Friday, June 29, 2007

the pleasure of acupuncture

recently, i've had the opportunity to visit a local chinese doctor for acupuncture.  there is a small clinic in our neighborhood shopping centre that advertises everything from reflexology and massage to cupping (whatever that might be).  for months i've been tempted to wander in and place myself in the care of these practitioners of eastern medicine.  when i finally went in i had a lovely chat with an older chinese man as he tried to assess my needs (treatment for my chronic and strange hip problem).  as we talked, he told me "australia is rubbish" with a pained bitterness because he couldn't practice orthopedic medicine here as he did for 20 years in china.  i felt real affection for this immigrant. 

behind a screen with my new chinese friends, i laid down and literally exposed myself to the treatment.  it was a funny scene - i was on my stomach with my trousers down, underpants rolled back and this gorgeous chinese woman inserting needles in the left side of my bottom, and the older man at my side and going on and on that "australian english is rubbish", not what he learned in china and the people sound as if they are "speaking with their mouths full of water."   i laughed inside, tried not to feel too vulnerable, and remained in that state for 30 minutes so the needles could take effect.  for part of that time, i had a brief tutorial on "chi" from this woman.  she explained to me that my chi will stay balanced as long as i eat and something comes out the other end on a daily basis and i get plenty of sleep - as simple as that.  i loved it so much that i went back for another round the next week. (sherry)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

across cultures in footscray

on several occasions in recent weeks we have used the footscray public library as a space for study and grading forge essays.  footscray is just 15 minutes away and it is where kath (geoff's mum) works as well as the location of geoff's parents church.  it is the inner city suburb most melbournians associate with new immigrants and, unfortunately, poverty, crime, and drugs.

on one recent study visit to the library i sat across from a chinese woman who was patiently teaching a papua new guiniean man how to speak english.  beside me sat two young muslim women (dressed in birkas) discussing body image among australian women - they were studying for a 11th grade english literature exam.  through the doors and off the wintry streets came people from all over south-east asia, africa, and a handful of anglo-looking men who were (it seemed to me) 'sleeping rough' (homeless) and just looking for a warm place to sit.

i left my grading for a few minutes and wondered about how beautiful this library is and how alike and different humans can be.

yesterday, while isaac danced with the wiggles and his grandparents, sherry and i went to the library again to work on some of our upcoming speaking engagements with forge.  we found ourselves sitting with four older chinese men and women.  they were quietly chatting away and giggling as they read the newspaper in their own language.  later we were seated at a large common table where school children often work on projects.  next to us sat five young men (about 17 or 18 yrs old) who had obviously arranged to study together.  in the group several different cultures were represented - middle-eastern, african, and indian.

today, on our way home from running some errands, isaac, sherry and i popped into the footscray market and the smaller "little saigon" market next door.  it's a wonderful out-of-culture experience as you walk in and get hit with a barrage of unfamiliar sounds and smells.  shelves and stands were dutifully propping up seafood, and meats of all kinds, fresh fruit and veg, incense, grains, and bulk spices.  signs and voices were in vietnamese, cantonese, greek, italian, and arabic.

we have been so glad to be in this city of melbourne for such an extended time, but more grateful still for the color and charisma of footscray.

the wiggles live

yesterday isaac had the thrill of seeing the wiggles live in melbourne.  his grandparents, kev and kath, kindly took him to a morning performance of this world-famous gig.  they said he loved every minute of it and his reported highlight was meeting captain feathersword and jeff - the guy in purple.  below you can see isaac in the white shirt.

isaac meets wiggle (the sleepy one)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

the days to come

for several days, we will be out and around melbourne, staying a few different places, visiting with church planters and catching up with friends.

saturday - in the afternoon the three of us will head over to the southeastern suburb of berwick (about an hour's drive) to stay at kimmy's, the victoria director of forge and our gentle, loving "boss."  he and his wife have three boys that isaac has already met and thoroughly enjoyed.  we are going to spend saturday evening at a meal and a gathering of their group (mission workers and church planters) and they've asked us to share about communality and our life in a missional community.  we will relax with kim and his family until early sunday evening.  we haven't had any substantial unhurried,  "unofficial" time to actually visit with kim and maria and there isn't much time left, so we are very much looking forward to it.

