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.

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