Friday, October 8, 2010

Where from here...

I've heard about human trafficking for a while now, I would venture out there and say that we all have at some point. In some ways I feel like its become a popular topic of conversation among certain crowds. Not saying by any means that is a bad thing. Maybe more time should be spent talking about issues surrounding the presence of injustice in the world rather than how much we "need" a holiday to escape from the mundane nature of our day to day existence, how much we "love" the current hit tv series, or how life would just be complete if we could lose 5-10 pounds and actually look skinny in our skinny jeans. I digress.

I have known now for months, that school (insert mocking by Aussie/U.K friends, if I call it uni I get it from home, its a lose/lose battle) was over in October and if all went as planned I would have another degree, one that I believed would better equip me to go out and DO something about this injustice. One that would help bring some legitimacy to another twenty-something that actually believes they may have the capacity to have an impact on something much bigger than themself, and convince some NGO or non-profit to take a risk and let me join their team. But I had zero clue as to what that would look like or how it could potentially play out. Zero. Nada. Zip. Couldn't even fake it if I wanted to (and at some points I desperately wanted to).

Somewhere along the line, I was introduced to this

And it shook me. I wanted to do something. I wasn't even sure if there was anything I could do, or offer. But I wanted to find out. The opportunity was presented, and I took it...

So...I'm moving. To Greece. On January 17th.

I'm so excited/nervous/anxious/happy/honored to get there and serve those women. I am going to be setting up a transition program which will provide support as they reintegrate into society.

In the midst of the journey over the past few months that has led me to this point. God really used the following verse to guide me to what I believe is the next step.

'For you were called to freedom brothers, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love - serve one another' Galatians 5:13

This freedom which I have been given which was purchased for me, is not given to me that I can wake up each day and drag chains around. It was not given to me so that I can squander it away, spending the days I'm given in pursuit of what the world claims will fulfill or complete me. It is entrusted to me, so that I can serve and love others. As I walk with these women as they are experiencing their new found freedom from modern day slavery, I really desire to learn more about what my personal freedom in Christ looks like as well.

Pray for them? Pray for me? Pray for us?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I am alive, and well, very well actually...and a little bit older than the last time I wrote. Well definitely not the last time I wrote, I do a fair amount of writing these days actually, just not on the blog, unfortunately. I turned 27 this weekend, and at some point during last week I decided that I wanted to make a list of 27 things I am grateful for in my life. The weekend was so packed with goodness that I have yet to get around to it, so without boring you with a list, just let me tell you that I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that there were multiple times both Saturday & Sunday my eyes welled up with tears and I had to choke them down so I wouldn't scare my friends. :-)

So I am about 7 weeks into a 12 week semester, my 2nd and final semester of grad school. That is just CRAZY. Crazy because it has gone so fast, crazy because that means I get to work again soon (which I am VERY excited about), crazy because that makes me want to FREEZE time because I absolutely love my life here, crazy because I have about 5 HUGE assignments that are due between now and then...need I continue? Crazy. My final assignment is due October 21st, and the million dollar question seems to be what I am doing next, to which I don't have an answer...not quite yet. I honestly don't have the time or head space to look for jobs right now. I have really wanted to spend this semester just enjoying my time here, and soaking up every moment, and I am happy to report that I have been able to do just that without wasting it away worrying what is next. I can tell you that the idea of working and using my degree makes me very excited, I have enjoyed this season as a student but really enjoy working as well so I'm excited to get back out there. That being said, I am not in any hurry to leave Australia, and I don't want to jump into a job just for the sake of having one.

Tomorrow, September 1st marks the 1st day of spring here in Sydney. My fourth season to experience in Australia. September and October are going to be pretty packed for me. If you think of it I would appreciate any prayers on my behalf. I could use a little extra dose of diligence and motivation heading into the final stretch.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


So semester 1 of 2 is done. Well, the semester isn't technically over until this Friday, but I have completed all of my papers/projects/presentations a little early because I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of visitor 1 of 3, my sweet friend Belem bright and early on Monday morning! I still can't believe that she is really will be so surreal to share my life here with people from home. Belem and I worked together at Woodview and also traveled to Africa together. We tend to laugh A LOT together, I am looking forward to making some more fun memories together. We are going to spend a week here in Sydney and then are flying up to the north coast of Australia for a few days to tour around a few of the islands and snorkel by the Great Barrier Reef. The day she leaves, MOM flies in. That is going to be such a treat for not only me, but those that are a big part of my life here to get to spend time with her. There's no one quite like her. And then last, but far from least, I will finally be reunited with my long lost sibling in July for 2 weeks and I can hardly wait. It will be almost a year since we have seen each other since he has been teaching in the middle east. TOO LONG. We are going to be volunteering together at the I-HEART expo for the annual Hillsong Conference which will be so good and then will spend the next week in the mountains that are a couple hours away. Knowing I am going to see Mom & Paul has really made me miss Dad...we are throwing around a few different options of when and what country we will meet up in.

