquainted with his extended family and the land he once loved.  talking with his cousins, they recalled many childhood experiences together.  as a spouse, i listened with great interest as it continued to fill in cultural and personal gaps for me.  i got a thorough glimpse of the textures, elements and people that most influenced geoff in his youth.  sadly though, i realized that i can memorize maps and convert currency, shop locally, and understand the complexities of aussie quips, but i cannot belong to his past or share in his memories.  it is a simple reality we embrace with our marriage of two places.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"refugees in faith"

geoff's sister, narelle, sent us an article in the age newspaper about a ministry in inner city melbourne.  we know some of these folks and their work is exemplary.

see this link

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

travel log part II

DSC_9128we are back in melbourne after a fabulous holiday in queensland and 2,500 miles/4,000 kilometers of driving.  our trip home from noosa, in 36 hours, geoff drove 24 of those hours with a brief stop-off and snooze in sydney.  we saw a small, but significant piece of this massive land and it is diverse and stunning in its scope.  as we traveled, we crossed through drought-ridden victoria with brown paddocks, green hills of new south wales, the semi-tropical glitz of sydney and fields of bananas, avocados, sugar cane and macadamia nuts in queensland.  and the road kill, and there was alot, was kangaroo.


our time with the athavle family was precious.  it was a treasure to be with them as a family on holiday, relaxing and enjoying one another and the beach.  we basked in their love and generosity.  we stayed at a gorgeous resort with exceptional facilities for families - pools, parks, canoes, catamarans, beach toys and cricket equipment, bikes for hire, games, movie nights, etc.  we woke early every morning to see the sunrise and we napped with isaac every afternoon.  we ate fresh seafood, delicious curries, and local produce.  for five days, we didn't know the  time or the date.  we didn't wear shoes, answer a phone or open an email.  it was truly restful. 


in addition, we were blessed to celebrate our risen Lord on easter with family in sydney.  we went to church and isaac ate a sizeable amount of chocolate, despite being sick with a fever.  at that time, however, we missed our family of faith in lexington very much and thought of their gathering 10,000 miles away.  we had a brief visit with mary fisher (she lives in the adjacent suburb in sydney).  it was inspiring and life-giving as we continue to talk with her about trinitarian theology and frame our understanding of relationship with god and with others in mission.  we are honored to dream with her about the kingdom.


as a foreigner temporarily residing here, it was a privilege to get to see so much of eastern australia, but i also felt a bit unhinged.  to travel within travel is always a strange sensation - a bit like being suspended in time and space - so it was comforting to see the melbourne skyline and arrive home to altona meadows with kev and kath.


Monday, April 16, 2007

tragic university shooting

we are deeply grieved by the devastating news of the deaths of so many students at virginia tech.  who could imagine that students wouldn't be safe as they studied and carried on with life on campus.  the tragedy is incomprehensible and we feel the distance from home so pointedly right now.

we learned of it this morning (as it is still the day of in the u.s.) and just watching a bit of the news - cnn - was maddening.  the officials of the university and the police were grilled mercilessly in these early hours of the event with unhelpful and abrasive questions.  we pray, along with many australians, for the grace and comfort of god at this time.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

welcome to australia street

in april's issue of marie claire, chris and sarah's street is featured as an example of a typical neighborhood in multi-cultural australia. their home is in the middle on the top side (aussie/indian).

see this link

Friday, April 6, 2007

beautiful blooms

on my walk through the neighborhood, i was astonished at the diversity of blooming plants, shrubs and trees. apparently in sydney flora stay in bloom all year round in this temperate, semi-tropical climate. from what i saw there were roses, geraniums, frangipanis, dahlias, camellias, rosemary, jacarandas, bottlebrush, nasturtiums, hibiscus, cosmos, lavender, and bird of paradise - which i've never seen in the ground. there were many things i couldn't name. i even saw an olive tree in a front garden laden with fruit.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

travel log part 1

it is good to be in sydney. over the last 36 hours and 1,000 km, we've had a wonderful time traveling. isaac was patient and relatively still in the car, and he only asked 16 times if we were in sydney yet (this started on the outskirts of melbourne). we stopped in wodonga for a delicious, homemade morning tea of scones, jam and cream and a short but sweet visit with grandma and georgie and two of geoff's cousins - shari and kelly. shari has 3-month old twin boys and kelly has two girls, age three and one. as always, it is encouraging to see four generations in one room.

late afternoon, we pulled into canberra - the well-planned and organized capital city of australia. we stayed in walking distance of the parliment house in the area of government buidlings such as the high court and national museum. the visitors center informed us we were staying in a very hip part of town. three blocks from our unit was a delightful street of cafes, restaurants and boutiques. after considering several tempting options, we enjoyed dinner at a mexican restaurant and it was quite good.

this morning, we rose early (especially since we all went to bed at 8 p.m.). geoff and i heard isaac in the other room with kath say "grandma, is it a beautiful day?" this at 6:15 a.m. we had breakfast at a sidewalk cafe - croissants and quiches - and isaac asked if we were in paris. afterward, we went up to parliment house for a free tour. the tour guide was exceptionally good and i learned so much of the government structure and of the design of the building.

