Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our First Christmas In Australia

A lot of people have asked us what Christmas is like here in Australia, so I thought we'd fill you in on some of our observations.  In a lot of ways it is very similar to the US but there are some definite differences.  Decorations are mostly the same, although I think they use a lot more tinsel here.  Houses are still decorated with Christmas lights...not as much as in the US though...and they don't seem to match.  Half of the house will be done with rainbow icicle lights, but then the other half is the white ones.  It's very random.  We sing most of the same Christmas carols...and you even hear songs like I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas.  I saw an advertisement for a Christmas Winter Spectacular where you would go ice skating and have a "wintry" Christmas.  The food is pretty different.  For our Christmas lunch we had a ham and roast pumpkin salad, a vegetable sausage couscous salad, prawns (shrimp) and chicken kebabs.  A few typical Australian Christmas desserts are rumbles, rocky road, pavlova and trifle...all of which are quite delicious.  It was really strange to not have the typical "Christmas" foods that we are used to back home.  They have these things called Bon Bons (not the chocolate!).  You pop them and a little crown comes out, a prize and a joke.  They seem to be pretty popular around Christmas time.  There's a picture of them at the bottom of the blog!  Besides these things, the traditions are pretty much the same.  Australia has adopted a lot of decorations and traditions from the US.  

We knew that it would be difficult to be away from family, so we made sure that we kept busy so that we would not think about it too much.  Christmas Eve is a pretty big day in my family.  We always get together with my mom's side of the family and have Lasagna.  Since we were spending Christmas day with friends here, we decided to have a special Christmas Eve celebration by ourselves where we made Lasagna!  We went mini golfing and to a movie, then came home for a candlelit Lasagna dinner for two.  It was a really special night!  Then, on Christmas we went to church at 8am then spent the rest of the day at our friend's house.  It was probably the most relaxing Christmas we have ever had!  We are used to running from house to house and trying to please everyone.  And for the first time we were able to be in one place all day and it was really nice.  Our friends made us feel so at home and we had a wonderful day.  Oh, and we got to go swimming in the ocean on Christmas!  That was strange!!  

One thing that I keep thinking is how blessed I am to have Sean.  Yes, it was really difficult to be away from family for the holidays, but God has blessed me by giving me such an amazing husband.  I love being married to my best friend and living in Australia together doing ministry.  We are really learning what it means to rely on each other and it truly is beautiful.  I feel so blessed that we are able to spend so much time together.  We get to be together almost all day every day and we love every second of it!  We know that life won't always been like this so we are really enjoying it while it lasts.    

Here are a few pictures from the holidays.  Enjoy!  We hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas!!
  

Here we are opening stockings that someone surprised us with.  They were waiting on the church doors one day when we got there.  They were filled with all kinds of Australian chocolates.  Delicious!  The people we live with have 2 dogs who like to be in the middle of everything :)

Here is our candlelit dinner for two :)

This was taken after church on Christmas.  

Here we are at Matt and Gemma's getting ready to eat our Christmas lunch.  Her family joined us as well as one of our friends from church.  

These are the crowns that you get out of Bon Bons.  

These are bon bons.  You have to have 2 people, each person grabs an end.  Then you both pull at the same time.  It makes a loud popping sound and the person that gets the middle end gets the prize.  Sean always seems to win but he is nice and shares with me!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some Encouragement...Oh and A Little Polka Too!!

Last year, I was asked to help write a Children's Sunday School curriculum for the Wesleyan churches in America.  They asked if I could teach the children about missions in Australia and share a little bit about what Sean and I were doing here.  I had completely forgotten about it though, but at the end of November, we received a few emails from Sunday school teachers telling us that they had studied the lesson that I had written and asked for our address.  Yesterday, we came home to the most wonderful surprise!  We opened up a package and found hand-written letters from the children in the Sunday school classes.  We sat down and read all of them.  They were so encouraging and some were very funny.  We were very blessed by these letters! We thought we'd share a few of our favorite :)   



Please notice the name: Seantha & Schwaze


Great picture of our house!


We love the little tid bit about herself :)  "I love to polka!"  It's great!!


