God Helps the Outcasts

(a fitting song related to this post is Follow You by Leeland. Put it on for mood music if you’d like 🙂 )

Today marks a week since serving my last shift at an organization that has quickly become a huge part of my life and I have a lot of feelings about it. This semester I had the honor to spend every Tuesday morning from 9:30 until 12 serving with some of the most kind hearted generous people I’ve ever met and I’d love to tell you about it.

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When I was assigned to Gateway Baptist Care Centre when I first arrived in Australia I had no idea what to expect. At orientation I learned that I would be working with the ‘On Track’ Program. This program was a branch of the Care Centre which admitted a set number of clients every six months and provided these clients with food parcels and listening ears every 3 weeks. The goal of this program is to support families and individuals in the midst of troubled times while also helping them regain their footing and encouraging them to break cycles of reliance on welfare programs. It was such a beautiful ministry. My fellow ASC students, Marissa and Alyssa, as well as myself were told it was our job to set up for community tea and that we would be taking turns interviewing clients and working in the shed. I was excited.

On our first Tuesday we got a taste for how impactful our relationship with our fellow volunteers would be. We started the morning by praying together, and in between meeting with clients we were asked about how our experience was so far, what America was like, etc. Genuine interest was expressed in us, which was touching. One of the sweetest gestures though, was when all of our fellow volunteers banded together  to find out where we lived and who could give who rides to placement every week. This small gesture of kindness was huge to us three Americans (who were already getting a little sick of public transport 😂).

As the weeks passed we all had a chance to interview clients, which really just meant sitting with them, asking how they’re doing, and listening and showing genuine care for their situations. If you weren’t assigned to interview you were working in the shed assembling food parcels to be given to these families and individuals who were down on their luck. At the start we rotated two interviewing and one in the shed. As the semester progressed however, and the supervisor Robyn began to know our personalities and strengths a bit better we found a permanent role that was perfect. Marissa, as a psychology major interested in counseling was assigned the task of interviewing every week (which she LOVED) while Alyssa and I, as business majors who like systems and organizing, got to work in the shed. Again, this reassignment was an itty bitty gesture that communicated a large amount of care and concern that we should all be comfortable and utilizing our skills.

At the start of the semester I had a feeling this placement was God’s vehicle for blessing me but I had thought it would be through the clients I worked with or perhaps in the warm-fuzzy “I helped someone” feeling. While those were both true and present I found my self blessed immeasurably by the staff of volunteers I had the pleasure of working with week after week. Our little team grew so close and saying goodbye last week was  more difficult than I had ever thought it would be.

This semester I witnessed first hand what actively loving your neighbor looks like, as well as the power of recognition of suffering as well as the recognition of common humanity. Sitting and talking to people (a pass time I greatly enjoy anyway) offered them an outlet to share their troubles and feel validated amid their suffering. For some, this program is their first glimpse of God’s love. Being able to show God’s hospitality to refugees and his love for strangers was an honor and to be honest it’s mind boggling to me that God chose me to be a vessel in this way. This semester I also had the joy to feel the rewarding power of generosity both in being able to give generously in food and compassion to those who need it as well as in receiving more from this volunteer crew than I could ever repay.

After all of our clients were taken care of last week our little team came together and gifted us cards, along with parcels of Australian goodies to bring home with us. We were speechless and so so thankful. Then, as if they hadn’t given us enough, they drove us up to the Mount Gravatt lookout, bought us coffee and we had one last hour of fellowship. I teared up as we hugged goodbye then and am getting misty eyes writing this now.

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~ volunteer family ~

I will never forget my time at Gateway Baptist Care Centre, nor do I want to. I pray God continues to bless this spectacular ministry and that people continue to be blessed through it.