So yeah, this semester, I lived to talk about it! Wow. There were so many moments I wondered if I would survive, or pass...without having an anxiety attack or total meltdown. I will write more about all that I learned (in and outside of my classes) now that I have time to slow down a bit and process. Hopefully will have some fun photos to post soon...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March Madness

Not as in the basketball. Which I have missed...March Madness as in the month that just came and went as a blur, and I think I survived? We will see how I go with the grades...

So yes, there was (is) a strike going on at school. They don’t go on strike indefinitely like at home. The way it was explained to me (because this is a semi-normal thing here) is the union that is going on strike chooses certain days that they are going to strike and announce it ahead of time, make their demands known and then unless things change they follow through with not working on those days. Well long story short, the professors want more money so they picked 3 days this semester they won’t teach. So I miss two weeks of class (there are only 13 in the semester). Calculated out, we (international students) pay about $200 a class. More than the money, it completely jacks with the syllabus/due dates/reading assignments, everything really. It has been frustrating, but more than anything the frustrating part is them acting like they don’t have a say in the situation, “we are so sorry that this is affecting you”, um, no you aren’t you are choosing to stay at home. Its just interesting to finish up a 2 hour lecture on the issue of POVERTY and then oh yeah by the way we won't be having class next week because I WANT MORE MONEY. Anyway. Other than than I actually really do like the professors. Their crazy liberal approach to everything really challenges me and makes me think about why/what I believe. They haven’t referenced Obama’s healthcare reform as an example of anything good, right, or wonderful yet so as long as we stay away from that topic I don’t think I will blow smoke out of my ears due to anger. If I am not studying, I am at work, in class, in the library, or working on a project. Those of you who know me (which I would assume would be everyone that cares enough to read this blog) know that regardless of what the task at hand is, I have a hard time drawing boundaries and not giving 110% of myself to it. Maybe a little extreme. Well surprise, surprise, here we are midway through the semester and what am I struggling with BALANCE. If I could I would switch to a part time plan and do 2 courses a semester over 2 years, but they don’t let international students go part time. I have met some of the greatest people through school, church, work, and just living here really. I hate not being able to accept invitations for dinner, beach, shopping, coffee, you name it. I don’t want to get to the end of my time here, whenever that may be and not have any meaningful relationships because I was hidden away in the library. Yet, at the same time, that was my reasoning in coming here and I want to do it well. I feel really, really, really bad everytime I have to say no. It means so much that people are so sweet to reach out and invite me to do stuff. Sooooo yeah, I need wisdom in making decisions regarding that. I feel like I have been dropping the ball here and at home relationally. Not writing/skyping/emailing as much as I would like to. ☹

Because the first 2 paragraphs are so upbeat and happy let me leave you with a happy one. The projects in school are super interesting. They are really cool about letting us choose topics we are passionate about as long as we tie them back to class and format them as assigned. So far I have been working on designing a micro-financing project in Spain for women rescued from sex-trafficking. Tomorrow I will start research on a paper about failed international aid to the Sahrawi refugees between Morocco/Algeria (I did work there a couple spring breaks ago), and then my favorite is a project comparing education programs for immigrants/refugees in Australia/U.S. Another happy note is that if we have had a conversation going something like this, “Kate I’d really like to come see you, but its just crazy expensive…” Well, tickets are only (ha) about $1000 roundtrip in June/July. So come on down. I know I sound like I would be a blast from the rest of this blog but I promise I will be much more fun during those months, because I won’t be in class at the time, so come on down, where the sun shines brighter, all words are shortened into a nickname of some sort, and there are more…um, sharks?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So today was a big day. It felt like things came full circle, being that the initial prompting of my move to Sydney was in fact to attend grad school and today was my first day of classes. I kind of felt like school started last week, as I have been preparing for classes for almost a week now because we had assignments given to us ahead of time. I will be getting my Masters degree through the University of New South Wales, which is a HUGE university here in Sydney, about 40,000 students attend. It is quite different than my undergrad experience to say the least, being that OBU may have had 5,000, if that? My degree will be in social development with an emphasis on refugees/forced migration. My first semester courses are Issues in Social Development, Community Development, Politics of International Aid, and Rights Based Project Design & Evaluation. Classes tonight were great! The most exciting thing to me was probably the class sizes being small so you can get to know people and that people were from ALL OVER. I have classmates from Sudan, Nepal, Romania, Malaysia, Indonesia, England, to name a few. We did brief introductions but I can't wait to hear more of peoples stories. It should make for some interesting class discussion with so many different cultural backgrounds, work experience, life experience etc. One of the professors asked me in front of the class if I ride horses a lot at home, and she was dead serious. That is better than how the conversation normally goes..."Are you from Canada or the States? I'm from the States. Oh which part? Texas. Oh, isn't that where the fattest state in the already fat U.S? If not the obesity issue, its capital punishment, or gun laws. Maybe I will start claiming Wyoming, since I was born there, there aren't any stereotypes about Wyoming are there? Thursday we had a wine night with the professors to get to meet them and other people in our program. My professors are from Australia, England, Italy and New Zealand. I found out more about the internship programs that are available. There are opportunities to do some work on the Burma/Thailand border with refugees there, work on the Indian side of the Indian/Burma border, a project in New Delhi, India (which I have already been to), and a chance to go to the annual refugee conference at the U.N in Geneva to do some lobbying on behalf of Australia. The programs are competitive, based on grades and experience, so we will see! I will definitely apply.
I am so glad have had so much time to settle in and felt very prepared to begin school. School aside, my time here has been so incredible and so worth all the prep, uncertainty, working extra jobs, etc. Still miss Woodview, but that will never go away regardless of where I am. Such a special place in my heart. Perspective gained there radically changed my views on so many issues. If you are reading this and are one of my Woodview friends hug a 4th grader for me that was one of mine and start a political debate with Ruben on my behalf.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Welcome Home...

