Saturday, June 15, 2013

Meet Jen

Hello, I'm Jen and this is my family.
We are serving the Lord in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Here is my introduction in case you missed it...
Hello, I'm Jen.  I'm a missionary wife and homeschooling mum living in the Northern Territory of Australia. I'm told we have 16 of the top 20 deadliest snakes in the world.  Our beaches are also filled with crocodiles and jellyfish.  Fun place to live!
We moved here in November of 2011, so we've been on the field for 18 months.  Some days it seems like we just got here, and other days I feel like I've been here forever!  We waited for over three years for our visas, so sometimes I still pinch myself to see if it's real!
I have a wonderful husband, who can do just about everything.  If a car is broken, he can fix it.  If you need a trailer, he will weld you one up in a couple day's time.  Need some electrical work done?  He's your man. He also plays the guitar and draws.  Seriously, I don't think there is anything he cannot do.
We have two kids - Autumn (10) and Cody (5).  We homeschool, and I really enjoy that.  I think we finally found our niche'. 
As for me, well, I play the piano (not well, mind you).  I love to take photos and scrapbook.  I am a homebody, so I prefer to stay home.  I enjoy cooking, and if you come visit, I'd be more than happy to cook you a kangaroo burger.
Now for you questions:
Sarah asked, "I would love to hear how you were drawn to Australia and more of what it is like where you live (some cultural differences, the spiritual climate, etc). Also, what encouraged you and what lessons did you learn from your long wait for visas? And, do you really eat kangaroo!?"

My husband felt the Lord calling him to Australia when he was six years old.  Yes, 6!  He was sitting in a chapel service at his Christian school listening to a missionary lady from Australia, and felt the Lord calling him.  When I met him in Bible college I knew that he wouldn't date anyone not interested in Australia.  We both prayed for God's will, and believed that it included each other.  During our survey trip to Australia, I knew this is where God wanted us, but I prayed and ask that He would give the calling to me as well, and not just my husband.  I clearly remember the night where God spoke to my heart while we were in Australia, and said "This is where I want you."  It was such a special moment between God and myself, one I will always treasure.
We learned so much during our 3 year visa wait.  I wrote a lot about it on my blog - Be Thou Exalted.  I claimed Isaiah 55:8-9, and just focused on the fact that in God's perfect timing He would open the doors.  God taught me the meaning of the verse in Psalm that says, "Be still and know that I am God."  Also, during those years we worked on Native American Reservations out west.  This was clearly of God, because our heart's desire to work with the Indigenous People of Australia (Aboriginals).  So what better preparation than to work with America's Indigenous People?! 
Australia is quite similar to America, but without the Christian heritage.  Most people don't have time for church, their weekends are for relaxing and spending time with their family.  Australia is just as diverse as America is.  You can't say churches in South Carolina are similar to churches in New England.  There are several large churches in Australia, but here in the Northern Territory, there are only 3 good churches in a 300km radius.  (There may be more, but this is all that I know of.)
And, yes we do eat kangaroo!  We probably eat chicken and beef more often though.  Kangaroo is sold in our grocery stores.  It's a very lean meat, and I often don't cook it well.  I'm still learning! 
Phyllis asked, "English-speaking country, similar people on the surface: what do you see as the biggest cultural difference between Australia and where you grew up? What do you love most about Australia?"
Our church on a Sunday morning.
We meet at the Charles Darwin University.  :)

Yes, they do speak English, but, wow, there are so many different words!  I often get teased for saying words that they have never heard of!  Just a quick example - gas = petrol, hood = bonnet, trunk = boot, fries = chips, mozzie = mosquito, sunnies = sunglasses, shrimp = prawns and so on.
For me, the biggest cultural differences between Australia and where I grew up would be how people dress for church.  I know this isn't a big deal, I am thankful they wear clothing, but I grew up where we dressed up for church, we looked our best.  Here it is just another day, another place.  People dress very casual here. 
As for what I love most, I would have to say the people and the slow paced life.  Although we can get very busy, people are very laid back here, and things move a little slower here.  This is one way the Indian Reservations helped prepare us.  We live in the Northern Territory (NT).  They say it stands for not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday.  They had a similar saying on the Reservations.  Native time (NT).
Ashley asked, "I'd love to hear how you live with the daily threat of dangerous animals around you all of the time. What does that look like practically and spiritually?

Also, the only Australia I really know about is the city life like in Sydney and Melbourne (haven't been there, but just have read and seen pictures). What is life like where you are? I know it must be quite different. What are the people and the culture like?"
I promise there is glass between them!
Although we live about 20 minutes from the ocean, we don't often go.  Why?  Jellyfish and crocodiles.  We were told when we first got here that if we went to the beach to take vinegar and a dog.  The vinegar was if we got stung by a jellyfish and the dog, well, it was for the crocodile.  During the dry season (May-September), it's a little safer to go to the beach, but if we do go, we just play in the sand.  Normally if there is a crocodile sighting, it will hit the news, and they will post signs.  As for the poisonous snakes, we do need to be careful, but I have not seen one.  My husband has found a few, but he avidly looks for them.  He is a snake lover!
Honestly, I don't worry too much about the deadly snakes or animals (well, except maybe our neighbour's dog!).  It could be because I don't see them often, but I would like to think it's because I have complete trust that the Lord will protect us.  If something does happen, it is because He has allowed it.
We live in Darwin.  It is the capital for the Northern Territory.  Sydney and Melbourne are much bigger cities.  Just as a comparison, Sydney has nearly 5 million people, and Darwin has nearly 130,000. 
Image showing Australia and the British Isles sizes compared
On a side note, Australia's population is estimated to be 23 million, and the US population is estimated to be 316 million.  The two countries are nearly the same size (minus Alaska).
As I mentioned before, Territory life is very laid back.  The people are very kind and easy going.  We have adjusted well, especially my husband.  He is very outdoorsy, he enjoys hiking, fishing, camping, etc.  This is the place for all that.  My kids have done well with the transition.  They do miss their family and friends back home, but have also made new friends here, and many are like family to us.  I do love my life here.  I cannot remember being more content.  Don't get me wrong, I miss my family like crazy and all the conveniences that America has to offer.  But there is something special about being exactly where God wants you to be.  I wouldn't change it for anything the world has to offer.

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