Sunday, November 27, 2011

On Friday I had the 2nd best Cup of Coffee in my Life

On Friday I went in to the city to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, walk around and had the second best cup of coffee I have ever had at Brother Baba Budan. The best I had was at Bewleys in Dublin Ireland. This cup was really close, and it's rather hard to compare the two, but yeah, I want to get another cup before I leave the country on December 12th.

I'll be gone for almost the whole week. I am going with the year 9 students to the Otways for a camping trip. It'll be an exciting time of rafting, mountain biking, bush walking and trying to survive. I had to pack all my food for the week. I hope it goes well.

Happy late Thanksgiving. I was able to celebrate two thanksgiving. One with a fellow teacher at his home on Thursday and another on Saturday over in Geloong with the Fishers, Blackwoods and other RPers. There is much to be thankful for! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Slow Week

This week has put me in a bind. There is almost no teaching on. Currently grades 7-9 are in exams for the week. Years 11 through 12 are in early commencement. (This is when teachers begin introducing their new subjects to the students. Hard to introduce something that you won't be teaching because you won't be there.) Hence, I'm stuck in an office all week doing curriculum development on the Vietnam War and marking exams. Can't say this is the best week of my life.

Other then a slow week, I've begun to get to know the students a lot better. It was hard at first because I didn't know any of the students or staff. Though it's hard because I won't be teaching here next year, I've been able to develop a rapport with some of the students. I think that's what I enjoy most about teaching right now, is the relationships I've been able to have with the various students and staff. I thought I was more interested in content. Though I still enjoy it a lot, it's really cool taking concepts and ideas and giving them to students. It's a great feeling when a student tells you that they were learning while you taught or when you see their faces light up when they understand a concept.

The staff are very enjoyable. Aussies like to make fun of each other a lot, which is more in tune with my personality. I really enjoyed getting to know the staff when we went on camp. It was some very good times. It'll be hard to leave in a couple of weeks now.

I've put up some pictures on my google+ account, most of them are of camp. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Relying on God in Australia

Living in a foreign country is an adventure. Certainly, Australia is not a third world country, and the Aussies speak English, kind of. So, it's not extraordinarily difficult to live here. Yet, I am away from family. I have no real support group. Yes, I have made friends, and people look out for my welfare. But if something happens I'm pretty much on my own. No one can make medical decisions for me, no one can tell me if I should get a job here. I can communicate with family, but that takes a while. Also, talking face to face with someone is different then gchat.

Living in a foreign country has forced me to rely more on God. Living by yourself does that to you. You hope you make the right decisions and that things fall into place, but only God can make sure things work out okay. It's been a good life lesson. I think any time we are put outside our comfort zone away from people we trust and love, we are forced to rely more on God. It's hard to learn because it's not easy, but growth in Christ comes about through these types of times. It's like weight lifting. You have to break down your muscles in order to get stronger. It's a bit counter-intuitive and painful, but we become stronger from it. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

100th Post

This is my 100th post on Glory and Love. It's been a good 100 posts. I hope there are more to come.

Currently I've had some issues with hay fever, back pain and heart burn. Thankfully we don't have school today so I've been able to recover a bit. Also, I finished my portfolio for student teaching which is rather exciting since it takes a lot of work. If it doesn't pass I can't pass student teaching. I hope I did a good job. Very happy I'm done. Now to finish a couple books.

Currently I am reading "Moby Dick," "The Imitation of Christ" and "The Scottish Covenanters." I'm hoping to finish Covenanters by the end of the week. Don't ask me why I'm reading Moby Dick, I don't know why either. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Camping with the Aussies

It's getting close to the end of the school year. At the end of year, different grades will go on various camps. On Monday I left school for Phillip Iland on a three day adventure with the year 8 students. The camp had "cabins" so we weren't roughing it or anything. The students got to go canoeing, on a high ropes course, surfing and on a giant swing. It was good fun. I was able to go surfing for the first time in my life, and I am proud to say that I successfully got up. I now understand why people become addicted to the sport.

I am of course rather tired from having to stay up late a couple nights in a row and then having a full day with excessively energetic kids. Year 8 kids are a fascinating bunch. They're about to embark on the epic voyage of high school yet still have brains of primary school kids (elementary school kids).

Next week all the school will be taking tests or are in revision so I get to do something very cool. I get to work on curriculum development, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. All of this will be from an Australian perspective, but it'll be fun. Though I am not an expert on either era, I love developing curriculum.