 

Blessings from Brisbane
Bethany ♄

 

 

 

A.T.L.A.S. Translations

((Australian To (Largely) American Slang Translations))

Accents aren’t the only communication barrier here in Oz! Both American and Australian English comes with it’s own vocabulary of Slang terms which has been so interesting and funny to see used in daily life. We were taught some of these terms in our orientation week, and others we’ve learned along the way! It’s been so interesting learning Australian Slang terms and finding some of them working their way into my vocabulary :P. To my knowledge these are all correct, though not all of them are widely used! 🙂

Australian………………………………American

  • AFL……………………………..Australian Football League (it’s not what you think)
  • Arvo……………………………Afternoon
  • Aussie salute……………..Brushing away flies with the hand
  • Bench………………………….Counter
  • Bogan………………………….Australian Redneck
  • Brizzie (brizvegas)……Brisbane
  • Bottle-o………………………Liquor Store
  • Bush……………………………Outback, Wilderness
  • Capsicum…………………..Bell Pepper
  • Cheers………………………..Thanks
  • Chemist……………………..Pharmacy
  • Chook…………………………Chicken
  • Cold…………………………….Anything less than 70 F
  • College……………………….High School (Secondary School; grades 7-12)
  • Dobber……………………….Tattle Tale
  • Dunny………………………..Outdoor bathroom
  • Esky……………………………Cooler
  • Fairy Floss………………..Cotton Candy
  • Footy………………………….Australian Football League
  • Heaps………………………….Lots
  • Ice Block……………………Popsicle
  • Kindie………………………..Kindergarten
  • League……………………….National Rugby League
  • Lollies………………………..Candy
  • Maccas……………………….McDonald’s
  • Mince…………………………Hamburger, Ground Beef
  • Nappy………………………..Diaper
  • No Worries……………….No Problem (most common response to ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Thank you’)
  • NRL…………………………….National Rugby League
  • One Pot Wonder………Hotdish
  • Op Shop…………………….Thrift Store
  • Petrol…………………………Gas
  • Pokies………………………..Slot Machines
  • Pumpkin……………………Any Large Squash
  • Rock Up……………………..Show Up
  • Salvos…………………………Salvation Army
  • Servo………………………….Gas Station
  • Sickie…………………………Sick Day
  • Station……………………….Large farm
  • Stuff Up……………………..Mess Up
  • Sweet As……………………Awesome, all good
  • Sunnies……………………..Sunglasses
  • Swag………………………….One Man Tent
  • Ta……………………………….Thank You
  • Thongs……………………….Flip Flops
  • Toastie……………………….Toasted Sandwich
  • Togs……………………………Swimming suit
  • Tucker……………………….Food
  • Uni……………………………..University, College
  • Union…………………………Rugby Union
  • Whinge………………………..Complain
  • Winter……………………….May-August
  • Woop Woop………………Small Country Town
  • 06/05/17………………………05/06/17

Have Class, Will Travel

((oops this blog thing is harder than it looks, it’s been like a month sorry))

As a part of my course requirement here in Australia I have to take CS254: Australian Indigenous Cultures and Worldviews as well as AS200: The View from Australia. These classes are about understanding and embracing the beautiful country we’re studying in and the beautiful people that inhabit it. Through these classes, in an effort to truly let us experience Australia, we’ve been on a number of really neat field trips, taking us out of South/Central Brisbane and letting us explore.

St. Helena (hell-ay-na) Island: AS200
Just off the coast of a South Brisbane, St. Helena Island opened in 1867 as Queensland’s foremost maximum security prison for men. The prison operated as one of the most lucrative businesses for the government housing a sugar mill, limestone kiln, and an award winning stock of cattle. While only 7% of the original buildings are still standing there was plenty to tour, led by our actor/guides demonstrating the prisoner-convict relationship and making the historical tour both funny and memorable. A day of historical touring and playacting helped us learn about Australia’s dark convict history.

