Submission…

Well, after several months of being so busy I haven’t even had time to think, I finally have time to write again. I have finished my last session of prac for my course, and only have assignments and a week of class in December left to go. We’ve been away several times (two trips to see family, and one to Sydney for the International Fleet Review), and had a few visitors – my mum a few weeks ago, and my brother and his wife this week. Its been wonderful to see family – I still get incredibly lonely out here. So no, I have not fallen off the face of the planet – just attempting to get through life without screaming. Much.

This year God blessed me with the opportunity to pursue my dream – a career in zoo-keeping. I got into a great course and my husband and I packed up and moved miles away from our families and friends.

I was sure that this was God’s plan. You see, this course is really high demand, but I got in. Some of my classmates had terrible trouble finding a house – we had a rental within a week. Everything else just fell into place. My husband got a job, I am enjoying an awesome course, and since God had blessed us this much, I just assumed that meant we would be staying here for a couple of years.

And now it seems that God’s plans for us don’t include me getting a job at the zoo and staying here. In fact, it looks like those plans could include us turning right around and marching back in the direction from whence we came. And I’ll admit – I didn’t wanna!! *insert foot stomp here*

At first my reaction was annoyance, then mild anger as I realised His plan. This was followed by disappointment and a flood of tears. And slowly I came to accept, to submit. To remember that He knows the plans He has for us – plans to give us hope and a future.

I still don’t know exactly what is happening. But you know what – right now it doesn’t matter. I am happy. Happy in the knowledge that God always knows best, He can see the future, and He is holding my tomorrow.

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Home alone

Yesterday morning my husband left to work a few hours away for the rest of the week. Which means I’m on my own. And lonely.

I suppose for most people this wouldn’t be so bad. But I don’t like it. At all. For quite a few reasons. First of all I have a fear of the dark. Well, not the actual dark, just the things that may be in it! So while being home alone is quite fine normally, once it gets dark it starts to make me nervous.

Which brings me to my next problem. I had never slept in a house alone at night. Ever. (Yes, I realise that at my age this is abnormal, but it’s just one of those things that hasn’t happened.) So that makes me slightly nervous too.

My other problem is that I miss my husband terribly. We haven’t been apart overnight since we got married. It’s bad enough when he gets home late from work – it’s lonely and boring! But at least usually I can enjoy getting dinner and cleaning up everything ready for when he gets home. This time he won’t be home til Friday night. And that makes me lonely. What makes it worse is that he doesn’t even have reception so he can’t call or even text me.

Last night didn’t turn out so bad. I went over to a friend’s house and watched a movie and ate icecream and laughed til we couldn’t laugh any more. And then I came home to my lonely house and went to bed. I had thought that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all because I was nervous and worried about my husband. But his workmate had a bit of reception so he was able to text and let me know they were safe. Coupled with a bit of prayer and being really tired, I slept like a log and didn’t feel nervous at all.

Tonight was worse. Being at home by myself is very boring. There is so much to do but absolutely no motivation to do it on my own. (I managed to feed the birds and water the plants at least – so everything will still be alive when the man of the house gets home!) It’s hard to gather any excitement for cooking dinner when you know you will have to eat it by yourself. It’s also hard to concentrate – I burnt all of my patties and dropped a whole scoop of icecream on the floor!

Everything just seems wrong! I miss having someone to talk to, I miss his help with getting everything done. I miss getting a hug at the end of a long day. I even miss having an elbow collide with my nose in the middle of the night!

He’s not perfect by any means. There are lots of things he does that annoy me, sometimes even things that make me mad. But somehow love fixes all that and makes the annoying things bearable. It makes me think of a verse in the Bible.

‘Love covers all wrongs.’ Proverbs 10:12 NIV

It really does. I am so blessed. And I can’t wait til he gets home!

Strange things, part 2

My house seems to be full of strange things. Since I wrote my last post on strange things, even more have appeared to baffle me.