sunday evening - we were invited to speak to a salvation army youth group in glen waverley (also in the east) by two students who heard us speak at their college.  again, they want us to share stories about mission in the u.s. and life together in communality.

later sunday evening - after this event, we will retire at john and glena smith's, who live quite close to where we'll be speaking.  we are looking forward to spending two nights in their home, introducing isaac to them and catching about recent years.  the smiths are long-time family friends of the maddocks and geoff's family lived down the street from them for about ten years.  john and glena were originally organizers and workers of communality (while in the u.s. studying at asbury) along with greg and mary and the few of us students in the early days.

monday - while we're in the east, where the dandenong mountain range lies, we plan to take isaac for a much-anticipated walk through the stunning bird-filled bush and tour the little towns that rest at the top of these hills.

tuesday - we will return to the city in the afternoon.  kevin will meet us to collect isaac and we will continue on to whitley theological college to participate in a workshop with our friend daz.  this workshop is a part of their "school for ministry" program titled "old church and new church: becoming tomorrow's church."  we plan to join this conference group for dinner and see our new friend simon again.

we feel deeply blessed and privileged for each opportunity to speak and share with groups and friends.  we are continually mindful of our faithful community in lexington, to whom our shared stories belong.  as always, we are indebted to our friends and family for cherished prayers of support and love.

Friday, June 22, 2007

the week that was

here's an update about our week.  it has been a good, full week of fun and study.  we switched out jobs early in the week - while one of us spent time with isaac, the other studied and planned for our speaking engagements in july.  lots of reading was done and isaac saw shrek 3 at the movies with sherry and he took geoff to scienceworks (a hands-on natural history museum for kids - here he is creating a sculpture for a public space and forecasting the weather).



we have been reading through an amazing book called, "The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's grand narrative" by Christopher J. H. Wright.  we've also thoroughly enjoyed "God Next Door" by Simon Carey Holt and reading Matthew Sleeths book (again!), "Serve God, Save the Planet."  We've also been looking through "Affluenza: when too much is never enough" by Australian economist Clive Hamilton.   at the back of our minds we're still working over the significance of the remarkable beauty of the trinity outlined by Dennis Kinlaw in "Let's start with Jesus: a new way of doing theology."

all these books have been very helpful in our thinking about how the people of god might be motivated, empowered, and formed by god's mission of love and justice in the world.  loneliness and the lack of 'place' (holt), rampant consumerism that sponsors discontentment (hamilton), and the destruction of the planet by humans (sleeth) all point to the desperate need for the kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.  god's story of self-giving, outwardly oriented love seems to be the only narrative up to the challenges of our age (wright, kinlaw).

friday was a great end to the week as we had the chance to spend all day in the city.  isaac spent the day with his poppa, grandma, and uncle brad and we caught the 6:16am train to flinders street.  at 9am we meet simon carey holt for coffee and toast at 'mr tulk's' (the coffee shop attached to the state library).  simon was wonderful company, remarkably gentle and kind, and rich with insight about mission and theology.  He also had the good sense to marry a woman from the United States so we loved sharing our cross-cultural marriage stories and finding a great deal of commonality in this uncommon pairing.

after 2 hours of stimulating and encouraging chat we left simon to his reading and wandered up to the urban seed den to meet with marcus kernow and chris lacey.  these guys (along with many others at urban seed) have lived their way into an incredible expression of kingdom service and advocacy.  urban seed is the kind of thing we would dream communality would grow into. sitting with these two and hearing the stories of urban seed was like finding a family member you didn't know existed on the other side of the world.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

geelong on a cloudy saturday

last saturday morning we drove down to geelong with mum for a walk along the waterfront and a coffee.  geelong is just an hour away and we had been wanting to check out the wool museum as well as just poke around in this beautiful old coastal town (it's actually about the same size as Lexington).

here are a few photos...






