Friday, December 10, 2010

It's that Time...Christmas Time is Here...

It's beginning to feel a lot like....Summer! We've had steady 90 degree days lately here in Australia, so it certainly doesn't feel like the typical cold December that I'm used to! I'm still getting used to the fact that my apartment does not have air conditioning. I have a couple of fans, but it is definitely not cool inside! I did decorate my little Christmas tree and hang the stocking that my mom sent me to get in the Christmas spirit. I think I'm channeling my Aunt Martha and Uncle Steve, because I already have all of my Christmas shopping done! Here are some fun pics from this month so far:

The "rat-tail" is alive and well in Australia. Just ask Evan. (our youth minister)

Claire, Jenny, Me and Laura with the decorated Christmas tree at the Community Centre. (we decorated it for them)

I could've sworn that Clark Griswald was American???

Hannah, me and Jenny at the STAMP graduation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pac Rim Weekend

This past weekend, the Pac Rim group from Oklahoma Christian was here on the coast. We had such a great time! We picked them up from the airport on Thursday night and then headed back to Gosford. We woke up to a rainy and cold Friday, but we still were able to go to the Australian Reptile Park near Gosford. It was fun to watch all of the students experience kangaroos and koalas and a few creepy, crawly creatures as well. (Ok, I was excited too.) We watched a show where one of the park employees "milked" a poisonous snake right in front of us! I hate snakes! (Milking a snake is when they get the snake to bite on a jar to extract some of its venom in order to make anti-venom. It saves lives!)

On Saturday, we had my first real beach day here in Australia! We took the Pac Rim group to Pearl Beach where we sun-tanned (or burned), had a barbeque and played ultimate frisbee. We were there for several hours, so we all got pretty fried. After the beach, everyone went back to Kev and Deb Brown's house for dinner and a devotional. The singing was so great! I loved it!

We rounded out the weekend with a sausage sizzle on Sunday and then most of the students came to a Central Coast Mariner's soccer game with us on Sunday afternoon. It was a very busy weekend, but I loved getting to hang out with the students from OC. I felt so old, though! Ha. A few of them knew of my brother, Ben, and several were friends with my cousin, Todd, who is a sophomore at OC.

"Milking" the snake!

Me feeding a kangaroo!

Me and Steven (Pac Rim) at the soccer game.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

Although Halloween is not a typical holiday here in Australia, we were able to have an Area-Wide Young Adult's Halloween party this year. It was a blast! Everyone came dressed in a costume and we ate pizza, carved pumpkins, played Halloween bingo and had a costume contest. Some people had never carved a pumpkin before! The Americans will be shocked at this, but I paid $56 for 4 pumpkins to carve!! Aussies enjoy pumpkin, but it is a different kind of pumpkin. Mostly, they use pumpkin as a vegetable. You can have roast pumpkin or even pumpkin soup! I actually really enjoy it.

This year, Jenny, Amber, Amanda and I went dressed as the ninja turtles. (I've been trying to get someone to be a ninja turtle with me for years.) We had a Queen of Hearts, Aladdin and Jasmine, Gene Simmons (KISS), and a multitude of others! We had about 20 people total, so it was a great success!

For a pumpkin soup recipe, go here:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Losing a Tire

So, this past weekend was our Gosford Family Camp. It was a great weekend, but on the way, we had an interesting experience.

Jenny and I had gone shopping for all of the groceries for camp on Wednesday. We had to take the church bus because there was so much food, it wouldn't have fit in the boots of our cars. The "bus" is really just a 14 passenger van and in Australia, you have to have a special license to drive them. Since I still have my American license, I am eligible to drive the bus. Anyway, we loaded up on Friday afternoon, with all of the food and our luggage to head off to camp early. The groceries partly included 18 kilos of beef mince, 10 kilos of pork mince, and a TON of milk! It only takes about 45 minutes to get to camp, so we didn't think we needed coolers or anything, because everything would go right back in the fridge. What we didn't expect is that we would get a flat tire on the way!

I would like to take this time to thank everyone in my life who has told me how to react if a tire blows while driving. I remained calm, kept the wheel steady and pulled off to the side of the road. First of all, we were on the highway (going at least 100 km/hr-about 75mph), I was in the passing lane and it took me a second to figure out what happened. I heard a noise, then smelt something burning and then we realized that the tire had blown. And when I say blown, that is really what I mean. This wasn't just a flat tire, there was nothing left! Luckly, the church has NRMA (like roadside assistance), so we were able to get the tire changed fairly quickly. Quite an adventure! I've never had a flat tire while I was driving before!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Already??!!

