We are nearing the end of our long journey. Leaving home at the end of January feels like a very long time ago. It has been an incredible experience and we are so thankful. (**NEW PHOTOS** under Australia photo galleries).
Highlights this past week:
* Beautiful sunshine, weather and gorgeous views.
* Seeing the ocean every day. I will certainly miss this from this trip! Running alongside or swimming in the ocean has become a regular thing for our family and we all love it! It has been so awesome to be so active outside in beautiful places.
*Experiencing fall (in May) in the Blue Mountains. Gorgeous!
* Sydney Opera House
* Church at Hillsong (definitely a huge highlight!)
* College for Josh at Hillsong Leadership College – he has so many fantastic classes and lectures. He has met people from all of the world and had great conversations.
* Scuba Diving for Matt & Sam (two dives). They are loving diving and are looking forward to being in the Great Barrier Reef next week. We leave Sydney (about a 3 hour flight) on Monday and return Friday.
* The koalas and kangaroos at the Featherdale Wildlife Park.
We will keep you posted!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing and wonderful mothers out there! Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful Mom and my gorgeous sisters. I love you so much! Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful Mother-in-law, Aunt-in-law and sister-in-law. You are all the best and I am so thankful for you!
Music is the soundtrack of our lives. So it makes sense that a four and a half month journey around the world is going to have a pretty serious playlist! Of course, you probably know that our family has at least one member who is pretty serious about music. It’s true. Josh eats, sleeps and breathes music but the love of music in our family doesn’t stop there. The rest of us may not be as talented but we’re all big fans and you might be surprised to learn about some of our idiosyncrasies.
Lots of folks think that Matt and I have a lot in common but are they aware of his penchant for 80′s music? It’s gone beyond Journey, Rush, Jackson Brown and Saga and is headed in to deeper tracks. Today he bought some Bee Gees off of iTunes. I keep getting older but somehow the music is getting younger!
If you’re surprised by Matt, you’ll be floored by Sam……or as he’s become known to us: the notorious ‘Beaver G’. Sam is a rapper. I’m not sure how but he’s the most urban of all of us. We often find him in his room, headphones on, chilling to a thundering beat. Tedashi, LeCrae & Andy Mineo are his favourites. Coupled with his expanding love of raw fish, Sam is becoming an increasingly interesting character!
In general, our family has pretty eclectic taste….. Here’s our top ‘road’ songs to date from this trip:
Adrenaline – Love Like Gravity
Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Browne (……I’m not sure this is in anybody’s top 10 but it seems to keep getting played!)
Impossible – Anberlin
Beautiful – Bread of Stone
North American Scum – LCD Soundsystem (“…..don’t blame the Canadians!”)
Magnificent – U2
Where Is The Love – Black Eyed Peas
Hillsong – Various (……mostly from the new Zion album)
Daniel – Bat For Lashes
HILLSONG – THE NEXT BIG (HUGE!) THING
Maybe the most poignant and memorable music that we’ve been experiencing on this trip is what is on the cutting edge at Hillsong. The latest is an entirely new band called Young & Free. You probably haven’t heard of Young & Free yet as their first recording is not yet released (expect it later this Summer). The sounds are very fresh. This truly is, to use a biblical phrase, a new song (Ps. 40).
Young & Free comes out of the youth worship bands here in Sydney. Effectively this is the ‘farm team’ to the Hillsong United band but their songs are already having a profound effect on all of the Hillsong churches around the world. Surprisingly, the next generation seems poised to over take the last even as United’s music continues to make huge inroads (#1 Apple iTunes album on release, debut at #5 on Billboard Top 200).
The sounds from Young & Free move between slower ethereal and contemplative to a highly infectious dance pop (think Swedish House Mafia). This confluence of worship and dance music may not make sense at first description but I can testify to its effectiveness. In the past, given the right ‘magic’ in the music, I’ve had a strong case of the tingles (U2 – Elevation Tour 2001). With this ‘new song’/sound I’ve felt it again. It feels like God is doing something special and new; reclaiming an entire genre of music for his own.