Tuesday, June 19, 2007


we have a friend who's wife is suffering with the complications of long-term treatment of cancer.  they have been so faithful and joyful throughout this heartrending ordeal and through their light and love, they testify to god over and over.  we just received an update and as his wife is in hospital undergoing serious treatment for complications and infection, he shared these words:

"During this frightful time I came upon this Scripture from Habakkuk 3 that had brought me hope and comfort years ago.

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to go on the heights."

Monday, June 18, 2007

our first movie

yesterday, isaac and i went to our first movie together.  because geoff had alot of forge work to do, he dropped the two of us at a local art deco theatre in yarraville and he worked next door at a cafe.  the theatre was unlike one i'd been in before - suede seats, hard wood floors and a silk curtain over the screen.  we settled in, isaac ate a huge amount of popcorn and we sat through the whole of shrek 3.  i have to say it is my least favorite of the three, but i experienced more than enough joy watching isaac take in the big screen.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

png dinner

this photo is from my (Geoff) sister's blog.  she is with her family in papua new guinea serving mission aviation fellowship

for more pictures and stories see her blog here

please pray for them in the coming weeks as the people of png get ready for an election...usually a very unstable time.

through a child's eyes

this sign appears in melbourne trains.  on two separate occasions i asked isaac what each of the symbols was saying and on both occasions he gave me very quick and sure responses with no variation.  it's quite amazing how accurately these communicated with a 3-year-old - and funny when they didn't.


here's what isaac saw (from left to right - you can click on the image to see it up close).

1.  no smoke

2. no taking shoes off

3.  no eating

4.  no asking questions

5.  no drinks

6.  no lying down

Friday, June 15, 2007

teeth and superheroes

with isaac's obsessions with teeth (he's told 3 of his 4 grandparents that their teeth are "broken") combined with his all-consuming fascination with superheroes of every sort (his most recent with "larry boy" from veggie tales - the featured villain has missing teeth), he's come up with this recent statement - we were at the park and as i was pushing him on the swing, he said "i'm going to eat lots of lollies and get broken teeth so i can be a 'baddie'." 

the other night, while finding a parking spot at the train station to head into the footy game, i was a bit stressed.  isaac said to me "stop being stressed or else i'll show you my batman socks!"

also, he's recently developed an interest in anatomy and physiology.  geoff continues to feed him advanced information that he can't possibly understand, but he picks up the jargon.  a few days ago, on the way to a meeting, he said "please buy me a book about the blood and the bones."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

a night at the footy

last wednesday night the whole family went to see the annual EJ Whitten legends match.  it is a game of australian rules football played by retired professional footballers and a few celebrities/comedians.  mum (via her work at a cancer hospital - the money raised goes to cancer research/awareness) had attended pre-game entertainment and we all met up at the stadium.  sherry, brad, isaac, and i enjoyed catching the train into the city and watching night descend on melbourne. 



at the event isaac was more than thrilled with the mascots that paraded the ground. 




a little under 13,000 people braved the cold night air to watch a mock game...i dare say many were there to cheer for one particular player by the name of bryan keith strauchan or, as he is known by his fans, strauchanie.  strauchanie is the creation of a melbourne comedian and is a classically australian cult hero (if you are interested you can search for 'strauchanie' on youtube for some clips).  a ne're-do-well but supremely confident footballer who talks about himself in the third person and is always expressing his frustration with those around him who invariably (in his clear-eyed assessment) fail to acknowledge his greatness and/or hold him back from super-stardom.  strauchanie was great entertainment and even managed to kick a goal.



