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 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!    

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**