Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Cairns Christmas

I survived my first Christmas away from home!  I got a surprise message from Stefan (volleyball friend) Wednesday evening asking what time my church service (for Christmas Eve) was and he ended up being able to join me.  It was definitely orchestrated by God because so many little things happened that night, outside of my usual routine.  For starters I was a bit later than usual in leaving for volleyball, and about a block from my place I realized that since it was Christmas Eve there might not be anyone there.  I decided I'd better put on tennis shoes and if no one was there I could at least go for a run.  Since I was going to be running I almost left my phone behind, and after debating for a few seconds decided to just take it anyway.  When I got to volleyball there weren't many people, there were exactly 12 people playing, so the court was full.  I decided I'd continue my run a bit further up the esplanade and when I got back there would hopefully be some more people.  On my way back my phone buzzed with the message from Stefan.  On a normal night I'd have already been at volleyball for nearly an hour with my phone sitting on the bench, not to be checked until maybe 9pm, and he'd have been unable to get approval from his manager to be late for work.  The courts got a bit busier as the night wore on and everyone was in a good mood, which always makes for a more enjoyable evening.  Rith and I ended up leaving at the same time so we walk most of the way back together.  I had just enough time to shower and get ready for church before I had to leave again.  I wanted to be early so Stefan wouldn't be by himself when he first arrived.  Our paths ended up crossing on our way there. It was nice to have someone to sit with during the service and of course to walk most of the way home with at midnight.  I'm not sure what he thought about the service, he did say though that he didn't know many of the Christmas Carol's we sang.  He's German, so I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised.  I just thought he'd know them in German, but he didn't recognize most of them at all.

Some might consider it a sad Christmas: no family, no Christmas dinner, no tree, no presents.  I worked most of the day too, but in the end it didn't really matter.  It didn't feel like Christmas anyway (possibly due to the lack of the aforementioned things and the balmy weather).  I was lucky enough to get picked up Christmas morning at BHA (it saved me a half hour walk in 90+ degree heat dressed head to toe in black) and three of us drove up to Paradise Palms Country Club to help with their Christmas Lunch.  The place was packed, but our events room thankfully only had 13 tables; three of which were mine.  It was easy work though since it was a buffet, we only had to serve drinks and clear dirty dishes.  I didn't spill or break anything so that was an added bonus as well.  The manager and regular staff were extremely kind and we were done by 3:30pm.  I had to walk the half hour back from the temp agency office, but at least I could shower and change when I arrived home.  I opened my final Christmas cards and they were all so sweet.  My Aunt Sharon's was so lovely it nearly brought tears to my eyes, and my little crickett had a lovely note as well since he'd just spent his first Christmas away from home last year, so he knows what it is like.  It's always nice to know you're loved and that your presence is missed.  After a short nap I headed to volleyball to meet up with my volleyball friends; Jordan, Max, Caterina, & Louis were all there playing already, and Stefan came soon afterwards.  It was actually busier Christmas night than it had been on Christmas Eve.  I got lots of hugs and Christmas wished from everyone. Arthur was wearing a Santa hat (despite the heat) and it had a bell on the end so every time he jumped it jingled, so it did feel a bit more like Christmas when you put all those things together.  Jason has started calling me Abiama, which I learned from Lithia is used with anyone that is older (which I'm not), or has a close relationship with you. Your either calling them mum or aunty, or stating that you have a close relationship - that you are basically like family, like an aunty to the person.  They shorten names and add ama (meaning mum or aunty) on the back of the shortened name as a nick name. Anyway, on my walk home from volleyball I called my little brother and we chatted for a bit - I knew he'd be up early Christmas morning.  Sadly my Mom was sick so I didn't get to talk with her, but I did get to say a quick hello to my Dad and older brother before I had to go.

