Saturday, October 15, 2011

Journal Entry #7

This week has been very interesting. On Thursday I attended a Ladies Bible study with the ladies from the church where we have been attending. The day before I mapped out the bus route that I should take. The Bible study was @ 10:30. In order to get there on time I had to leave the house @ 8:20. I had arranged for Jenny (the wife of the preacher-preacher’s wives prefer to be referred by their own names than merely “the preacher’s wife” , right, Kay??) to pick me up from the Varsity Lakes bus stop. The first part of the trip went as planned, arriving at my transfer station ahead of schedule. From there I simply walked across the street to catch my connection-which was suppose to be the 754 to Varsity Lakes. I waited a few minutes, boarded the 754 and I was on my way again. After an hour's drive and seeing several signs for Varsity Lakes, I asked the bus driver if we would be stopping at Varsity Lakes station. He informed me that the bus I was on did not stop at Varsity Lakes. I asked him how I could get there and he told me where I should get off and what bus I should take from there. Once I was off the bus I gave Jenny a call to tell her where I was and that I would be a little late getting to Varsity Lakes. She told me she was not far from where I was, to stay put and she would be there in 5 minutes. We were only a few minutes late, which really didn't matter. Australians are going to be having tea before and after any occasion.

The Bible study was at a young woman’s home. There were 10 women who attended and several little ones. The lesson was about fear. She had really prepared for the lesson, including making copies of the lesson for each of us. Many women shared what they feared the most. The lady next to me was from Russia and had a Russian Bible. She asked me whether the scripture was in the Old or New Testament. Her name was Olga. She was afraid of snakes. Another woman was afraid of the dark-she was two small children and another due any time. Miandrea was afraid of sharks-she lives on the ocean. Jenny was afraid of spiders. Hana was afraid of being alone - her mother had left she and her sister alone many times when they were very young. She was so opened and honest with her struggles. She is another home schooler and friend of Jenny’s through a home school group. She and her family escaped from Prague when the communism rule fell in Czech Republic back in the early nineties. All of these ladies are so precious and even though our backgrounds are very different we all struggle with many of the same issues. While talking with Hana I found out she lived about 10 mins. from Hollywell in the community of Helensvale. She offered to take me to the bus station in Helensvale, to which I gladly accepted. On our ride back Hana also told me of a small group mid-week Bible study in Helensvale, which would be a lot closer than Merrimac. I plan on checking it out this Wed. evening.

While I was waiting on my bus to arrive I walked over to the local fair (mall) where I walked up to the McKy counter and asked, “Do you have Happy Meals?” She said. “Yes.” I said, “I would like a Happy Meal and a diet Coke, please.” Then I enjoyed the most delicious hamburger (fresh bun, a thin patty, lots of ketchup and a pickle) and hot French fries with lots of salt. YumYum.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me. This week has brought many new friends and Christian fellowship, both of which I was really longing to have.

On Friday, I attended my first High Tea. It was very much like a luncheon with finger sandwiches, tiered serving trays at each table with a variety of sweets, champagne, and of course tea. There was water available for those non-drinkers-which included me and Mimi, the lady that had graciously invited me to walk over with her and to sit at her table since I did not know any one. About 90 women attended this fund raiser for the Leukemia Foundations. There was a lady singer (she was at least 70), a fashion show, a raffle that included many nice prizes (Mimi-won a bottle of champagne-she is probably 75) and lots of fellowship. It began at 11 and finished around 2:30. Each of us received a goodie bag with lots of catalogs, a note pad, a pen, a diary and a nice heart-shaped compact mirror. I have included some random pictures of this event, including some of the models for the fashion show. I also wanted to show you what I wore-thus the picture of me in the mirror. Lots of white and black outfits but mine was rather colorful and I did receive many compliments.

I have done some baking this week. I made tea cakes for Norman's office, white chocolate covered oreos and puffed pastry sticks dipped in white chocolate-I took these to the High Tea. They were a success!

As I have told you before this apartment is very well equipped, however, there are a few missing items. I have been trying to use what we have rather than buying these items. I have found a plastic glass works well as a rolling pin and a wine glass turned upside down is perfect for cutting cookies. Paper clips make great chip clips. When we visited Luke in Grenada I learned that you never throw away any containers-they are very useful-empty oatmeal holds my flour, an empty tomato sauce jar holds my ground coffee and an empty yogurt containers with lids are great for storing leftovers. Thanks, Luke for the helpful tip.

