Saturday, July 14, 2012

lessons learned.

Dane and I have been here in Sydney for six months now.  We laugh because this experience has been a bit of a time warp for us.  Some days we feel like the six months feels like six weeks.  Other days it feels more like six years, but all in all, a lot can happen in six months.  Dane's first semester at Hillsong is coming to an end, which means a new intake of students has started, many from the USA.  We have learned a lot of lessons here already, and I wish someone would have clued me in on a few of these things when we first started.  So, to the new American students, this post is for you.

Lesson #1: Grocery Stores
Yes the price of food is going to scare you to death at first.  It is ok, eventually that shock will wear off.  Just remember, when you are buying 1 kilogram of something, it is like buying 2 pounds of it at home.  The cheapest ground beef is at Coles ($6/kilo).  Not the highest quality, but affordable.  If you are looking for frozen chicken breasts, just stop.  Go to the deli counter and buy from there.  Yes, the deli counter is cheaper than the meat freezer.  Don't be afraid to try new dishes.  You'll find a lot of Asian and Indian influence here.  Embrace it.  Buy the packet of satay mix from the grocery store aisle.  Try the Japanese mayonnaise, it tastes amazing.  And if you are looking for candy, might I recommend strawberry zappos.  If you are looking for fresh produce, try the markets.  Parklea isn't really that far, and the prices are amazing.  They are only open on Saturday and Sundays.  Go in the late afternoon to get the best price on items.

Lesson #2: Cravings.
You will crave things that you never thought you would from back home.  Here is a bit of help.  Reject shop will become a friend of yours.  Dr. Pepper for $1.50/ can, Marshmallow Fluff for $2/ jar, Hershey Chocolate Syrup and Reeces cups are also available here.  Forget about eating black beans or corn bread for awhile.  Mama is just going to have to send those to ya via US Postal Service.  Which brings me to my next lesson.

Lesson #3:  Mail
Mail will make your day.  Letters from home make the world feel smaller.  Become pen pals with several people back at home (I love writing people from my church especially).  It keeps you up to date on life back at home, but also allows someone to learn a bit about another part of the world.   Also, if you are needing something from home, your parents can ship it for around $65 in a flat rate box.  They will become your best me.

Lesson #4: Coffee
Coffee here is so different and so amazing.  Take it in!  The cafes in Australia are unique and fun.  May I recommend your first drink be a latte, then you can work your way up to a long black for something a little more stout (or as my papa would say, something that will put hair on your chest).

Lesson #5: Your Feet
You are going to walk, A LOT.  Comfy shoes are a must.  You will wear through the soles of your shoes very very quickly.  Dane and I have already worn holes in the bottom of six pairs of shoes since arriving.  Take care of your feet.  Girls, I know you want to look cute, but sometimes it is just not worth walking round trip 80 minutes in healed boots.

Lesson #6: Take Initiative
There are so many opportunities at Hillsong, but they might not be put on a silver platter for you.  Ask questions, volunteer, get to know people and doors will open up for you!

Lesson #7: Courage
We are often told that coming to Australia was so courageous.  So many days I do NOT feel courageous.  Dane often reminds me that just because you are scared does not mean that you aren't courageous and brave.  Don't be afraid to face your fears while you are here.  Talk to someone you might not normally talk to, eat vegemite on toast with butter, pet the kangaroo, volunteer to pray aloud in class, hug someone who needs one, cry like a baby in the middle of church.

Lesson #8: Transportation
The public transit system here is unorganized.  Do not expect Chicago or NYC.  Use this website to figure out bust time tables:  A bus ticket will cost you $4.50 one way.  You can buy an unlimited day pass at most News Agency for $21.  Be ready, you'll have to pay for those in cash.  I would recommend buying a bike.  Do not buy a bike from Big W.  The pedals will fall off.

Lesson #9: Gum Tree is just like craigslist back at home.  Use it to find furniture to furnish your home, used bikes, tickets, jobs, phones, guitar pedals or whatever else you might need while you are here.

Lesson #10: Hillsong In General
Hillsong is a very unique place.  While you are here, get ready.  God has a plan for your life.  Sometimes that means dealing with past hurts, pains, suppressed memories, darkness, and so on.  Trust me, God wants to and will set you free from all of this.  Just know that your soul will be stirred by the Holy Spirit and Jesus will set you free.  He comes to give life and give it abundantly.  Chains will be broken, lives will be healed, in Jesus name.  So be joyful my friend, you are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

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