Rebreather

Would you like to know the quickest way to get attention from the world? It’s pretty simple: disappear from the online world for a while, make everyone partially aware of a drastic infamous change in your life and then suddenly post these four words on your Facebook wall “i want to die”. Just like that, plain and simple with no punctuation marks and capitalisations. Remember to post it in the wee hours of the morning for full effect. And most importantly, mean it.

I’ll be honest, the result is not fun at all but I guarantee it will do the job if you’re after attention. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t done it to catch attention or gain sympathy from others. I just went so freaking crazy that when I grabbed my phone and the Facebook status bar asked me what’s on my mind that night I foolishly took it quite literally and typed the words. My heart felt so heavy causing my soul so much pain it had to give birth to those words. Right under my nose, I watched them roll out into the world like little monsters that will haunt the introverted side of my ambivert self forever.

So here I am 3 days later, re-opening my blog after two years, in awe of what I read, of the things I wrote about in the past. I don’t know why they haunt me. The past months happened so fast, I look at myself in the mirror everyday and I see myself living a life I never knew. And the next moment, here I am staring at a screen reading what looks and feels to me like someone else’s words. I am so…. lost. I used to describe myself here as someone sailing with the wind. But now, I am not even sailing at all anymore. I am just…

floating.

And it’s so damn scary.

Featured photo is taken from https://au.pinterest.com/iwantmyivy/water-vision-board/

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My Taste of Australia

a guest post by twinbutterfly of Confessions of a Food Tourist

Here in Australia, we always say (at the risk of sounding cliché) that we are indeed a blessed country. I am certainly no expert, but I personally find Australian cuisine really quite difficult to define because it’s such an intricate fusion of all the cultures that have called this wonderful country home since day dot. These days, we have the opportunity to take our pick from an endless array of cuisines when dining out, or looking for something different to whip up at home for dinner.

For me personally, the ultimate Australian food experience is enjoying a really delicious meal that is made from locally-sourced produce that comes with a stunning view of the local countryside.

One of my favourite places in the world is right here in the south west corner of WA – Margaret River. Boasting of a stunning location nestled between jarrah and karri forests and a beautiful coastline, it’s one of Australia’s premium wine producing regions. And where there’s good wine, there is bound to be good food!

I’ve lost count of all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in Margaret River – or “Margs”, as it’s more affectionately known – so it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to just one or two; as a result, I’ve put together my Top Five, in no particular order (because that would be almost as cruel as forcing a parent to single out their favourite child). While these highlights are inspired by my own treasured experiences in Margaret River, I’m sure they can easily represent many of Australia’s other amazing wine and ‘food bowl’ regions, too. In a perfect world, I would love the opportunity to travel through all of them Paddock to Plate or Destination Flavour-style. Unfortunately though, I don’t have the credibility of a celebrity chef like Matt Moran or Adam Liaw. Nonetheless, here’s my list of Top Five Margs Foodie Faves:

1. The Classic “Tasting Plate”

This option is a blessing for an indecisive Gemini like me, who often finds it very hard to choose just one dish when there are an abundance of tempting items on the menu. When done correctly, tasting plates are also an ideal way to sample the best of the region’s seasonal harvest and locally-crafted products: from olive oil, cheese, fruit and veg to meat and seafood. Beer drinkers can even opt for a tasting paddle at the local craft and micro-breweries!

I have enjoyed many fabulous tasting plates in Margs – in my opinion, the best ones are shared with a friend or loved one (to avoid any possible food envy), and served with a glass (or two) of local wine.

The "Tasting Plate"

2. Indulgent 3-course Local Winery Lunch

About five or so years ago for a ‘significant’ birthday gift, a group of friends pitched in to buy me a voucher for a private chauffeur-driven wine tour in Margaret River (they know me SO well). While being chauffeured to several good winery cellar doors for tastings (and a “bit” of purchasing), the tour included lunch at Flutes Restaurant at the Brookland Valley winery estate. I wasn’t sure what I should be expecting. A tasting plate with a glass of wine perhaps? That of course would have been perfectly acceptable, but what transpired was actually more breathtaking.

