October 21, 2012
You know you are a missionary couple serving in the Chinese Branch in Melbourne, Australia, because….
For excitement, you play “chicken” with the crowds on the sidewalk to see who moves first to let the other pass…..Saturday feels different from the other days in the week, because you go to the Farmer’s Market for produce and wear a more casual coat to go to the city…….You look forward to Monday, because maybe you can get a ride to Costco……For an evening diversion, you read all the flyers and junk mail that comes……Your credit card bills top out at over $5000 the first month you are on your mission……You get an early viewing of conference on an IPad, watching it with a Chinese girl…….Conference is broadcast a week late in Mandarin and is translated into Cantonese, Vietnamese, and thankfully English, all in the same building…..In order to watch the big screen in English, you ride bikes 4 miles to the stake center, falling against a fence on the way, resulting in a small bloody cut that necessitates spending $10 to get one pair of pants dry cleaned.
A drunk spends the night sleeping on your parkstrip; you make sure he’s alive and walk around him to go to the market…..An electrician comes to change yet another light bulb instead of replacing the faulty fixture, and the bulb works a week before sparking out and blowing a fuse…..The TV channel selector doesn’t work, so you only can watch one snowy channel…..Instead of having 6 kids who reluctantly help with technology related questions/problems, you have 22 missionaries who are happy to get their hands on your IPAD or computer for whatever reason….. You can’t use your computer or IPAD, because the settings have been changed to Chinese or Vietnamese, and you don’t know how to set them back….You walk a block and pay a seamstress $10.00 to sew up a 16 inch split seam in the butt of the pants of a very large Tongan missionary, while providing him with a white baptism towel so he can continue teaching an investigator….For a night out at the movies, you see Madagascar 3 because it is the only one with an appropriate rating….You pay $25 for a hair cut, and it’s so bad, the members wonder if you cut your own hair (Max)…..You ride a train, bus, two trams, and walk over a mile to buy three 1# cans of Crisco at a USA food store, so you can make Halloween sugar cookies, then realize you don’t have a rolling pin when you have time to make the cookies. (It seems vegetable shortening doesn’t exist here. I refuse to use lard!)
You know it’s a warm day, because the people you are smooshed against on the tram have bad BO……Ladies on the tram who are all decked out in hats and heels are headed for the horse races, while you are headed for a baptism….An early morning run takes you by Maseriti, Lamborghini, and Ferrari luxury car dealerships, to name a few, but you haven’t seen the front seat of a car since leaving the USA….a huge department store in downtown Melbourne devotes an entire huge floor to cosmetic counters….you spend $75 for a stock pot large enough to make food for all the activities and walk through pouring rain to get on a tram stop to get it home....After 11 weeks, the Chinese students don’t all look the same….There are as many “ups” as “downs”….You realize that President Uchdorf’s statement “lift where you stand” applies to us all, regardless of where and what we are doing.
Australian money is like using play money. The smallest coin is a $2 coin, and they don't have a penny. Other coins are $1, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, and 5 cents. In stores, they round up or down if the cost ends in $1.99. Occasionally someone slips us a foreign coin, and we can't use those. Stuff costs a lot more than in US, but we are becoming more accustomed to the high prices. We are happy to buy diet coke 2/$5.00.
The Yarra River Trail goes for miles and miles and miles. This is the trail we took to ride our bikes to Conference, and I've pounded out a quite a few miles running. Many people ride bikes on this trail from the suburbs into the city, and it is a crowded trail on Sunday afternoons. The river is pretty lazy and muddy. I've seen lots of university skulling teams practicing on the river. Coaches ride behind them in a small motor boat or ride bikes along the side of the river, yelling instructions to the athletes.
We hope to rent kayaks some sunny day and spend some time on the river.