Wow! Ain’t this perfect? Waking up late on a Monday without the noise of construction going on from the other building beside ours is just THE life! Being used to a long Christmas break from where I’m from, I felt I’ve been deprived rest during the holidays since non-working days were limited to only the exact Christmas and New Year’s days here. But now… Australia Day!!! What an awesome time to reminisce the story of how I got here in the first place.
A few months back, I was only a bored employee who was desperate for an exciting change. Don’t get me wrong, ‘bored’ doesn’t mean I had all the time in the world with nothing to do. It was boring because almost all I did was work. I go home so late that brushing my teeth before going to bed is the only thing I could do by the time I reach home. A little after a year of marriage, my husband and I got our resident visas. Immediately, we started packing 20+ years of our lives into 80 kilos of luggage. It was easier said than done. We were surprised with how much things we’ve collected in a span of 1 year. We had to pack them all in boxes to be left with my parents’ with a promise to come back for them one day once we have finally ‘settled’ in. My husband and I gave our beloved cars each to our own moms. We put our apartment on the market for sale. With 80 kilos, we can only bring a number of clothes, a few pairs of shoes and some of the basics to the extent allowed by the Australian Border Protection. Though we wanted to cry as we were boxing and leaving everything behind for the unknown, things happened so fast that we didn’t actually had the time to. Before we closed the door to our apartment one last time, we said a prayer of how thankful we were for all those times it sheltered us and gave nothing but good memories of our young love, fun sleep overs and hopeful prayers.
You can only truly appreciate something when it’s gone… or when you’re on the brink of losing it. A few days before we left, we were able to reflect on how much of a good life we’ve been living in our country. It was already better than most have. More than anything, leaving the people proved to be most difficult. My husband was used to living oceans away from his family, but I wasn’t. This was the first time I’m leaving them for a period lasting for more than 2 weekends. We used to go visit my family even after we got married. It was really hard and even now, I always miss them. But this is also a way of building independence, fulfilling the leaving (the parents) part of marriage to cleave to the spouse. With the sadness of goodbye comes the excitement of new relationships ahead. So apart from our own families, we also left our friends, our shared colleagues from work, our spiritual and professional mentors, our church and a few other people who were part of our lives but don’t fall into one of those categories. We left our comfort zone and sailed into a future unknown–with no jobs, no families, no friends, with only a few thousand bucks and the conviction that God comes with us and will see us through. My husband was scared, I was excited.
Our original flight booking was to Melbourne with a connecting flight from Sydney. We thought our personalities better suit the Melbourne life described by the internet, but God thought otherwise. We didn’t find a place to stay in Melbourne, neither did we find a job. A few days before our arrival, an old colleague confirmed he can take us into his home for a few days. I met him in a brief encounter when I was doing an audit of an area he used to manage for the company we used to work for. Daring as I am, I sent him an email asking for help. He gladly obliged and even gave us tips for the big move. If not for him, we would have been so lost in Australia. He was the one who fetched us from the airport. His family accepted us into their home, though they barely knew us, and treated us like their own. “I told you God will see us through”, I told my husband. 5 days before our flight, we called Qantas and advised that we are cancelling our connecting flight to Melbourne. We are staying in Sydney.
They told us the must-do’s for the first days: open a bank account and deposit our money, get a local SIM card, apply for Medicare, familiarize ourselves with the public transportation, learn where to buy groceries and medicines, find our own place to rent and apply for job openings. On top of that, they took us with them when they ate out and shop and even brought us to the landmarks of Sydney. They brought us along when they went out of town for a picnic to enjoy the early season of spring.
As if it weren’t enough, God sent us another one of my former colleagues to come meet us on our second day. He took a leave from work to accompany us doing our first days’ must-do’s and actively helped us in finding a place to stay (which would later play a big role to how we are to find one in the next few days).
On our first 5 days of staying with them, we’ve gained a good first impression of the place we’ve left everything for.
And right then, we fell in love with this country. ‘Cause how can anyone not love Sydney? God has been faithful to his promise that he will be with us always, wherever we go. Indeed, since those first days ’til now, everyday has been a…
Happy Australia Day!