G'day everyone!
 
Em and I are just in the process of wrapping up the paperwork of helping run a 6 month Discipleship Training School based in Townsville, before driving back to Mum and Dads for Chrissy. A bonkers 6 months of people 7 to 71 years old pushing the limits of what they thought they ever would or could do.
 
 
Em and I draw much life from the field assignments, or 'outreach' componants of the school. In this phase lecture topics and lessons are put into practical actions for 9 weeks. During this time the students...and Em's and my character and faith are tested and purified while learning to love, serve, build up those around us, not to mention having a blast while doing it =D

 
 
We are back up in Townsville late January to start another chapter of our journey in Northern Australia. We love you all.

Isaac
 
Me and Isaac do work a lot and some weeks are really busy. Weekends aren’t always days off and sometimes you get called at odd hours to fix things. So you have to make sure to set some time aside to do fun things as well. Something that is on my top list of favourite things to do is hiking, or bush walking as most people call it here. If I could, I would hike every trail there is in the world. Isaac probably isn’t as keen, but he’s also really enjoyed exploring with me (and I’m very grateful he has been). We’ve found some truly amazing places around Townsville and I already want to go back to some of them again.

One of these places is Alligator Creek, just half an hour south of Townsville. The name doesn’t sound very charming, but this place has nothing to do with alligators (since there are no alligators on the whole continent of Australia) and we also haven’t heard of any crocodiles in the area. It’s a beautiful creek that I would love to come back to and swim in. Clear waters and all those fish that I have no idea what they’re called (I know one of them is jungle perch).
 From Alligator Creek a 2.5 hour trail begins that takes you up to Alligator Falls, a series of cascades and falls down the cliffs. It doesn’t look like what I’m used to for waterfalls, but it’s still very beautiful (with another great swimming spot at the bottom).
 
I read up a bit about the trail beforehand and saw that we were meant to do 4 “creek crossings” on our way to the falls. I thought I was used to creek crossings from the creeks up in the north of Sweden. Ankle- or knee-deep water. Again, I realised that some things Australia defines differently from how I define it. Our “creek” was waist-deep in one of the crossings, which was quite amusing.

One of the reasons why this surprised me so much is that Townsville is in fact in a kind of drought at the moment. Since we live in the dry tropics, we don’t have the privilege of having four seasons, but instead have about 2 ½. In dry season, and in the pre-wet season, which is around the same time as the rest of Australia has winter, it doesn’t rain much at all and a lot of the creeks dry up. In wet season, which would be the Australian summer (and Swedish winter), it’s extremely hot and humid with a lot of heavy rainfall. The problem now has just been that the last few wet seasons haven’t really been wet seasons at all. They’ve just been very humid dry seasons, from what others have told us (we haven’t been here for a wet season yet).


This graph shows the water levels in Ross River Dam, which is Townsville’s main water supply. If you’re good at reading graphs, you’ve probably already figured out what it’s telling you. The maroon (dark red) line at the very bottom is the water level 2016. As you can tell, it’s much lower than the previous years. In fact, the dam is down to 19%, and until the next wet season begins, much rain isn’t really predicted.

So because of the limited water supply, Townsville is now on level 3 water restrictions (of 4 in total). This hasn’t had any huge implications on our lives yet, and isn’t really an emergency so far. What it means is that we can’t water our gardens with anything except a hose 4 hours/week. More specific; 6-7 am on Sunday and Wednesday mornings and 6-7 pm at night on the same days. Me and Isaac volunteered for the Sunday morning shift, getting up just before dawn.

With all this said, there is no need to worry about the water levels yet, but it would be good to get some rain soon. It just makes the land come alive. Until then, me and Isaac will enjoy our early Sunday morning watering adventures. 

/Emilie

Sorry it has been a while since the last update. Em and I arrived here in a beautiful old car almost 8 weeks ago. After 2 weeks here I received the responsibility of managing one of the departments responsible for the logistic and operational side of the Townsville campus. Having never led a team in this sort of area or really worked in it, and having led relatively few teams in the past I did not know what I was getting into. 

 The process of learning that to lead is to serve has been very helpful. It sounds very simple but to walk this out is very difficult sometimes.  I am also learning that I must be willing to live at the standard I wish the team to live at, I have little authority to speak into someone else’s life otherwise, it just seems hypocritical. To be faithful with what God has given me definitely takes some effort, but I enjoy this immensely.

I have also begun to learn that we are part of a far far bigger team. Ships, Training, Communications, Maintenance, Leadership etc., all need Operations and together we form the Townsville base. We are no better than each other and need to be sharing resources, people, vision, wisdom and purpose to achieve goals.

On the campus (where Em and I reside currently), students and staff are trained in many aspects of life: spiritual, medical, finances, music, production, communication and the list goes on. A guess would be that there are over 160 people on site at the moment. The other arm the base here operates a medical ship which boards 100 people. It provides very practical, needed medical help as well as education to the people of Papua New Guinea.

But even on that scale we are just one small group out of the many God has called to serve in Papua New Guinea and Australia. I cannot see all at this scope, and not sure any one person can. But it is a beautiful privilege to see how many people’s lives are dramatically improved and finding purpose. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of it.

/Isaac