Australia Day Four – A Day Off

My hosts mercifully gave me a day off on Friday.  I needed it, since I was honestly tired of hearing myself talk.  Duncan, who has now blogged about my visit, and his wife, Ennis, drove me to Broadbeach on the Gold Coast.  From there, we walked north along the gorgeous beach to Surfers Paradise and had a leisurely breakfast as we watched “nippers” being trained.

We arrived back at Duncan’s in time to hear Sarah Palin ramble incoherently about various topics and watch Gwen Ifill like a deer-in-headlights refuse to ask any follow-up questions.  Biden, I thought, was his usual knowledgeable self, if a bit dry.

(BTW, I think this is interesting to note: People in the States, and here in Australia, often talk to me about how the dominance of the U.S. is waning, how India and China are already the ascendant global powers, etc.  But, here in Australia, at 11 o’clock in the morning, the U.S. vice presidential debate was played in its entirety, both on television and radio.  And I imagine that also happened in most Western countries yesterday.  Do the Australians cover the Chinese financial markets with the same eye as the U.S. financial markets?  No.  Do they broadcast the parliament of India like they do the U.S. Congress?  No.

Globalization has surely relativized the dominance of the U.S. in world affairs, but from where I sit on the other side of the globe, the U.S. still captures the imagination of the world in a way that no other country does.  And, of course, the transparency of our political machinery aids in this.)

Duncan drove me to the airport and I had an eventless flight back to Sydney.  Fuzz retrieved me, and we made our way through rush hour traffic back to his place in The Hills.  Along the way, he told me many stories about his consulting work with youth ministry in Egypt, which sounds fascinating.

Carolyn and Fuzz then took me to dinner at their favorite seafood place and, as you can see below, ordered the seafood platter which means that we ate far too much food, complemented by a fine Australian white wine.

Like I said, it was good to have a day off.

Carolyn and Fuzz Kitto with the Seafood Platter

Day One in Australia

It’s not a short flight from San Francisco to Sydney – about 14 hours. But I did get to watch Lawrence of Arabia, one of my all-time favorite films. Then I watched And When Did You Last See Your Father?. I wept at the end of that one, which is my wont on flights. In fact, I’ve cried more on airplanes than anywhere else.

It wasn’t that big of a deal on the Qantas flight to Sydney, since it was dark and no one was seated next to me. The flight from MSP to SFO was a different story. Bright as day and seated between two guys about my age reading business magazines, I read the last two chapters of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul and wept like a baby. That is a beautiful book of faith found, lost, and refound, written by Tony Hendra (who played Ian Faith in This Is Spinal Tap). I highly recommend it.

I arrived in Sydney at 6am and was retrieved at the airport by a long-time friend, Fuzz Kitto. I’m staying with Fuzz and Carolyn in Sydney, and their house is a bustle of activity with several young women living there now. The vibe there reminds me of Tom and Christine Sine’s Mustard Seed House in Seattle. The Kittos, of course, know the Sines and just about everyone else I know around the globe.

Since I refuse to use neck pillows, I didn’t sleep much on the plane and got pretty tired as the day wore on.  I spoke at a “book launch” for The New Christians at noon, then had a great time on a radio show for the Australian Broadcasting Network that will be aired on Sunday night.  In between, Carolyn took me to Coogee Beach for a Chardonnay.  That evening, we met with a dozen emergent church types for an incredible meal cooked by Fuzz that included the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever tasted.

I fell asleep in Carolyn’s car on the way back to the Kittos, and crashed hard when I saw the bed.

All in all, a great first day with many good connections.  And Sydney is a breathtaking city.