 We would like to extend a huge thank you to Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion, IN for these wonderful letters! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We're Growing Up...

Ever since I can remember, every Christmas my family would make our famous Rodick family sugar cookies.  It started off with my mom making the dough, then my dad, sister and I would bake the cookies.  You have to take them out of the oven at precisely the right time in order to insure the perfect amount of softness.  We never let my mom do this because she would always burn them! Then, we would all sit around the kitchen table and decorate them together.  This is something that I look forward to every year.  We moved around a lot growing up but even though things were constantly changing we always had our Rodick family traditions.  Even after I went away to college and got married, we carried on the tradition.  We introduced Sean to the art of sugar cookie making and I must say, he is pretty good!  For the last 23 years, I've loved spending this time of year with my family.

This year though...it is different.  Sean and I are on the other side of the world and for the first time we are not with our families.  When Christmas music started playing on the radio we would immediately change it every time songs like I'll be Home For Christmas or There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays came on.  It made us way too sad.  As we get closer to Christmas though, we're starting to do better.  It's definitely hard to be away from our families and we wish that we were with them but we're realizing that this is just a part of growing up.  It's exciting to think that we are starting our own traditions now and one day we will carry on these traditions with our kids.  We have complete peace that we are serving exactly where the Lord wants us and we are surrounded by a great church family to support us during this time.  A lot of families have asked us to join them on Christmas which has made us feel so loved.  We are joining our friends Matt and Gemma for Christmas.  Gemma's family is coming to town for the holidays.

Sean and I decided that we needed to carry on my family's tradition and make the sugar cookies for our friends here in Australia.  We are also going to be making some other American holiday treats to share.  So even though we are sad we're not home in the US for Christmas, we are praising God for his wonderful blessings and enjoying "growing up" together and starting our own traditions.

Sean is a great cookie decorater :)

Sean's Cookies

Sam's cookies

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Carolling

On Monday night we went Christmas caroling with our church!  It rained all day but we decided to stick with our plan to go caroling.  About 30 minutes before we left, the weather cleared up and it was a beautiful evening.  About 20 people gathered from our church and we headed out to the streets of Yeppoon to do some caroling.  Our church is incredibly blessed with some talented musicians.  We had 3 guitars, a saxophone, a flute, a clarinet and a trumpet.  A few people walked up to houses and invited the community to our Christmas Carols and Dessert Night at the church next Monday while the rest of the group hung back and sang carols.  We had a lot of positive responses from the community.  We are looking forward to our carols night at the church next week!  The evening ended a little bit early because another stormed rolled in.  The guitarists were very scared that their guitars were going to get ruined by the rain!    

video
My job was to hold the music books for the guitarists.  Sorry the video is not the best quality!
 The boys were goofing off as we were walking to the houses :)
Some of our musicians

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Summer in December

It is starting to get pretty warm here! It certainly does not feel like it should be December! We think it's funny to see wintry decorations even though it's the middle of summer. I guess it makes us feel a little more at home. We can pretend, right? The people that we live with are gone for the winter, and they let us use all of their Christmas decorations! So we were able to make our house seem a bit more festive!
**Sean decorating our tree**
**Sean is playing his mini guitar ornament**

On Sunday we had a Summer kick-off BBQ after church. It was a great time to get all of the families together for fellowship. It was fun to see all the kids running around and families enjoying the day together. School just finished for the year so a lot of families go away for the holidays. It is going to be pretty quiet around here for the next few weeks, but we are looking forward to using this time to plan for the coming year.

Sean and I held a retreat for the 12th graders on Monday and Tuesday. We started off the day by going up to a place called Stoney Creek which is about 45 minutes away from where we live. We went swimming for a bit but unfortunately the weather was not very good so we headed home early. Once we got home we had a time of prayer and talked to the students about the importance of following God. We had a surprise visit from a couple in our church who were able to pour their wisdom into the students. We talked about how to make decisions that glorify the Lord and what it means to follow His will and not our own. The students then went off and spent some time with the Lord. We finished off the night with games, dinner and a movie. We enjoyed being able to get all of the 12 graders together before they all start working and moving away to go to school. Please pray with us for these students. Pray that they would seek the Lord during this time. Pray that they wouldn't be tempted by the things around them, but that they would make decisions to glorify Him.
**Stoney Creek**

Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Visit!