I can't believe that it's already October!! Where did 2010 even go? Things are moving along here in Australia, and as I've mentioned before, it is starting to get warmer here. We've had some really nice Spring days along with some really rainy Spring days. I am hearing good things about October and November. The weird thing will be having a HOT Christmas and New Year's!

One thing that I'm really missing about Oklahoma is football season. It seems that the past few years I have really been into watching all the games, reading the stats and then discussing them with all of the guys at work. Football (or gridiron, as Aussies call it) is just not popular here, so it is hard to keep up. Luckily, I was able to go over to some friend's house on Sunday morning to watch the OU/TX game. Boomer Sooner! We had daylight savings here on Saturday night, so it was on at 6:30 am (2:30 pm Central time in the US), rather than 5:30 am. I must be a dedicated fan! Here is a pic of me with my OU doll (courtesy of the Runyons) and my OU football schedule:

Monday, September 20, 2010


With the coming of September came my 27th birthday! AHHHH!! As you can tell from some of the pictures, I went through a "AHHH!! I'm old!" phase and put a couple of pink streaks in my hair. Ha. Overall, I had a great birthday! On the actual day, the ministry team went out to lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant. It is a small, family-owned business, so the same people are at work every time we're in there. The girl who always waits on us gave me a hug and told me happy birthday! Ha!

In the evening, Jenny, Amber, Amanda and Tiffany came over for a spaghetti dinner, complete with a Dr. Pepper from the international food store at one of the malls here. After dinner, we went and saw a movie, then came back to my place for chocolate fondue dessert! Yummmm!!!! The girls and I had a great time.

On the night following, a group of adults/young adults went out to dinner at one of the only Mexican restaurants in town! The food was good, just a sweeter type Mexican than I'm used to. Jenny made a birthday cake that was delicious as well! See below for some fun pics...

Friday, September 10, 2010


One of the most exciting things that has happened in the past month is that it is getting warmer! We are in the Spring of things here. After basically going from winter to winter, it has been a nice change to have warmer weather. It will really be weird to have a hot Christmas!

The past month has been filled with activities and business, as usual. One thing in particular is that I have been to 2 Central Coast Mariner's games. This is soccer. (Actual soccer as American's see soccer). It has been fun to get involved in cheering for the "home" team.

Another exciting event is that Joe and Tiffany Buck, my fellow HIM workers, arrived in Australia on the 31st of August! I am so excited for them to be here! They will be working with the SouthWest Church of Christ in Campbelltown, which is about an hour and a half away from Gosford. I was able to go down to Campbelltown for a couple of days to help the Buck's (and their two little boys, Jude and Pax) get settled in. They thought me driving around so easily on the other side of the road was crazy, but from what I hear, they have been doing their fair share of driving now. It is going to be a real blessing to have them here in Australia. I know they will do great!

Monday, August 16, 2010


So I'm not very good at this blog thing. It seems that I've completely forgotten that I even had a blog this past month. Luckily, some good things have happened lately...

The Gosford youth camp, MAD Camp, took place on the last weekend in July and it was very successful. We had around 60 full-time campers and it seemed that the weekend went off without a hitch! The theme of camp was "Pay it Forward." I really think that the kids learned a lot and are hopfully applying what they learned at camp to their everyday lives at home, school and in the community.

Here is a pic of my friend, Amanda, and I at camp:

The day after camp, a few of us met up in Sydney to eat at Pancakes on the Rocks and walk around in the harbour. It was the first time that I'd made it to downtown Sydney in the daytime, so I was able to get a good look at the opera house and the harbour bridge. Here is a pic of me and the opera house:

This past week, I found a place to live! It is very exciting. I am going to be living in a one-bedroom flat that is fully furnished. It is great! I move in this next Monday, the 23rd of August. I am really looking forward to having a place of my own and it is so nice that it comes with everything included in the price. I already have some ideas of how I am going to decorate. I will upload pics once I have some.
That is pretty much what has been happening the past month. I am keeping busy for sure! I really am learning to love Australia and it is so great to be doing what I have dreamed about for so long. I will try not to take a month to update this thing next time!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Last week I bought a car! Yay! It is a 1991 Honda Civic, 2-door hatchback. It only has about 185,000 K's on it, so for being almost 20 years old, that is not very much. Thanks to my brother for pointing out how excited I am to have my own car, especially since this is a car that I would never choose in the US. Ha.