The setting was simply spectacular. We were on an open deck overlooking a large lake surrounded by vineyards in one direction, and forest in the other. Being a weekday, the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy (either that or I was so involved in what was going on at our table to notice we may have been the only ones there), so all you could hear were birds singing, and the occasional quack from the ducks swimming on the lake.

Yes, we had a tasting plate – but this was just the entrée: a charcuterie platter of delicious morsels such as pork rillettes, chorizo, duck and pâté.

Up next was the main course – a tender lamb shank served on a bed of couscous infused with exotic spices, capers, olives and tomatoes. One look at the sheer size of the dish made my stomach shrink in fear; however, my tastebuds managed to convince it to take on the hefty task of devouring the lamb (the velvety Cabernet Merlot helped as well). I’ll admit, I couldn’t finish it, but I gave it a good ol’ Aussie go!

Before you could say “I couldn’t possibly eat another crumb”, it was time for dessert – a trio of petite sweet treats. This time it wasn’t a shared platter (although that would have been the safest/most logical option) – we were given one each. The groans of borderline discomfort quickly turned to sighs of pleasure when we battled all resistance and bravely picked up our spoons to try the tiramisu, vanilla bean panna cotta with berries, and a chocolaty slab of chocolaty chocolate mud cake drizzled with chocolaty chocolate syrup and double cream. Did I mention the chocolate?

All that was left to do was be practically carried back to our hotel (through one more winery just because we could), lie back and digest what had just happened (physically and metaphorically).

Winery at Margaret River

3. Self-contained Domestic Bliss

The great thing about a place like Margaret River is the sheer variety of accommodation choices – you can choose to stay in a hotel right in the centre of town, or venture further out to anything from a quaint Bed & Breakfast or farm-stay, to an all-inclusive luxury resort. Alternatively, you can select from an endless array of self-contained apartments and cabins either close to town, by the beach, or nestled within a forest setting. Anything goes.

Having travelled to Margs a number of times, I’ve been lucky enough to have tried a bit of everything. Personally, I find that self-contained accommodation is the way to go as it generally allows for more space, more privacy, and more freedom of choice. For example, if you want to drive into town for a meal, you can; if you’re too tired (or squiffy*) from a full day of wine tasting, you can choose to have a quiet night in and whip something up in the kitchen, even if it’s just a languidly-constructed board of cheese, crackers and dip! Or – as my friends and I did on an indulgent girls’ weekend a couple of years ago – start the day with a bang and fuel up on a hearty homemade breakfast…before a full day of wine tasting (is anyone noticing a pattern here?)

There is something so much more pleasurable about cooking while you’re on holidays than doing so at home, although my Other Half and I tend to stick to the same basic formula on a short break – barbeque one night, and if there happens to be any leftovers, use them as topping for a home-made pizza another night.

Domestic Bliss

As an added bonus, a lot of self-contained accommodation in Margaret River makes the most of either one of its settings: its idyllic forest, vineyard, gently sloping countryside or the beach. Some of my favourite moments in life have been relaxing on a deck with my morning coffee enjoying the tranquillity of the natural habitat with nothing but the sound of birdsong and a gentle breeze to keep me company. The super lucky ones may even spot a kangaroo (or two)!

*squiffy – tipsy/warm and fuzzy/not quite there yet, but definitely on the way to getting a little drunkity-drunk

4. The Cellar Door

The best part about staying in a memorable place is having the opportunity to take a small piece of it home with you so you can continue to enjoy it long after the journey itself has ended.

A cellar door offers much more than just the opportunity to sample a few wines – they add to the overall experience. Many wineries have a country-style charm about them, or are simply jaw-droppingly beautiful, begging to be explored. And in most cases, there’ll be an infinitely interesting history behind them.