On Boxing Day I was able to skype with nearly everyone from my Dad's side of the family as they were all celebrating together at night (meaning it was my morning).  When my cousin Aprille answered the skype call on her phone (isn't technology wonderful?), I could heard everyone gabbing away in the background and I loved it.  The video was in and out, in terms of visibility, so sometimes I was waving at family members but wasn't 100% certain who they were because it was too pixel-y.  Thankfully it was clear more than not, so I got to chat and see almost everyone.  Due to so many people in one room it was often hard for them to hear me, but it didn't matter.  My favorite questions (gotta love family) were if I was bringing home a man, does the water in the toilet really swirl in the opposite direction, and why I didn't have an Australian accent yet.  While I'm not ready to leave Cairns, it will be wonderful to see and hug everyone again.  When I stopped into reception to use the internet Jay handed me two more Christmas cards and commented that he hasn't received a single card this year and he lives here!  I got a lovely card and note from my Gram and a card from my Aunt Rosie as well.  I'd gone to reception to work on my travel plans, but didn't get much accomplished because Jay and I ended up chatting for most of the afternoon: Christmas, learning English, reading and newspapers, visas and sponsorships, lots of topics.  With my impending departure that visa/sponsor topic seems to come up a lot (I'd been talking with the girl who runs the travel agency/internet cafe where I skype from about visas and sponsorships as well since she's American too).  Who knows what the next few months will hold, especially once I get home....  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 300+

I just keep reminding myself that this must not be where God wants me.  I had sort of hoped to find a job here in Cairns and then my employers would love me so much they'd want to sponsor a visa and then I'd be able to stay in Cairns for another year, or maybe two.  As you all know that hasn't exactly happened.  While chatting with Edith at church Sunday night (her and her husband Jeff just got back from their month-long holiday, so I hadn't seen her in awhile) I mentioned that I would be leaving soon.  When I told her that the next time I see her would be one of my last Sundays in Cairns she looked a bit bummed and said to me, "I know I don't you that well, but I'm really going to miss seeing you here."  She's such a sweetheart, and one of the only people I've really even connected with at the church here (she's a travel lover as well and has done a working holiday in Canada), and I'm going to miss seeing her as well.  I had breakfast with Anne, Shoko, and Romey on Monday morning at a nice little cafe on the wharf.  They gave me a neat card (photo below) and gave me their email addresses so we could keep in touch outside of facebook as well.
Anne even gave me some home-made Strawberry Jam, which I'm going to have to hurry up and eat.  It's odd because in a way, I almost feel like I have more of a social life here in Cairns than I did back home.  But then I just remind myself that I don't work near as many hours here and I'm not at all involved in the church here.  I'm just trying to be thankful that I'm having such a great time and that I'm able to have a BBQ with volleyball friends nearly every week and get to play volleyball nearly every night.  I think I just need to make more of an effort back home; not let life get so busy with meaningless things.  It's the people in your life that matter and I'm grateful God has placed so many wonderful people in my life here in Cairns, even if only for a short while.

When I told Jay when my last day would be here at Bohemia he just sort of sighed.  I was sitting in reception using the wifi and about 20 minutes later, as I was getting ready to leave, he asked if I really had to go.  I just laughed and told him that since I wasn't able to find a sponsor for a visa that I really did have to leave.  He told me he wished he could sponsor my visa himself, and that if the company was actually sound they would, but as it is they unfortunately cannot.  I just have to trust that this isn't where God wants me or He would have opened the doors.  I miss being away from my family, and I miss my church family back home as well, but I really could see myself living here for a year or two.  God has a plan though, and maybe in a few years I'll be back or I'll find a job that pays me to travel; I just have to trust His plan... I did find it neat to see Him work recently too.  I was talking with my parents Monday morning and mentioned how I thought you have to earn at least $500 from your employer or else you can't claim back all the taxes you've paid when you leave the country, and that I thought I was short of that mark with the staffing agency.  With only a few weeks left before I leave I told them how I was hoping to get at least 2 more shifts so that I'd be over the $500 mark, but didn't think it was likely.  Dad said they'd be praying about it and it occurred to me that I hadn't even actually prayed about it - shame on me!  And yet, a few hours later God answered (without me explicitly asking Him - what a loving Father, always looking out for me) and I'll be working Christmas Day (double pay because it's a holiday) and on New Years Eve.  With those two shifts alone I will be all set, and make more money than a normal shift too.  I had never expected to work on Christmas Day because of them having to pay us double pay (it's over $40/hour) and I'm just a temp.  Apparently it's a common thing in Cairns (possibly all of Australia, I'm not entirely sure) to eat out for Christmas lunch though.  People pay big bucks to do it, over $100 per person, and some sources tell me the food isn't even that great at some places; but when you have to pay all the employees working that day twice their normal rate it would add up quickly.