This past week we were so blessed to have my family come visit. I was so excited about them coming that I could hardly focus on my work before they came! It was nice to be able to share our new life with them here and for them to get to know the people that have blessed us so much. We were able to take some time off work and explore a bit of Australia with them. They spent these first few days here in Yeppoon, then all of us headed down to Sydney for a few days. It was exciting to see more of the beautiful country God has put us in. Here are a few pictures from their time here.

Family picture with Zorro, the Koala, at a wildlife sanctuary near where we live.

We got to tour the Opera House in Sydney. It was beautiful! It was so neat to be able to learn some history about it. It was probably one of our favorite parts about Sydney.
We went hiking one day. Here is my mom and dad climbing on the side of the mountain.

We've jumped back into the swing of things and are back to work. Honestly, it's been a bit harder now that my family has left. I wasn't homesick before! But now, with the holidays coming up, I'm starting to miss home a bit more. We'd appreciate your prayers during this time!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Church Meeting

On Monday night we had our annual church meeting. It is a time when the covenant members (aka just regular church members) come together and talk about what's going on in the church and what is coming up next. Our Pastor started off by giving his Pastor's report on the last year. It was a very positive report. The average attendance of our church is up from 90 last year to about 125 this year. That is pretty significant growth for our area, so that is pretty exciting! That was followed by the treasurer's report which was also pretty exciting. The churches annual giving has also gone up. It's so neat to see the way the Lord is blessing the church.

With this growth comes new issues to work through. One thing that we are beginning to look forward to is building a new youth/children's ministries building. At the meeting, the board proposed an idea to build a large shed for youth and children's ministries. This opens the door for larger programs and for multiple things to go on at one time. Right now we are limited for space and the kind of activities we can do because of the room that we are in.

With more people attending church comes the need for more leaders. We are struggling to find enough people who are committed to being ministry leaders. A lot of people would be great leaders but don't have the time or are not willing to make it a priority. Please pray with us that God will provide more leaders so that ministries can grow.

We are so grateful to be a part of this church. We are both growing a lot through our experience here!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What now?

We have been blessed beyond belief. It is humbling to sit back and think about the countless ways the Lord has blessed us in ways that we would never have imagined. I was recently listening to a sermon on materialism. The Pastor suggested that it is the "slavery of 2011." He talked about how no matter how much we have, we always want more. We are constantly thinking of the next best thing, but in the end, in light of eternity....does it really matter? He later talked about how someone commented to him and his wife that they were blessed financially. He responded by suggesting that God was testing them. Yes, he had given them a lot, but then he felt like God was saying, "what now? How are you going to use it to bring glory to me?"

I've thought about this a lot over the last couple days. I feel like God is saying to me, "what now? I have blessed you, I've shown you what generosity looks like. Now what are you going to do?" Are we using our time and money in a way that is honoring to God? What about after we leave Australia and head off to wherever God calls us next, what are we going to do? We have been welcomed into a home with open arms, we have been given a car....so what now? I'm praying that God would open our eyes to the ways we can use what he's given us to bless those around us.

What are you holding on to? What are ways that you can bless those around you? What now?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday = Baking Day!

There is a lady at our church who is an AMAZING baker. She makes the most beautiful, delicious, melt in your mouth kind of desserts. One day I was telling her that I would like to have some of her recipes so I could try to make them. Then, she suggested that we bake together every week and take turns teaching each other new recipes. What a great idea! We have started exercising together every morning, and on Tuesday mornings after we work out, we bake! It has been great to get to know her better during our walks in the morning.

She has taught me some delicious recipes! So far she has taught me how to make chocolate mud cakes, banana raspberry muffins and mint chocolate chip tim tam cheesecake. All of which have been amazing! I have taught her how to make cookies n' cream ice cream cupcakes and homemade peanut butter cups. Boy, I feel like I'm gaining a lot of weight from eating all of these wonderful desserts, but they are just so good!! Next week I am teaching her how to make no bakes. I love how God can use things we enjoy, like baking, to help me get to know people in the church and have fellowship together!