I’m by no means a connoisseur of wine (in fact, very far from it), but I do enjoy the explanations and recommendations provided by the cellar door staff as you boldly make your way from sparkling through white and rose to red, and – if you dare – heady fortified wines (I’m one of the fortunate ones who aren’t particularly fussy when it comes to wine – possibly my trade-off for not being able to drink beer, if only by choice). The secret is to take your time and enjoy the moment. And if the obnoxious wine tour groups sharing the space start getting a little too demanding and raucous, step back and browse through the assortment of wine accessories, books and giftware on offer; or explore the picturesque grounds until it’s time for them to depart for their next stop (all the while secretly hoping it isn’t where you were planning on visiting afterwards). If the winery has a café…bonus!

The Cellar

Although my Other Half begs to differ, I am certainly not the souvenir-junkie I was in my late teens and early twenties. These days I rely on my camera to help capture and preserve my memories (that, and thanks to my former addiction, I couldn’t possibly fit another branded shot glass into my cabinet, or magnet on my fridge if I tried); if anything, I may pick up an inspiring recipe or coffee-table-style photography book capturing the essence of the region. Oh, and maybe just a few bottles of vino… 😉

Cellar doors are not just restricted to wines – in Margaret River there are all kinds of options for exploring tastes of the region: beer, cheese and yoghurt, chocolate, coffee, fudge, olive oil, venison, nougat, fruit, jams and preserves, cider, lollies/candies, and ice cream just to name a few!

What a treat it is to take a little piece of Margs heaven back home – each time you fill a glass, break off a piece, or top a cracker or piece of bread, you’re instantly transported back (if only for a moment), allowing you to enjoy “the trip that was” just a little bit longer.

The Cellar Bottles

It’s a bittersweet day in my house though, when we get to the end of our bounty (‘cellaring’ is not something we do very well). It’s almost as if we’re bidding our blissful break farewell all over again. On the other hand, it can only mean it’s time to start planning the next trip!

5. The Berry Farm

Located about fifteen minutes’ drive from the town centre, The Berry Farm is the one place I never fail to revisit every time I stay in Margaret River. After a pleasant drive winding through tree-lined roads, vineyards and lush green pastures, the first stop must be the Cottage Café and Gardens. Whether it’s for a quick cuppa to start the day, something sweet for morning tea (they are particularly renowned for their Boysenberry Pie and Scones with jam and cream), or perhaps a more substantial meal for lunch, you are in for an absolute treat!

Not only is everything on their seasonal menu fresh and delicious, the historic building with its jarrah interior and wide patio oozes comfort and country hospitality. The surrounding picturesque cottage gardens teeming with local birdlife add a magical touch no matter what time of year you choose to visit. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing your pots of jam and cream with New Holland honeyeaters and silvereyes.

Berry Farm Food

(By the way, if I appear to be gushing, I make no apologies – this place deserves to be gushed about!)

The next step is to take a stroll through the lovely cottage gardens that surround the café – there is always something pretty in bloom, regardless of the season. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a Splendid Fairy-wren (the name says it all)! On the way in (or out), you may notice the interesting array of ‘lawnmowers’ that graze below the vines and fruit bushes near the property’s entrance – geese, chickens, emus, I’ve even spotted a peacock!

The Berry Farm Garden

Of course, no visit to the Berry Farm is complete without checking out their amazing Cellar Door to sample (and purchase) from their extensive range of gourmet products including homemade jams, preserves, pickles, sauces, fruit wines, liqueurs, and – my personal favourite – their Club House Series of fortified wines. I never leave without at least two bottles of Boysenberry Port (No. 3) to take home and enjoy as a perfect nightcap with a square or two of dark chocolate…or warm brownies.

I’ve been fortunate to visit the Berry Farm at different times of year. While the menu and gardens change with the seasons, the eternal charm, beauty and indulgent treats on offer ensure I always leave with a big smile and happy tummy. And that goes for all of Margaret River as well!