In other news, my trip to Tasmania is all booked and scheduled, so now I'm just working on my Melbourne trip details.  I haven't managed to get very far with my Cairns to Sydney bus trip plans, but I'll worry about that once I have Melbourne all squared away.  We had another "BBQ" before volleyball last night, although we made French Toast.  It's almost a tradition now to have dinner together before volleyball on Tuesday nights.  Some of them thought it was a bit odd that we'd be eating breakfast food for dinner, but I think I converted them to my American ways.  It was actually the easiest (and cheapest) dinner we've done so far, so that was good (at least for Caterina and I since we always do the planning and preparations).  Not sure what if we'll try to do something next Tuesday or not.  There's only so many simple things you can prepare on a griddle...but then again why mess with a classic BBQ?

I had a lovely skype marathon with my family this morning, Merry Christmas Eve to me.  I've talked to them on the phone many times, but usually don't get to skype and actually see their faces.  I started off with my Mom and Dad, and then texted my sister to see if she was free to skype as well.  As luck would have it, she was at my second home hanging out with 2 of my sister-cousins so I got to skype with three of them and chat with my aunt and uncle a bit as well.  Then to finish off the night (well, it was night for them) the third sister-cousin came home and I got to skype with her as well!  Even though the connection wasn't always that great and their beautiful faces were often pixel-y it was so great to chat with everyone while actually seeing them.

I caught the end of this sermon from Pastor Greg Laurie on my walk to volleyball the other night and really enjoyed it; he made some great correlations between the Gift of Christmas and the Gift of Salvation.  I just downloaded it so I can listen to the whole thing...  I guess that's all for now, I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and that those predicted snow flurries do indeed happen for you all.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Slacking again...

I'm sitting in reception with the A/C on and listening to Christmas music, trying to get in the "Christmas Spirit" but it just doesn't feel like Christmas.  Not sure if it's because I'm not with my family, or because it's so hot outside, or maybe a bit of both.  I'm actually glad it doesn't feel like Christmas because then I won't feel like I'm missing out on something; I can just pretend it's just another day of the week.  I think I'm going to dinner with Caterina and Roberto at Simona & Simone's house for Christmas Eve.  Shane and Michael (here at my hostel) are planning on cooking some sort of Christmas lunch so I told them I'd chip in and have a little celebration with them as well.
**I do not hold the rights to the koala photo**

It's been a busy week, so once again I've been a bit slack with my blogging.  I'm still opening cards every day and am loving all the notes everyone has sent. Plus, I got a surprise book in the mail and a snowflake too! Of course, I'm still going to volleyball every night - I just love it and that's probably what I'm going to miss the most when I go home.  The people I've met while playing, and the actual playing of volleyball itself.  It's so difficult to describe, but maybe it's just because I never played any team sports in highschool, so it's a new thing for me.  There's such a large group of us that play on a regular basis it would take too long to try to name everyone, but I love that no matter what night I show up people will be there.  You don't always know who it will be, but by now I always know at least half of them.  I don't actually know many of them very well, mostly just know people's names and maybe what country they hail from, but we still have tons of fun.

Anyway, we had another BBQ on Tuesday night (some of you may have seen the photos on Facebook) and it was great.  We all ate way too much food, Caterina, Pukari, and I decided to buy everything and just have everyone throw in a few dollars, but we bought too much meat.  Pukari must love his parties because he brought panettone (Italian Christmas bread) and little party-popper/bon-bon gift things for everyone as well.  A few of us had Christmas hats and we even had a nice red tablecloth thanks to Caterina.  The only thing we were missing was Christmas music!  There were ten of us in total, and after eating we all headed to the volleyball courts.  It was definitely a bit uncomfortable to play after eating so much food, so Caterina and I decided to join the court with a bunch of the young PNG kids (instead of joining the "elite" court - we just weren't up for it).  We had so much bread left over from the BBQ that I decided I'd just turn it into french toast and we'd do breakfast on Friday morning: easier to make than pancakes anyway.  It ended up only being Jordan, Pukari, Stefan, Louis, and I - Emma and Caterina both had to work, Rita and Shinobu never replied to the FB invite and Rith wasn't sure he'd be up in time....some people just aren't morning people.  I'm just glad that despite not actually having my own place I'm still free to host things at my hostel.