I'm hoping to go on the Great Ocean Road this weekend, but if I don't, I'll try to do something exciting, perhaps ride a kangaroo.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Relaxing on the Weekend

The weekend is here. I have 29 days before my return trip home. It's been a good learning experience. I learned a lot about Australian education. It's been a bit tiring, but I noticed that because I have fewer students (12-20 students in class as opposed to 20-33 students.) I am less tired on the weekends.

Today I visited the Immigration Museum. I took a train to the city. With the exception of a slight detour because of rail work, not much happened on the way there. The museum itself wasn't to exciting. A lot of it was repetition of the same thing. There were some interesting stuff though. For me it was good to get a better knowledge of immigration in Australia. Australia is coming out of a history of a very racist immigration policy. It was good to learn more about this background. I'm still processing Australian culture. There is a very western, you could say traditional, culture, but it is also a very diverse countries. I saw a lot of different types of dress in the city.

I also went to the Queen Victoria Market where I bought a couple things including some fruit. The market is pretty cool. They sell a lot of food and other random stuff like clothes and trinkets. It feels kind of like the state fair but no cows.

On Monday I'm going on a camp with the students to Phillip Island. I will be learning how to surf so it should be an exciting adventure. Apparently, there are a lot of sharks there. My students at Westlane made sure to remind me to be careful of sharks, and I shall! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Just Do Something" - Book Review

Recently I read Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. His thesis is that God's will for our lives is to be holy. His divine plan for our lives is not something we should be searching out. Rather we ought to be focused on living a Godly life, seeking first His kingdom and righteousness. This quote summarizes DeYoung's point:
God's will for your life is not very complicated. Obviously, living a Christlike life is hard work, and what following Jesus entails is not clear in every situation. But as an overarching principle, the will of God for your life is pretty straightforward: be holy like Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God. (61-61) 
DeYoung begins the book by looking at the amount of decision making our generation has to make and compares it with other generations. He explains how this, combined with a misconstrued understanding of God's will for our lives, creates "directionally challenged" Christians. We often sit on our hands waiting for God to show us what to do rather then go out and just doing something with our lives. He explains that God is more interested in us living holy lives rather then following his plan. Ultimately, what we do is a part of God's plan in the first place so we ought to stop worrying about it. 

Wisdom plays an important part in this. DeYoung isn't advocating running out and doing something foolish. DeYoung explains that it is by having wisdom we make decisions, both small and large. He suggests that we look to the scriptures, good friends/mentors and whether doors open as ways to deciding what to do with ourselves. 

DeYoung mentions Jerry Sittser's book, God's Will as a way of Life, which I found to be very helpful in this area. It's also along the lines of Francis Schaefer's book True Spirituality

My Thoughts 
I found DeYoung's book readable and enjoyable. It was also short. DeYoung makes a great point of explaining that the key to making good decisions in life is by having wisdom, not having the will of God. Really, it's a bit ridiculous to say that you know the will of God for future things. God hasn't revealed the immediate future to us. I found this point to be enlightening and helpful. We often find ourselves asking, "is this the will of God" when strictly speaking we cannot know. 

It may appear that DeYoung is coming across as flippant and is advocating just doing anything under the sun. He isn't, and really hammers the point across that we do need to make good decisions in our lives, but it takes wisdom to do this, not the secret knoweldge of God's will. 

It was good for me to read this book at this time in my life. I am coming to a major crossroad. Right now God is teaching me to be patient. This book was helpful because it helped quiet my worry of not knowing what God wants to do with my life. 

I encourage people my ages, college students and early 20s people to read this book. I think you will find this helpful as I did. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


During lunch break today there were miniature cupcakes and doughnuts in the staff room. Australia is making me fat. It was trying hard to resist. In the end, I limited myself to about four.

My lunch breaks at Maranatha is usually spent in the staff room eating (usually not sweets) and talking with other staff. It's usually when I learn about the interesting Australian lingo and then forget the moment I walk out the door. I have learned to say "lollies" and "chocolate" rather then use the umbrella term "candy." Aussies enjoy poking fun at people so my American expressions have become the object of humor a couple of times, all in good fun of course, I think. The favorite so far is "I'm gunna go to the mountains over there." I'm not quite sure why that's funny.

When I am in class with the students, occasionally a couple students will break out into laughter and it's usually because I've said something "American." Believe it or not, Aussies think that the midwestern non-accent is an accent.

