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OE 2017 – Ibele   1 comment

I’ve only just realised that I haven’t blogged about OE (Outdoor Education) this year!  I guess in my head I meant to, then forgot I hadn’t actually done it…

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Ibele

Being my last OE made it a bittersweet event.  I adore OE and I wouldn’t miss it for anything, and knowing that it was my last made a little melancholic at times.  I was trying to absorb every experience and not take for granted all the opportunities God was giving me, both with the people I’d come with, and with the local people.

Going into a remote village for 2 weeks with our entire high school is quite the experience! We don’t have electricity, running water, bathrooms, showers, any of the modern conveniences we’re used to, and 88 people is a lot of people to cook and clean for!  Scrubbing clothes by hand, showing in freezing cold rivers, sleeping on hard floors, and storing food is challenging.  Having said all that, we had a much easier OE this year than we’ve been used to!  We had a generator that was turned on for a few hours in the early evening, and 3 shower stalls were built for the girls where we could use a bucket filled with water to wash!

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Ibele

On day one we took a 45 bus trip out of Wamena (which we’d flown to from Sentani) before hiking 2 hours into Ibele.  It was actually a really lovely hike, and we arrived right as it got dark, so we were pretty happy about not having to hike at night!

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Saying good morning on day 2

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Seun with some local women

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Digging dirt to make a road

We had a bunch of projects that the 8 groups rotated through over the 2 weeks.  We built a road, cooked meals, ran medical and dental clinics, painted buildings with oli kotor (dirty oil, which preserves wood and kills anything living in it), planted trees, ran kids’ clubs, as well as some other miscellaneous things.

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Our medical clinic

It’s such a great experience getting to help local people in practical ways.  We get to spend lots of time with them, building relationships, playing volleyball/soccer, talking etc, but it’s also great to be able to actually do something that helps their communities.  88 people can get a lot of stuff done in 2 weeks!

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Groups 3 & 4 before they hiked out to their small village

In the first week groups 1 – 4 hiked out to a small village up to 6 hours away, for 3 days.  Each pair of groups (1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8) goes to a different small village so that we can serve more people in the local area.  It’s a really important part of the OE experience and it tests you mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually, in every way really.

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Building a road

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Painting a local church a bit up the road from Ibele using some seriously dodgy ladders!

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Hanging out with some of the local kids

Typically we meet morning and night as a group to talk through social and spiritual issues.  OE is a time when you are forced to put your faith into action, and it’s good to articulate that and focus on the things God is teaching you each day.  When you’re tired and sore and sick you have no choice but to rely on God.

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A group meeting

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Our medical clinic, complete with nurses and translators

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Tehya cleaning out a wound

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Cleaning a building before painting it with oli kotor

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I PULLED OUT TEETH!!!!!!!

Yes, that is me having pulled my first tooth!  I pulled out two teeth.  I did dental work.  Oh my goodness.  It was both amazing, and it totally freaked me out.  It was under the supervision of a qualified dentist, and there was anaesthetic involved; lots of our students did the same thing.  When else am I ever going to get the chance to do dentistry?!  Wow!

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This is the tiny kitchen we used to cook for 88 people, 3 times a day.  Joan was our amazing kitchen runner who does the unfathomable!  We’d die of starvation without her!

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The local people were so lovely to spend time with.  They braided people’s hair, played volleyball & soccer with us, helped our students with their anthropology assignments, taught us local skills, helped with our work projects and much, much more.  It is always so moving to see the generosity of the desperately poor.  They wanted to share their food with us and give us what they could; it was truly inspiring.

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Kenneth having his hair braided.  Looks fun…

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Church on Sunday, the local people sang a lot for us.

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Eating a bakar batu together after church

Saturday night was a big youth service with heaps of people from villages all over the area. It was so amazing to see how, regardless of how different we are, God is still God.  He is relevant to all people and can intervene in all circumstances and create meaningful change in people’s lives no matter their situation.  The prayer time at the end was so moving!  The front of the church was FULL of people (our people and local people alike) responding to God and wanting to live for him.  It really was incredible!

The next morning was a church service where we sang, they sang, we spoke, they spoke, and we all ate together at the end.  It was a great way to spend time sharing our lives.

