We spent the week in training and meeting church leaders and others involved in self-reliance. The people here are warm and friendly and so helpful. We particularly liked meeting church members from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. They are a spiritual people with a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel. And they give lots of good hugs!
John is more comfortable driving on the left side of the road now. He only needs the odd reminder from Janette that he is drifting to the left side of the lane. He assures her that his driving will improve as he adjusts to Australian time.
We have walked in some of the local parks and seen a plenitude of bird life. They are a lot noisier than the birds back home in Canada. But they are also more varied and colourful. It is not uncommon to see small flocks of Lorikeets or Parikeets streaking from tree to tree. Or to see the sulfur-crested Cockatoo, which is both common and raucous. They don't care if they are seen or heard! There are also birds here with names like "magpie" and "wood duck" that look quite different from birds with the same name at home.
Here is an Australian magpie, which looks more like a black and white crow (to us) than a Canadian magpie. One other difference - it is not at all raucous (that is left to the cockatoos and parikeets), but has a fluid, melodious call.
Likewise, an Australian wood duck - it's definitely a duck, but nowhere near as colourful as its Canadian cousin.
Finally, a collared dove - we think the origin of the name will be pretty obvious...
At the end of August, we are entering Melbourne's spring. The weather now is like early spring in Vancouver, Canada - cool to cold days and some rain. We see many interesting plants and bushes flowering. What is surprising is to see the orange and lemon trees with fruit ready to pick! Despite the cold, wet weather, the fruit has ripened over the winter. These trees must know that there is hot, dry weather arriving soon and that is their time for dormancy.
In the following photo, the large bush on the right is just starting to show its spring bloom whereas the orange tree on the left is ready to pick!
Here is just one of many interesting flowering plants - we have no idea what it is, but is lovely!
We find it challenging adjusting to the heating systems in Melbourne. Many homes and chapels have no or little heating, or only space heaters. Sometimes the inside of a house is colder than outside! We have learned to wear layers of clothing and be ready for any temperature! Breakfast this morning contained several "warm-me-ups".
We are enjoying the food here a little too much, especially the desserts. There is something called "double cream" that is tasty. It can't be whipped but it is delicious. Fortunately, we've signed up at a state-of-the-art gym close by and hope to reverse the weight trend.
We look at a different set of stars and planets here. Tonight, Jupiter and Venus are in conjunction over the western horizon, just after sundown. They are both bright and clear, even in the light-contaminated Melbourne sky.
We haven't seen any snakes yet - these aren't expected until the summer. But when we were in the bush this weekend a lady mentioned that there has been flooding and mild weather. This has caused them to appear earlier than usual. She told us that if the Kookaburras are silent, watch out!
A treat this past week was the visit of Elder Leota from Sydney. He is a self-reliance manager for our church and the person to whom we report. What a warm, gentle, inspiring person he is! We have learned so much from him already and we have just got started.
A "selfie" of John and Elder Leota - a bit goofy, but we don't have any better photos yet!
This weekend we traveled with Elder and Sister Meyers to Benalla and Wangaratta. These are two towns about 2.5 hour's drive north of Melbourne where there are small church congregations. We participated in training and got to meet the wonderful Saints in that area. Janette felt impressed, as we left Melbourne, to bring along several training manuals. We met one father who had recently finished his schooling and was looking for a job, and were able to share the My Job Search course with him. We also shared the Mom's Pre-School book with his wife. Unbeknownst to us, she is a school teacher and was thrilled to receive it. Legislation is changing in the Australian schools and parents are concerned with some of the values being presented. As a consequence, she is considering home schooling.
Here is a photo of us in Benalla, enjoying a wonderful dinner at the end of our training session.
John and Janette spoke in Sacrament meeting in Wangaratta. Janette's topic was "Principles of Self-reliance"; John's was "The Character of Christ". We have provided links to these talks if you would like to download and read them.