A few days ago I was talking to Leah about how things are going here in Australia. And one of the things I was sharing with her was my expectation of others. Every time I come to Brisbane everyone gathers around the family and invites us all to hang out with them. “Come for dinner!” “Let’s meet for coffee!” You know what? The time before the last time we were all out here (2005) it got to the point where we as a family were meeting up with others for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner!! By the end of it I was like “STOP!!! I need SPACE!!” Haha. But what never ceased to amaze me was the love my family and I experienced from others. I felt like I belonged and was included.
This time, I’ve been experiencing something very different… and it came as a bit of a surprise. In the past five weeks I have had just one person take the initiative to invite me to do something with her. I’m SO grateful to her! And before I continue let’s get something absolutely clear…. PLEASE DO NOT SEE THIS AS ME HAVING A GO AT ANYONE! That is the LAST thing I’m trying to do. I’m simply sharing something I have experienced since I’ve been here and share about what I’ve learnt from it all.
Maybe I was really selfish to expect a few more people to gather around me and invite me over for dinner or something. I was actually feeling pretty hurt over it and wondered a lot about whether this had anything to do with living in the shadow of mum and dad. But then I always came back to, “No, it has nothing to do with everyone being friends with mum and dad and maybe not so much me. If I knew someone who had just moved around to the opposite side of the planet for sure the first thing I would have done would have been to book him or her in for a fun day out or something.”
I guess what upset me the most was having to answer mum and dad’s questions. “Oh so who have you been hanging out with Akila?!” … “Um no one other than who I’m living with actually.” …. “What do you mean no one? Who has invite you over for dinner?” … “Um, no one.” … “No one has invite you over for dinner?” … “No.” It was actually really humiliating and I cried for about an hour Haha.
As I said, I was talking to Leah about this and she said something that struck me. “Akila, what the heck?! If this was you and your family you would have been all over the new person! No matter what, you always provided a place for them and food. Never have you not included someone or said something like ‘Sorry we cannot afford to feed you! Bring a pack lunch!!’” I was thinking today about what she said and I was talking to dad a little bit about it too. Here’s what I’ve been wondering.
In my family unit, the way mum, dad, Laura and I operate is we are always having people over. No matter how busy or broke we are… there’s always someone over for dinner, or coffee, or to hang out. There is NO WAY I am putting any of us on a pedestal but since I had an expectation of others I needed to go over the way I’ve been bought up and question “Ok, why do my family and I operate differently in this area?” For all I know maybe my ideologies are the issue! Between the discussions with Leah and the family, here’s what I’ve come up with.
Maybe the OM culture has been embedded into my DNA so much more than I have ever realised. I grew up sharing what I had with others. Time, tangible items, food, clothes… OM is a community. On the ship we grew up eating with each other. Living with hundreds of others. Swapping clothes. Hanging out together. Working together. Growing together. Nothing was your own. Not even time. And DEFINITELY not space! Can you imagine?! Space on the ship?! We wouldn’t know how to handle it!!! Hahaha! Sure some call it an unhealthy lifestyle but I think in amongst that “unhealthy lifestyle” maybe a Spirit of Generosity is developed in all those people. Again I’m not trying to put any one on a pedestal but if I look at my time in Australia from the understanding of my lifestyle… maybe my expectations were to a degree too high.
Generosity with time is something that is really important to me; and heck I’ll halve my sandwich with you too! Haha. No seriously, it means so much to us all when people do amazing things like show up a surprise guest to your birthday. Or fly across the world to be with you. Or simply cancel things in their diary to hang out in quality time with you… But you know what means so much more. When people just walk every day life with others.
We talk all the time about being a body. The body of Christ. The church is a body and a community. Yet what does that really mean? I know it’s hard to be inclusive sometimes. Money, time, energy. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve had to block out the world in order to get something done. There’s no expectation on individuals. Or individual families. But I DO have expectation of the church as a whole. I know I’m biased. But I truly value all that I learnt as a result of living on the ships.
Quality time and inclusion is what life is meant to be about. I was feeling hurt that I came to Australia and no one seemed to be… for whatever reason… taking the initiative to hang out with me. But I was talking to another lady who was sharing that she feels pretty lonely in the church. That’s when it dawned on me. What’s worse? Moving to the other side of the world to work with the church for free and not feel like a rock star? (LOL! Rock Star! I crack myself up!) Or being in your own home, your own community, your own church you’ve dedicated so much of your time too… and feel that you’re not treated with the some very simple things to make you feel recognised and significant. Like saying “Thank you” or even saying “Hang you’ve been so busy with stuff in church at the minute, come share dinner with me one night so it’s one less thing you have to do at home.” This is such simple stuff.
