I've spent some time recently remembering what a shock it was to leave for Bible College. In Sydney. I think 4th year does that to you. More than a couple of you enjoyed our very rare updates we sent back to the promised land during that time, especially this one, which was our first. It was sent on 6 Feb 2007. Here it is posted in rememberance of two crazy fantastic years in Sydney.
"Dear Friends and Family
How are you?
We hope you are having a good week, with many of you returning to work, England, uni or school after taking holidays during the summertime.
This week marks our fourth week living here as a family in Sydney, where we hope to stay to study at Bible college for the next 3 years. (At least, that's the plan). I am enrolled at Moore Theological Collge and have just commenced a Bachelor of Theology. Many of you have heard our news; I apologise to those who have not. Some of you are family, some are friends, old and new. Either way, you have received this email because we consider you partners in our adventure down here. Many of you have supported us in many ways. We think it is about time we shared some of our experiences with you, including all the good bits and some of the rough, chewy bits, of our move down. This particular email is a brief summary of the week spent early in January to prepare our new living quarters (provided by the college) for Sarah and the boys to come down to. (More emails to come!)
Preparing the way
A week before we left Brisbane, my good friend Bruce Ninness helped me drive a 3 tonne truck down to Sydney. My Dad, Rushi, Bruce and Chris Pine all helped us pack the thing full of most of our worldy goods on Sunday 7th January, after we attended our final church service at Creek Road Presbyterian as Brisbanites. Early on Monday morning (the 8th) Brucey and I set off for Warwick. Brucey had hardly been south of the border so it was exciting for both of us. All was going smoothly until we started sharing jokes and remembering some of the funnier adventures we had had as mates over the last 12 years. Soon we were heading toward Goondiwindi..... We had been so busy laughing and mucking around that we had taken the wrong highway out of Warwick and were halfway to Inglewood before something didn't quite seem right. So we visited Warwick twice in one day. Brucey made me swear that I'd never mention who was driving at the time, so I can't reveal that bit of information. In any case, we found a toilet stop and were soon back on track. We headed toward Stanthorpe and it wasn't long before we had Midnight Oil cranked up, interchanged occasionally with a little New Testament Greek vocabulary playing on the CD player.
It is a long drive to Sydney in a truck. Fiona had packed an esky full of healthy foods for us to eat on the way down, to make the trip more pleasant for us. Of course, we stopped at every roadhouse we could to supplement our diets with more 'normal' food - like burgers, chips, coke, mars bars, ice breaks and colloiteral minerals.
On the approach to Sydney we got lost again, somewhere on the northside. I can't say who was driving that time either, other than to advise that it was all the navigator's fault. We went through a suburb called Chatswood, which is still quite interesting the 3rd or 4th time you visit. We went through it about 5 times before finding the right road to the harbour bridge. Approaching the bridge was an experience to behold, with two cocky Queenslanders stuck in a 3 tonne truck, deciding which of 14 lanes we had to be in..... with about 2.5 seconds to decide which was the way to go. We took a guess and went straight through an E'toll booth. This worked fine except that the hire truck didn't have E'toll, and the plates in my head didn't work either. So while we drove over the bridge in the bright, sparkling city night, past the opera house and the magnificent sights of the harbour, Brucey and I were losing it again with laughter. There was another toll booth at the other end and the lady had pity on us because we were obviously from hicksville (Bruce had a blue singlet on and I had my akubra on). She also seemed to find the whole saga quite amusing. We then drove right through the Sydney CBD, along George Street and down Parramatta Road, in hysterics. I guess we were pretty tired. We had just driven for 16 hours, and eaten enough food to feed 6 horses for a month.
When we finally arrived at Stanmore (a suburb in inner-city Sydney), Peter and Kylie Evans (our good friends from Qld) met us at our new home and showed us our luxury villa in the dark. It didn't look as bad as in the photos we had been sent! It was late, so we left the truck parked in the driveway and slept on the cold, hard floor of Pete and Kylie's place. At 5am or so we woke up with a massive adrenalin rush, with the floor shaking, the windows vibrating and the air thick with the sound of an earthquake measuring 8.32 on the richter scale. In fact, it was just the first in a long line of planes that swoop over our place every morning to make sure that our walls can withstand the pressures of fly-bys. I quickly went back to sleep, and woke again to the sound of the alarm on my mobile. When I went to turn it off, it appeared to me that it was lying on Bruce's face (he was still deeply asleep). So I swatted for it in my half daze and smacked him in the head. It turns out I was badly mistaken. You learn little things about the people closest to you sometimes, in the most unexpected of moments. That morning I learnt that Bruce likes to sleep with a used black sock over his eyes to shield his sight from the morning light. Until that moment of clarity, I thought I knew Bruce really well.
Anyway, Bruce and Peter kindly spent the whole day unloading our stuff while I swanned around looking for easy things to do like make cups of tea and tell people where to put things. Kylie cleaned our bathroom, so that we could discover that it was actually tiles that line the room under all the muck. The handyman here was a little surprised to see us so soon, and had started preparing the bedroom for painting (yes, we have one bedroom to accomodate Sarah and I and our 2 boys). Things eventually evolved to the point where Peter was painting the ceiling, Bruce was painting the walls, I was painting the skirting boards and the handyman was telling us how badly we were doing everything. The front room (I shall call it the sunroom) has obviously leaked very badly for a number of years. We got in there and scraped the walls clean of all the old lead based paint and put a few extra holes in the walls where required (by accident). We cleaned the floors, fill in gaps, removed old plasterboard and sanded and scraped. Kylie even managed to find Paul's "Ice Breaks" down here, which was an amazing find! 3 days and nights later the whole place was semi-clean, with only a couple of holes in the walls in the sunroom, but our bedroom was looking like it probably looked in 1884 when it was originally built. The transformation of our little residence was amazing.
I consider that there may not be many people in the world who have such loyal and dedicated friends as we have been blessed with. I thank God very much for Peter and Kylie and Bruce and Fiona, and for what they have done to make our 3 years down here so much more "livable" by giving us that week of their time...... "preparing the way" for our little family to make the big trip down on January 14....
Cheers and Regards