(learn more: http://www.sthelenaisland.com.au/)

Stradbroke Island: CS254
Stradbroke Island is a popular tourist destination off the southern coast of Brisbane in Moreton Bay. While this island sports gorgeous beaches and often hosts Australian families on a weekend away, the ASC brought us for an entirely different purpose. As a part of our Aboriginal Australian cultural studies we took a two day trip to Stradbroke in order to learn and experience the history and culture of the island’s first inhabitants, the Quandamooka people. We first learned about traditional dress, song, and dance from Matt Burns, before then then visiting Uncle Norm and touring the elder’s museum which was full of artifacts that told the history of the island. We spent the next morning making traditional sand art with Craig aka ‘Tappi” before taking an afternoon swim in Brown Lake (a lake which looks like a massive cup of tea due to the surrounding trees dropping Tea Tree leaves into the water to decompose). A wonderful weekend full of cultural study and enrichment.

**These pictures are from the lovely Emily Kelly, Anna Gibson and the ASC staff. No phone=Bethany’s pictures lacking any form of quality**

Australian Outback- Bonus Downs: AS200
The Australian outback covers a large percentage of this country’s land and is generally unexperienced by the population at large. In order to learn about this more wild rugged side of Australian history and culture we took a nine hour drive towards the heart of the country and spend 2 days 3 nights in a sheep shearing shed an hour outside of Mitchel. This trip could really have a post unto itself, but I’ll try and shortlist the jam=packed 4-day weekend. We had the privilege staying at a farm-stay called Bonus Downs, hosted by the lovely Madonna and Lyle. Our time there included a property tour, a brief history lesson of the farm, a discussion about environmental stewardship as Christians, a little trek through the mud to catch Yabbies (like a little crawfish), and nightly campfires. Part of our discussion on environmental stewardship included the issuing of a challenge. A no-shower challenge. The purpose? To preserve water, feel connected to ‘place’, bond with each other (and give Bethany dreadlocks). The result? A shower has never ever felt better. While we didn’t get as dirty as students in semesters past and were treated to a bit more luxury, red dirt, mud and campfire

**These pictures are all Anna Gibson’s I believe but Emily Kelly and Alyssa Migliaro posted some really cool ones on FaceBook as well**

Bridgeman Baptist Church- Dhiyaan Service: CS254
Bridgeman Baptist Church is a medium sized Baptist Church located in North Brisbane. This past Sunday in an effort to learn more about how Aboriginality and Christianity are compatible practices we traveled as a class to experience their Dhiyaan Service which is lead by Aboriginal Australian worship leaders and pastors. At this service we were able to see a Galatians 3:28 demonstrated through a traditional dance performed by members of the congregation, both young and old, indigenous and nonindigenous, male and female. It was a beautiful opportunity to witness the blended, diverse body of Christ and was really eye opening for all of us. CS254.PNG**Photo Credits: https://www.instagram.com/australiastudiescentre/ **

Overall this semester has given me wonderful opportunities to explore not only the awesome city of Brisbane, but also the beautiful country it is located in! I’m so thankful for classes that facilitate this kind of hands-on, exploratory learning and have been so blessed in this way! Eighty some odd days of exploring down, twenty some to go! Excited to soak up as much as I can!!

Blessings from Brisbane,

Bethany ♄

(Super Delayed Update)- Yes I am still alive!***

***though barely surviving through homework

 

Hey all!

I swear I’ve been trying to write this blog post for like a week and a half now. Unfortunately, the fourth and fifth weeks of school (so last week and this week) in Australia marks the start of assessment due dates and increased reading requirements. It’s been a busy week and a half to say the least.

 

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Here’s an ultra-flattering picture depicting the humidity. I had just stepped out of the AirCon* of the bus and was going to walk home. My glass fogged up immediately.

 But I am not complaining. I mean I’m in Australia! And the humid 80-degree weather won’t let me forget it. Last week we had heaps* of rain so the grass and trees have become increasingly vibrant and lush and I am now living in a tropical wonderland. It is gorgeous. Interestingly the rain here is different than at home. At home when it rains it gets a little cooler and the humidity is generally released from the atmosphere. Here however, after the rain it stays just as warm and muggy as it was pre-rain meaning you’re walking around in a greenhouse. The rain also comes in like 5 minute showers of varying intensity which is fun for walking and public transit. Let’s just say I bought a raincoat within two weeks of landing and am still working on my timing. Queensland weather, I tell ya what. Technically it was supposed to be autumn a few weeks ago but the summer heat has held out. I never thought I’d say I miss the cold, but living in a literal sauna has changed me. 