I love it when people are honoured for what they do. The work they’ve done. So often I see people in leadership get recognition for what they have done. In OM, in the church, in the secular world. What about those behind the scenes? When do we publicly recognise what they have done? On the ship for example, we have maybe 30 leaders and 400 crew members. The crew members are running the show just as much as the leaders. We’re a body. How can the hand function without its fingers? Dad tries to make a point of thanking people when he’s on the ship. Those that would never be public acknowledged as an individual for their hard work. I like that thought a lot. It’s inspiring, challenging and an example to live by.
I guess what I’m learning, is I can take the initiative. There are people who feel nonexistent all around me… and there’s a lot I can do about that. I can make change and create a sence of inclusion or community. And all I need to do to address that for them, really, is spend time with them and verbally encourage them.
Take nothing from this blog other than the encouragement to walk life with others. You don’t have to do anything extraordinary. Just really try to make those around you feel included. If you really believe that you can never out give God. If you really believe God will provide all you need. If you really believe that we are a body. If you really believe in inclusion and involvement. If you really believe in thankfulness, encouragement, worth, dignity. If you really believe in all that… then let go of the fear of you cannot afford to include others. Let go of feeling like including others needs to be a fancy event. Let go of thinking you are too busy. Let go of thinking that you don’t have anything elaborate to say to someone that will encourage them. Let go of thinking that they will feel awkward fitting into your life style or your family lifestyle. Community, inclusion and the body knows no bounds and no limits.
Thank you for showing me this lesson, and thank you to those who have and are hanging out with me this week!!! 😀
My reason for coming to Australia was to work with the church, “River of Life“, on a couple of their projects. One of them being the development of a training and research center. The idea behind this being to equip Christians in understanding themselves, others, and God. This includes spiritual gifting, emotional intelligence, human behavior, relationships, economics, history, culture etc. Equipping Christians with a holistic knowledge of these key infrastructures empowers them to maximize their positions of influence to in turn positively empower society i.e. in education, politics, religion, arts etc.
The second week of being in Brisbane my church held a five day conference. We had a number of speakers but a key focus was on the “Seven Mountains” which was presented by Lance Wallnua. The whole concept of the seven mountains is what the church is basing its framework for the Research and Training Center on. Check him out. He’s quite interesting! There are many things I could share with you about the conference but there was one thing in particular that I thought was pretty cool… There are many debates about science and religion. What is more valuable? More credible? What if science proves the existence of God? Now those who are solely on the science bandwagon have some thinking to do! Anyways… I’m not writing this blog to answer this hundreds of years old debate… but, like I said, for me… I thought the following was pretty cool 🙂
Back in the day God told the Jews to keep the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath… the day of rest… remember, God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th??? Anyways, the Sabbath was from just before sunset on a Friday until just after sunset on Saturday (IST). Hold that piece of information.
In recent years science has discovered that inside the atom there are protons, neutrons and electrons, and these atoms are what make up the periodic table and effectively… the entire universe. The protons and neutrons are constantly moving. They never stop. Some spin upwards and others spin downwards. Every six days those that spin upwards change to spin downwards and those that spin down change to spin upwards. In other words, the “DNA” of a house brick will always stay the same but the “equation”, if you like, switches back and forth. For example, 1+2 and 2+1.
This change happens over a 24 hour period… and guess when that 24 hour period is? Scientists can prove that it is from approximately the time before sunset on Friday and just after sunset on a Saturday (IST). In other words…. The Sabbath! Whilst nothing changes in the appearance of those things around us i.e. a football still looks like a football; this switch causes an unstable environment. From approximately 6.30pm Friday until 6.30pm Saturday (IST) our whole universe goes through a period of unstable shifting at its very core. The very DNA of our world.
God gave the Jews a commandment to rest on the Sabbath. Why? We all understood it to be a “rule” if you like. We understood the value of rest but little did we know there was a greater reason. God IS science! He is the CREATOR! God knew, even before science could back it up, that whilst the world is shifting at it’s very core, anything could happen. Therefore does it not make sense to be spending quality time with our loved ones? This was never just about the value of rest. This was never just a “rule“. God had scientific reasons for telling us to make the Sabbath holy.
Pretty cool hey!!! 🙂
So what’s the latest that you can pray for in regards to me being in Australia?