Mint Chocolate Chip Tim Tam Cheesecake
Chocolate Mud Cakes

Blessed

We REALLY love the youth that we are working with. Yesterday was probably one of my favorite days of youth Bible study. The students were really asking questions that had depth and they are internalizing what they are learning! It's so exciting to be able to work through some tough questions and help them figure out why the believe what they believe. We got very off topic, but it was one of those times that you don't care because the conversation is going so well! We feel so incredibly blessed to be working with these youth. I am really excited about what God has in store for all of us over the next year and a half!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lately

I realized that I haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd give you a little update on what we've been up to these days! This weekend we headed down to the beach for a BBQ beach day with our youth. It was a lot of fun. We played soccer on the beach with a giant ball and had a sand art making contest. Then, we had a sausage sizzle. A sausage sizzle was new to us...well maybe just the way they eat their sausages. What they do is grill sausages on the BBQ then put them on a slice of bread (we miss the good ole hot dog buns!). Weird right? Usually the bread has butter on it, then you squirt some BBQ or tomato sauce on it and you're good to go. Here are a couple pictures from the beach day!

Please notice Sean in this picture!! I can't look at it without laughing. He looks like a little ballerina or something!

On Saturday we also had the opportunity to head out to Pumpkin Island. This is a beautiful island off the coast of Yeppoon. The woman that we live with took us over for a couple hours. We got to explore the island a bit and do some snorkeling. This was the first time we'd been able to go snorkeling, so that we pretty exciting! We climbed around on some rocks and took a few pictures!

One of our favorite things to do for dinner is get some fish and chips (aka fries). Well, Sean gets fish and chips and I get chicken! Last week we decided to ride our bikes down to a fish and chips shop then have dinner on the beach. It was night to get out and have a relaxing evening together. As you can see in the picture, they serve the fish and chips different that we're used to in the US! You should come visit and have fish and chips on the beach with us :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Case for Faith

Bible study is going so well! It is growing a lot...I think we had 15 students yesterday. As the group is growing, there are new challenges, but we are welcoming them because we can see that the Lord is working! We are entering our 3rd week of study in The Case for Faith and really enjoying it. Some of the questions that we are working through are pretty tough, but the kids are doing well. They are working hard to find the answers to these questions and they are asking great questions of their own. Please pray that God would help use this study to solidify their faith and help them to figure out the tough questions of faith. Pray that the students would truly make a commitment to serve Him!
This is the book that we are studying...it has a new cover from when I studied it in high school.
We split into groups on Wednesday as the students dug for the answers to the questions we are working through.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mad Scientist Night

This week at youth our devotions were about how God can perform miracles, even if it doesn't quite make sense in light of what we know about science. We talked about how this can be true and reasons why we should give God the benefit of the doubt. Based on that, we decided to make our game theme "Mad Scientist Night." All of our games had to do with some sort of science. We had a great time! Here are a few pictures from the night :)

This game was called "Burst the Atom." Each student had an "atom" aka a balloon tied around their ankle. The goal of the game was to stomp on people's atoms and protect your own. The last person with a balloon on their ankle won. This was really funny to watch!!

This game was called "boom." It was based around the scientific law that says, "for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction." In the US Sean and I played this game and it was called "drugs." It would take a long time to explain the rules, but it is an AWESOME game if you would like to know more about it. I think we played 4 or 5 rounds because they loved it so much.

This was the apple and fork game. This one dealt with gravity...whatever goes up, must come down! The team had to thrown the apple back and forth and catch it on a fork. We played this game in college and it's a lot of fun!



