As a self-described normally “wordy” person, I’ve had a lot of trouble putting into words how much the recent trip to Australia meant to me. I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever simultaneously worked so hard and laughed so much.
So many memories roll through my mind when I try to think of what to say that would encompass all I felt about my time with this particular group of people in this particular place. I think of laying in the grass in Hyde Park on Aussie Day, talking and eating delicious thai food and marveling at the gorgeous architecture and bright colors.
One of my favorite memories of the trip was our “Would you rather…?” conversations that started on our first night in Sydney. Several us were sitting around, talking at dinner, and in order to get to know one another, we began to ask questions about situations or circumstances to see how we would each react. “Would you rather __________ or ___________?”
Those conversations continued throughout the trip. One conversation that occurred, as we drove our four cars through the Australian countryside like a scene from the Italian job, still makes me laugh when I think of it:
The walkie-talkie crackled and someone proposed, “Would you rather eat a pound of butter OR bite a baby?
Donnie’s voice came over the speaker, taking the lead: A bite from anywhere?
Donnie: A human baby?
Kira, confirming: Yup. A human baby.
Donnie generously offers: Ummmm….I’ll do the butter so no one else has to.
The conversation appeared over. And everyone returns to their respective thoughts after a good laugh. But not so fast. The walkie talkie crackles again:
Donnie: Wait! Are we talking about a fat baby or a regular sized baby?
Cause of course that would make all the difference. 🙂
There were other moments. One day we are working hard, filthy, and bombarded by flies. I turn to Drew when he makes a funny noise. “No kidding!” he exclaims, “I just had a fly go up my nose, I coughed, and I spit it out of my mouth. Alive!”
It’s laughs like these you can’t put a price on.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. There are other memories that resound in me. I will always think of spending an entire day removing debris from beneath a conventional foundation house with Caroline. Sweet Caroline who is my “birthday twin” (we were born on the same day, 10 years apart) and a woman I came to deeply respect. Hopefully she will be a life long friend/little sister…
It was hot, hot, hot in Texas, Australia…but under that house…words can’t even describe. The only way we could get under the house was to bend over at the waist and half-walk, half-crawl for the 25 feet to the pile of debris the flood left behind. For the entire day. Now, just add in five crapping chickens (or “chooks” as the Aussies called them) and a Border Collie intent on having “Chook” for lunch…and you’ve got one crazy job worth remembering. It taught me that you could never, ever emotionally prepare for what you may be called to do when you are serving, but with the right attitude and the right company (thank you, Caroline!) you can get through anything. Among all of the filth and back pain, I feel like I realized that “doing life” with people aint always fun and it aint always pretty. But you’ll be equipped with what you need, when you need it.
It was such a priviledge to serve several families in Australia but the one that stands out to me was the Marshall family in Toowoomba.
Our precious family…
When we were leaving them, it felt like leaving family. I think Jenny, the “mom” of the family said it best and touched my heart the most when she emailed us a heart felt “thank you” after we left and told me, “You didn’t just mend fences, you know?” Well, the feeling was mutual. In blessing others, I know that I felt like I was the one blessed. As I sat on the porch with this wonderful family and Caroline on our last night, quietly listening to Donnie sing and play guitar, Drew play the harmonica, and Brandon use an old ice chest to beat out a rhythm, I knew without a doubt that these are the moments and memories that make life soooo worth living.
On our trip home, Brandon, Caroline and I were in “our” car…the same group that had started the trip together, looking out our window at the beautiful scenery.
After a long two weeks, we sat quietly, each of us lost in our own thoughts of Australia when John Mayer’s version of Free Fallin began playing in the background. As if we’d planned it, each of us began to quietly sing…
She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, crazy about Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too
It’s moments of harmony like this that I’ll remember. Breath taking views. Hard work. Sweat. Being so tired I can’t sleep. Making a difference in the lives of those who were strangers to me but now I call friends.