Direction: My role here with the church is not what I thought it would be. It’s left me a bit confused and wondering why God has me here. Especially when I look at what I adjusted to be here. I’m a person who likes to “do” and so it’s not at all easy for me to just “be”. Please pray for peace and clarity for the coming months as well as what to do as of July.
Relationships: I love the people here at River of Life however there’s a large age gap and my group is missing: the 18-28 year olds. Since I’m spending all my time within the River of Life environment I feel pretty lonely. I’d really like to connect with others my own age; see my family more; and continue to grow my friendships with those at Youth and River of Life.
Church & Youth: While I have things to do to help out at church I don’t have anything specific to do or have a specific role. I’d really like get stuck into some “projects”. I enjoy what I’m doing now but I want to ‘give and grow’ so much more. Please pray that I continue to grow in wisdom and leadership when working with the youth. Please also pray for opportunities to develop these friendships at Youth.
Finances & Job: Before I left for Australia I was able to raise about 50% of what I needed for my year here. I will gladly accept any financial support!! However, what would be pretty awesome is to find a paid job where I can work within the Social Work profession (I miss it!!) and make some pretty cool friendships.
Home: Please pray I find a new home!!! Please also pray for peace as I struggle to feel settled or like I can give my all here when things seem to be so up in the air.
Growth: I’d really like to grow, both spiritually & in character. I don’t know how God intends for that to happen, but I would like to continue to develop my understanding of the bible, God’s heart, my spiritual gifting, how to live in surrender to Him; and to develop my trust in God and others.
So sorry it’s taken me a little longer than I had originally planned to get this newsletter out to you all! Thing have been a lot busier than I thought they would be… Which is always good right? Haha. As always thanks for all the emails, Facebook messages, thoughts and prayers. Really means so much to me that you are all walking this journey with me! Lots Of Love, Akila xx
HELLO PERTH, GOODBYE PERTH!
I made it to Perth, Western Australia, on Monday the 29th of August. With little travel drama there isn’t a lot to report back in regards to my trip from the UK. I did the usual getting my monies worth of movies. Only about six of them! I also got to watch two sunsets, one sunrise and the Middle East below me. I LOVE the flight over the Middle East during the day! Did it once before and this second time was just as great!
Left England at 13 degrees C, arrived in Dubai at 35 degrees C (it was midnight local time), and eventually made it to Perth where it was a manageable 22 degrees C! Phew! I was getting nervous! Haha. While I was in Perth I caught up with a few friends from the ship as well as reconnect with the friends I made last time I was here. They’re all so cool! And yes, everyone is asking this same question… I did catch up with Fitzy!
Perth, Rockingham, Port Kennedy Mandurah, Freemantle, Scarborough and Bunbury were all places I visited again this year. Check them out on Google! As I write this I just realized I didn’t make it to the beach! Oops! My adventures included eating out and going to see “Wicked” at the theater. Everyone over in Perth was SO generous!! I’m so blessed! It was such a blessing being in Perth. It was so great to get to know everyone a little more and I started to really fall in love with Perth again. Which isn’t so great. Mum will cry because it’s on the opposite side of the country to where she plans to be in the future! I’m working on convincing her and Dad to move over there too! 😛
THE BIG MOVE TO BRISBANE!
I arrived to Brisbane on the 13th of September, which means I have been in Australia now for exactly 7 weeks and 4 days. My first week here in Brisbane was busy in terms of sorting out administration documents; i.e. tax number, Medicare, blue card, bank account etc. As well as just generally settling in. I’ve got to say, I had a LOT of fun setting up my new room Haha. I’m staying with the Assistant Pastor and his wife from the church that I’m working with, as well as their two young boys. It’s been a lot of fun staying with them. The boys are entertaining! The property and views outside are amazing, and the wildlife in their garden has been an experience! So far the list includes a wallaby, a possum, a bush turkey, a huntsman spider, kookaburras… We also have bees for fresh honey; chicken for fresh eggs; and we grow our own fish, veggies and herbs for fresh food. But the best bit I think is… I drink rain water! Believe me I’m not in the jungle!
I’ve tried to get to know the local area a little more but I’m still getting there. I haven’t actually been into Brisbane City yet or to a number of the places I would have gone had Mum or Dad been here. I’m sure I’ll get around to those things eventually. A couple weeks ago I was able to go in to the South Bank which is on the edge of the Brisbane River near the City. It was really amazing to see where and the January floods affected the area! You wouldn’t believe it but… the whole time I’ve been here I haven’t ONCE suntanned! What’s that all about?! Ha-ha. The weather is definitely getting warm, high 20s, low 30s. We had a big tropical storm yesterday which was an absolute experience to drive in?!