A Sandy Aventure

After church today, Sean and I were up for a bit of adventure so we decided to go to this place called 9 Mile Beach. We attempted to go here once before on a Sunday afternoon outing. It is in a town called Byfield that is about 30 kilometers north of Yeppoon. Some people had told us that Byfield was beautiful and we should go there. So we decided to listen to the advice and head out there. Well, it turns out that there is NOTHING in Byfield. Wait, I take that back, there is a sad excuse for a general store...that's it. So we saw this sign for 9 Mile Beach which was 30 something kilometers away so we decided to take the road. The whole time I was keeping my eye on the fuel gauge. I asked Sean if he thought we could make it and he assured me that we could make it. To make a long story short, Sean soon realized that we were going to be stuck in the middle of no where with no gas and no cell service. So, we turned around and decided that we would go another time.

That brings us to today...We made sure that we had enough gas and headed out around 4. We heard that you have to have 4 wheel drive to go, and thankfully we do! Once you hit the turn off for 9 Mile Beach the road becomes dirt. About 10 km in, the road started getting bad. We were really enjoying it though because it was really bumpy and there were lots of curves. I started getting nervous when the road turned from dirt and rock to sand but I kept my mouth shut. Then, we turned the corner and oh boy! There was a hill with really soft sand and the tire tracks were not very defined. I looked at Sean and noticed that he was nervous as well. I told Sean that I wasn't too sure and he immediately decided that we needed to turn around, we were not going to make it! That's when we got stuck. Yep, stuck in the middle of no where with the sun setting and we weren't sure if we even had cell phone reception. Even if we found someone to help us, it would be dark by the time that they got there. We got out of the car and looked around at our very limited options. There was no good place to turn around so we decided that our best option was to back up until we found a place. We tried a few times and the car kept stalling so we had to get out and dig under the tires. Finally, Sean was able to back the car up a bit while I stood outside and prayed. He told me to hop back in and we were going to back up until we found a place. Thank goodness it wasn't too far before we found a good place to turn around. I am so thankful that we got out of there, because we really had NO idea what to do if we didn't!!

When we got home we looked up some information about the place, as well as pictures to find out what we are missing! Turns out that if you let air out of your tires, it helps get through the sand! Good to know!! It also suggests traveling with a buddy in case you get stuck...again, good to know. So, we are determined to make it ALL the way to 9 Mile Beach, but sadly today was not the day. On the bright side, we saw a random cow in the middle of the road, saw 4 kangaroos hop across the path and a gorgeous sunset. Overall, it was a great day and I am so so thankful that we were able to get out of the sand and make it home!!

I was able to take some pictures off someone's blog to show you what we were trying to get to. I was too scared at the time to take pictures of the road!! But here they are!!


I think is probably close to where we got stuck....but where we were looked worse and the tracks were not defined they like are here!!
Isn't the beach beautiful??
Look at the view!


This is the beautiful sunset we saw once we got back onto the good road! What a good ending to the day :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Market

This morning I got up real early with a friend and we headed to the market. It is at the Yeppoon Fairgrounds every Saturday morning from 6 to 9. We have prayer meeting at 7am so I've always been too sleepy to go, but today I decided to make myself some coffee and head out early to try to get some good deals. I am so glad that I went!! One thing that Sean and I both love is Bananas. Last year there was a lot of flooding due to cyclones across Queensland which is where all of the banana crops are. A lot of crops were ruined so the banana prices have been through the roof! When we first got here they were $14 kg which is about $7 lb. Insane, right?! I've refused to pay so much for bananas. They price is down to about $11 kg now, but that's still too expensive for me. But this morning I found them for $3.50 kg!! I was thrilled! I was also able to find some delicious pineapple, carrots, tomatoes and homemade jam. I think my friend and I are going to make this a weekly outing because they deals are so great. I celebrated by having a peanut butter and banana sandwich for lunch and I think that I may be making some banana bread for my sweet husband :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bible Study

Bible Study started back up again on Wednesday! Our youth attend 2 different schools, one in Yeppoon (just down the street) and the other in Rockhampton which is about a 30 minute drive. When we first started the Bible study we asked the students when the best time was in order to make it available to as many students as possible. Unfortunately, we realized that the time that worked best for the most number of students, made it unavailable to others! Last term we have Bible study at 3:30, which was right after school got out. The Yeppoon kids walked down the street, had an after school snack then we jumped into Bible study. The Rockhampton kids were unable to attend because they didn't get back from school in time.

