Greetings from Australia

Australia - 26.7.2018 21:34

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Well actually we are already in Hawaii, but we have had too much fun to have the time to write. Now we are waiting for our flight from Honolulu to Maui so I’ll catch up with what’s been happening lately.

We had a wonderful time in Australia! It was just six days, but we loved it there in Down Under. It was their winter, but it doesn’t really look like winter when you talk about it with Finnish people. The weather was sunny and clear, around 20 degrees, except at the Blue Mountains where it was around 10 degrees, during the day. Nights were cold.

We stayed with my cousins in Sydney, and they made sure we had a great time, food and everything we wanted. They let us use their car to visit my friend Uncle-Peter (Piggy) in Katoomba, at the mountains. On our way we stopped at Featherdale wildlife park where we could feed kangaroos and pat koalas. I had already spent nine months in Australia in 2009 so I had seen many things before but for Deborah it was all wonderful and new! And she really didn’t want to leave Oz without seeing the iconic animals. A picture with a koala was high on the bucket list. And they had many koalas in the park, although they were all asleep. We found out that they sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day, and are most active during the night. So chances of having a nice picture with the fluffy package were slim. We did get (pay) a nice picture even though our friend was asleep. The roos instead were wide awake hopping around.

Lots of memories came back as I entered Peter’s home where I once stayed for a month. The garden was as wild as before, and the gardener hadn’t changed either. Happy as always. He showed us around his most inspirational spots: the three sisters and the anonymous cafe. In return I showed him around my secret lookout near the farm where I worked, and the Hargraves lookout over the Megalong valley. In return he explained us what Megalong meant. Apparently it’s not really megalong, it’s just an aboriginal word. We learned a lot of other history as well on that day. The day ended splendidly in Leura, where Uncle Piggy took us to an exquisite restaurant for dinner. Well done, mate!

The next day we went touring around Sydney with my aunt. We crossed the iconic Harbour bridge and learned about it in one of the pylons that held a museum about the bridge inside. On top of the pylon there is a great viewpoint looking at the bridge, the Opera house, and the city. That is well worth the visit, and I hadn’t done it before.

Sydney is a beautiful city, and the harbour area with the bridge and opera house look so good. Also, the sky is most often blue, sun is shining and making people smile. Besides, the harbour area has so many bays and nice gardens. We took a ferry from the harbour to Manly, which is by the sea. It’s a nice area with beautiful beaches. We hiked around it, altogether some 16km before going back to the city to eat with my uncle Rade. He had reserved a table in a really nice restaurant for us at revolving O bar overlooking the city. Second night in a row we were treated like royals.

Saturday we slept in a bit, had another great breakfast with pancakes, and then went out with my aunt and uncle. They showed us around the southern side of Sydney. We went to visit the Gap which is notorious for suicides. But it’s a beautiful place actually. We continued to the famous Bondi beach where there is always a lot of people surfing, swimming and exercising. Even some were sun bathing! I went in the cool and clear sea to hit the waves, which is so much fun. But I couldn’t stay too long otherwise I would have turned blue. But it was definitely warmer water than in Hammerfest!

We walked from Bondi to Bronte along the coast and then to another beach (there are so many!) for tasty fish and chips. It looks like life there is good. In some ways it reminds me of Switzerland. It doesn’t have the mountains but it has the beaches and the sea. Both countries enjoy a good wine culture. People look good and relaxed. Lots of young families playing with their kids outside.

That evening we went to an evening service at Hillsong city church. The sermon by Joel A’bell was really a challenging one, about Him increasing in us, and us decreasing. Very good. We met a Finnish guy, Oskari, who had come there to a bible college and ended up staying and is now one of the youth pastors! He and his wife were excited about the Hillsong conference that had just ended a week ago. Would be excellent to get a chance to join some year!

After the church service we went to have dinner in Newtown, which is a very busy bar and restaurant district. We must have looked for parking for 20 minutes! After dinner we went to a restaurant called “The Last Course”. It was a dessert restaurant serving delicious last courses. A nice concept, I don’t know why it isn’t more popular.

On Sunday we drove down to Wollongong, about 1hr south of Sydney. We met there with the Forrests, whom we had met about a year ago in Switzerland when they were returning from their mission at MercyShips. My wife got to know them when they were serving together in Madagascar. They are a lovely family. The father, Dave, showed me his woodwork and I got him excited about making a “kuksa”, which is a carved wooden cup used by hikers in Finland. The Forrests took us to a wonderful picnic by the sea and up a hill for great views of the coast. In the water we saw many surfers and also dolphins. Dave is involved in a very inspiring ministry mentoring men about fatherhood. It’s a new ministry, which has had a very positive reception. I hope this kind ministry would go across the Australian borders to all around the world.

That Sunday evening we still made it to the evening service at the main Hillsong campus at Hills. It was another kind of church experience! Hillsong has 88 services in a week in Australia. This particular building held about 3,500 people and they have 4 services there on a Sunday. It’s amazing how many people have been reached through this church, which has become global. They sell so many CDs across the world every year that they keep getting the Australian grammy awards for their records sales, which are the best of any Australian band. But it’s more than just good music.

After the church we had a delicious farewell barbecue dinner with my family at their place, and even enjoyed a sauna and some local craft ciders from the Blue Mountains. Our visit to Australia was a very joyful one and we would have loved to stay longer. There were still people and many places we didn’t have time to see, that’ll be next time.

Family dinner with Kikka, Zac and Rade Feeding the friendly roos  Koala Scenery at Blue Mountains Uncle-Piggy and his three sisters! Anonymous coffee in Blackheath with synonymous company A nice message from the chef at the Silk's of Leura  The Opera House Manly Australian coast line Sydney Sydney Harbour bridge Fancy dinner with aunt and uncle at O bar in Sydney  With Kikka and Rade at the gap Ocean pools at Bondi  At the Last Course restaurant in Newtown Picnic lunch with the Forrests in Wollongong    At Hillsong church

 

 

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