 On Tuesday and Thursday I had my last classes at Nova.  I only had one student this week, Fumiko, and she is a gem.  Her English is excellent and she has done a fair bit of traveling herself, but this is the first time she's ever traveled on her own.  She's in her early thirty's and lives in a suburb of Tokyo and works at a bank.  Apparently Australia and Japan are the two extremes in terms of vacation time in First-World countries.  In Australia, even if you are only are a part-time employee you automatically get 4 weeks of vacation a year, that's the minimum.  In Japan you can get 1 week after 5 years, or maybe it was 2 weeks after 10 years.  It was crazy either way.  I went back on Friday afternoon for the graduation ceremony and Shoko got me some Snowball chocolates, because I'm missing the cold & snow back home, and some Japanese snacks (she knows I'm traveling and any other type of gift I'd have to carry around with me) as a thank you/Christmas gift.

After the ceremony we all headed to Rusty's Market to show Fumiko around and buy some fresh fruits.  While there I got a message from Caterina asking if I'd heard the news.  Shoko had heard something in the elevator a few hours earlier about something in regards to some kids in Mooroobool (a suburb of Cairns), but when we googled it we couldn't find anything.  On our walk to the markets Anne had received a text from her mother saying, "Wow, what a nice neighborhood you live in" but she didn't know to what her mom was referring.  I asked Caterina what had happened and apparently 8 kids had been found, stabbed to death, in Manoora (another Cairns suburb).  Anne lives in that suburb and so does Simona & Simone.  I found at at volleyball last night that the kids were one of my volleyball friend's cousins.  Definitely put a damper on the day.  After the hostage situation in Sydney just a few days ago, this has been quite the week in Australia.  While we're a bit more desensitized to these things (it seems these things happen all the time in the U.S.), it's not near as common here in Australia; I chalk that up mostly to the difference in our populations, they just don't have as many people.  I was reading some blog posts from my pastor this morning and this excerpt was especially applicable to me:
This Christmas season, you can rest in the knowledge that God is still in control, still choreographing the events of history to bring Him the greatest glory. Nothing takes him by surprise. No act of terror catches him off guard. He is still as in control as He was when He sovereignly planned the birth of Christ. He knows the difficulties that you are facing even during this festive time of year. This Christmas season ought to fill our hearts with the assurance that God knows what he is doing and that he is worthy of all our trust. He sent his Son in the fullness of time.
I wish you all a fantastic Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Savior, and I hope you get to spend it with those you love.  And this Christmas, don't forget to TELL THEM you love them.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 291+

Friday night at volleyball was incredibly humid, you could just feel it.  I was rather tired from being out on the reef all day, and the humidity did not help. Everyone was rather lazy in their playing, no one wanted to expend too much energy because it was just too hot!  It did get a bit more bearable as the night wore on, so the level of play did increase a bit.  The humidity level was near 100% someone told me later on.  I'd seen that the forecast for the weekend was for a high of around 36C.  I didn't really know how hot that was, and had decided it must be around 90-92F because most times it's really the humidity that makes it unbearable.  While that may be true, I never should have looked it up; 36C is actually nearly 97F!!!  I know, I know, you all are suffering with below freezing temperatures so I shouldn't complain, but for someone who is always hot, this is a bit much.  I can't remember that last time I was so thankful for air conditioning!!! shift at the Casino last night was a bit nuts.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle with the seating plan, so we were still shuffling seats and rearranging tables as the guests were arriving.  It was a Christmas party for the local karate club, so there were lots of kids; by the end of the night they were all running around like wild animals.  It was a bit of a challenge to navigate your way through the room and arrive unscathed at the kitchen with your tray full of dirty dishes.  For the most part though I was pleasantly surprised by how well behaved they all were.  The ones at my tables were extremely polite, so for that I was thankful.  I had told my manager for the night, Scott, that I needed to be done at midnight because I had to work this morning, but the manager in charge always seems to disappear after dinner and you're lucky to see them again.  It was midnight and I was trying to debate if I should search for Scott or just go with it.  The trouble being that sometimes the set up for the next event isn't over until 2am or later!  My tables were all cleared and they sent me to help polish silverware; rather tedious as there is so much of it, but at least I got to sit down for a bit.  By the time we were done the rest of the team had the tables already set up for the next function and all we had left to do was put out all the plates, cutlery, and glasses.  We were able to do that rather quickly and at 12:30am Tim (the other events manager - he was my manager last time I worked there) said we were done!  It was a long day to be sure, but I could use some cash to fund the rest of my travels around Australia, so I'm just taking what I can get.  There's a huge Christmas Carol concert at the park tonight, so I might join Pukari and Caterina for that.  My church is having one as well, and I was going to go to that, but I think it will be more fun with friends...