this building was just completed in 1988. the architects planned it in such a way that all entrances (including the prime minister's at the back) are equal in stature and the building itself is below ground in order that it does not stand any above any other - this is so australian. it was fantastic to see this laudable characteristic of australian culture - equality and fairness at all costs - manifest in the design of such a significant building. the interior managed to be stunning and understated at the same time. the lobby was comprised of marble from rome, portugal and belgium. the "great room" - for balls and such - was made of native lumber and it was glorious. the tour guide informed us that anyone can rent this grand space - in the heart of the parliment building - for events such as weddding receptions or high school formals. this is the space they entertain visiting dignitaries and heads of state. again, the persistent egalitarianism of this culture. it was impressive to tour the seat of legislation and even more so to be told that 98.6% of australians vote (it is compulsory), but still, that's astounding to american ears.

our remaining trip between canberrra and sydney only took 2 1/2 hours. the remarkable part of this trip was the transformation of the landscape as we moved northeast through new south wales. because of this unprecented drought (seven years running), the state of victoria looked devastating. we passed hundreds of kilometers of barren pasture, brown and suffering. the paddocks were marked with dry creek beds that looked like scars across the land. dead gum trees were scattered like carcasses. it was terrible to behold. but as we crossed the great dividing range, the hills opened up to such fresh and vivid green it hurt our eyes. it was as if we were in a different country all togther. it's not that new south wales hasn't also suffered from the effects of the drought, it was just so dramatically different. as a visitor, i felt a bit like i was passing through a funeral of someone i didn't know. i was humbled by the sense of mourning i felt, but i can't claim any attachment to the land, any right to be sad. we just continue to hope the weather changes as they predict the end of el nino's grip on this place.

it is good to be in sydney. tonight we enjoyed the famous biryani of chris' mum and sat around the table as a family and had a laugh.

see our photos on the flickr site.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

off on holiday

we leave early in the morning for a few weeks away with family. our journey will take us (kath, geoff, isaac and me) up through northern victoria. we'll stop for morning tea in wodonga at grandma and georgie's house (kath's parents). next, we will make our way to canberra (australia's capital city) to spend the night. thursday morning we will drive the few remaining hours to sydney to stay with the athavles - sarah (kath's youngest sister), her husband chris and their four children. the sydney clan, including auntie chez and uncle will, will celebrate easter together. on easter monday, the drive north continues as we make our way to noosa, a beautiful resort town on the coast of queensland. the athavle family have graciously included us on their family holiday. we've been looking forward to this for months (since cold december in lexington). we will spend a week with them and return to melbourne - via one last night in sydney - on the 16th of april. please see this link to get a sense of the distance we will travel -

link to map

Sunday, April 1, 2007

new recipe list

i've added a new list of recipes in the right column of our blog. my aim is to use this space to include either recipes we love or recipes of classic australian fare. now i can't vouch for these in particular because i may not have tried them (which are linked to the internet), but they should be representative and good. for the few of you that actually have time to bake or cook from scratch, give them a try. of course you'll notice most are sweet because we're off sweets at the moment and yet they continue to dominate my thought world...mmmm.

the park

one of our (almost) daily exercises is to walk to the park around the corner from k&k's place.  isaac loves the swing and kids climbing equipment.  i took these pics on the weekend and messed around with the manual settings in the the bottom one is overexposed but looks interesting anyway.



palm sunday in jail

yesterday i spent the morning in HM Prison Barwon.  dad and i drove there at 7:45am and met 10 other visitors at the gates.  we were there to play a game of cricket against the Barwon prisoner team.  my dad is a prison fellowship worker and it is not uncommon for volunteers to get teams together and play games of soccer, vollyball, or cricket against prisoners.

Barwon is a maximum security prison so our entrance into the facility took quite a while.  think: boarding a plane in the months following september 11 attack and multiply it by 3.  we were scanned individually in a large chamber that huffed and puffed all over us in an effort to garner evidence of drugs or explosives.  we signed in, patted down, scanned with a metal detector, asked to show the top of our socks and behind our belts.  pockets were turned out and finally we were given passes to wear indicating our status as visitors. 

we made it through to a parched cricket ground...parched doesn't really get it.  it was more like a huge sand-pit with clumps of wiry grass every few metres.  soon enough the opposition arrived and there were basic rules laid out to govern the match.  it was a limited overs game - 25 overs each team.  we had a great match.  the spirit was good and although there was plenty of sledging, no real anger came to the surface.  apparently the last group that went in played soccer and that particular game ended early with some verbal (and physical) sparring.  i was also mindful of my last visit to play sport in jail.  i was 16 years old and it was a game of australian rules football.   i was playing for our God's Squad team and i ended up getting knocked out by a very large bloke who's right-cross fractured my cheek bone and put a permanat click in my jaw.

it was good to have a couple of conversations with several of the prisoners.  the raw pain of prison never ceases to amaze me and i have a renewed respect for people (like my dad) who go into that context several times a week and look to find the grace and love of God.  it seemed like a good way to spend palm sunday, the day when Jesus turned up in Jerusalem on that understated steed.