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Our group right before we hiked to Tipalok (our small village)

I was the group 8 leader and we hiked out to our small village (Tipalok) the next morning.  Having hiked out during both weeks over my 3 OEs I can safely say that it’s harder to go to your small village in the second week.  After a week of no proper showers, quite serious sleep deprivation, and having to work 24 hours a day, hiking for 5.5 hours over rough, mountainous terrain (the hardest thing I have EVER physically done!) to a small village where conditions are even rougher, is not something that is an easy ask.  The small village is challenging as I’m now the one in charge of everything (along with my co-leader, Pete, who led group 7, our sister group), there is less structure, things never go according to plan, and it’s just plain tricky.

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What we arrived to in Tipalok, a feast!

We met so many wonderful people in Tipalok who were so grateful for our presence; it really made it all worth it.  We are probably the only group of people who will EVER visit that village, and they couldn’t believe that we had.  There was crying and gratitude by the bucketful.  All the girls were given hand made grass skirts, and they gave us all hand made jewellery, it was amazing!  These desperately poor people kept cooking us food and giving us presents.  We were so blessed!

On the left is Pete & I with the village pastor Darius.  On the right is a lovely woman I met who gave me her pig tooth necklace that she’d made.

Josea and Seun with some local kids before we hiked back to Ibele.

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Tipalok

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Tipalok

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The village chief in his traditional gear to send us off

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Groups 7&8 ready to hike back to Ibele

I got sick while we were in the small village.  The hike there pushed me over the edge.  I ended up with a nasty flu like thing and a minor stomach bug.  I even threw up a few times, including on the trail on the way home.  That was less than fun…

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A village we hiked past on the way back from Tipalok to Ibele

I was glad we still had a couple of days in Ibele after our small village experience.  It almost feels like coming back home, like coming back to ease and luxury, which is demonstrably ridiculous!  It’s always nice to be reunited with the big group though and to have other leaders to share the burden.

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Jordan with some of the local people in Ibele

On Thursday afternoon it was time to hike the 2 hours back to the road to meet our buses to go back to Wamena, ready to fly back to Sentani.

We spent the night in the MAF & Helivida hangers at the airport so we were ready to take the first flights out the next day to head home.

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In the MAF hanger

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Joan, Dan & I were made honorary SWAG members (group 7).

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Flying back into Sentani.  I never get sick of this view.

All in all it was an unforgettable and brilliant experience, as always.  I am so incredibly sad that I’ll never get to go on another OE, but I’m so grateful for the 3 that God has given me the opportunity to be a part of.  Seeing such wide and varied cultures and unique parts of the world is a truly humbling and eye opening experience. I am so thankful to have seen such variety in God’s creation, both in people and in nature.  The people and the places will always stay with me, and hopefully will make me forever grateful for all the blessings in my life.

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Posted March 27, 2017 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized

From The Head To The Heart   Leave a comment

This is one of my favourite songs at the moment.

God has been teaching me a lot about letting things go from being head knowledge to impacting my heart and changing my life; not just my actions, but my deep attitudes too.  It’s one thing to know about God, to understand theological positions and have worked through your own; it’s quite another to be in a relationship with God and be responding to Him in a way that is reflective of desiring His will.  I want to live my life for God because I want to, not because I want to want to, or because I sort of want to when it suits me.  He has been convicting me to move from just knowing to really letting Him change my heart.

This is a constant battle I go through.  At times I feel like I’m doing so well with this, then at others I’m complacent and lazy.  As I head into remote villages for two weeks with our high school tomorrow, I know that I must rely on God and live out of our relationship to get the most out of this experience and serve my students in the way He desires me to.

 

More than words, more than good ideas…

 

Coz there’s no shame, in looking like a fool,

To give you what I can’t keep, to take a hold of you.

 

Indeed.  That’s what I want.

Posted February 5, 2017 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized

Photo Blog   Leave a comment

I’m just going to post some photos from the last 6 months to give you a sample of my life here.