I’m far from the only one. In Cape Town I watched 5000 plus (including seniors!) get enraptured by the dance; with hundreds of teenagers chanting for encores after the worship had finished. Here in Sydney, thousands stayed behind after the evening service to turn the area in front of the pulpit into a throbbing, pulsing, smiling mish-mash-mess of praise. Those who hear it, especially youth, just can’t get enough. Everyone who experiences it, and sees people’s reactions knows that this is something special.
Keep your ears peeled and get ready to add new speakers for your car this Summer. If Young & Free make it to a church (or arena!) near you, be sure to go experience the joy and elation in songs like ‘Alive’ and ‘Wake’.
I know some of you are wondering how we are doing and what we are doing in Australia. I am finally writing an update!
We arrived in Sydney ten nights ago. None of us have ever been here before and we did not know what to expect. We spent the first few days unpacking, settling in, getting organized, doing laundry, buying groceries, etc. After travelling for over three months, our amount of luggage has grown and things are not all in the same place any more. It will be nice to unpack one final time back at home in Winnipeg and put the suitcases away!
We are living in a lovely suburb of Sydney called Mosman. Our home looks over a harbour and it is wonderful to see all of the boats and the ocean every morning. We are still figuring out how to drive everywhere as Sydney is not that straight forward with all of the different bays, coves and harbours. The city itself reminds us quite a bit of Vancouver but with no mountains and with a better climate…. and of course the driving is also on the left side. We have been taking ferries, going to different beaches and on different walks to experience this beautiful place. We enjoyed the amazing Taronga Zoo which is about seven minutes from our home. We had fun at the Sea Life Aquarium, Madame Tussauds wax museum and we went to see Iron Man 3 at the world’s biggest Imax theatre. Our mornings have consisted of having a morning swim, walk and/or run at Balmoral Beach before starting schoolwork. This has been so wonderful!
We have been to many great places to eat, shop and walk. There are endless walking trails here with stunning views. The boys went to youth at the Hills Campus of Hillsong last Friday and we went to a fantastic church service there last Sunday. Jentezen Franklin from Georgia was the guest speaker and so great. The “Young & Free” worship band was unreal and Dave has written more about that in a blog post which I will upload soon.
We had a wonderful (and eventful) day with the Arnold family. We met Mark, Lea and their five adorable kids (ages 6 to almost 13, including twins) in Hawaii three years ago. Lea kindly offered that when and if we were ever in Australia, to give them a call. Lea has been really helpful with suggestions of places to see, places to eat and things to do. They only live about three minutes down the road from us. Last weekend we spent most of one day with them. We had a fun time in Manly at the beach and walking along the boardwalk. Everything was going great until Josh and Mark went stand-up-paddleboarding. They were gone quite awhile and when they returned Mark’s foot was really bloody and Josh had small scratches and cuts in a variety of places. They were going around a point when Josh got pushed by waves up onto the rocks. Mark realized Josh was in trouble and went to quickly rescue him before the next set of large waves came in. Mark flipped Josh’s board and Josh safely got out of there. Mark unfortunately gashed his foot quite badly. A few minutes after being back on shore, he fainted. A medic cleaned out his foot but could not remove the sea urchin in his toe. We continued with the rest of our afternoon with Mark dragging along with a nasty looking foot. He has been to see the doctor since but apparently it is still not great. I’m sure their family will not forget their day with the Canadian family any time soon! So sorry Mark!!
Dave has flown to Melbourne today for the night to have some business meetings. Matt, Sam and I are having a schoolwork and catch-up day. Josh is attending his second full day of college! Yes, Josh is only 16 and finishing up Grade 10 but he is also getting to experience Hillsong Leadership College. He loved his first day and met students from all over the world. He will be attending twice a week for the duration of our time here. He is thinking of attending here in two years, so this gives him an opportunity to see what it is all about. He is also attempting the Sydney transit service and getting home about 7pm tonight. The College is about 45 minutes from our house by car (1.5 hrs by bus).
We look forward to continuing to explore this gorgeous city!