So being that tomorrow is my 1 month anniversary in Australia, I decided that it is beyond time for an update on the blog. Between all of the great people and the friendly environment I really don’t feel far away. It is the oddest thing. The only factor that is a huge reminder and potentially frustrating at time is the ridiculous time difference. When I want to talk to people and realize it is 2 AM at home that doesn’t work out so well. I have honestly felt SO at home since the moment I arrived. I deserve a big fat F as far as photography goes so far. I just honestly haven’t been taking photos. I don’t want it to be like when I lived in Mexico (i.e take things for granted, don’t take photos, then have nothing to show for it afterwards). Maybe I will just continue to write about how amazing everything is with NO documentation and see who believes me enough to come on over and visit ☺. So I took this photo especially for you. I opened our front door, walked about 15 steps across the street and took it. This is our front yard, also known as, Maroubra Beach. I LOVE OUR HOME. It is recently renovated, clean, funky, homey, it has character, and a garden, and the cutest sunroom to study in, AND I can hear the ocean when I lay in bed and take a shower, or do anything else for that matter. I've had a blast decorating it, nesting if you will. I have the main pieces and want to decorate the rest with funky market finds. There are multiple markets on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the city. Here is another fun fact about Sydney, if people don't want something they put it out in front of their home and it is free for the taking, its AWESOME. You can find purses, fans, rugs, chairs, pots and pans, laundry hampers, bookshelves, you name it, its there, and its FREE!! My flatmates are WONDERFUL! A sweet English couple, Phil and Belle. Phil will actually be in the same grad program as me (we didn’t know that when we met to talk about me moving in, pretty crazy huh?) and Belle is a primary school teacher. I couldn’t ask for more thoughtful flatmates, I am so grateful that I get to live with them.

My time in Sydney so far has been amazing. The transition could not have gone any smoother. There have been so many precious people that have made me feel SO welcome and at home. Nikki, Beks, Lisa, Nick, Phil, Belle, among many others, thank you for the phone calls, the coffee dates, the meals, the translations on vocab I didn’t understand, rides, teaching me bus routes, furniture, text messages, flowers, cards, and for constantly asking and caring how the adjustment is going and if there is any way I can help. You made this American girl feel right at home in Australia. I will be forever grateful to each of you and I am so excited to make more fun memories together, so stoked that its only the beginning!

Besides getting all moved in my time has been spent learning the area, enjoying the beach, getting my room set up/organized, volunteering with, applying for jobs, and enjoying time with my new friends whenever they aren’t working. There is a promising lead on the job front, it is an ideal position, but will take a couple weeks to play out. As torturous as that is, it is great that God continues to provide beyond my wildest imagination, yet also stretch me to be patient and wait on His timing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Blog From Down Under...

My trip here was unforgettable…literally. I thought a week in Africa without luggage was inconvenient and frustrating (and it was), but that was nothing compared to the experience getting here. I have to say beforehand, that even only in my first 4 days here, it was well, well, worth it.

