“Transcripts received.” “Can you please scan me a copy of your marriage certificate?” “Your application is now complete. If you give me the green light, I will go ahead and submit it.” These were the last three interactions I had with a liaison from the University of Western Australia. And after receiving confirmations from the university, I can now say that I have officially applied for a Master Degree in Social Work.We’re now sharing this with you so that you can join us in prayer. A masters program for social work in Western Australia can potentially open many doors for us. This University is in downtown Perth, right in the area where we would love to spend a couple of years. This is just an hour and 39 minutes from Brookton and Ryan could make trips out there during the week and the Wheatbelt could (hopefully!) be where I do any practical part of the program. When our eyes were first opened to the scope of problems in the Wheatbelt, Ryan and I both asked the question, “What can we do?” In seeking to answer this question, this program at UWA came on our radar. This program can potentially use my background in literacy and education while expanding my skill set to include other practical, tangible ways to help people. It can also potentially be a building block to help me connect the Yakima youth to the Aboriginal youth. And so much more. Please pray specifically with us. Please pray that I would be accepted to pursue a Masters Degree in Social Work at UWA. Please pray that our path and timing would become more clear in the next couple of months. And please pray for our hearts, ok more specifically my heart, as this season of waiting and wandering is particularly difficult.
I always enjoy visiting Chicago. Not only is it a great city but we get to hang with great people. Here’s Joel showing off his ice skating moves at the ribbon rink downtown as we walked around taking in the city lights. It was a chilly yet still enjoyable outing. Too bad they didn’t have skates that would have fit Ryan otherwise he would have been out there on the ice too!New Years Eve we ventured out to The Improvised Shakespeare Company‘s New Years Eve Spectacular. It was full of laughs and good clean fun. And last but not least, toasting to the New Year. Here’s to 2016 and all that it holds. I know that if Ryan and I laugh a lot, spend more time with people we love and continue living with the hope that sustains us, 2016 will be an amazing year.
A soft layer of white power covered Chicago as we flew out yesterday morning. And just like the snow in Wisconsin, it is beautiful but cold. The wind in Chicago also added another bone chilling layer. But despite the bitter cold, two nights and a day weren’t enough time in Chicago. It was great to see friends and get to experience the city in winter.
We arrived in LA via Dallas and Vail and were greeted by 63 degree weather. Welcome to California! New Years Eve was spent with friends enjoying good food and games.
It’s been 10 days of blissful fun in the sun, humid and sticky fun but fun nonetheless. Thank you Jenny and Joel for the couch, the great meals, the conversations, the tours of the city, sharing friends, sharing experiences and generally being awesome.
This week has been just as packed with city events. I’ve been to the Zoo in Lincoln Park with another friend who just happened to be in the city. Jenny and I went for lots of walks, trying to make the most of the cooler (read: not over 100 degrees) weather. And Jenny, Joel and I continued to eat well. Enjoying things like hotdogs from Hot Doug’s and pizza and beer from Piece. You can eat well and not feel guilty when you work it off with lots of fun activities.
My favorite Chicago activity has to be kayaking on the Chicago River. While there are lots of places to rent kayaks on the river, my shout out goes to Wateriders. They are located just out of the middle of downtown so you get a workout without being too far from the great views on the river. You are right beside buildings like the Trump Tower, Chicago Sun Times Building, The Opera House and the old Montgomery Ward building, just to name a few. It’s such a different view being below these huge, beautiful buildings. We were on the river for an hour and a half and went through the whole city. And even though the day was hot, it seemed cooler on the water and we could rest under the bridges in the shade too. At the end of our time we got pens to take home and a 20% off coupon to a nearby restaurant. Those didn’t make the trip, they were just extra perks. I would definitely go kayaking here again!
And you can’t be in Chicago without experiencing Chicago deep dish pizza. We ate the Lou’s for lunch from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. And if that wasn’t enough food we added yummy fried zucchini. It’s zucchini so it’s healthy, right? Very filling and very delicious.
The grand finale last night was a typical Chicago experience with a free concert in Millennium Park put on by the Grant Park Music Festival. It was a beautiful classical concert and the atmosphere was very nice. Everyone just out on the lawn, with their picnics, enjoying the cooler evening. A great final night in Chicago. Goodbye for now Jenny and Joel. Goodbye for now Chicago.
