Sunday, October 13, 2013

Finally Down Under!

Family and Friends I made it! I am now in the land below the equator and a day ahead of America. As I write today it is Sunday in America and Monday here in Australia...Crazy.

Australia is beautiful, especially now as it is spring. Everything is in bloom and the weather is a perfect 20 Celcious all the time. My new companion is from Taiwan. I met here briefly in the MTC. I was actually suppossed to get here before her, but alas my visa did not come and hers did. Her name is Sister Chen and she speaks very very little English and so our communication skills are very bad at this point. I am suppossed to help her learn English and she is suppossed to help me learn Chinese. It is a great opportunity because I hear Chinese all the time, but then there are moments when I think: Can I do this?

Saturday and Sunday was General Conference all over again! This time I had to watch it in Chinese...eek! Thankfully I had already heard it in English. I had quite the headache after each session, not sure whether it was from hearing all the Chinese or the supreme jet-lag I am trying to overcome. By the end of Conference on Sunday I was so depressed with a major headache. I just didn't think I would ever understand this language and was wondering what in the world Heavenly Father was thinking sending me to this foreign land to speak a foreign language. Then we went out to do missionary work...

Here we do not knock on doors, we just GQ or golden contacting! This means we go to the bus stops in our area and just talk to all the people there. Every 15 minutes we get a fresh batch of people to talk to. Let me tell you something--the Lord knows me oh so well! I hated tracting in Georgia, but here there is no tracting, rather we just talk to people like a normal person. First we say hello then we ask, "Where are you from?" If they reply China or Taiwan we begin talking to them in Chinese. Now, granted my Chinese isn't very good and my listening is even worse, but I am able to contribute a little bit and pick up the main message of what is being said. We try and hand them pamphlets or get their number before the bus comes. It's very fast work we have to be concise so we can get their number. If they don't seem interested in our message we let them know we have a free English class every Thursday. This usually grabs their attention and we get their phone number that way. It is so much FUN! I FEEL like a real missionary.

When we have appointments it is not in inestogator's homes, rather it is in our office. The church has purchased a small office where the Chinese program can meet with investogators. It is right down the road from the bus stop so we can easily tell people where to come see us for a lesson! I really like it that way.

Culturally, things are very different, at least in the part of Brisbane that I am in called SunnyBank. It is so Asian. I hear more Chinese being spoken rather than English. All the store's names are in Characters and everyone is Asian. I stick out like as the tall white American who is trying to speak Chinese! It has been very humbling. Even the park where we go running in the morning is Asian with a Asain form of zumba going on in the park.

The sun rises at about 5:00am every morning and then the birds bark! My first morning I thought I had over-slept because the sun was beaming into our room and the birds were barking all over the place. It was frightening. It doesn't help that we have to sleep with all the windows open because there is no "aircon" (airconditioning) in our "flat" (apartment). But thankfully Brisbane is close to the coast so there is always a nice breeze. Sister Chen is always cold and I am always hot--guess Taiwan is really HOT and Sister Chen hasn't become used to Australia's weather yet. Did I mention she has only been in the field 4 weeks? I have been a missionary longer! Weird!

Well that's about it. I am going on with lots of prayer that I will one day be able to understand my companion and the people we talk to. God Loves us all and He loves Australia, which is why He has missionaries like me here!

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