 

Were in the midst of week 6 here in Australia, which seems crazy. It feels like I’ve been here forever, but I credit that to very long, very full days. Some of my days have been fairly chill, but due to the whole ‘I’m on the other side of the world’ thing, each day is being treated as an adventure none the less. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Queensland State Reserve library, working on the piles of homework I’ve accumulated. With big windows overlooking the skyline and four floors of study space with big tables and comfy spinny chairs, it’s quickly become one of my favorite spots. Lots of coffee shops have been visited and lots of coffee has been drunken (drunk? drank?) as well. I honestly think I’m more hooked on it here than at Dordt, which quite frankly (with how often I visited 55th and the Bunsen Brew and how quickly I ran out of defender dollars last semester) is impressive. 

Another area of this city I’m coming to love is just a short walk along the river from the library. South bank is this gorgeous area along that is right along the Brisbane river, situated next to the big ‘BRISBANE’ sign and the Eye of Brisbane (ferris wheel). It’s this really chill, semi-touristy area with some awesome features and some real good photo ops. There are two main pools; one is a normal pool surrounded by big rocks and the other is a sand-bottom pool attached to a man-made beach. Next to this is a splash park and kid’s pool area. Leading down the river a bit further is a mini, super shallow river area covered in and surrounded by rocks (perfect for sun baking*). It’s difficult to explain, but not at all difficult to enjoy. Every Friday night and Saturday afternoon the little side street of shops that runs parallel to the pools gets turned into a little street fair/market selling art, clothing, crafts, and food. I been many a time, with many a friend and I’ve loved every visit more than the last. 😊

I’ve been on a few awesome class field trips, but I think I’ll do a blog post dedicated specifically to non-Brisbane awesome-sauce a little later (when my list is a bit longer 😉). Sorry this was so very delayed! I’m going to try and get better at updating. I’ve been requested to comment on some differences in food, vocab, and other daily conveniences so stay tuned!

Love and blessings from Brisbane,

Bethany ♄

 

*Aussie Slang, look at me adapting to culture

The first week…

…has been busy. It’s crazy that just seven days ago, airplane wheels touched down and 23 pairs of jetlagged feet hit the streets of Brisbane, Australia to embark on a crazy, busy, fun adventure together. Now that I’ve been here for a week and am slowly adjusting to the time difference (+16 hours. I am literally in tomorrow. Mind. Blown.) I’ve decided to share some little thoughts I jotted down on the way here!

Sunday, February 19, 12:43 pm
Orlando International Airport – Gate 50

Well today’s the day! I’ve checked my bags, said a very tearful goodbye to my parents, passed through security and am now sitting at my gate watching for my plane and waiting to board. It’s sunny and 74 today which is a nice sneak peak of the 80-degree weather I’ll be enjoying in Brisbane in about 23 hours. That’s the amount of travel time I have yet to log (including flights and layovers)/ Thankfully this first flight is only an hour and 15 minutes long, yay for starting small I guess. Overall, I’m super excited for this semester though I’m still sad to have said goodbye to my parents, and scared by all the unknowns. In the end, I trust everything will be wonderful (fingers crossed anyway because I’m there until June).

