Thursday, June 13, 2013

Greetings from Melbin! Last stop for us this side of the equator..

 On our way back to the States we've stopped to spend some time with my (Bruce) oldest sister Julie and her family who've been living in Melbourne, Australia for the past year and a half. She actually keeps a great blog with some beautiful photography that follows her family's immigrant experience here with her Aussie husband Paul and their 3 kids (fivedownunder). It's been great spending time with them and for the kids to see their cousins. Who knows when we'll be able to do something like this again?
Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bin by the Aussies) is a very diverse and cosmopolitan city that has more of an English feel to it than other Australian cities. After our time in Perth where most things in the city center are walkable, Melbourne seems enormous although it's only about double the size.
Enjoy the pics!

Flinders St. Station. Built 1909

Don't let her beauty fool you! Melbourne has some hardcore bicycle thievery.

Practicing some Parkour with my nephews, Thomas and Ryan.

Watching street performers.

Did some day excursions in the mountains outside of the city.

Sunset at St. Kilda.

As you can see, the kids had a blast and are all really sad  we're leaving tonight

I know it's a bit fuzzy but I still wanted to show this skyline at twilight. 
On the way to the footy game!

Each person in my sister's family cheers for a different team. This game was their eldest son Thomas' team, The Magpies verses Paul's team, The Demons. The Demons are like the Chicago Cubs of Australian rules football so naturally I had to cheer for them. And naturally they got spanked. 
Our last day excursion was to ride Puffin' Billy, a 100 year old steam train that takes you up in the mountains. Good fun.

My sister Julie and my niece Ella.

Some of the sweetest times with this visit was being able to spend time with family in their day to day living.

Goodbye Melbourne and goodbye McMahon family. Thanks for a great visit! We love you guys!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Report Back, South West Australia and Sweet Graduation

Taking a break in packing to fill you in on the last 2 ish weeks before we head off to the next destination. We will be spending a week in Melbourne with some of Bruce's family to start the long trek home. We will also stop in Orange County for a few days to visit some of Heather's family and finally land in Chicago Mid-June were we will stay until the next Wilkens joins us.

This last week we had what is called report back. Its basically just a time to come together as a team and attempt to debrief after almost 9 months of outreach. Its a time to reflect on how we have grown, what we have learned, what we have experienced and also a time to share with the leadership on how things went.  We spent most of the mornings in sessions and then had a few fun outings as well.  We also had a share back time with the larger staff body of YWAM Perth where we shared stories and photos and testimonies of our time.

Bruce and I celebrated 9 years of marriage on Thurs of this last week and even got to escape for an evening out! 

11.5 months and 4 countries later we expeirenced the conclusion of this adventure... graduation!!!  What an amazing experience and as Abigail said to me the other day.. "Mom, we did it.. we made it through a whole year of BAS!" Pretty cute coming from our five year old.  Josiah has been hamming it up as well. He has definitely come into his own and had the whole YWAM Perth family (400+) cracking up during the Friday night meeting when he was asked about his experiences in India.  If you want to laugh to you can ask him yourself if he liked India and why or why not.  Too funny.  

On Monday after report back week we were able to borrow a car and escape South to check out a little more of Western Australia. We basically had no destination and just bumbled along the coast for the day, stayed the night in the Southern town of Augusta and then bumbled our way back to Perth the next day. It was BEAUTIFUL and such a stark contrast from the city life of Perth.  We enjoyed driving down winding, hilly, tree encompassed roads, breakfast in the car overlooking a beautiful lighthouse, checking out a huge hedge maze, sampling free chocolates at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, walking the longest jetty (pier) in the Southern Hemisphere (1.84km) and playing at a few of the ocean front parks and enjoying the amazing views along the way.  

Next stop Melbourne to visit the McMahon family! looking forward to it!

Ps.  We came to Perth 1 year ago with 8 suitcases and 2 carry-on bags.. we are leaving Perth with 6 suitcases and 2 carry on bags and well.. Heather is carrying a little extra baggage ;)