So I left for Sydney from Houston on Saturday, January 16th, and arrived in Sydney Wednesday, January 20th. Yes, you read that right, 5 day trip. Houston to Denver was fine. I changed some of my cash over to Australian dollars which I was excited about, it started making it feel more real and less of just another trip. The delays started in Denver. When they went to shut the door of the plane the exit light didn’t come on automatically like its supposed to so they had to call maintenance to come onto the plane and fix it. I wasn’t concerned because I had a layover in San Francisco for about 5 hours so I had time to waste anyway. Dad was very thoughtful and bought me a one day pass into United’s red carpet club so I could have a nice place to relax, eat, get online etc. I made a bunch of phone calls, using my iPhone (which I have missed TERRIBLY) for the last time and then headed over to my gate a little early. I was interested to see what kind of people were going to Sydney, and I’m always up for some good airport people watching…

Once my butt hit the seat at the gate, they made an announcement. They said that there was “severe weather” between San Fran and Australia and they would not be able to take everybody because they needed the plane to be as light as possible to make it through the weather. They were offering $600 plane vouchers and a night at the Hilton to anyone willing to give up their seats and get their luggage off the plane. Since I wasn’t in an incredible rush to get to Sydney (other than I had waited over a year to go ☺) and that my family would love to be able to come see me and it is super expensive, I jumped up and was 2nd in line to talk to the guys about the possibility of staying over. They were not only willing to give me the $600 voucher but also make my original ticket open ended which saves me a few more hundred dollars being that I would have had to pay change fees whenever I decided I was going home (if I ever do ☺). So it quickly became an offer I couldn’t turn down, not to mention a 20 hour flight sounded pretty dreadful even WITHOUT a severe storm, so I was happy to get off the plane. By this time I had been traveling all day and up since 5:00 so a bed in the Hilton sounded PERFECT.

While I was waiting to reclaim my bags I met 2 Aussies and 1 Kiwi turned American that quickly became my much appreciated and super fun new friends that would make the rest of the trip a total blast in the midst of what could have been incredibly lonely and sad. We went to the hotel crashed, and made plans to get up for a nice breakfast on our hotel vouchers and spend the day in San Francisco. The plan was to be nice and tired so that we could sleep the majority of the long flight over. We had a wonderful day in the city and then went back to the airport. We had a 1 hour flight to L.A and then boarded our plane for Sydney. The time had finally arrived! I was headed down under, or so I thought. Long story short, we sat in the plane, that never moved for 3 HOURS!?!?!?!? THREE HOURS!!!!! They only made 2 announcements the entire time, the flight attendants disappeared about 45 minutes into the fiaso. The reasoning? Basically they couldn’t figure out how much fuel they had before the refueling process began. Needless to say LA over WATER to Sydney is not a flight where you want to be unsure of how much fuel you have. They finally let us off the plane at 1:00 AM, by the time we got our new hotel vouchers and got to our hotel it was 3:00 AM. We were told to be back at the airport at 9:30 Am since we just had to go through security (we didn’t get our bags back and were going to use our original boarding passes they said our flight would be at 11:00 am the next morning. The next morning we got up for another nice breakfast, this time at the Marriot on our hotel vouchers. Even though we still had the same clothes on, it was nice to feel clean from a good long shower. At breakfast an Aussie at the table next to ours let us know that our flight had been CANCELLED. We never were told why. Most people had already gone to the airport, we were so grateful that we stayed. They gave us our hotels for the rest of the day and more vouchers to eat with. We went back upstairs and slept for a while and then met back in the lobby to figure out what we were going to do in L.A. The weather was pretty crappy so we ended up taking a taxi to go buy bathing suits and spending the afternoon in the hotel hot tub that was on the roof.

We showered up, enjoyed another nice hotel meal and headed over to the airport to try, for the 3rd time to get off the ground and headed to Sydney. It was a success ☺ By this time I was SO worn out that I fell asleep probably 10 minutes after take off and I slept for about 10 hours of the flight. The flight was actually shorter from L.A than it was from San Fran, only about 14 ½ hours which sounds horrible but was actually shorter than my flight from Houston to Dubai which was 17. We received another $250 voucher, bringing my grand total to $850 and the free adjustment on my original ticket.

Landing was actually bittersweet because as much as I was excited to start my time here in Australia, I was sad to say bye to my new friends. Such beautiful people on the inside and out. I can't wait to hang with them again. Sydney is nothing short of spectactular, I will expand on that in the next blog and in all of the blogs to come I am sure :)

This is already way too long, I just wanted to give some sort of update. My internet access is limited and my iPhone is locked here. I am going to buy a blackberry tomorrow and get set up so I can text with those of you that have blackberry messenger and also have better access to email and facebook.