I’ve spent a little bit of time hanging out with people but I haven’t really connected with as many as I would have liked. Between “setting up”, working and transport it’s been more difficult than I thought it would be! Having said that, I do have a great ‘pay as you go’ credit allowance so I can phone the family quite regularly. I’ve been able to catch up with two of my aunties and one of my uncles which was SO awesome. Really hoping to work something out to see the rest of the family.
Quite amazingly, I was able to borrow a car from the cousin of the Assistant Pastor. While I’m using it (only for the local area) it’s been an so helpful! Unusual for Australia, everything is quite close by where I am. Church is a 40 minute walk, the shops are a 25 minute walk… Back in England I would just walk everywhere! But with the heat and the hills walking isn’t really an ideal option. Consequently I am getting NO exercise… I do have a plan to climb over the wall of the nearest pool and lie on a lilo! HAHA! But back on track, it was quite entertaining getting use to the indicator switch being on the other side where the windscreen wipers are in England! Had to QUICKLY learn that one! As an absolute side comment… I’ve been converted to the TV show “Gilmore Girls”; UK X Factor is better than the Australian version; and everyone must watch at least one episode of “A Farmer Wants a Wife” !!
CHURCH AND YOUTH!
At present I’m suppose to be working two days a week at River of Life but I’ve been doing full time. My role at the moment is basically administration which is good as there’s always a steady stream of work. Friday nights we have “Youth” and two weeks ago we started a new 12 month program. The youth group has been split into four smaller groups and every Friday we host “mini Olympic” style games; have a message; and then discuss the message in our small groups. Last week I gave the message and since our present topic is on “Relationships with self, others and God”, I decided to speak on “Authentic Relationships”. Went better than I thought it would! Phew! Ha-ha. I’m slowly getting to know the youth and the leaders which is always a good feeling. I also really like the youth in my small group!
In time I’m hoping to continue to connect with the youth and those leading Youth. The foundations are being laid but I’d really like to build solid friendships with them. It’s slightly awkward at the moment because I’d love to just invite people over and hang out. Right now I’m not really in a position where I can do so as I’m living with a young family. A little apartment would be fairly sweet! 😛 However in the mean time I’m trying to convince some of the girls to go camping because we’d never survive and consequently we’d create wicked memories!!
Today I got to oversee a funeral and in the next few months I’ll be involved with a few church related events. River of Life is hosting a large youth dance competition run by the Somali community. Based on last years attendance we’re expecting about 800 people. Youth isn’t running during December and January but we have a holiday program planned. Whilst it’ll be a lot of fun there’s some preparation to do for it. Hide and seek in Ikea, bowling, and barbeques are all on the list!
Settling into life in Australia will continue. The place I’m staying at the moment was only for a temporary basis and I’m to move out soon. Where? I’m not entirely sure yet. Also looking for a small part time job. Right now I’ll take anything but I am hoping to stay within the Social Work profession. While the idea was to work “full time” with River of Life, I’m not being paid and therefore I was planning on doing a few hours a week paid work. This would enable me to have a small income and allow me to do some of the fun things I’d like to do while I’m here. However, not knowing where I’m to live makes things slightly difficult in regards to getting a paid job. Realistically the job needs to be in a suitable location; but since I don’t know where I’m living, I don’t know how wise it is to try pursuing certain jobs. Walking and public transport are not really options here in Australia. I know it will all come together but it’s just a bit complex at the moment.
Also in the next coming weeks I’m planning on catching up with a good percentage of my family. I’m really excited to see them again. I’m also off to Sydney and Adelaide in the next 7 weeks to catch up with friends from OM and one of my closest friends from Carlisle. She’s just moved to Australia too! There’s an OM event in November and I’m thinking of doing TeenStreet Warwick in July. In July I’ll head back to the UK and beyond that I have yet to discover.
Oh my days… I know this has been like the LONGEST I haven’t blogged… I’m really sorry!!! Things here have been a little intense brain and emotion wise. I’ve really been avoiding updating my blog because there was just too much to say that I really haven’t know where you start. Also… I just haven’t had the time. BUT here we go… here’s my latest newsletter. Hopefully that will give you a little more insight and I promise that I will spend some time focusing on my blog this week 🙂 I know some of you can’t click onto PDFs using your phones so I’ll take what I’ve written in my newsletter and create some blogs 🙂 Much love to you all!!