I constantly find myself adding two hours to the time and changing it to either AM or PM in my mind and think about what’s going on in Australia. When it’s 3 in the afternoon here, and I’m running errands or doing homework or housework, it’s 5 in the morning the next day there. Most of the people I love there are still asleep. When it’s 9 at night here, and I’m winding down, either doing some more studying or hanging out with friends, it’s 11 in the morning there, and I’d probably be having my morning tea. It was always coffee for me though; I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around tea being HOT and unsweet. I’m clearly Southern through and through.
There are other times when it seems like I didn’t even experience Australia. I know that sounds ridiculous, but not having a single soul in my community here experience what I experienced makes it seem like it was just a dream. Life went on in Augusta, and I’m back in the swing of things here. In some ways it seems like I was never gone.
And then somehow I come across gems like these…
I instagrammed this about a week after I got home, and I put it up on facebook. Many of my Aussie friends “liked” it or commented on it. Comments like “We miss you too!” and “Please come back!” just filled my cup to the brim. My personal favorite was from Michael, the guy in the middle with the hat on with me, who said, “We are HOT…!” Haha. These people are great. Just great. I miss this place so much. (I do have plans to go back for a longer time after I graduate, but I also know that the Lord could call me to something completely different.)
As I sit here and type this, tears come to my eyes. There were certain people that I made a point to see within the first 48 hours of being back home, but others I have gradually seen as time has gone on. Our children’s minister was one of those people. I ran into her last night, and she asked me about my trip. I said something along the lines of it being hard to say goodbye and come home. She looked at me and said, “Good. Whenever you go to a place, if it isn’t hard to leave, then obviously you didn’t do the job you were meant to do. But, it was hard for you, and you did the job you were supposed to do.” That struck me as so true–if I had just left without any emotions, then what would I have accomplished? Absolutely nothing. But, by the grace of God, I was able to connect with some fabulous people and make some spectacular relationships and do the job He had for me.
Not only did I make great relationships in Australia, I had quite a few “life experiences” as my old boss Grant calls them. I felt my first earthquake…funny story about that one. I was staying with a sweet widow who lived in Texas back in the 90s when the earthquake happened. The night before, we were talking about earthquakes, and I said I had never been in one before. She looked at me and said, “No worries. We don’t get earthquakes in Victoria (the state I was in).” Okay, I thought and went on with my business. And then the next day, we had an earthquake! She looked at me and said, “That was an earthquake!” Why yes it was.
I also ate shark. Seriously. Another funny story. I’d been ordering “flake” whenever we went to fish and chips shops (the picture above). Now, does that LOOK like shark to you? No, not to me either. I never thought that I would be eating shark. One night during our last week there, Maggie and I were eating this with our host, and she looks at me and says, “So, you like our shark, do ya?” I was very confused. I said, “I’ve never had shark.” She kind of smirks, points to the flake, and says, “Well, what’re’ya eating?” “Flake,” I said. “I’m eating flake.” “Flake is shark, Ashton,” she says. “Great white shark.” “Oh, well, I guess I like it then!” I can almost bet that I wouldn’t have eaten that if I had known it was shark; however, I’m looking forward to eating it again!
Oh, to be in Australia again. I’d give a lot, and I wouldn’t even complain about the long flight!