Hi my beautiful readers! I'm so sorry for a delay in updates. When we were in Sydney we didn't have any land ADSL internet connection, which meant that only 7 computers were available with Satellite internet and they - were - sloooow....

Alot has been happening recently, which I'll try and fill you in on.

The weekend before we left Sydney, so the 5-7th of September, I went on a 2 night 'Overnight' to Bankstown Uniting Church. This church is located about an hour's drive from the City [in traffic] which provided a wonderful napping opportunity for a few of us in the group. Pastor Gaby is the new youth minister at this church, and since he's been there they went from having no kids to having about 20 - praise God.

The Uniting church here itself is very multicultural, with Gaby and his family originating from Lebanon while others spring from Asia, Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, India - and so on. Its a beautiful church and very open to anyone joining - a great attitude any church should have.

We were picked up from the ship on the Friday about 2:30pm - in pouring rain! - which for me joyously continued till Sunday morning. For our plans however this halted a number of things that had been planned - but that meant other things got to be done instead.

We went to a Uniting Church Conference - which was... interesting - but also had alot of good things said in it. We also had the priviledge of 3 dancers from Tonga and Samoa performing various Bollywood style Indian dancing and then wrapped it all up with some cultural Tongan & Samoan dancing - including 'The Dummies Guide' version for 9 awkward conference attendees. I would be awkward too if some greased up well built Tongan guy was trying to teach me their dances... hahahaha!

Saturday I woke up after a restless sleep thanks to giant drops of water falling from the 8-storey UnitingCare facility landing heavily on the office tin roof where we were sleeping. We had breakfast at 9am in the church hall with Pastor Gaby and Keith, an elderly gentleman who attends the church. He told us in great detail how Sydney got settled, where the name Bankstown came from, and other information the others found interesting. Don't get me wrong I find it interesting but most of it I knew from basic History classes in school - particularly the colonisation of Sydney.

Then we were treated to lunch at - McDonalds [bleh!] before we headed off to look at all the other churches in the Parish. We were dropped back off at our office where I laid down to rest only to end up sleeping for about 3 hours [exhausted much?] and being woken about 10 minutes before we had to start the Youth Program for the evening - unprepared. Argh! In the end though, it all worked out really good [of course!]. I managed to sing solo, share my testimony, do a magic trick, perform in a drama and make some really cool friends from the church. All in an evenings work!

Then we had dinner - at 9:30pm! -with Pastor Gaby and his wife, Mary, and their son Kevin. I have to say, my meals are so routine on the ship - usually breakfast 7-7:50, Lunch 12-1 and dinner 5:30-6pm - so I was starving every time we'd get to a meal as it would be about 2-4 hours later than i'm used to!

Sunday morning - early breakfast [yay!], before being at church by 8:30am ready for a 9am start. Some beautiful Samoan's [I think] sang a lovely song for the congregation before we got up the front and introduced ourselves again. We performed another drama and our married couple, Alfonso [Switzerland] and Marli [Brazil] shared their joint testimony. Akhan [India] was our group leader and he did the message for the service. As a group I think we really connected well with each other and the church - especially the youth. Then we were invited to join Pastor Gaby and his family for lunch - even with it being Father's Day. It was a nice day and they are a lovely family. They were very warm and welcoming, they often spoke in Arabic or French so I spent most of the time talking with Kevin about music and things. They even invited me back to holiday or to help out at the church - nice.

This concludes the 'Overnight' update, I'll let you rest your eyes while I go down to Quayside and say goodbye to more friends who are leaving the ship. 70 in all will be gone by Sunday and Sunday evening we welcome the 71 new Pre-Shippers. Sad AND happy times...