This week has been pretty busy with various stuff, including figuring out Australian phrases. I taught year 8 and year 9 this week. Year 9 had a test! Tomorrow I am going on an "excursion" with year 9. We're going to be going to some memorials as part of remembering the 11th of November, the date of the end of World War I. It should be a good time. I'm not quite sure we're going. It is a good thing I am not the one in charge.

Just to note, I have not been able to post pictures online because 1. The internet at school blocks facebook. 2. It takes up a lot of bandwidth to upload them at home, and we are only given 20 gigabytes a month. I don't want to use up all that to post photos. At some point, I will try to upload some photos, but currently, you will just have to see my words. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

How I am Personally Doing

Currently I am sitting in my room at the house of the family I'm living with. My family is very kind and loving. They are a Christian family. Right now they're talking in the other room, and I can almost make out their conversation, but it's still a bit of a struggle to understand their accent. For the first week, I said "I'm sorry, what?" a lot.

Since I've been here for almost four weeks now, I've started to feel a bit more adjusted. The first two weeks were hard. I felt physically dizzy with everything new going on around me. So much is different. Now that I am a bit adjusted, things are going much better.

It's been tough adjusting to the schedule here, and learning how Australians communicate, specifically non-verbally. It's extremely hard for me to read body language and facial expressions here. Of course it's easy to spot obvious ones, but it can get really hard sometimes in conversations. Also, Australians don't get to know people right away. They are a bit distant. They'll joke and talk, but you can tell their is a certain amount of distrust that one has to overcome.

Everything is going by very quickly. I can't believe I'm already almost halfway over! I have only five weeks left. At first I didn't think much of Melbourne. It was just another city, but during the past two weeks, it's really grown on me.

This next week, I'm switching up classes. I'm going to be teaching year 7 (7th grade), a combination of environmental science and english. They're going to be researching the Canadian wilderness and are reading a novel called "Hatchet." It'll be an exciting and tough switch. Junior high is a different world. The week after that, camps get started.

I'm also reading "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A Kempis, "Just do Something" by Kevin DeYoung, "The Love of Wisdom" by Spiegel and Cowan. All are good books so far. I'll probably be posting a book review on DeYoung's book soon.

In conclusion, here is a quote by A Kempis that I have found to be very good:
"What is the reason why some of the saints were so perfect and contemplative? Because they laboured to mortify themselves wholly to all earthly desires... We seldom overcome any one vice perfectly and are not inflamed with a fervent desire to grow better every day; and therefore remain cold and lukewarm in religion.... If we esteem our progress in religious life to consist only in some exterior observances, our devotion will quickly be at an end. But let us lay the axe to the root, that being freed fomr passions, we may find rest to our souls. If every year we would root out one vice, we should sooner become perfect men." (Ch. XI)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is Melbourne like?

Today I helped take the year 10 geography students on an excursion to the city. We went to the Eureka Tower and then the Victoria Market. It was a good time. The group of students were fun to hang around. I got to see more of the city though I had been there once before. Melbourne is an interesting city.

People walk a bit slower in Melbourne. They don't walk as fast as Americans do, especially teenagers. The other teacher and I had to call back to keep some stragglers from falling behind. Australians seem to be a relaxed group of people compared to Americans. They're also not as competitive, though they are competitive about AFL.

There was a horse race today so we saw a lot of people who were dressed up. When I mean dressed up, I mean your nicest suit and tie and flashiest dress. Plus, some men and women both wore fashionable hats, like those hats you'll see the queen wear. It was quite a culture shock to see so many nicely dressed people walking around the streets. It was like everyone was coming from church.

Also, Melbourne is a very diverse city. It is the most livable city to live in according to The Economist. It's a very diverse city in terms of its ethnicity and nationality. Around 35% are from abroad. There are many Greeks there as well as Asians. There are also many Sudanese and Egyptians who are starting to come, fleeing from political unrest in Africa. I have a couple students from those countries. I never expected to have such a high diversity of students. On the excursion alone, three of the students could speak two languages. (Vietnamese, Hungarian and Arabic.)

Over the weekend, I went on a camping trip with the Frankston Congregation. It was a good time to get to know them, and begin to get to know what it's like in "the bush." I saw some cool insects though no crazy animals. And yes, I have seen quite a few kangaroos though they don't live in people's backyards.