Sunday, February 19, 4:27 pm
mid-air over North Carolina

My connection in North Carolina went smoothly! Everything was in the same terminal and I had enough time to sit and breathe before re-boarding (which was nice considering my past poor lick regarding connecting flights). I’ve gotten a window seat for both domestic flights which has been great- I love the view from airplanes. I’m a little regretful of my morning right now to be completely honest. I was too nervous to eat before the airport meaning that for the approximately 9 hours I’ve been awake I’ve been fueled by a raspberry toaster strudel. Thankfully they serve drinks and snacks on the flights (go American Airlines!) so while I will need to eat something at LAX, I’ll live ‘til then. I’ve settled down a lot since Florida (I think not thinking about home helps) and am settling into the excitement for the trip. I meet up with some fellow study abroad students in LA so that will be fun! J

Who knows what day technically and what time (my phone says 7:17 am LA time so we’ll go with that
)
Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean

Well I’m about halfway into this 13 hour flight and man oh man—this is rough. I’ve spent the last 6 1/2ish hours sleeping and watching movies (Doctor Strange and the second half of War Dogs wohoo) but man it doesn’t pass the time like I thought it would! Overall I suppose I can’t really complain. There’s food, a pillow, a blanket, and plenty of movies, games and music to keep me occupied. At LAX a bunch of us study abroad students got a chance to meet and talk which was really great. We have a really fun group and I can’t wait to get to know them all better over this program.

Tuesday, February 21, 4:50 am Brisbane time
Somewhere else over the Pacific, closer to Australia

Breakfast has been served (and it was delicious- fruit, muffins, juice and yogurt? Yes please)!! On a significantly less cheery note however: I thought I had troubles sleeping before but that is nothing compared to the past few hours. My body is still synced to Midwestern/Eastern time zones and the only slightly comfortable airplane seats, while doing their best, have done nothing to induce sleep. I have watched Trolls (which was adorable btw), and like half of season 10 of the Big Bang Theory but I can already tell today is going to be a rough one.

Tuesday February 21, 9:09am
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, On the way to our Youth Hostel

We’ve landed! The end of the flight (meaning like the last hour or so) was wayyy better than the 12 hours preceding it. After breakfast, I finally talked to the woman I had been sharing the row of 3 seats with the entire flight. While I didn’t get her name, I did find out that she’s a native Australian who’s been living in LA for 2 years, but doesn’t like it as well as France where she had lived for 4 years during college. Kid you not, this woman is like 26 and her life sounds like the plot line of a sitcom or lifetime special. She was so cool.

We landed at about 7, though it took the lot of us quite a while to make it through customs and immigration. Now myself, as well as 22 other ASC students, and our 3 leaders are all squished into a van on our way from the airport to the Youth Hostel we’ll be staying at for orientation. I am feeling the lack of sleep from the flight. An actual real life bed sounds like a dream after the hours in those uncomfortable seats ((edit: it’s been a week and my neck still hurts)). The weather isn’t helping a bunch either. Its 23 c and its 9am. This is cool for summer. I am melting. On top of the sheer heat it’s also humid which is the killer.

Wednesday February 22, 6:01 am
Brisbane Youth Hostel

Sleep is wonderful. I just woke up from 9 hours and it was every bit as glorious as I imagined. Yesterday in an effort to combat jetlag we went on a roughly 8 mile walk around Brisbane in the projected hottest day of the week ((edit: it was totally the hottest day of the week)). Additional fun fact I didn’t realize: jet lag affects your appetite. It makes sense really. Like my body doesn’t care where it is, it cares how long it’s been since I ate, and the time difference and lack of access to food has not helped. Our ASC staff thankfully super know what they are doing and are offering us big meals and snacks right around the time everyone is feeling the strain.

This group is already pretty tight knit. On the list of experiences that make for fast friendships, ‘taking a hot walking tour of a foreign city while combating jetlag after a 12-hour flight with no shower and minimum sleep with total strangers’ would be at the top. It’s incredible to me that 36 hours ago, (I think? My brain can’t do time differences and zones) I didn’t know these people at all, yet now I can already tell we’re going to be great friends.