Margs Collage (twinbutterfly)

I must extend my sincere gratitude to the lovely Care for this exciting opportunity to be a guest ‘juicer’ on her beautiful blog. I’ve been a big fan of Flavored Lemons since we ‘met’ at the beginning of the year via a Blogging101 course, and I have to admit I’m a bit nervous that my rather bombastic, impulsive style of writing may seem a little out of place here. In any case, this really was a fun, challenging experience. Thank you, Care!

All photos featured in this post are owned with all rights reserved to the guest blogger, twinbutterfly of foodtouristconfession.wordpress.com

Just Another Ordinary Day

And finally, I’m back to writing! I’ve been MIA for the past week immersing myself into studying for last Saturday’s exam plus it was month-end so I got busy at work, I really couldn’t make time for blogging. I actually can’t believe it’s only been a week, it felt like a month. I missed doing this so much. Ahh, the sacrifices you have to make for education! Well at least (and it’s more than a consolation), I passed. Yay!

Last Saturday after the exam, two deliveries I’ve been waiting for came–the last pieces of furniture I’ve ordered. So after three months, I can say our place feels cozy now, closer to the home we’ve left behind when we migrated. I remember the first night we slept here, we had nothing but our luggages and all the clothes and shoes inside. A quilt, a couple of pillows and some sheets. We had no bed, no couch, no tables and chairs. Okay, so before you judge us, here’s what happened: we’ve ordered everything before we moved in but to some unfortunate circumstances last Christmas season, the well-known Swedish furniture store messed up with their delivery services so we didn’t get our orders–which means most importantly, we didn’t have a bed for nearly two weeks. We slept in our room, on the carpeted floor, on only some sheets and a quilt. It’s quite funny now thinking about it. We really didn’t know delivery services could be that bad here during Christmas holidays. No other furniture store would want to take new orders that time. We ate on boxes we got from the few necessities we bought from the nearby mall like plates and mugs. We sat on newspapers. We had no TV, no internet connection, nothing. We really started from scratch. Well, almost from scratch (we had clothes at least). And when we reminisce those days now, we just smile and are pleased that we have some interesting stories to tell our future children and grandchildren. Looking at the place now, we’re just amazed at how gracious the Father was to us. Indeed, God was faithful and is always with us, carrying us through every day of this journey.

A very good experience we could never have had back where we came from was having to assemble every item we buy all on our own. You see we’re quite spoiled back in Manila. It’s a service-oriented country so a lot of things get done by the merchants for their customers. Well, now that I think about it, that was at the expense of the labourers. The employees, probably merchandisers, are being asked to assemble furnitures as part of their job, and they get no additional pay for that. Here, the customer pays only for the goods. Assembling is another thing and if you want it, you have to pay for it separately, which I think is fair ’cause then we know the workers work only for what they’re actually being paid for.

Okay. So going back to my weekend. I passed the exam, we got our furnitures, which we assembled for half a day (and we still have a couple of tables to unpack from their boxes which we had no choice but to schedule for next weekend)–and there went my Saturday.

On Sunday we finished the laundry, went to Church and visited the place of our friend–my buddy who I introduced to you on my post Of Goodbyes and a New Beginning (if you remember). And then I’ve worked on the project I still have on my to-do list from Blogging 201, the one about buddying up with other bloggers. I’m working with a few co-bloggers whose works I genuinely love for this one and I’m hoping I could get to share it with you soon. I’m expecting the work gets all done by this weekend. That took my whole Sunday afternoon but I don’t mind, I had so much fun working with other writers.

And then there’s Monday…again. Another day in paradise! I went to work. I got a new work station, which was supposedly all ready by the time I came in this morning but wasn’t, so I decided to move my things myself and set-up my desk and screen, laptop and all. That was a lot faster and more efficient than waiting for those guys from IT. It was quite busy and I’m sure you’ll die of boredom if I tell you the details of my daily finance life so I’ll cut it there. The highlight of my Monday as always, is coming home and watching Friends with my husband. A couple of episodes of that comedic masterpiece is just the perfect topper to any weekday. We had dinner with Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica and then relaxed in the comfort of our now complete living room. We drank some wine, which my husband gets for free as perks of his job…and then here I am–just writing my thoughts away. As if writing a letter to an old trusted friend and telling her about why I’ve not been able to write for a while. And wow, doesn’t this feel good? Haven’t noticed I’ve come up with one full post already. Writing like this–just letting thoughts out, thinking as the words are as if just coming out of my head on their own into the screen– is a leisure everyone should always, always be entitled to. Such simple pleasures in life.