We drove it to Sydney this past weekend, and it did pretty well. It is very economical, which is what I was looking for. The main things that I was looking for in a car were:

1. Power Steering
2. Heat/Air
3. Not a Gas-guzzler
4. Automatic (stick shift with the opposite hand?-I don't think so)

In other news, I am going to look at a one-bedroom apartment tomorrow to possibly rent starting at the end of August. Jenny (the other HIM worker) is heading home to the US for 3 weeks, so I will be staying at her flat while she is gone. The apartment I will be looking at comes fully furnished and includes water and electricity in the price. Everything is done by the week here, so the rent would be $250 a week. What I am really excited about is that this place is close to the beach! Coming from Kansas/Oklahoma, living within walking distance to the beach would be a whole new adventure!! I will keep everyone up to date on how the viewing goes...

Monday, June 28, 2010


For this week's blog, I need some input. In the young adult's class here in Gosford, we are starting a series of discussions on the tough questions non-Christians might ask us. According to Norman Geisler's book, "When Skeptics Ask," we, as Christians, need to realize three things:

1. Non-Christians have good questions.
2. We have good answers.
3. God commands us to answer these questions. (1 Peter 3:15)

So, one of the hardest questions that is asked quite often is, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" This is such a tough question and one that I have struggled with at times, too.

One of my favorite scriptures regarding this is Isaiah 57:1-2, which says, "The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death." I have to thank my old youth minister, Dennis Knight, for showing me that scripture. I think I have it triple underlined in my Bible.

Well, I need your help. What would your response be to the above tough question? I would really appreciate your responses to help with preparations for the young adult's class!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fun Times

Things have been keeping me pretty busy already! This past Saturday night was Jenny Gray's birthday party up at the ministry centre. The theme was "Texas." Naturally, I couldn't really bring myself to support Texas, so I chose another attire...

(This is Jenny and I at the party.)
Lots of people from the congregation came and everyone tried really hard to dress up like cowboys and cowgirls and make some Texas-themed food...
The party was a lot of fun! Yesterday, (Monday), was a public holiday (Queen's birthday), so everyone had the day off of work and school. The Payne kids, Amber Drew, Jenny and I had planned to get up around 4 am in order to watch Australia play Germany in the World Cup. Unfortunately, none of us actually made it out of bed. But, I think that was a good thing though, since Australia lost 4 to 0. We played lots of games and watched a couple of movies, so overall it was a nice and relaxing day off. Today, it was breakfast with Chris Payne (to go over the coming week) and then up to the ministry center! I Skyped my aunt and uncle this morning (Martha and Steve) and Grandma Rawlins. It was good to talk to them all and catch up. Skype is amazing! Only 2 cents a minute to call a landline in the states! It has sure made it easier to talk to family back in America.
This weekend is the "Deeper" retreat for young adult women. I am really looking forward to it! I know that all of the girls who have been planning it are getting a bit stressed out, but I know that everything will come together and there are some fun things planned. For any SMCers out there, I think I am going to start a "Love Line" as part of an encouragement ministry. We'll put up the "Love Line" on Sunday mornings as a place for people to leave little encouragement notes to people in the congregation. I think it will be a great way to make people feel special! :-)
The weeks are quickly filling up. It's hard to believe that I've been down under for 3 weeks already. Now I'm ready for Joe and Tiffany Buck to get here to work in the church in Campbelltown (about 2 hours away from me.) I know they will love it here as well!
I know that all of you have been concerned about me keeping up with my television shows. Watching online is a plus, except you can't watch any of the shows from American internet sites! Ahhh! Luckily, one of the STAMP students pointed me in the direction of There I was able to find not just the shows from this season, but of all seasons! Yay! That being said, I have been able to keep up with the shows that I missed the season finales for (Lost, Glee, CSI:NY, Criminal Minds.) :-) So for all of you who were worried, I am all set. Ha!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Settling In

I have officially been in Australia for 2 and a half weeks. Where does the time go??!! As I've said before, this blog thing is new to me, so I will try to have an update every week or so, if I can. I am borrowing one of the car of one of the STAMP students this week while they are away in New Zealand, so I have been driving around on my own and learning the ropes. Driving on the opposite side of the road has been good, just keep the steering wheel in the center of the road. (I tell myself this over and over while I am driving. Ha.) No major problems yet. I drove out to one of the malls this past Saturday and the GPS decided to take me on the scenic route on the way back. The road was curvy, hilly and had no center lines for me to follow! Ahhh! Luckily, it was daytime or I would've been in real trouble!

