Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Help Comes From The Lord

Hey Guys.  We're back with another update.

Things have been going well here in Geraldton... After about 2 and half months of being here, this place seems more real and we have settled into a regular weekly schedule of work, basketball, hanging with some new friends, and going to church. 

I (Ryan) have settled into working 3 days a week with Market Creations, 3 nights of practice a week with the team and using my days off to go to schools and do basketball clinics with kids.  Last Wednesday I had the chance to go to a primary school here and do about 30 minutes with each grade of some basketball skills.  I will be going back the next two Wednesdays to do the same.  I really like being able to break up my work schedule with these days.  They are simple and keep me busy doing what I love while hopefully making a good impact on the kids in the community here.

Although the team suffered a tough loss this past weekend, we have been doing well and currently hold 3rd place in the league.  Our new website also launched this weekend, so make sure you check it out.  It is a good resource to see how the team is doing and it is updated with news articles and current stats and all that jazz!

Stacy has also settled into a good work schedule working about 5 days a week.  Her boss has been really flexible with her and she was able to make her second trip to Perth two weekends ago to see us play a double header.  She travelled with Mel Witts, a wife of another player on the team and they have really hit it off.  They are really similar (she is a believer and an athlete) and they really enjoy each other’s company, so praise the Lord for that!  Stacy also starts her netball season this Friday night.  She has been enjoying learning a completely new game and is excited to take a crack at a real game this Friday night.  Usually someone with her height would play goal keeper of goal shooter (which means she would either have to stay on defence the whole game or on offense the whole game), but because she is such a good athlete and they think she can run for days, they are going to player her at center, which means she gets to run all over the court and be a passer.  HMMMM....interesting game. Haha.

We also have decided to settle at Geraldton Baptist Church.  It’s a small church but its where we feel most comfortable with the worship style and theology.  We hope to get involved in the youth group as they are currently looking for some leaders in that area.  Be in prayer for that church.

As we say in every blog we write, we really miss you guys.  The Lord has really been teaching us that the void we feel without all of you here with us needs to be filled with Him.  We pray every day for His strength to help us through the day without missing you guys too much.  So just so you know... you’re constantly in our thoughts.  We hate having to miss special moments like Brett (my Brother) and Jen Dickson’s graduation from Master’s coming up in a few weeks or weddings we have missed and other things, but we know that the Lord has placed us here at this time for a reason (we are also enjoying ourselves, don’t get me wrong J).

A verse that has really helped us is one that I stumbled upon when reading my devotions one morning.

2 Chronicles 16:9 – “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Even though we are a half a world away, the Lord’s presence is here just as much as anywhere and we have been experiencing His help and strength each day. Amazing how real He can be in our lives when we rely completely on Him.

Thanks for your prayers and thoughts!

P.S. – We are trying to get more pictures up of Geraldton and Perth but we are struggling getting them to work.  We will keep working on them, keep checking back to see if we are able to get them up!  Maybe I’ll try and get some footage of Stacy playing netball and get it up on here soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Glimpse of Heaven

Can you believe that we have been here two months already? Yes, it's true:) Each week seems to be going faster than the one before. Ryan and I have hardly had a chance to relax with all the excitement that has been going on the last two weeks. We are continuing to enjoy our time here and we are so thankful that God brought us to this place. Easter weekend we were reminded of the true reason why we are here in Australia. Ryan and I were able to spend a long weekend in Perth for Easter. I was able to ride on the four hour bus trip with the basketball team and see the guys play two games; one Friday night and one Saturday night. Friday night didn't go as expected and the Buccaneers lost, but Saturday was an exciting game. The Buccs were down by 5-10 points the whole game until the last few minutes. The player you would least expect to take the last shot of the game hit a buzzer beater to win the game. His previous nickname was "Bubbles" but he is now known as "Big Shot Bubbles." The team was ecstatic as well as the fans:) 

Sunday morning the team planned to drive back to Geraldton and Ryan and I decided to stay until Monday since it was my first time experiencing Perth. 

Just to give a little background first.....Last week Ryan's team played the top team in the league from Perth and lost but after the game he was able to meet an opposing player that was involved with Athletes in Action, a Christian basketball organization that plays other teams around the world and shares the Gospel. Because Ryan had connections with Athletes in Action he knew that there were several players in the league involved with AIA. After talking with Ben and telling him we were traveling down to Perth Easter weekend, he exchanged phone numbers and invited us to his church the next weekend. 

....All that to say Ryan and I were able to go to church on Sunday morning for Easter. The sermon that morning was titled "A Glimpse of Heaven."  Ryan and I experienced a glimpse of Heaven this Easter weekend and we became overwhelmed with joy. We are literally halfway around the world and didn't know anyone to begin with. There are times we feel very much on our own and overwhelmed without the friendships of believers. But when you meet a complete stranger that is a believer you have a special bond with that person that you can't have with unbelievers. We shared a common ground with Ben and his church. We were worshipping the same God.  I saw this as a glimpse of heaven. Someday when we get to heaven we will be with believers all over the world worshipping the same God. There may be different styles of worship and different languages we worship in, but we are all worshipping the same God. This was a comforting reminder for Ryan and I and it immediately made us feel right at home at the moment we felt most homesick. The rest of the Sunday Ben and John (another AIA player in the league) carted us around Perth and Fremantle showing us all the great sights. They even took us to their host families for lunch and dinner. Ryan and I were able to experience a real Australian roast! Veggies, fried pumpkin and potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce, and meet; either chicken or lamb. Lamb is the traditional Australian roast. All I can say is YUM!

We stayed till Monday morning and left to go back home with Ryan's teammate and girlfriend, who stayed till Monday as well because their families live in Perth. Like I said before the drive to and from Geraldton is a four hour drive so we had a lot of time to chit chat. We talked mostly of basketball, but for the last hour of the trip Ryan and I were able to share our faith. That hour in the car God really reminded Ryan and I of the reason we are here. Yes, Ryan is playing basketball as his career here, but it is a means to further God's kingdom. Australia was the last place Ryan and I expected to be, but now we know exactly why we are here at this place, at this time in our lives. It started putting things in perspective for us. The week before Ryan and I began to feel like we were passing up great opportunities to share the Gospel. They were doors that God kept opening but because at that moment our minds weren't Christ-focused we let those perfect moments pass us by. Thankfully God gave us another chance and gave us the boldness to speak!

Our time in Perth and Fremantle was amazing. We saw some many great sights and we took lots of pictures as well. This weekend we will put pictures of our trip up there so you can have a little taste of what it is like. If we were to compare Perth to a city in America, I think Ryan and I would say it is very similar to San Diego.
Anyways, I hope you all are doing well. We'd love to hear from you so here is our email address if you don't have it:
Although we love it here and we are enjoying our time, we do miss home and we miss seeing our friends and families! Can't wait to see you guys again!

Love Stacy