Sunday, February 16, 2014

NTC – first week

Close neighbors here. The Wallabies.
We see them most every day.
We could only imagine what a relief the warm, sub-tropical climate of Australia would feel like after the 2014 winter in the Midwest in the States– and it’s wonderful!  Bruce and Jacquie Allder picked us up early on Saturday, February 8, at the international airport in Brisbane after a long (but not uncomfortable) flight from Los Angeles.  Bruce is the Principal of Nazarene Theological College where we’ll be working. Getting acquainted, we all enjoyed our ride to the college.  After lugging our suitcases up to our second floor dorm suite, we began unpacking into the closets and drawers. We found that our kitchen was stocked with plenty for a few days’ “brekkies” (breakfasts). We were showered and almost completely unpacked 2 hours later, so we walked to the Allders’ home for a drive to lunch and around this part of Brisbane’s suburbs. Not unlike the States, there are numerous shopping areas with lots of restaurants.  Unlike the States, there are lots of round-abouts at intersections; those will take some practice, especially negotiating from the left side of the road!
We were shown around the 28-acre campus, with 2 dorm buildings, a 2-level education block (classroom building), office building, library, and quite a few homes for staff and for rent.

It was great to be part of a staff birthday party Saturday evening! While Judith was expecting the Allders and us, she was surprised when a larger group showed up (the rest of the staff) to help celebrate.  Her husband Peter arranged it all; he is the college’s Business Manager, while Judith is receptionist. They’re retired South Australia natives who are volunteering here for 2 years. I’ll work with him and with Vanessa, the accountant (she and her husband Rob are Americans, working for the college).  It was great to meet the rest of the college socially, before all the work starts!

Sunday, the sun was up early, about 5:30, and we had slept well. We enjoyed our first breakfast, then walked over to the Allders’ home to ride to the Meadowlands Church, where they attend. Jacque plays keyboard and it’s a very friendly older congregation; we felt right at home!  After church and morning tea, Bruce and Jacque took us out to lunch, sitting outside at a cute café called Arabica.  They also drove us around the area, showing us a very busy park on the coast, where many families were enjoying picnics and boating and time in the water!

Monday was our first day of work and it’s also the first day of a new semester! We were given the tour of the office building until it was time to attend orientation for students (and for us new people as well!).  In the largest classroom, all staff and local students gathered around large tables. Also attending were 5 students – on Naz VC, the teleconferencing system – who will be studying remotely (3 in Australia, 1 in New Zealand, 1 in Idaho), taking classes over the Internet.  This meeting gave a better sense of how the college operates and who everyone is.  We took a break for tea (coffee, tea, cookies) and returned to the teleconferencing so the professors could finish up their remarks to the students.
After lunch back in our suite (2 dorm rooms with a shower/sink/toilet in between), Jacque took me grocery shopping. The large store was much like ones in the States, with the exception that it was in a shopping center (inside a mall)! More about the grocery store another day… but it was great to start getting our kitchen stocked up!

Tuesday, after another good night’s sleep, we walked across campus to work. Every Tuesday morning, there is a chapel service for professors, staff, and local students. On this Tuesday, the second Tuesday of each month, the congregations of all the nearby (5?) Nazarene churches are also invited to join us for tea at 10:30 and the service at 11:00.  The students studying remotely were also hooked in by teleconference.

Since part of my duties will be assisting Peter, the Business Manager (and Work and Witness Coordinator), I attended a Skype meeting on Wednesday with 2 of the women who will be part of a Work and Witness team coming in March from Eugene, Oregon. They’ll be helping with some much-needed repairs to property here, along with some painting and grounds keeping.

We’d been in correspondence via email with Vanessa Fringer, accountant for the college, before we traveled here. She and her husband Rob (professor at the college) had us over for dinner Thursday evening. We’re thoroughly enjoying getting to know them and their 2 children!  They’re Americans who are employed by the college (like missionaries, but not officially missionaries!) and moved here in July 2013.

Dan's first week was spent getting acquainted with the various elements and issues with the equipment here.  The process was complicated by the fact that this was also the first week of a new semester so there were a number of startup 'fires' to address while learning about what is here.

Friday, I got to help with the front desk, as Peter and Judith were away for a long weekend (family wedding in home-town of Adelaide) and worked out some more efficient filing for the business office. And, on Saturday, Dan and I made our way to Victoria Point, the closest shopping center, in the 1994 college van – on the left-hand side of the road! We did some browsing, then grocery shopping, before we headed home.

All in all this was a hectic but enjoyable first week as we settle into our new home and tasks.  God is faithful and we are blessed with amazing folks to work for and with.  We are looking forward to getting to know each of them much better as we learn and grow together.  It is a privilege to be part of the amazing team here at NTC Brisbane.

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