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Sunset at Lake Sentani

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Lake Sentani

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More views of Lake Sentani

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Around the corner from school where a friend lives

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In a taxi on the way to a high school beach camping trip

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At one of our beaches (about an hour from Sentani)

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The view from the side of the school campus

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Hanging at Lake Sentani before a storm came in

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Swimming at Lake Sentani

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Looking down from the school towards out futsal court one evening

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Part of the main street in Sentani

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One of our gorgeous beaches

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Flying to Hong Kong – this is over Indonesia though

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Market shopping with Darren in Hong Kong

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My choir last semester before our Christmas concert

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Hiking near Wamena over Christmas

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More of where we hiked one day near Wamena

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My new house

I have plenty more photos over on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ludicrousity/

Posted February 5, 2017 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized

Him? Seriously?   Leave a comment

Donald Trump?  Really?

There are many things to say about both American Presidential candidates right now.  They both have issues; neither of them are people I would dream of as an ideal leader.  I have no desire to dissect them both; many, many people have already done that.  There is only one issue I need to bring up to settle the question of who is worse.

Donald Trump literally brags about sexually assaulting women.  He literally brags about it! At no other point in history could anyone have done such a thing and even be in the running for President, let alone become a nominee!  Bill Clinton has been attacked throughout the years (and rightly so, mostly) for cheating on his wife, but if a man is berated and judged for cheating on his wife with another consenting woman, how then is a man who brags about sexual assault not treated much more harshly?  Think about that.  Please honestly think about that.

Trump has cheated on his wives (of which he is currently on #3) and admitted it.  He has also slept with married women and bragged about it.  How are the same people who criticise Hilary for taking back a cheating husband ok with Trump, who has behaved so much worse?  Neither are ok, so why is Hilary judged (especially when she wasn’t the one who cheated) and Trump is excused?  I can’t use the words I want to describe the vileness (and painfully obvious sexism) of this.

Trump is now trying to disparage the image of women who claim he sexually assaulted them.  The classic bully line is that their victims aren’t attractive enough to be assaulted.  Sexual assault is about power, not sex, and this is the most base and cliché power grab, “I wouldn’t touch her, look at her”.  Please. That just confirms his arrogant, bullying persona.

He also has 5 children by 3 different women.  Can you imagine if Hilary had done that?  I plan to address to sheer sexism of this at some other point, but not now.

Defending some of his talk as ‘locker room talk’ is disgusting on every level.  Firstly, this isn’t just locker room talk; he has admitted to actual sexual assault.  He has actually committed the crimes of which he brags, they aren’t just words.  The words in and of themselves would be bad enough, but don’t kid yourself; they’re not just words.

The fact that someone running for President of the United States can admit to sexual assault and not be disqualified immediately is a horrendous reflection on America.  Think about that.  He is a proud sexual predator and people want him to be in charge of their country.

Back to the ‘locker room talk’ dismissal.  No.  Men are better than this.  Most of the men I know are better than this.  If you dismiss this as normal locker room talk, I feel sorry for you and the men that you know.  If you excuse men for talking like this you do not hold them in high esteem.  I respect men more than this.  Only awful men speak like this.

If you don’t expect men to respect women, what are you saying to other women?  It’s normal to be demeaned like that?  Donald Trump Jr said that women who can’t handle sexual harassment “Don’t belong in the workplace”.  Oh. My. Goodness.  It is not normal for men to disrespect women, that is both awful for men and women.  Men are better than that, and women deserve better than that.  What are you telling your daughters, your friends, and yourself if you are prepared to vote for a man who so blatantly does NOT respect women?  Oh, but he says he respects women, right?  Please…

Do not excuse his inhuman behaviour.  You may not like Hilary, fine, vote for someone else or don’t vote, but you cannot vote for this man and demand to be respected because he treats no one with respect; he respects no one but himself.  That is not the leader for anyone.

 

(Please don’t comment on this with anti-Hilary rhetoric.  Don’t vote for her if you can’t in good conscience, just don’t vote for him.  He is a disgusting sexual predator and you know it.  You’re just choosing to ignore it and excuse it.  And make no mistake, if you vote for him you ARE excusing sexual predators.)

Posted October 16, 2016 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized

I Shall Not Want   Leave a comment

This song.  Wow this song.  Listen to it.

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

No, I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

 

This song has been going through my head non-stop since first hearing it on Sunday.  Not only is the music breathtakingly stunning, but the words are heart-wrenchingly convicting.