Well you all should be good and sleepy by now. Hope all is well with you. Love to all.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Journal Entry #6

On Friday Norman and I attended our first apartment social. They have one on the first Friday of each month and we felt that this would be a good way to meet some of our neighbors. The flyer had said to bring nibbles and drinks. I stressed somewhat on what to bring. I wanted to make a good first impression. I decided on Brownie Bites and Roasted Cinnamon/Sugared Almonds. I arranged the cookies on one of my pretty red trays and put the almonds in a red and white striped bowl. We walked over to the pool area with our nibbles and bottled water. Needless to say we were the only ones there with bottled water. My pretty tray and bowl were the only red on the table, everything else was white and my nibbles were the only sweets-everything else was salty. Later when one of the ladies was passing my cinnamon sugared almonds around, not knowing I was the one that had brought them, she said, "I am not sure what these are but ..." to which another lady replied I don't know either but they don't look very appetizing. (They did sort of resemble Kangaroo droppings but I thought they tasted pretty good). So much for first impressions.

Even though the nibbles were a flop, we did meet some of our neighbors and I have been invited to a High Tea Leukemia Benefit on Friday. Not sure what a High Tea is but you can rest assured I will be googling it before Friday!

We had planned to visit Tamborine Mountain on Saturday but we woke up to a thunderstorm and decided to postpone that adventure. Instead, we went to look at bicycles and we bought Norman a hat. This hat is suppose to protect his neck and ears from the sun. On the way home he was reading all about the hat and how to care for it. The instructions said - "It is shower proof." I looked at Norman and said, "Why would anyone get in the shower with their hat?" If they meant rain they should have said rain. (I am learning). I must say he does look rather handsome in it, even in the shower.

Today we went back to the tiny church on the Gold Coast. Wayne, the preacher had emailed and called to tell us they were having a potluck in honor of the guest speaker from Fiji. I decided to make my new favorite recipe Orzo Salad, Luke's old favorite - Chili Cheese Frito Salad (couldn't find Fritos so had to substitute the only spicy corn chips I could find), stuffed eggs and I took the leftover roasted cinnamon almonds and brownie bites for dessert. I came home with empty dishes. They loved it all!!!

We have been praying about where to go to church long before we got here. We wanted to be where the Lord wanted us to be. I preferably did not want to be in a small church - One of those "Lord, put me where you want me to be but..." request. We had visited a larger congregation last Sunday but we decided to go back to the small church. And today I felt at peace and at home there. The guest speaker was very passionate about his work in Fiji and brought a very good lesson. The people are so precious and always welcome with a hug, as if they are truly glad you are there. I have included a picture of the congregation. And even though they are very small the singing is outstanding and the song leader is very enthusiastic. Some of the songs we know but they may sing a little differently and some are new to us but are very beautiful.

**On a side note-On this day especially I am praising God for the amazing journey He has allowed me to experience over the past year. He has been my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in trouble, my fortress, my portion, my deliverer, my mighty rock. He has sustained us every step of the way. "He has lifted us up out of an horrible pit, He has established our goings. He has put a new song in our hearts, even praise unto our God. (Psalm 40:1- 3). He has been faithful. I am believing Him and praising Him for the wonders He has done, is doing and will continue to do. And many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11 Thank you to all who have prayed for us over these past 365 days. Amen, amen and amen.

Love you all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flat White/Hot Chocolate/Apple Crumb Muffin

Flat White/Muffin - $7.50
Hot Chocky - $3.50
Brekky with my husband - Priceless

Contrary to Popular Belief---written by Norman

Contrary to popular belief, I do not sleep all the time as suggested in some of the previous blogs I have read on this site. Due to some misinformation I have decided to start contributing occasionally an editorial. Mary Jo has adapted to retirement quicker than I could have imagined, but I am reaping the benefits as I have breakfast each morning and a great dinner each night. She has really become a gourmet cook since we have been here. Tonight we had some funny little round beans with some strange shaped pasta with several types of herbs and spices mixed in a huge metal bowl and served on a red plate. It was delicious. I am lucky to have such a wonderful wife and great cook.

Work is going well. Starts at 6:15 AM and usually ends around the same time each night. I have been traveling to some exotic places like Wagga Wagga. (Home of many crows). Saw more sheep than you could count. It is amazing how much wool they have this time of year, but many are being sheared now. Then I flew up north and stayed in one of the farming communities next to the Great Barrier Reef. They raise sugar cane in this area along with bananas and mangoes. Did not go out on the reef as we are saving that trip for when someone comes to visit.

