We were thinking today that while there are many exotic flora and fauna around Melbourne (of which the birds are our favourites), the city nevertheless feels very familiar to us. Partly it is the climate that we have experienced so far - a Melbourne spring is very much like a Vancouver spring - cool to warm, somewhat rainy, always a pleasure to walk in. And partly it is due to the friendly, multi-cultural nature of society here. There are many people of English descent (or from the UK or NZ), a lot of "islanders" (people from various Polynesian countries), many Asian people, a fairly good Indian community (although not as many as in Vancouver), and a smattering of people from elsewhere (including the odd person from Canada or the US). When people hear we are from Canada, their ears always perk up; more often than not they have friends or relatives in Canada, or have holidayed there. We don't have to tell anyone where Vancouver is - it is on their radar just like Melbourne or Sydney or Perth is on ours.
We have had the occasional rainy day, often associated with a spectacular sunset, as in the photo below. In this case, the photo really captured the magic of the moment.
This photo, taken a few minutes later, shows the intensity of the sunset just before the sun disappears (note that this photo does have some HDR effects in it, but only to preserve what the eye sees rather than what one photo can capture). Notice which way the cars are parked, by the way - yes, they ARE where they are supposed to be :>)
Melbourne is pronounced "Melbun", by the way, just like Cairns is pronounced "Cans" - our Australian friends seem to leave out the r's in a lot of place names and common words. And we're getting used to saying "no worries" instead of "no problem" (one of my favourite expressions). When in Rome....
Driving continues to be an exciting experience. John was just starting to feel confident about being on the left side of the road and complementing himself on doing so well with his driving skills. Then, in a moment of panic last Sunday, he made a right turn onto a side street and ended up in the wrong (i.e., right side) lane. The fellow coming down the hill in that lane got a bit excited. It's a good thing we don't have to drive with a sign on our vehicle that says "From Canada - Watch Out!!".
The past week or so has been busy with training and meeting people, and starting to understand both the need for self-reliance in the lives of the church members and the enthusiasm with which they have embraced this new initiative from the church. The various courses are generating a lot of discussion and we have heard many stories of how people's lives have changed after hearing and acting upon simple self-reliance concepts.
One brand new course is called "Success in School Starts at Home". It is focused on getting parents to understand the vital role that the home plays in the education of their children - how they need to be anxiously engaged in training their pre-schoolers and preparing them for school, and how they need to be intimately involved in the learning process for those of their children who are in school. One grandmother told us: "After our last discussion group, I realized that I needed to turn off the TV or the computer and spend more time reading and talking to my young grandchildren. I've talked so much in the past week that my jaw is sore!" Another mother commented: "Now I understand the importance of making sure my children do not skip any school days or classes, no matter how tempted I am to let them stay home and help with the housework".
We helped facilitate a discussion group for a young man (~25 years old) who was looking for a job. He already had a great attitude and desire to work, but needed to learn some job search skills. The discussion was called "Accelerated Job Search" and it asked him to commit to a number of actions each day that would keep him very busy identifying resources, making contacts and having interviews. He said that learning how to present "Me in 30 seconds" (one of several tools about which he learned) was very helpful as it projected a positive and enthusiastic message to a prospective employer. He also said that having a spiritual basis for what he was doing, particularly knowing that Heavenly Father would help him in his efforts as he exercised faith, strengthened him. We learned that he found a job in his area of interest in about 2 weeks, which is not unusual if someone is willing to apply the principles diligently.
For those who might be interested in further information about finding a job, check out this link: "My Job Search".
No post would be complete without a few good photos of birds! The first is of a bird called a "Common Bronzewing" (reason for name evident), which is found all over Australia and is a member of the Pigeon/Dove family. We have not seen that many of them, however...
One of my favourite birds from the parrot family is the Eastern Rosella. It is getting ready to enter its nest - the adjacent hole in the tree.
Of course, one can't come to Australia and not hear and then see some Kookaburras - their odd laughter and majestic bearing are a delight to those not familiar with them, (the Kookaburra is a type of kingfisher - Australia's largest).