Three years ago tomorrow, Jenny and Joel got married in Santa Barbara, California. I flew in from Papua New Guinea in order to be with them the week before and on the special day. I’m so thrilled that Joel was intentional and bold when he started dating Jenny. They complement each other and I love them together.
Yesterday Jenny took me up in the John Hancock Building where Joel proposed in February 2009. That day they enjoyed dinner together and then he brought her up to the Observatory and proposed with views of the city of Chicago all around. Evidently it is the same place that Barack Obama proposed to his wife Michelle. Yesterday there was no proposal reenactments but instead Jenny and I enjoyed the high up views of Chicago while sipping cocktails. Here’s to another happy year Joel and Jenny!
So the whole world seems to be watching the Olympics and Chicago is no exception. Even the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is celebrating with red, white and blue lights. It was fun to have the opening ceremonies on while hanging out with friends on Friday night. My favorite part has to be a tie between seeing new countries that weren’t on my radar before and seeing the countries that I have traveled to and still feel connected with. I love maps so seeing a country I haven’t heard of makes me just want to spend more time pouring over my world atlas. And it’s really fun to see places like Papua New Guinea, Ghana, Kazakhstan, etc. all marching and proud. I’ve been especially impressed with Kazakhstan that already has two gold medals. With only three full days left in Chicago, there is still lots to experience but we may just end up watching more of the Olympics!
Jenny and I spent yesterday enjoying downtown Chicago. As we talked, I realized that I first toured Washington DC., New York, Boston and now Chicago all with Jenny. I’ve still been to less states than countries but without Jenny my state number would be even smaller. I am thankful for Jenny who pushes me out of my comfort zone in such a nice way.
The day couldn’t have had a better start since we took our morning walk with an amazing doughnut destination in mind. Dazed and Infused was a very yummy treat. And, since we walked there and back, it justified the sugar rush for breakfast. My favorite doughnuts are still the old fashioned but since they didn’t have their maple and bacon doughnuts ready yet, I guess I will have to go back at some point. Seriously delicious.
I had only seen pictures of “The Bean” and so it was fun to walk through Millennium Park and enjoy this Chicago landmark in person. It is wonderfully reflective and everyone seemed to be enjoying walking under and around this large, fun sculpture. It seemed like most people congregated in this area and the area around the Great Lawn where there are lots of cool, free outdoor concerts but further in it was much quieter and we could just talk, walk and enjoy the day.
Of course cupcakes seem to be popular everywhere now and Chicago is no exception. Jenny’s favorite cupcake place is Sweet Many B’s and so I had to go and buy lots to keep her birthday celebration going all week. Cream cheese frosting is always a favorite. What’s another sugar rush? But I haven’t only been enjoying sweet stuff in Chicago. I have also eaten Mexican street food at Xoco (spicy and wonderful but not your typical Mexican), enjoyed a Chicago style hotdog (with pickle!) and I am still looking forward to good Chicago style pizza. Chicago gets major food points.
And since we have been enjoying the food, what better way to work it off than a little dancing in the park. Yesterday was Hungarian Gypsy day. This is part of a summer dance series in Grant Park that is free and open to anyone. The live music was fun and the instructor was patient with his huge class. It’s really great to see all ages and dancing abilities out together, holding hands and enjoying summer one chasse at a time.
A Chicago food tour is definitely not complete without the Chicago popcorn mix. Garrett Popcorn has all the traditional stuff you would expect but the surprising Chicago mix hits the spot. It’s sweet and salty, cheese and caramel. Not what I would normally put together but I am now a fan. You could have a bowl of this in front of you and it would be gone before you could say Sears Tower.
Ok so there is no Sears Tower in this shot but that’s ok because it’s not called the Sears Tower anymore anyway. It is now the Willis Tower but that name hasn’t quite stuck so it is still commonly called the former Sears Tower. The Chicago skyline is something I could get use to seeing. Jenny and I had a great day shopping and exploring downtown. I now have less than a week left in Chicago but the adventures aren’t over yet. After a few days like this, is it that big of a surprise that friendship and food go so well together?