Well it’s official. I have now been on staff an living here in Perth Australia for a whole 12 months. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would end up living here, so far away from home, for so long. But God has a tendency to take us on adventures with Him, and this really has turned out to be quite the adventure!
When I was a little girl I always wanted to visit Australia. It was on my list of things to do in my lifetime. The country fascinated me – and so when I was given the opportunity to go there as part of a Biology field trip when I was at college at jumped at the chance. At 17, I spent just over a week exploring different parts of the country, studying the wildlife and how they were adapted to live in their very different habitats. I loved it. I very quickly fell in love with the country, and was sad to say goodbye, although I was also very happy to come back home. At that time, I never thought I would be coming back to the land Down Under – how wrong was I!
The funnier thing is that I also never dreamed that I would be a missionary. That was what my big sister did. It was her thing. She would be the one to travel the world, and I would stay firmly on UK soil and get a job working for a church. That was always my plan. When I first went to Burundi I remember thinking that 3 months was a long time to be away from home overseas. And then when I came here to Perth the first time round I remember thinking that 6 months was a long time to be away from home overseas.
And now? Well I have to confess that this past year has flown by. And the longer I stay here, the more this place begins to feel like home. I love it here. My friends are here. My life is here now. But there will always be a part of my heart that will be firmly British. That will be fiercely proud of the land that I call my home (ask anybody here – they think its funny how much I love my home country and how much I talk about it!) and of course, that desperately misses my family and friends who are there. I wish Australia didn’t have to be so far away. If I could find some way of combining this place, and the people that I love so dearly back home then I would. That would be the equivalent of being given the cake with icing and the cherry and hundreds and thousands and marshmallows and glitter and sparkly things on top, and then being given a fork to eat it. Seriously.
This past year has definitely had its ups and downs. I miss my family. Sharing life with people living on the opposite sides of the world is tough. And I’ve been sick. A lot. But there is one thing that I am absolutely certain of. I am exactly where I need to be. The picture at the top of this post is of a painting hanging on our back porch that one of my old house mates did. The verse is taken from 2 Samuel 22:20 – “He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.” I love it! And for me, Australia is my spacious place. This is where the Lord has brought me out to.
Yes, Australia is indeed a spacious place, but the wide open spaces aren’t the only reason why the Lord brought me here! When I am here, I feel like my soul can breathe. I am sure part of that is due to the climate, as I’ve always been much more relaxed when the sun is shining! But it’s also the culture here. Chill out. Relax. Don’t stress. No worries. All of these things are well known to be a part of the Ozzie culture. Go to the beach. Have a BBQ. Walk around in bare feet and don’t carry a care in the world. It doesn’t take long for this attitude to rub off on you. And I have no doubt that this has good for me.
And of course, it’s the people I live and work with every day. It’s the job that I get to do. It’s the fact that I get to celebrate the nations, share life with people, learn more about Jesus, and love Jesus, every day, and be a part of a community who are committed to this. Knowing the place where I was before I came to Perth, I can see exactly why I needed to come here. I can see exactly why this place has been so good for me. I understand why God chose to take me out of that place and bring me here instead. It is here that I have found healing from so much pain and hurt. It is here that I have found freedom from things that were once holding me back. And it is here that I have continued to grow more and more into the person that He designed and created me to be. He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.
And so looking back on this past year, more than anything else, I am so incredibly thankful that God knows what is best for me, and in His faithfulness brought me to this place. I had plans, I had expectations for my life, I thought I knew best. Well I was wrong. And all those ideas that I had for my life God just blew straight out of the water. And I am so grateful that He did. I still have a lot to learn. There are still areas in my life where God needs to work. And I have at least another 3 years here for that to happen! So even on those days when I am missing my family and the BBC and proper biscuits and all those other things that clearly the UK is far better at than any other nation on earth (cake being one of them I also believe) I stand assured that I am here because here is where I need to be. Right here, in this time, in this place, God is working in my life. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.