Okay, so that’s it. No spectacular topic, no list worthy of sharing to the social media world, just me, sharing a small piece of my life with you. Just my way of saying, I missed you.

And hey, this is how a day in my life looks like and I’m loving every moment of it. I hope you enjoy yours, too!

Lots of love from down under,
sassycare

Learning Soseki: My First Haiku

 

Across bushy trees:
warm winds blow leaves into dancing,
the lake lay still.

 

 

________________________________________

Tried my hand at writing a haiku as a response to this week’s challenge from The Blacklight Candelabra | Advanced Writing Challenges, a writing event I joined only recently. Thinking Japanese always gets my favourite Asian novelist to mind–Natsume Soseki, who is also considered a master of the Haiku. He’s really good, I first wrote about him here if you would like to read. For 3 lines and 13 words, I spent a good three hours imagining how Soseki would translate my thoughts into writing—I’ve decided right away that the subject will be the photo above which I took two weeks ago when I went for a leisurely hike at the Botanical Gardens in Blue Mountains. I had to transport myself back into that moment when I was right inside that scene. It was a perfect day under the hot summer sun, the warm breeze brushing my cheeks. I remember how the tranquil lake made me feel so refreshed—it was so relaxing.

Now on to what the challenge was about, more than writing a Haiku—one has to come up with a Culturally and Linguistically Authentic Haiku in three ways: (1) form – which got me reading about Haiku’s different legitimate forms, (2) Syllable structure and consonant restrictions, and (3) The subject matter NATURE–as traditional Japanese as it can be. More than painting nature into words, I’ve learned in this challenge that Haiku is about human transformations—the nature within. From the Blog Event post, this quote appears (which made me linger longer on the challenge than I would have if it wasn’t there):

“[…] one thing that I think makes a real haiku is when the changes in nature reflect deep transformations in oneself.”
-Steve McCarty

So there goes my first haiku. I hope I made Soseki proud. It would have been an honour to call him Sensei.

Running Against Our Eternal Limitations (and never getting tired)

I was supposed to sleep early today and thus, skip a post for the day. However, I just can’t sleep yet. It’s my mom’s birthday and I haven’t had the chance to talk to her. I left facebook messages and tried calling her but she’s out of the house without her phone. I just miss her. The perils of living abroad!

Suddenly in the midst of an internal battle trying to force myself to sleep, I remember my grandfather. I call him Lolo. Just last month, I heard one of the saddest news, my Lolo has lost one eye’s sight. It was due to the late diagnosis of high sugar levels affecting eyesight. I know him too well, even if he feels something’s wrong, he won’t tell about it. I don’t know if his eyesight can ever be recovered. The night I discovered it, I knelt down in tears under the shower asking God to bring my Lolo’s eyesight back. I wished for no one to see me, but I felt so sad since then. I hate that feeling of wanting to do something for someone you love so bad and not being able to do anything about it. When God reminds us of our own helplessness and weakness, it can really be so painful. The last time I felt this was when my brother died. There’s no feeling like it. I can only call on to God and surrender to His will.

I want to take Lolo to this place where I am now. And my mom as well. But right now, I’m just scared. Scared that time is just slipping away. I don’t know how long my Lolo’s remaining good eye will remain good enough to appreciate the beauty I now experience in this foreign land and have the pleasure of calling home. His knees have long been weakened by arthritis. My Lolo is the closest I’ve ever had to a normally functioning father. His strenght was my inspiration as a little girl. His hardwork made me say to him once “Lolo, when I grow up I’m gonna marry someone like you!” But now, that strength is failing and I can’t do anything about it.

