October 29, 2012
It is a beautiful Monday morning in Melbourne, and we are waiting for the zone leaders to pick us up and give us a ride to Costco. It takes a lot of food to make meals for 30 – 40 people three or four times a week, and we are always glad when we don’t have to buy everything at the local grocery stores and haul it home on foot.
We had a couple of great diversions last week. On Monday we rode the train 45 minutes or so to Brighton Beach, where we enjoyed collecting shells, filling our shoes with sand, and a eating a yummy burger from a dive near the beach. When the menu said “Burger with the Lot” we thought it would include fries. We were wrong. The “Lot” part meant beets, a fried egg, pineapple, cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, spinach, and what appeared to be a 3 ounce sausage patty. It was yummy and we hope one day to take our bikes on the train, ride along the beach, and eat at the dive again.
On Wednesday our friends from Packenham took us to Warburton, sort of a resort/old mining/country town along the Yarra River in the Donnabuang Mountains, 2 – 3 hours northeast of Melbourne. We hiked along the High Lead Walking Track, an old logging tramway through lush rainforest type vegetation. Robert warned us to watch out for snakes, as all snakes in Australia are supposedly poisonous. Well, a red-bellied black snake slithered across the trail in front of Max, causing him to jump and me to scream bloody murder. Robert is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Australia, and he pointed out wombat burrows and identified bird calls. We had a yummy dinner at an old hotel, and on the way home he pointed out an area of which he said he had painted a picture. He drove us home and to our amazement and surprise, presented us with a beautiful 24x36 inch canvas of the scene he had pointed out to us!
Probably the best part of the week was Sunday, when what used to seem like clamor and noise to us seemed normal, and we felt like a part of the branch. The Chinese teased us about 100…..no 1000 year old duck eggs they were cutting up to put in a soup, since it was “Soup Sunday.” I guess Chinese used to preserve the eggs in horse urine, but now use ammonia. Anyway, the eggs were black, smelly, and seemed like they belonged in a spook alley not in soup. Needless to say, neither of us ate any of the soup. Sunday we were invited to Tam’s flat for a surprise birthday celebration for Elder Lynguyen. Eight or 10 Vietnamese members and investigators were gathered in her small flat, and yummy food was prepared and consumed. Elder Lynguyen was surprised, because he thought they were coming to help Tam move. Even though Vietnamese was the language spoken, once again, we felt like we belonged. Marring the evening was a phone call to Elder Rigby that his grandfather had passed away that day. Earlier in the week, he received word that his grandmother had died, so it was a double whammy for him. The Spirit was so strong as, through his tears, he bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation in both English and Vietnamese.
We have been teaching English to a number of students, and basically teaching means asking them questions then correcting grammatical and pronunciation errors. It is fascinating to learn about Chinese customs, traditions, and what it was like to grow up in Communist China. We are very blessed to be citizens of the USA! In spite of tired feet and on-going frustrations with how long and or difficult it to accomplish what were quick, easy things at home, we are thankful for the spiritual and cultural experience into which we are immersed.