It is so hard to get everything I need from God.  I am constantly searching for the approval of others, for the need to be known and understood by those around me.  Why does that matter?  It shouldn’t, but it does.  Why can’t I let it go?  Why can’t I be satisfied knowing who I am, and knowing that I’ve done what God has asked of me?  Why do I need more?

Deliver me, O God.

My ego is a petulant child.  My ego is weak.

Deliver me, O God.

It is weakness to need approval.  Approval is always temporary; you can never, ever get enough.  Why do I fall into the trap of needing something that is as permanent as water going through a sieve?  I know it’s ridiculous.  I know it’s unhelpful.  I know it’s defeating me.  I know it’s stopping me from being happy and fulfilled, yet I still fall for it.

Deliver me, O God.

A good thing elevated to the best thing is a bad thing.

Being praised by others isn’t bad, it’s quite nice really.  Being in a mutually positive relationship where you build each other up is a wonderful thing.  The issue comes when we need that approval and praise to be ok.  If we don’t get the praise we crave or expect, does that dampen our experience?  Does it change how we feel about what we’ve done?  If what we did was good and right, it shouldn’t change the way we feel about ourselves if others don’t acknowledge us.  But of course if does.  Of course it does.

Deliver me, O God.

It’s so easy to be comfortable and stay in your familiar rut.  Even overseas in a place like this ruts develop.  I don’t want to be comfortable; I want to be where God wants me, doing what God asks of me.  It’s so much easier not to change my life, to remain the same, but I never want to just do the easy thing; I always want to do the right thing.

Deliver me, O God.

It’s so easy to rationalise my behaviour.  “Oh, it’s not that bad.  At least I’m not as bad as…”, but that’s never the point is it?  My life should not be measured against the actions of others, it should be measured by the standards of God.  I am not in competition with anyone else.  I am being asked to be the best version of me that I can be.  I am being asked to reach the potential that God has given me.  I am not in competition with anyone else.  The judgements of others do not define me or my worth.

Deliver me, O God.

I will keep listening to this song until it sinks deep into my soul.

Posted October 5, 2016 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized

Admission Vs Confession   1 comment

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In our bible study we’ve been going through Oswald Chamber’s book ‘My Utmost For His Highest’. We’ve had some issues with it, but there have also been some fantastic things that have really challenged me. This week I was frustratingly gripped by the idea of admission vs confession.

I’m not sure confession is the best word for this battle; I think repentance is a better one.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a rather cerebral person. I like to think, analyse, understand, and dissect. I actually have no problem admitting to God when I sin. When I do the wrong thing I’m happy to talk to Him about it, even think about why and try to understand my own motivations and drivers. Admission is not the issue.

Repentance is a much more challenging concept.

Repentance requires a change of heart. It demands that we not only change our behaviour, but that we change it because we want to, because we see the need to, because we want to be different. It is only in right relationship with God that we can see with His eyes the true state of our lives, and the consequences of our behaviour. This brings with it the desire for change, not just a feeling of obligation or guilt.

I don’t always want to be different. Change is hard. It’s so much easier to live my life in the manner to which I am accustomed. Establishing new habits takes time and effort, and frankly I like some of my bad habits. Why else would I keep on doing them? I know they’re not good for me, or for those around me, but I’m human and stupid, and I do things that are bad for me in the full knowledge that they’re bad for me.

Repentance requires a real and intentional engagement with not only my own heart, but with the heart of God. I need to deeply comprehend God’s heart and why He doesn’t want me doing the things that are unhealthy in my life. When I understand why and what His heart for me is, that is when I can begin to let go of the things that hold me. When I shift my perspective and truly allow myself to see through God’s eyes, then I can begin to want to do things His way.

This is rarely a one-time thing; I need to constantly see my need for repentance, and at times, repent for the same things over and over. Even when I am honest in my desire for change I am inconsistent, and need to keep coming back to Jesus’ feet to repent.

Now I just need to muster the will to do this… Knowing is only half the battle…

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Posted September 27, 2016 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized

  8 comments

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Well hi there blog, my old friend.  It’s been a while!  What have you been up to?  Me?  Well I generally work, sleep, get bitten by mosquitoes, get the odd stomach bug, sweat, mark endless student work, think of how lucky I am to live here, think how terribly inconvenient it is to live here, love my life, get annoyed with my life, accidentally cook lizards in my toaster, accidentally boil ants in my kettle, and enjoy the company of my friends (who are not ants or lizards, I don’t think).