Some Frangipani flowers I found on my walk to volleyball

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Birthday Down Under

For my 24th birthday I headed to Panama with my sister to learn how to surf, for my 25th birthday I bought a ticket to Australia for a one-year working-holiday, and for my 26th birthday I went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef!  Maybe I should head to Switzerland next year and learn how to ski or something...

It was a really nice birthday, and I can't thank everyone enough for making it special.  Louis had bought me a cheesecake and we celebrated at 12:05am and he even got me some small gifts.
Raspberry Cheesecake - we had trouble keeping
the candles lit because it was so windy....
 My phone's vibrations woke me up at 6:30am with a birthday text from someone I don't know.  I still don't know who sent the text, it was an Australian number and was signed "Best Wishes, Nana", but I don't know anyone named Nana.  I eventually rolled out of bed, I had to teach at Nova so I couldn't sleep in anyway.  My awesome cousin included several birthday cards in her package of "25 Days of Christmas Greetings" so I had plenty of cards to open.  My mom sent a box full of cookies and things a few weeks ago, so I was able to enjoy some of the Nutella (yes, it is a minor miracle that I still have some left). After teaching Chiho in the morning I headed to the library to catch up on emails and blogging.   Alicia called me on my way home from the library and said she wanted to take me out to dinner, so we got to catch up over some delicious Korean food.  Agatha was in Sydney and she didn't want to eat dinner alone, so it worked out perfectly. She had to go home earlier than anticipated, but that was fine, I just headed to volleyball!!  When I checked my phone on the way home from volleyball Emma had texted telling me to stop by on my way home.  She not only had a card for me, she had made me tiramisu!!!
 Other than the birthday cards I received, the events (and gifts) of the day were a surprise, and pleasant ones at that. God has definitely blessed me with some really awesome friends here in Australia.

Yesterday (Friday), I did a famil tour with Quicksilver to the Agincourt Reef (a ribbon reef that runs parallel to the Continental Shelf).  This one was a real famil tour, in the sense that we had two of the sales reps with us all day showing us around and explaining things.  The cruise actually departed from Port Douglas so I drove up with Nat, the Quicksilver agent, and it's such a lovely drive up there.  There were 6 of us total, 4 agents and 2 sales reps and we all got along great and had an awesome day.  It was a lot of fun and I got to finally go scuba diving (third time's the charm, right?)!!!  My ears are still popping a bit today, but I managed to make it the whole way down and it was such a relief to finally be able to cross that off my list.  It was really cool, and a nice birthday gift (even though they didn't know it).   On the semi-sub tour we got to see a reef shark, so now I just need to see a sea turtle!  Well, I just got a text asking me to work tonight, so it looks like it will be a busy weekend!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Storms, Volleyball, & BBQ

Ay, ay, ay... I haven't blogged much recently, I just don't always have the time to sit down and think about what to share.  It's been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster the last few days, but hopefully things will be a bit more even-keeled now.  I survived my first storm in Cairns.  It had been overcast all day on Saturday and threatening to rain.  It was still dark and the clouds did look rather menacing by the time I was heading to volleyball, but since it hadn't rained all day and I had nothing better to do I decided to take my chances.  Besides, maybe playing in the rain would be preferable to playing in the heat & humidity.  Due to the ominous clouds there weren't many people there, but we had just enough for a game of 6-on-6.  The clouds kept getting darker and covering more of the sky and eventually it started to lightning.  We played on, it wasn't even raining and there was no thunder.  Sadly, that didn't last long.  It soon started to sprinkle and I decided that since I had to walk so far to get back, and really would prefer to not get caught in a downpour, that I should leave.  I made it half-way and then the heavens opened up and gave me a shower.  I ended up running down the sidewalk in my bare feet holding my flip flops and phone.  Running didn't keep me any drier, but it did get me home faster.  It was a crazy storm and when I talked to Ruth at church Sunday night she said her brother's house had lost electricity for about 10 hours (which means no A/C!!!); and I saw in the paper that some trees had come down as well.