This is the first week for me to work out a schedule of what I will be doing while I am here. There are lots of options and I have several ideas as well. The Ministry Centre, where we have our offices, is basically a homebase for us. The church has actually grown larger than what the Ministry Centre can hold, so they rent out the local community center on Sunday mornings for worship, and one of the classrooms on Wednesday nights for the adult class. See below for a picture of me at my desk at the Ministry Centre...

(Yes, that is a calendar of Robert Pattinson in the background.) So far, so good! I am hoping to start an encouragement ministry and I have made contact with the local theater to see if there is a time each week that I can volunteer. There is also a retreat for young adult women coming up in a week or so called "Deeper." I am really looking forward to spending a weekend with some other girls my age. I am giving a devotional while I am there, so if anyone has any great ideas, let me know! Well, I better get back to it! To anyone who reads this -- I hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Something New

The first week and a half in Australia have flown by! It has been a whirlwind, meeting people in the church, camp and even learning to drive on the opposite side of the road! (Note: If you keep the steering wheel in the middle of the road, then you are on the "right" side.) Everyone has been so nice and helpful so far, which has made it easier in the transition. One of my favorite things in Australian culture is "tea time." It is a special time in the morning to stop and get a "cuppa." I have fallen in love with the tea-white with two-which means hot tea with milk and two sugars. If you have never tried hot tea with milk in it, I highly recommend it. Sometimes I have up to 5 cups a day!! So delicious! I have also enjoyed my first Australian sausage. Kent Hartman was so excited for me to try the sausage that he took a pic...

As you can tell, I really enjoyed it. Ha. The picture was taken at Camp Cataract, which is a youth and young adult camp that is put on by the church in Campbelltown (about 2 hours from Gosford.) It was a wonderful camp, but quite overwhelming for my first weekend. So many people to meet! I hope I can remember all of their names! Everyone was so great, and it was an amazing start to my time here in Australia.

The camp theme was "For such a time as this," studying the book of Esther. I really feel that God has placed me in Australia for a purpose and I am excited to see what he has in store for me for such a time as this!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Well, I have arrived in my home for the next two years, Gosford, Australia! I left from OKC on Saturday night at 7:45 to LAX. (One of the Thunder players was on my flight. James Hardin??? Can't remember his name, but he is the really young one with the bushy beard. Kind of random because Jeff Green was just on my flight from Dallas to OKC this past Sunday.) Anyway, made it into LA and had to check in and go through security again. That is a HUGE airport! I think it may be bigger than London. At least it sure seemed to be. The timing worked out great because by the time I made it over to the international terminal, checked in and went through security again, it was almost time to board the plane. I really lucked out, because I was near the front of the plane where there weren't a lot of people, so it wasn't as loud as it could've been. I was able to get probably 7-8 hours of sleep on the flight into Nadi, Fiji. Unfortunately, I had about a 4 hour layover in Fiji...just long enough to not be able to leave the airport. It was a nice view from the terminal, though. Very muggy. I made it into Sydney after another 4 and a half hour flight. Jenny Gray, Kent and Nancy Hartman and Chris Payne were waiting at the airport for me. It was easy to get through customs and I lucked out because I was near the front of the plane for this flight, too! I got off easily, made it through customs and then my bags were the first to come onto the conveyor belt! Chris drove Jenny and I back to her place in Gosford (about an hour and a half drive from the airport in Sydney). We arrived back around 2:30 or 3ish this afternoon. I immediately showered (yay!) and then a few of the young people came over. Jenny headed back into Sydney to meet with a group who are planning a women's retreat for June and I am here at her flat. I am going to try to stay up until 7:30 pm (4:30 am Central time Monday morning in US). That is my goal. Ha! I am ready to get to bed and it's only 6 pm! It is already dark outside here, so it is making it hard to stay awake. It is pretty chilly here, but not too bad. Just the beginnings of winter. Well, off to see if I can get organized in my room at Jenny's for the week!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

One Month to Go

This is my first attempt at a blog. I knew that people were going to want to keep up with what was going on in Australia for the next two years, so I will try my hardest to keep this up to date!! I am so excited for the big move and I can't wait to begin working with the church in Gosford. 4 weeks from right now I will be on my way! :-)