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I’m currently lucky enough to be live streaming an ABC Jazz concert from Australia via Facebook.  These days our internet is pretty reliable and this is definitely one of the huge perks!  I desperately miss live music.

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Since writing school has started, we’ve taken our high school on a 3 days remote beach camping trip, and school is certainly in the wild swing of things.  This year I’m teaching Algebra 1 (year 9), Geometry (year 10), Pre-calculus (year 12), English 10 and Psychology; the same as last semester.  I’m really enjoying all my classes but I’m feeling kind of swamped by the huge marking load.  All of my subjects feel like they’re drowning me at the moment… Must be better organised…

Beach Trip was incredible as always.  I love spending time with my colleagues and students outside of a school environment; it’s such a great way to build deeper relationships.  I never would have thought I’d enjoy camping with no running water, no electricity, no toilets, no anything, but I truly do!  I’ll miss it so much!

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Luke (my brother) came to Papua to visit just before school started!  It was awesome to have the opportunity to show him my life!  You simply can’t explain life here to people, and even when they actually see it they only get a glimpse of what the daily reality feels like.  I’m so glad he got to meet some people and see my current home.

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In case you missed the news, this will be my last year here.  I intend to move back to Australia in June.  By the time I leave I’ll have been here 3 and a half years, which seems like a good chunk of time to spend here.  I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to serve in such a unique part of the world with such a diverse group of people.  I’ve broadened my horizons and learnt more about God’s creation in both people and nature.  I have grown as a person and have solidified more of who I am in the world.

Knowing that I’ll be leaving is both a blessing and a curse.  It means that I’m trying to take advantage of my last year and the last time I’ll be doing certain things.  I’m trying to experience all the things I know I want to, and not miss out on anything I know I’ll regret.  It’s also strangely creating a psychological barrier for me at times; I know I’m leaving, so my mind is starting to prepare for that.  It means I’m half thinking about life back in Australia already and it’s making me less mentally committed here.  I don’t like that aspect of the process and I need to make sure I remain in the moment and live my time here to the full, not in anticipation of where I’ll be next.

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Part of that mind shift is that life in Australia is so much easier and I’m looking forward to familiarity and convenience again.  I miss my family and friends, I miss the ease and comfort of home.  I love the opportunity I’ve been given here, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t want to leave yet, but it’s an odd split in my mind of where I focus my attention and where my heart clings to.

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As usual there is a huge turnover of staff at HIS and we have a bunch of newbies this year.  It’s always great and awful.  You have to say goodbye to people you’ve built relationships with, and also find the energy to build new relationships with people you know will only be in your life temporarily.  That’s the good and bad thing about being here, the constant changes in relationships and the way you get to know so many different people.

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On a completely different note, our pasar (local markets) were recently demolished in an odd move by the government.  They’re constructing new buildings for everyone, but haven’t done so yet, so people are either unable to sell at all, or are fighting over what real estate is available.  It’s quite sad really.

Health wise I haven’t been feeling great over the last couple of days, another stomach thing as per usual.  It’s unavoidable here from time to time.  My right heel is really sore too for some reason, and I can’t walk without some pain.  I’ve also been having some back issues, I think my scoliosis is playing up a bit.  Isn’t life grand…  Nothing too serious, but annoying all the same, especially without access to treatment.

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I unfortunately wasn’t able to go interior before school started to help run those native song writing workshops I’d spoken about, as is the nature of Papua.  Things often don’t happen in the way or time you plan.  Now that school has started I can’t really go to a village for a week, which is quite disappointing.  Maybe I’ll get the opportunity some other time; I certainly hope so.

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An opportunity I do have though is to go to Hong Kong in November.  There is an international teachers’ conference every 2 years (last time it was in Korea if you remember) that our school sends their staff to.  I’m really looking forward to some good professional development and time (even if only for a few days) in a new country!

All that is to say that life is going well.  My heart and mind are in 2 places as usual, but I know that I’m still in the right place for now.

Posted September 15, 2016 by Ludicrousity in Uncategorized