Although this is an English speaking country there seems to be several dialects. Some are easy to understand. Others talk so fast and roll their words making it very difficult for me to understand. They have slang names for almost everything. Last week, I was on a road trip with two guys and we stopped for them to have a cigarette or fag as they call them. They were standing in front of the car talking with another guy and I decided to get something out of my computer bag in the trunk of the car. I walked around back and yelled for Mark the driver to pop the trunk. He said, "What did you say?" I tapped the trunk with my hand and said, "Pop your trunk." They all busted out laughing. He finally unlocked the trunk and then walked over to me and said, "You might want to watch what your saying as trunk over here means the man's private parts (he didn't actually call it that but Mary Jo wouldn't let me write his exact words). They call the trunk of the car the boot and the hood is the bonnet.

They actually keep up with the United States pretty well. They are constantly asking about our President and the economy. Had a great discussion last week with a group of five guys at dinner. I asked them about this observation... after living here a short while, seeing the massive amount of natural resources this county has, and the small number of people they have to defend it, the huge investments that China is making in Australian's mining industry, were they afraid that they would wake up one morning and see thousands of troop ships surrounding the country with millions of Chinese soldiers coming to claim there businesses. They said no they would go after America first. Don't think so, distance is much less to Australia. Unfortunately it wouldn't make any difference as we have been allies to all conflicts for a long time, but it made for some good discussion.

Mary Jo and I are trying a great deal of first. In fact last night she cut my hair for the first time ever in our 36 yrs of marriage. Saved $16+ and didn't have one cross word. Probably because she put masking tape over my month before we started. I will let her finish this story and give you a picture or two. Have a great day or night whenever you read this and thanks for keeping up with us. We are lucky to have you as family and friends. G'day Mate...

Well let me just say opinions expressed by this writer might not necessarily be the views of the regular blogger...

I have been busy reading, running and trying to learn cook. We have had stuffed peppers, tacos, and orzo salad. I have learned that garbanzo beans are the same as chickpeas (thanks, Sara) and that risoni is the same as orzo (the Internet has a world of information about everything I should know but don't). I also learned how to make French pressed coffee with a quick online lesson from Samuel.

Yesterday I decided to try the bus. I topped off my go card online and called about the bus times for the bus stop just outside our complex. She told me that the bus ran on the half hour - I am thinking o'clock and thirty but when I reached the bus stop the schedule read 2:21 and 2:51, needless to say I missed the 21 and had to wait for the 51. When I got on the bus I touched my card to the machine - I had learned how to do this when I was here back at the beginning of the summer riding the River Cats - touch on-touch off. The machine made a beep beep, so I asked the bus driver what that meant and in a grumpy voice he replied, "I don't know. What does it say? I can't read it!!!" (the machine was not facing him). At this point the machine read, "card already touched" so I just had a seat. When I touched it to get off the bus it said "insufficient funds"-I tried to explain to the bus driver that I had just topped it off online to which he replied, "It says you have insufficient funds! If an inspector gets on the bus you will be fined for not paying!"- He didn't bother to tell me that it took 48 hrs. for the online topping to clear or that I could pay cash. On the way back I boarded the bus, paid cash and asked this driver (a different one) if this was the bus to Columbus St. to which he replied, "I don't know where Columbus St is." - (there are two Columbus Street stops on his route) - one going and one coming!!! Thankfully, another rider helped me out and told me it was the correct bus for my stop. Not a good first experience with the bus drivers. However, I did not let the rudeness deter me from riding it again today. This time I did much better-only reprimanded for trying to load the bus from the back instead of the front-both have top on/off machines. Samuel, sound like the taxi drivers in Chicago? I am not a city girl!

Today when I went to the store they had 1 litre cokes with different names on each-advertising to share a coke with... the only two that I could find were Luke and Nick-lots of good memories of those two.

The picture of Norman by Marilyn is a two-fold story...first it is to show you his haircut-good thing he can't see the gaps in the back.(haha) Second, this picture is huge, it hangs just outside the master bathroom door, and has hung there since before we moved in three weeks ago. Well the other day Norman was walking into the bathroom and he hollered back to me, "Hey have you seen this picture of Marilyn Monroe here in the hall?" I just busted out laughing and said, "Yep, she's been there every time you have gone in and out of that bathroom. Hello, Norman.

That's all for now.