That’s where my mini-journaling stopped. The rest of orientation week was just as busy as the first day. Allow me to outline:

  • Tuesday, we landed and went on a nearly all day walking tour of the city. Sweaty, tired, hungry, hot, and scared. I passed out at 8:30 pm and didn’t wake up until 6. It was the best 9 hours ever.
  • Wednesday was ASC orientation. We headed to the college campus fairly early and spent the day learning about what to expect this semester with classes, homestays, Australian Friends, and more. At night, we learned about the “reliability” of the bus system and my fear of public transit was confirmed.
  • Thursday was CHC orientation day. This meant it was our big day to make Australian friends, and get a feel for the campus community we’ll be in for the next 4 months. All in all? A really great time. However, it did make me miss my college in a cornfield quite a bit. Never thought I’d say I missed Iowa but here I am.
  • Friday was CHC Community Day. That’s code for BEACH DAY! We hopped in a bus and an hour of marveling at passing amusement and water parks later we were at Broad Beach which was lovely and gorgeous and wonderful. That night we met our host families and my shoulders revealed how little they appreciated the sun. I never imagined sunburn in February, but I am definitely not complaining.

The weekend was spent with our host families (Allan and Tereasa and their daughters Astra and Reina are absolutely lovely) learning about our host homes and Brisbane a bit as well. Monday classes technically started but no class= adventure day for Bethany. I met up with ASC friends and went to the Queensland Museum, took touristy pictures by the ‘Brisbane’ sign, got ice cream at ‘Cold Rock’ (a low-rate, but higher priced Cold Stone), and sat with our feet in the Southbank pool. It was heavenly. Today I had my first class (of four). I was stuck on campus because my host family had a meeting which meant time to write this and time to socialize with random Australians (yay Bethany, making friends!). All in all, it’s been a busy, stressful, none-the-less successful first week!

Here’s to 14 more!

Blessings from Brisbane,

Bethany ♄

Pre-Departure Thoughts ♄

As my fall semester here at Dordt is drawing to a close (Finals next week! …..yay?) preparations are being made and plans are being finalized for my spring semester in Australia. I’ve bought my ticket, enrolled in classes, finished paper work, attended all the meetings, and as my departure date creeps closer I’ve thought a lot about the upcoming semester, why it is going to be so great and why I am beginning to feel I need to go. Because I’ve done so much thinking about the subject I feel the need to share some of the cool things I’ve realized about the reasons I chose Australia, and the reasons I think the trip is increasingly important for me.

This semester I’ve come to see God has been preparing me for this particular adventure for a long long time. I’ve known since I was in middle school that I wanted to study abroad. Middle school introduced me to Harry Potter, England and a world that is larger than the United States. A curiosity for the diverse and foreign was sparked during those three years and that helped to shape a desire to experience the world outside of my own boarders. This desire for adventure translated into study aboard, which meant asking on every college visit about their study abroad programs and mentally including it in my four year plans. Flash forward to my freshman year at Dordt (last year) when I finally settled on my major (International Business) and was delighted to find that an “off-campus experience” (read: study abroad) was required for graduation.

Planning the particular semester I would be gone for was a matter of working around Concert Choir tours and the Dordt musical schedule (every  other fall beginning my freshman year). Spring of my sophomore year (2017) was the perfect and only time that would work out, and from there the real planning began. As I worked through my plan I narrowed my options down to either the Oxford Semester in England or the semester in Brisbane, Australia. I eventually decided on the Australian semester because the class offerings were very similar to Dordt in offering fairly basic 14 week long courses (as opposed to research based “tutorials” at oxford), and the courses offered fit my needs within my four year plans.

Those are the fundamental reasons I chose Australia. It was logical. It fit in my plan. It was neat and tidy and everything looked outwardly perfect but, as is often the case, God wasn’t even close to done working on my heart or bringing significance and meaning to this particular plan. My first truly eye opening experience came as I was reading through the Australian Studies Centre’s student handbook. Every sentence I read poked another hole in my bubble of hope for a restful vacation of a semester, and by the end I was questioning if I actually wanted to go through with leaving at all. I (clearly) eventually came to the decision to still go, and as the fear subsided I realized this semester stands to be twice as valuable in terms of life experience because it will force me to be a bit uncomfortable, and growth comes from discomfort.