My Lolo and his first cup of a Starbucks drink 4 years ago
My Lolo and his first cup of a Starbucks drink 4 years ago

I’ve always wanted to give my mom the kind of love she lost when she married the wrong guy at a young age. She dedicated her whole life working for us so we will have a normal, decent life that doesn’t lack anything. “When I graduate, I will….”–those are the words the promises I made to myself start with. But seven years down the road since I offered her my diploma and medal, I have done little to rid Mama of hard work. She still wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and works til late night to keep the business running. I know she’s tired. To other people, she might seem to choose this kind of life because she likes it. But these other people are not her daughter. I know better. I sometimes act upset trying to tell her she shouldn’t work this hard as we’ve now grown up. But the truth is, I’m just masking my own anger…at myself. I can’t do anything. She told me once before that she’s tired of this kind of lifestyle. But there’s no better choice. My mom grows one year older today, and I’m no way close to taking her to the life she deserves, the youthful years she lost when she dedicated her time working for us and raising us. Sure she’s been fulfilled in a number of many different ways for having us and in watching us grow up but she never had a me-time, like most moms have. She lost that sense of freedom of bonding with herself. I’m not sure she realizes that but I feel really sad thinking about it. She’s never met friends nor attended reunions. The best conversations she had was with her own sisters and nothing else. She wasn’t able to catch up with her classmates she’s shared memories with. She has barely ten birthday greetings on her facebook wall, mostly from relatives. I wish my mom could catch up on lost time–all those she invested on us. Now that we are experiencing the life she always wanted for us, I wish I could let her have a taste of it, herself.

Mama on my wedding
Mama putting my wedding necklace on me

I wish Mama and Lolo could both experience the life they worked hard for to support. But I guess they are growing old faster than my wealth does. Time runs quicker than I could ever run the rat race to reach that capacity that can support the kind of life I dream for them.

But from this eternal loneliness springs also the realization of an eternal hope. I am weak, I have no influence over time. I cannot give the people I love the better lives they deserve, the one they afforded me to have. It is in vain for me to trust me. Seven years and I learned, I can only do so much. I might never reach it. I find rest in the fact that God isn’t me. What joy is it to remember that God can give so much more than I could dream for them. And the best thing I can ever hope for them is not to experience the life I now have. That’s being too short-sighted. The best thing I could dream for them is heaven. I shall not only hope for it, I should pray for it. I might fail them here and now but my God won’t. In forever and beyond, they’ll live a life so much better than I could ever have imagined. Then, there’ll be no worrying about time overtaking me.

But then again, every now and then I still ask God: Prolong their lives and strengthen me through this lifetime. It doesn’t hurt to seek the joy of making the ones who matter feel how much you love them. Maybe that’s what this life is about, what makes it beautiful, and what makes every waking day in this world worth living for.

Featured Photo shows my Lolo and Mama walking me down the aisle.

For the Love of Rain

And of all the days, my brain chose to forget my jacket…today!

This is bed weather. It should be made illegal to require employees and students to go and work on a day like this. You can’t just deprive people the pleasure of curling up on their beds while listening to the rain pouring outside. That is just so mean.

Featured Photo credit to https://eddynyc.wordpress.com/

Of Goodbyes and A New Beginning

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.

FotorCreated
The home we left behind

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.

People
My family, friends, colleagues and our church on goodbye dinners before we left

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.

with the couple who gave us shelter on our first few days in Sydney
with the couple who gave us shelter on our first few days 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.

Our first few days enjoying Spring
Our first few days enjoying 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).

My good, old buddy
My good, old buddy

On our first 5 days of staying with them, we’ve gained a good first impression of the place we’ve left everything for.

seeing the Opera House for the first time
seeing the Opera House for the first time,
and the Harbour Bridge
…the Harbour Bridge,
and my first fireworks in Darling Harbour
and my first fireworks in Darling Harbour

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!