better people

kev (my dad) tipped us off to "better people" by xavier rudd.  a great song worth taking the time to hear. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the rain has come

although australia is not out of the drought-woods yet (the water reserves are under 30% and about five years above average rain fall is required for substantial recovery from this last decade), the rain has come.  winter in melbourne is characterised by damp, rainy days - it is the wet season for the year.  in the last two weeks, it seems we've had rain about every other day.  it is the beginning of good news and we wanted to thank many of you for your prayers for rain.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

bikes and refugees


our housemate laura sent us an email with  this link - - an article in the local paper about her husband brad and the work he does in refurbishing bikes for refugees at the local bike shop where he works.  this is a critical act of generosity and justice for refugees as having a bike can make all the difference in employment and a basic level of mobility and freedom.  have a look and please remember the refugees in lexington in your prayers - for job opportunities, for health and well-being especially of the children, and for the local church to respond faithfully in meeting their needs.

on the hook

because of the pace and design of life currently in the u.s., as a culture we are more separate and distant from the people closest to us, and by that i mean geographical proximity.  certainly gone are the days when we would leave our doors unlocked and chat with our neighbors or even share meals and care for one another's children.  it is a divided life that leaves many lonely (an epidemic in the west), those who have everything but friends and a sense of belonging.

we've been thinking about this issue as we are reading a book about spirituality and mission in the neighborhood by a professor here in melbourne, simon carey holt.  his book is titled "god next door" and it is one of the best books on this subject we've read.  in it, he returns our sights to our immediate surroundings and reminds us of echoes throughout scripture to "love thy neighbor."  this book has re-inspired us to embrace the ordinary things of life as the very medium through which god usually works and to think about our vocation as missionaries more seriously through the lense of our street in lexington, kentucky.  more than anything, we've felt on the hook to be light and love to the people nearest to us.  below is one of many great passages from this book:

"Certainly the proposition that neighbourhoods are an important context for faith is much easier to dismiss than to take seriously.  We simply don't have the time.  What's more in the name of ministry we spend even more time moving from one place to another, most commonly from home to church or from one set of relationships to the next.  Ministry is that thing we do elsewhere. Yet, the conclusion that neighbourhood is irrelevant to our lives and, more particularly, our Christian calling is more a result of cultural conditioning than it is a biblical response to the call of God.

God's call is a call to place.  When Jesus bids us, 'Come, follow me!' he doesn't call us into the ether, or even into the whole world for that matter.  He calls us into particular places that we can see, walk, smell and inhabit.  God's call is not a call to be everywhere; it's a call to be somewhere...We are made to inhabit...the call of God is to be in a particular place and there to embody the presence and grace of God.  It's a call to locality.  Quite simply, it's a call to the neighborhood."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

a weekend of birthdays

last friday we celebrated brad's birthday.  he was very happy to be home for it this year.  kev and kath took him for a day trip to phillip island and a lunch of a fresh seafood platter at the pub there.  while they enjoyed the day, the three of us had a lovely time in the city.  we went in to shop at vic market in order to purchase stuff for brad's birthday dinner.  he made the simple request of pumpkin soup and caesar salad.  the shopping was particularly pleasurable for me (geoff took isaac to the park on queen st) as i roamed the aisles and bought all fresh ingredients - pumpkin, garlic, romaine (known as cos lettuce here), italian ciabatta, bacon, salami (meats bought from a lovely italian man), anchovies, locally brewed beer for the birthday boy, and callebaut dark chocolate for the cake.  considered one of the finest chocolates in the world, i've always wanted to bake with it.


it was a delight to prepare this meal.  i've watched my mother make classic caesar salads since i was young.  we made the dressing from lemons in kath's garden.  we toasted fresh croutons, minced anchovies and grated parmesan for the salad.  we topped each salad with a poached egg.  the cake was simple but solid, rich with the fine chocolate and a cup of coffee in it.  the pumpkin soup is truly the easiest and tastiest soup i've made.  four ingredients go in - pumpkin (butternut is the best), milk, butter and salt.  as a family, it was  joy to celebrate brad and enjoy simple, tasty food.