I found one while doing the washing. I sorted the washing and put it all in the machine. Everything was going marvelously until I discovered that there was a bump under the door seal on my front loader. This is not normal. So I checked underneath the seal and behold, there were 2 screws. They weren’t attached to anything, just sitting there happily. I removed them and relocated them to a more natural habitat. Whoever does the washing around here needs to learn to check in the pockets! (I should also remind them about the washing on the lounge room floor that needs folding.)

Then there was a really strange noise I heard the other day. It sounded like a cow mooing. It can’t have been, because we live in town and there is nowhere for a cow to be. Nowhere at all. So unless we have cows loose on our streets it can’t have been a cow. But if it wasn’t a cow, I’d like to know what it was! Perhaps I am just losing the plot and starting to hear things.

This morning I discovered a strange black patch on the carpet. I have no idea where it came from. Or how to let it know that it is not welcome for that matter. (I mean, does carpet have ears?) I don’t even know how to go about getting black patches out of carpet. But Mother is coming on Friday, and since mothers know all things, she is bound to know how to remove it!

And then there was a rather horrible strange thing in our street this morning. We heard people talking in the middle of the street so we looked out the window to find out what was going on. Our neighbours were talking to a ranger and looking at something on the road. I couldn’t work out what it was – we saw our neighbours later and apparently it was a mutilated dead pig! How it got there nobody seems to know. It was quite horrible! Fortunately the ranger removed it and all appears to be normal in our street.

I haven’t found any other strange things as yet, which is good, because I am kind of over finding weird things! However, I am learning patience and to expect the unexpected! So stay tuned for the next batch of strange things!

Another week at the zoo!

Just finished my second week of prac. It’s kinda sad to say goodbye to all the animals but so good to be home relaxing.

I came home today to find a beautiful bunch of flowers waiting for me, along with a card and a welcome home hug from my husband. I have no idea how I got such a wonderful man but hey, no complaints here!

This week I was working with the Asian Small-clawed Otters, the Greater One-horned Rhinos, and the Siamangs. All such different creatures with their own little personalities.

The otters, Harley and Emiko, were the funniest things. Feeding times were always hilarious, with Harley eating like otters are supposed to and Emiko having absolutely no idea what was going on. We gave them a yabby every day (which I had to catch – eeek!) – Harley bit off both claws before eating the rest of the yabby. Emiko would start at the tail end, squealing in pain every time the yabby bit her feet! She also doesn’t hold her food in her paws to eat or wash it before eating, both of which are common behaviours from ‘normal’ otters!

Since the siamangs are primates and dangerous, I wasn’t allowed to do much with them. But I got to sit and watch them for ages and practice my throwing skills with their food. I think Puteri (mama siamang) hates me now – I nearly hit her in the head with a banana! Baby Lima was so adorable – he is 10 months old and learning to climb and play and eat grownup food (when mum and dad don’t steal it off him!) and he is even adding his little squeaks to his parents’ territorial calls! I just wanted to cuddle him! (And perhaps put him in my pocket and take him home!)

The rhinos weren’t my favourite rhinos (black rhinos are definitely cooler!) but they were still awesome. (Until we had to watch them constantly for 3 days! But more on that in a minute.) Poor Dora is actually a male saddled with a girl’s name but it doesn’t seem to affect him. They are pretty similar to black rhinos but these guys graze more and enjoy soaking in mud baths rather than just rolling in mud. They also have to have soft ground for their feet otherwise they get problems. And on my second day there, Amala went into oestrus. Which meant we had to put her in with Dora. Which meant that we couldn’t leave them alone for 3 days. Which meant that someone had to be continually watching them. And because I am just a student I had to stay with keepers at all times. So I was stuck watching rhinos for the better part of 3 days! It was interesting occasionally – a chase here, a confrontation there – but mostly they were just eating or sleeping. And it sent my brain to sleep. (Nearly followed by the rest of me!)

Having breaks to feed or clean up after otters or siamangs was a welcome relief. And it was nice to have plenty of time to chat with keepers and ask questions. (And play I spy, watch youtube clips, and play quiz games!) And yesterday afternoon when we went to cut some browse for the rhinos (while some other lucky soul sat and watched them!), I got to see a cheetah up close! She was just on the other side of a fence, watching us. So beautiful.