The next realization of the significance of this trip came in October as I was sitting through one of Dordt’s weekly chapels. During this week I had been reaching out to a former friend from home with no response and was deeply hurting over the separation of time and distance, and the dissolution of a once strong friendship. I showed up to the BJ Hann that Wednesday expecting another standard chapel service walking through Acts, as we had been doing all semester, but God had another plan. At this chapel Aaron Baart made it a point to discuss the persecuted church that is alive and still working today, hammering in the message by showing clips of Christian pastors in the Middle East thanking God for their opportunity to serve (even though they risk death every single day by doing so). He ended this chapel by playing a video in which Christians from the Middle East were singing a Psalm about persecution and suffering for the Pope. This song was a cry for help. It was sad and it was desperate and all of the things I had heard about the persecuted church and all of the statistics and stories finally felt real. As I walked out of this service teary eyed and seeing clearly with an awareness of the rest of the world for the first time in a long time, I truly realized how inconsequential my week’s drama had been. I had become so wrapped up in my own thoughts and issues, I had let the scope of my problems become magnified past any reasonable proportion. This global perspective is hugely important and something I look forward to actively gaining while serving and learning in an area of the world with problems, people and a culture different to that which I come from.

Now that I’m coming to the end of my semester here at Dordt, I’m looking over my time as a whole and if I’m honest: it was really really hard. Every week in October began with  a new personal struggle to work through, and usually ended with tears and venting and eventually-after what had felt like an eternity-a resolution. When I had finally made it to November I celebrated and thought I was finally in the clear. That was until November 11. On November 11 I got the heart breaking text from my sister that my nephew Declan had a brain tumor. This one text started the spiral of half a week: waiting for news, receiving phone calls, and having my heart break over and over again at new discoveries and increasingly realized severity. This culminated on the Wednesday after his surgery when I received a phone call from my dad alerting me to the serious possibility that the tumor was cancerous. I cried. A lot. Thankfully a friend was in my dorm with me and offered her shoulder and a box of tissues while I processed the news. After around 15 minutes I headed out to the prairie alone with a pocket full of tissues, a heart full of hurt, and a lot of questions for God. As I sat on a fence, praying and crying and begging for relief, God gave me all of the understanding for the situation that I can ever hope to get (which isn’t a lot, but it’s some deep stuff to process).

While the situation is still not resolved (Declan is currently receiving his first of two rounds of chemotherapy, which marks the start of a long year of treatments that will hopefully eradicate this very rare and aggressive brain cancer from his little body), I found comfort and some measure of rest in that half hour with God. I have come to discover that I have such a large net of support from my wonderful family and friends and they are a huge blessing in my life; however, I find I often turn to them first when I am faced with a struggle. In the situation with Declan, turning to friends and family didn’t really help. I needed the comfort that only God could provide me, and this medical emergency forced me to recognize that. I am looking forward to being forced to increase this connection and this support channel while in Australia, and I have hope I can make it habitual. While in Australia I will limited access to my vast earthly support network, and will thus need to be even more acutely aware of my support from God to make it through the 3 1/2 months. I will also only be taking 16 credits, and will not be involved in any extra curricular other than trips and volunteer work facilitated by my program. My hope is this huge addition of time to my schedule will effectively readjust my priorities to where they should have been and stayed up to this point in my life.

So that’s what I have. This semester, whether due to hitting the lowest of lows or an increased level of spiritual awareness, I’ve felt God working clearly and deeply in my heart as well as in (and through) my life. This is such a comforting feeling and an awesome experience (literally awesome, as in I’m constantly in awe when I think about how cool it is). Next semester does provide a host of challenges (which I am sure I will post about while feeling particularly homesick :P) however is also provides an incredible opportunity to gain a deep global perspective, reacquaint myself with my Godly support and reset my priorities.

I hope you enjoyed this little window into my mind, until next time!

~Bethany ♄

 

 

**If you have ever have questions about anything Australia or study abroad or even spiritually related feel free to ask! I’m super excited about everything that’s happening in my life, and will take any opportunity to share more about it.**