on sunday, i turned 37.  we went to church in the morning.  kev and kath brought isaac home and geoff and i headed into melbourne for my birthday afternoon celebration.  we spent our time on lygon st (italian part of town next to uni of melbourne).  geoff found a well-reviewed restaurant that served "rustic mediterranean."  we sat outside to eat lunch and it was very much like paris - a slow meal at a cafe on the curb under trees.  the food was outstanding - we ate appetizers of olives, curly bread and roasted red peppers with goat cheese.  we shared two pastas - one with olives, anchovies, capers and sun-dried tomatoes and the other a carbonara.  it was better than we could have hoped and we ate too much.

after our meal, we walked down the street to the local artsy cinema called the nova to see "romulus, my father."  we both read this biography recently and enjoyed it thoroughly.  the scenery features country victoria (where geoff grew up) and the story is heart-rending.  there are some great movies showing at this theatre at the moment. 

lastly, after the movie, geoff bought me a yo-yo (my favorite oz treat) and we strolled through a local book shop.  we bought a newly released book of poetry by david malouf - typewriter music.  as the sun set, we watched an open plaza full of italians, gathered for some gala and listened to their string quartet.  this was my second birthday celebration in australia and certainly one of the best.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

kindred spirits

last weekend we had the pleasure of spending an evening with a family in footscray.  the couple are about our age and they have two young children.  we've been trying to get together for months, and the effort has become almost comical, but we finally managed to get there and have dinner at last.

they live on the edge of the poorer, less sexy part of footscray.  they bought lovely house about 2 years ago and it was the only one on the street with old, well-developed fruit trees.  their plot of land is just bigger than our urban space in lexington.  they've cultivated their garden space in a sustainable and redemptive fashion and they even have egg-laying chickens in the back.  the garden is emerging as an abundant, productive space in which they are growing their own food.  they also created a fruit/veg co-op for a group of friends that provides them organic food from the wholesale market in melbourne.

as we dined with them, we experienced the peace and rest of table fellowship.  we talked of our dreams and hopes (among the chatter of our children) and it gave me more than pause to think of our similar aspirations - grounded community in a mixed neighborhood, shopping locally, walking to church, knowing neighbors, eating organic food and growing some, merging compartments of life, including children in a kingdom vision and integrating faith into all areas of life.  they could have been dear friends in our community life and we could have been partners in ministry down the street from them.  it was a strange and comforting sensation.  because we will return to the states in a few months, our relationship will have no real grounds to develop.  we will, however, carry with us the encouragement of like-minded people and kindred spirits in the journey of faith.

the musings of a boy


isaac and i had a very talkative time on our walk today.  we spent about an hour getting to the shops and back and isaac had a lot to say.  here's a sampling -

we crossed in front of the library (where we go regularly) and he said "no thanks library, i don't need any of your books today."

while walking past empty lots with random bits of rubbish, he saw a cadbury fredo frog wrapper (his favorite treat) and said "i haven't had one of those in ages."

spontaneously, he also took some time to pray and he asked "god, please don't make superman pretend" - a point we are desperately trying to drive home because two days ago he told us that if superman is pretend, then jesus must be...hmmmm.

further down we passed a discarded mcdonald's cup and he quickly sang "mcdonald's, mcdonald's, i love mcdonald's and mcdonald's loves me."

lastly, we listened to a large crow at the top of a light post.  isaac said, 'i don't like crows" to which i responded, "i don't like crows either...they sound like dick cheney."  he said "dick cheney...i love dick cheney."


we have a song we've been singing lately about jesus walking on the lake (thanks sean and reba for the great music) and isaac stopped the other day and said "jesus can't walk on water."  we said, yes, that's what they say.  in his disbelief, he responded with two plausible options, he said "jesus must have taken off all his clothes, or he put on his duckie and floated."