And Mummy is coming to visit in 6 days!!!!! (Since the house currently looks like a bomb has hit it will be wonderful to have a mummy around to fix it!) I am soo excited! See you soon Mummy!

A week with the rhinos!

For those who don’t know, I am doing a course in zoo-keeping and this week was my first week of prac at the zoo. It was a really full-on week working with black rhinos and I was looking forward to a lovely sleep-in this morning. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. So here I am!

My brother’s words of wisdom the day before I started prac were, ‘If a rhino charges you, charge it back!’ My husband told me I should take the rhinos dandelions! (You have to have seen Ice Age to understand!) I ignored both of these suggestions and somehow survived without getting tackled by any rhinos!

My first day of prac was like a crash course in zoo-keeping and rhinos. So much information to absorb all in one day! I didn’t know an awful lot about rhinos before I started, but by the end of the day my brain was clogged with rhino information! Somehow I got through it all and by the end of the week I actually knew what was going on!

My husband asked me what I did all day with the rhinos. Well…I discovered that they are eating machines. They get fed first thing in the morning, they get fed at the keeper talk, they get fed after morning tea, they get fed after lunch! And feeding ten rhinos takes a long time! (The keepers also have to cut tree branches for them – 3 branches a day each for ten rhinos = 30 branches! And cutting them takes a long time!)

The next thing I discovered was that they like to make a mess. They move their nice clean hay out of their feeding troughs and drag it through the dirt and then the keepers have to come and rake it up. Some of the rhinos are particularly messy and it looks like a hay bomb has exploded! And cleaning up after ten rhinos takes a long time!

Another discovery I made was that what goes in must come out! Since they eat so much, they also poo an awful lot! I was told the approximate weight of a rhino poo is about 35kg (it varies of course depending on how much they eat). And after shoveling ten times that onto a trailer all week I believe it! Fortunately rhino poo is not the worst kind of poo – it is pretty much munched up grass, so shoveling large amounts of it is not as bad as it seems. However, shoveling ten rhinos’ poo takes a long time!

The other thing I discovered was that rhinos actually get trained. They are taught to do various things – coming to their keepers, leaning against the fence, touching specific targets, putting their foot up on a box (to give access to draw blood), putting up with being touched all over, and one even knows how to move a log on command! Some days they act half asleep and don’t cooperate, but it is all a work in progress.

So that is pretty much what I did all day! At the end of the week, after listening to all the info and all the keeper talks through the week, I did the keeper talk on Friday! It was somewhat nerve-racking, but I was allowed to take notes and the people were really nice and supportive and didn’t leave or throw tomatoes!

In my week with the black rhinos, I learnt to love their cheeky personalities, and their annoying slowness when they decide to be stubborn. (Pretty much everything takes forever with rhinos – they are ridiculously slow until they are angry or scared.) They make funny little noises when they are hungry and when they are frightened they run around in a panic with their tails sticking straight up. They are really cool creatures, but most of all, they are God’s creatures. And they are in trouble.

It is heart-breaking to learn about how endangered rhinos are (there are only about 4,800 black rhinos left!) and how cruel poachers can be. So far this year, 203 black and white rhinos have been killed in South Africa alone! And they don’t kill them humanely either. It is really horrible.

I can’t wait for Heaven, when the rhinos can be cheeky and slow and make funny noises in peace! And when we can all appreciate the true beauty of God’s creation.

Tears of God

As I type this, I am lying on the lounge feeling sick. When I announced how I was feeling to my husband, he promptly dragged me to the lounge, turned the music down, and got me a nice warm wheat pack to cuddle. He is now washing the dishes, after already taking the rubbish out and tidying the lounge room. And all this without me even asking. I have a wonderful husband!

Last night I watched The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas for the second time. As a rule I don’t cry in movies. Ever. (Mum used to accuse me of being a heartless child while she sobbed her way through one movie after another and I sat there laughing at her.) This is the only movie to have ever broken that rule. Last time I watched it I cried and swore I would never watch it again but somehow I was silly enough to forget that. This time I watched it all the way through with only a few tears at the end….And then I sobbed for half an hour. My husband held me and reminded me that it isn’t a true story but it made no difference. You see, it’s not the little boy’s fate that makes my heart bleed. It’s not even his mother’s heartbreak or the pain in the faces of the Jews in the story. It’s not the cruelty of the soldiers that makes me want to scream.

