Lessons From the Land Down Under

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November 15, 2000

If you read last issue's column, you may be wondering what happened with "Mr. Aussie Dream Man." Did my week-long business trip to Sydney turn out to be the rendezvous of my dreams?

Well, yes and no.

When I stumbled off the plane (after 18 hours in the air!), cleared customs, and got reunited with my luggage, I was so relieved to see my name scribbled on a piece of paper, it could have been held by Quasimodo. Thankfully, there were no aged bellringers in sight, just my smiling, bespectacled "chauffeur" for the week, Brett (previously known as Mr. Aussie Dream Man). He took my bags and we made small talk about plane travel and the recent Olympics in Sydney while we wended our way to his car. After a brief stop for coffee, he dropped me at my hotel, where I fell into a deep, delightful sleep.

In between meetings over the next six days, I snuck in two days of sightseeing, and Brett was my prearranged tour guide. We spent the first day in downtown Sydney, stopping for coffee breaks and breathtaking views of a city I never thought I'd get the privilege of seeing in person. The other free day we drove two hours away to Kangaroo Valley, where we saw amazing waterfalls, quaint Aussie towns, the Pacific Ocean (from the other side!) - but sadly, no kangaroos.

While walking the streets of Sydney and driving the winding roads of the outback, I discovered Brett to be an adventurous little boy at heart, who loves Bart Simpson, God, and serving others (though not necessarily in that order). We enjoyed teaching each other Aussie and American expressions, stopping often for ice cream and coffee, and singing along to the radio together.

No, there was no spark of romance. But there was something that, when I get beyond my hopeless romantic mindset, is even better (and less complicated than a long-distance, love-at-first-sight fling) - a budding friendship. As we exchanged laughter, cultural lessons, and thoughts about God, work, and family, we established a bond of friendship I truly hope we can keep alive over time and distance.

Sure, it would have been fun to find my life-long love on this week-long adventure Down Under. But when I'm honest, I realize that not being focused solely on a blooming romance gave me the ability to absorb this wonderful new-to-me country and some hit- me-right-between-the-eyes sermons I heard at the church with which I was working. I was able to do my job well and to accept another work contact's offer of lunch in her home with her family - a real Aussie barbie, no less! I was able to enjoy quiet nights in my hotel room journaling on my balcony and watching the Aussie version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" It was a well- rounded week - each person, place, and experience a gift from God.

It just happens that this week God opted to gift me in ways that didn't include romance. And I never want my preconceived ideas (or hopeless romanticism) to keep me from enjoying the ways He does decide to bless me.

Of course, just when I was happy with my fun-filled week and was on the plane home starting to write this follow-up column, a male flight attendant started shamelessly flirting with me. He lent me his fancy-schmancy pen so I could write a little easier and smuggled me an amazing dessert from First Class.

Though he asked for my e-mail address, I doubt anything will come of this. I suspect it's just God's sense of humor in action, a funny reminder that he loves to bless us most when we least expect it - not when we've beat him to the punch and mapped out the whole scenario for him!

Blessings!
Camerin Courtney


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