The next few nights at volleyball were packed, everyone was "fighting" to get on the court.  You don't usually have to wait too long to get in on a game and most everyone abides by the rules and waits their turn, but with so many people and only three courts there was definitely some tension. On Monday night it was so incredibly hot & humid, I can't even remember the last time I was sweating so much.  I had played until the lights went off and was sitting on the steps drinking some water and cooling down a bit before heading home, when Louis said, "Don't you have to work tomorrow?" It had totally slipped my mind...  All the fighting to get on a court and then trying to win so you didn't have to get off the court seemed to take precedent.  Caterina, Pukari, and I decided that we should plan a BBQ on Tuesday night and then go to volleyball afterwards (most of our mutual friends are all from volleyball anyway).  In the end Pukari couldn't make it, but Cat and I were able to save our spot at the BBQ area right next to the volleyball courts, so we got to chat while we waited for everyone else to show up.  Emma and Shinobou came (they came to the Pancake Palooza I hosted), along with Jordan, Max, Rith, Louis, and Neils.  It was actually a lot of fun - the only people I didn't know that well were Max, Shinobou, and Neils; but I've played volleyball with Max and Neils many times before so it wasn't a big deal.  Once we were done eating and had cleaned up we all headed to the courts.  There were lots of people already playing, but since we had enough people to make our own team it wasn't too bad.  We might do another BBQ again next week, or just before Christmas, and hopefully Pukari can make it this time.

My student this week was from a suburb of Tokyo and I ended up getting three days of teaching instead of just two.  Romey was busy with her photography business and asked if I would like to take one of her days.  Since Chiho left early on Tuesday because she was sick, and then cancelled the last lesson today because of a tour she'd booked it worked out perfectly because I ended up getting almost exactly the same number of hours I should have originally had teaching on just Tuesday and Wednesday.  I don't know if that makes sense or not, but I'm just glad I got some hours. Yesterday I took her to the Wildlife Dome and we got to see Goliath up close.
  She got to cuddle a koala and see lots of birds and ducks, so it was a good afternoon.  Today was also the last time I'll see Rei (my student from 2 weeks ago).  She leaves this weekend after being here for a month; she has been doing one-on-one lessons with Anne all week.  I also realized that next week will be my last week at Nova because we don't have any students in-between Christmas and New Years...

Oh, and in other news, I found someone to travel with me!!!  Rith is a Melbourne native and he's heading back home this weekend.  He heard that I was traveling to Melbourne and Tasmania and said he would love to visit Tasmania, but didn't want to do it by himself.  I told him he was more than welcome to tag along, it's always more fun to travel with someone else.  Plus, despite living in Melbourne his whole life he hasn't really done any of the touristy things.  He has a car there and he said he'd be more than happy to do the Great Ocean Road highlights and maybe visit the Mornington Peninsula as well.  He said I can pretty much plan anything I want for Tasmania, he doesn't like to plan.  Kaylee & Ben, and Tom (other friends from volleyball) recently moved down there as well, so maybe we'll meet up with them and play some volleyball!  I was really dreading moving on from Cairns (even though I am definitely up for some different weather), and was incredibly tempted to just stay here until my visa expires.  Talking with Stephanie at volleyball last night she said something about how us regulars are like a little family and the new people have to pay their dues before they can be included.  I guess I've paid my dues by showing up nearly every day for the last five months, getting hit in the face, and putting up with everyone's teasing.  But she's right, if you come consistently and are a nice person, the regulars will include you into their group and help you play better.  While making popcorn the other night Matthew (poor guy was trying to clean the kitchen and I was in the way) asked me if I knew a guy named Jason from volleyball.  Matt just got a job at a mechanics shop and it seems Jason had come in to get some work done on his car and as a courtesy they were taking him home, but he asked them to drop him off near volleyball since that's where he was headed.  Matt knows I'm there nearly every night so he asked if Jason knew me.  It seems that almost every person I know in Cairns is from volleyball, or that's how we first met.  Anyway, Rith wanting to travel is a nice surprise and will hopefully make January not seem so depressing (since even though I'll be leaving everyone behind, I won't be traveling on my own just yet).