It’s God. 

Or rather, the lack of Him. It’s enough to make me angry. WHERE WERE YOU?? Why did you let innocent people, even CHILDREN, be treated like this? Both times I have watched this movie it makes me fall apart. It shakes at the very foundations of my belief in a loving Father. I sob and question until I can’t think anymore. If You really care, why didn’t you DO something?? And when I come to the end of my tears, I am still no closer to an answer than I was at the start. I still don’t know where He was. I still don’t understand why He didn’t stop the pain, the heartache. But somehow I feel I have not wept alone. He is there. I feel His arms around me. I hear His voice whisper, ‘I know, My child, I know. I feel it too.’ And in His voice I hear tears. I realise that not only is He there, but He is weeping. Deep wracking sobs. The pain of a heart of Love. As our tears subside, He reminds me of a promise. A promise to one day banish sin, and pain, and tears.

‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.’ (Revelation 21:4)

But until that day, we will cry together. For the pain of His children, the heartache of a broken world. And as I see the tears of God, I feel the love of a Father. And even though I may not understand, I know that I can trust His heart.

Today, He weeps for my pain. He weeps for yours. Take it to Him and let a loving Father wipe away your tears.

A Bookworm

I love reading. I always have. I used to take books to town and hold onto Mum’s sleeve while she shopped and I read. She had to hide new books she had bought and bring them out over a few weeks so I wouldn’t read them all at once. I was a real bookworm!

It didn’t matter what it was, I read everything! I have read novelised Bible stories, missionary stories, angel stories, biographies, and autobiographies. I have read dictionaries, recipe books, bird books, and encyclopedias. I have read textbooks, classics, and animal stories. And I enjoyed them all.

I have a habit of reading at least 2 books at once, swapping between them as I feel like it. It can have disastrous effects – I once read two books (I think it was John Wesley and George Whitefield) and got them all muddled up in my head until had no idea which facts belonged to which man! I still love doing it but I have since learned to keep each book in order in my head so I don’t get confused!

I love libraries and bookstores. I can’t resist buying new books, borrowing old ones. My latest purchase was a new copy of Mound-Builders, a book on Malleefowl. (I bought it for an assignment but it is actually really interesting. Did you know that Malleefowl only ever travel about 2km maximum from the mound where they hatched?) The book before that was a 50c copy of a biography, Peter Marshall, from a little secondhand shop.

You can learn so much from books. Like how to grow tulips or identify a particular bird. Like what to feed a stray baby lorikeet or the history of the Roman Empire. At least, you can when you have time to read them. Marriage has a way of taking all your time and energy away from such things as reading and giving it completely to house-keeping and studying. But somehow in the middle of it all it is still a wonderful feeling to pick up a book sometimes and just smell it and then read it all the way through in a few hours just to prove I still can.

If you asked me to pick my favourite out of all of the books I have ever read I probably wouldn’t be able to pick just one. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma would be up there. Janette Oke’s books, too many to pick a favourite, except perhaps Roses for Mama. Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. Australian Birds would probably be on the list, with it’s beautiful pictures and helpful information. The 4 Ingredients recipe books, with their quick and easy recipes just made for a busy little wife. A veterinary dictionary, with it’s intriguing big words. Joe Wheeler’s The Good Lord Made Them All series of beautiful and courageous animal stories. Catherine Marshall’s Christy is both beautiful and heart-rending. Leslie Ludy’s Authentic Beauty and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge are both great books on Christian womanhood. So many books to learn from and enjoy and be friends with.

There is another Book that is even more special. It’s Author isn’t too popular in the world today, but His Book has stood the test of time. Translated into many languages, with many different versions, it still remains strong. I have about 10 copies in different versions on my bookshelf. And they don’t get opened as often as they should. I want to change that today.

How about you? Do you have this Book? Do you read it?