Monday, June 4, 2007

time with mary

at midnight last night, we picked up our dear friend and mentor, mary fisher.  she's come to be with us for three days - to relax, to talk, to help our understanding of trinitarian theology and mission.  it is a cherished relationship.

her theology is central to our understanding of mission and her experience in mission is critical to our understanding of theology.  at the request of our forge friends who are eager to learn from her while she is here, we've planned an evening for her to speak to staff, faculty, and practitioners about the grand narrative of scripture and our god of mission.    the event will be held tonight at st martin's (john smith's church).

trip to uni


last week while traveling through the city we popped into the university of melbourne.  this school is my alma mater and it's nice to wander around campus and NOT feel the latent anxiety of essays being due and exams looming.  it is an old university by australian standards and the buildings and landscaping evoke that scholarly mood particular to 'halls of learning.'  it was good to show sherry some of the special places from this time in my life and to see isaac completely unimpressed with 'daddy's old school' - no play equipment.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

the jellybean


we never thought we'd be so in need of a car...for the time we've been here, geoff's mum, kath, has generously shared her car with us.  week to week she negotiated her schedule so we could use it as needed.  we are finally coming to terms with the issue of transportation, which has been one of the more difficult parts of our adjustment here.  to get anywhere or participate in anything, you have to have a car, or plan in extra hours to catch the train.

for two weeks in may, our friend kimmy (the director of forge vic) gave us his car while his family was away.  the day we returned it, pete and ruth (geoff's uncle and aunt - pictured below) offered us their car.  she started a new job with a company car and they immediately thought of providing us with the extra car for the remainder of our time in oz.  we've had it a week and it has made a huge difference.  thanks family!


the car is a wee one, very fuel efficient, so we've named it the jelly bean.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

more from leunig

geoff let me lie in bed this morning.  we actually slept in, as a family, until 7 a.m.  as he made me a cup of tea, i stayed under the covers with a michael leunig book, "wild figments."  it is delightful through and through.  here's one of many good excerpts:

overlooking my life so far

"In my life I had accumulated many things in my head - too many things.  Memories, tunes, facts, fears, visions, loves, etc., etc.  As many as possible.  In a fertile mind, such things will interbreed.  Mongrel visions are born; hybrid memories; inbred memories, idiot love.  It gets very confusing!

I decided it was time for a good clean-up, so I emptied all this out of my head and pushed it into a big heap to sort it out.  There is was - everything that was me, all in a big jumbled heap.  I walked around it.  What a mess!

Then suddenly I saw it in silhouette and realised what it was.  It was a heap.  A simple heap.  You don't sort it out, you climb it.  You climb it because it is there.  Excitedly I clambered to the summit and raised a flag.  I was now looking beyond everything that I knew.  The view was simply magnificent."

Friday, June 1, 2007

small cultural adaptations

we've been in australia almost five months.  of course this is the longest period of time i've had in this country, or any other country.  i know there must be certain cross-cultural thresholds of learning and adapting - three month, one year, two years, etc.  it seems i've been here just long enough to edge past a line in a few mundane areas of life.

i can cross the street without a thought.  this is a significant accomplishment since my and isaac's safety depends on it.  it's become a reflex and i don't have to stop and speak to myself with the mantra "look right, then left."

handling currency is much easier.  the other day i needed to quickly give change and i managed it without pause.  since the australian dollar is comprised of coins only below $5, initially i found it difficult to sort through them without closely studying each piece.  i remember back to march at forge's DS2 conference when geoff and i were working the bookshop.  when it came to give change, i just stood there with my palm outstretched,  full of coins and said "take what you need."  i've come a long way.

substantial progress has occurred for me with respect to requesting a toilet/bathroom/restroom/loo.  when in australia or england, i've always found it awkward to ask, as they do, "where's your toilet?"  it seems a bit improper to me to bring up, in a sentence, the piece of plumbing used for matters not discussed in the company of others.  i think that is why we (americans) use something indirect and discreet such as "bathroom."  it's a safe, general term.  early on, i would sheepishly say, "excuse me, where is your t-, t-, t-, bathroom", more comfortable with relying on a conspicuously american label, then using the "t" word.  so the other morning, maybe around 5 a.m., isaac was in bed with us and geoff was trying to slyly sneak out of bed without waking him (we've both been waking early to get reading done).  within a minute, isaac sits up and asks "where's daddy?"  at that wee hour, without a blink and a little bit grumpy, i said "he's in the toilet."  i felt liked i'd arrived and i didn't even know it.  it's the small things really.