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Truth Hurts

Don't you just hate it when someone tells you something about yourself that you'd really prefer to think is untrue, but, after thoughtful consideration, you realize is actually quite true?  That was my experience last night, when in a conversation with Louis he told me he thinks I can be rather selfish, even though I'm a passive person.  Of course my first instinct was to protest, but I held my tongue and heard him out.  Sure, it sort of stung to hear that, but one of the maxims from work that they drilled into us was, "welcome criticism, and accept praise." Sadly, he didn't elaborate too much on the topic, so I was left on my own to ponder if it was true, and to try to determine what exactly had prompted him to say it.  How had I been selfish, when, was it really true?  If it is true, how can I change?  As an over-analyzer I probably gave some of the questions too much thought and other questions not enough.  For the last nine months it's been just me.  Aside from the normal social conventions and politeness, I only had to think of myself.  And even before moving here, I mostly had to just think about myself - I guess that's what comes from being single, I don't know.  How often do I actually put myself in the other person's shoes and try to think of things from their side before I decide something.  Often times even when I'm thinking of how another person might think or react to something it's ultimately so I can attempt to prepare myself for an appropriate response or reaction.  How sad that even when almost being selfless it still comes around to being about me!!  Unfortunately, googling "how to be less selfish" didn't immediately result in some easy answers.    But as in life, I guess it's a journey; one step at a time.  I guess it was rather appropriate timing, since it's now the Christmas season, the season for giving (and not being selfish).....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Since I had to cancel my shift Saturday night due to being sick, God graciously sent me a cleaning shift early Monday morning.  I had just woken up and was texting my Mom to say that I could call whenever they were free (Monday mornings are my usual time to call home) when I got a text asking if I could pick up a cleaning shift.  Since I was hired to do Food & Beverage work it was a bit of a surprise, but I'm perfectly capable of cleaning, so after some preliminary questions I said I'd take it.  I didn't have much time to get ready and be on time for the shift though, so sadly I had to cancel our weekly phone call.  The Cairns Convention Centre is the home of the Taipans (basketball team) and we were cleaning up from the game they'd had the night before.  The crazy thing is that the whole place is carpeted.  Yep, not just the "corporate seats" on the bottom tier next to the court, but the whole way to the nosebleed section.  Tons of food crumbs, spilled popcorn, etc.  So, we spent the first 4 hours with these backpack vacuums just sweeping the place from top to bottom.  Technically easy work, but since I'm not very big the vacuum started feeling heavy rather quickly.  In addition, it's easiest to see where you need to sweep if you stand in the bottom row and clean the row above.  The only problem with that is that I'm short and it was definitely a stretch for me to reach up and flip down all the seats to check for stuck food.  Oh, well... After we finished sweeping I was given a bottle of carpet cleaner and a little brush and told to go back through and scrub out all the stains (thankfully there weren't too many big, bad stains).  Once we'd done that we went back through and had to sweep up what we scrubbed out.  Like I said, not difficult work, but very tedious.  I was definitely a bit weary by the end of that 6 hour shift, but it pays the bills. 

Louis had the night off, so after a quick shower he and I headed back to his place and made steaks for dinner (he thinks I don't get enough iron and that's why I got sick the other day - not sure how he came up with that, but he decided I needed to eat more red meat).  Monday nights are usually volleyball nights, but I just didn't have the energy.  After dinner we finished watching "The Holiday" and then watched "Music & Lyrics".  I want to see if I can find White Christmas so we can watch that - he's never seen it and it's just not Christmas until you've watched that movie, at least for me anyway.  Oh, and I finally got to meet his sister, officially.  We'd stopped by to see her at the Night Markets once before, but she was on the phone the whole time so we just sorta waved and left.  Since she works at night she's always been gone by the time we arrive and I'm gone by the time they get home.  She took a few days off so I we were able to be introduced.  She's beautiful and super sweet; and in addition to speaking English, she's also fluent in Japanese!  He's the baby of the family, and she's the next oldest sister, and there are two sisters older than her.  Louis works with her husband at the RSL Club (sort of like the American Legion), but I've never met him either.  You can definitely tell, based on their interactions, that she's the older sister...which of course made me miss my little brother.  

Not sure if I'll get any shifts from the temp agency this weekend, but I have two days of teaching next week, so I'm at least guaranteed some money.  Oh, and I'm now on Day 3 of my 25 Days of Christmas Greetings (my cousin got a bunch of people to write me cards and letters, at least one for every day in December before Christmas) and I'm loving it.  The first day I got a photo, the second day a card and a home-made Christmas scene, and then today I got a cool story written by my little brother, based on movie quotes - it was very entertaining.  I hope you all are having a good week - it's Hump Day!!