Well, we came up with a brilliant plan! Why not move Bible study back 30 minutes! Why we never thought of this before, we have no idea! So, this Wednesday we moved the time back and had more kids than we've ever had! We are really looking forward to this term, with our new theme "Refocus." We are looking at why we believe what we believe. Please pray with us as we continue to plan this term. Pray that God would give us guidance in what we teach and that it would be His words the youth would hear and not ours!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

District Conference

This past week we had the opportunity to go up to Townsville for the annual District Conference. We had a great time getting to know the other churches in our district as well as spend more time with the people from our church. During the conference meetings, Sean and I had the privilege of running the children's program.

On the first day, we took the kids to the beach. There is a free little water park there as well as an open area where the boys played rugby.

On the second day, we started off with devotions and read the book There is a Yeti in My Shed and talked about the importance of obeying our parents! Then, we introduced the kids to puppy chow (muddy buddies) and they loved it! They ran around camp sharing the puppy chow with everyone. We then played some group games outside for a bit followed by Uno. We were amazed at how much they enjoyed playing Uno. We ended off the day by making Gak which was a big hit!! Here are a few pictures :)

We had 2 travel buddies on our 9 hour drive to Townsville. Darryl and Myrtle are both members of our church and we really enjoyed getting to know them better! During our free time we enjoyed driving around town and getting ice cream with Myrtle. We also visited Castle Hill that had a beautiful view of the town! Below is a picture on top of the hill.
Although Sean and I were not able to attend the Conference meetings, it was neat to hear about the business side of how the church works and how each church in the district is represented at Conference. The new district board was elected as well as a new District Superintendent. We would like to ask for your prayer for these individuals as they step up to take these positions of leadership. Pray that God would fill them with his wisdom as they go about their jobs and that the decisions they make will glorify him. Also, pray for balance in their lives as they take on their new responsibilities.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Little Things

There are 2 things I look forward to every day. The first is getting up early with my cup of coffee, bowl of cereal and doing my Bible study. The second is being able to cuddle with my husband every night :) This morning as I curled up in my chair with my delicious coffee and started reading my Bible, I was touched at how much God loves us and how much he cares about the little things that matter to us. In John 15 verse 9 it says,

As the Father has loved me,
so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.

I have read this verse so many times, but today it really touched me. Do you understand how loved you are by our Savior? Here Jesus is saying, "as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you." As I thought about it for a while this morning, I was completely blown away by how loved we are!!

Sean and I love riding bikes, and obviously we were not able to bring our bikes with us to Australia. We have been looking into buying bikes here, but we've found that bikes cost more than we are willing to spend at this point in time. As we were sitting in church 2 weeks ago, I looked outside and noticed what a beautiful day it was. I thought to myself, "man, what a beautiful day! If only we had bikes!!" After church, Sean and I were talking to some people and this man came up to us (who we hardly know!) and asked if we would want to borrow their bikes while they are out of town for the next 3 months! I was completely shocked because I had just been thinking about how much I would love a bike. And to add to that, he also offered for us to borrow their car while they are out of town!!!! What?! I love that God not only meets our every need, but he also brings about little blessings like these to remind us how much we are loved by him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

XLR8


I realized the other day that we haven't told you too much about the children's program that we have at the church! It is called XLR8 and it is every Friday afternoon from 3:30-5:00. The children range anywhere from preschool to 6th grade. It is run by a lady in the church and I help her out. XLR8 averages about 20-30 kids. Quite a few of the kids do not go to our church, so it's a really neat opportunity to get kids into the church and learn about the Lord!

This term the students learned the books of the Bible, the 12 disciples, the Beatitudes and 5 Bible verses! All term they work really hard to learn their information, because at the end of the term they are quizzed in order to earn badges. Last Sunday we had an XLR8 awards ceremony where the students were presented with the badges that they had learned from the term. Here are a few pictures from the event!

At the start of the awards ceremony, the kids sang and did the motions for their favorite song! Jesus is My Superhero :)


The student's names were called one-by-one and they came up to the front where they were pinned with their badges!