The Road We Travel


Our time in Australia is drawing to a close, and I can't help but become very reflective.  The past two years have been so life-changing and eye opening.  There is such an array of emotions that flood my heart with the thoughts of going home, but with that said, here are a few ways Australia has affected my life.

* Driving on the left hand side of the road and the right hand side of the car has become completely normal.  I am now really good with roundabouts and remembering which one is the blinker lever and which is the windshield wipers (or as they would say here...wind screen)

* I say tomato sauce instead of ketchup and banana instead of banana.  I know you can't hear that one, but trust me you will when I get home.

* I drink flat whites, lattes, and caps, not a drop of sugar added because that just ruins the flavour.

* And with that statement I should say, I now spell the following words like this: favourite, colour, flavour, harbour and it is going to take a while to get that out of my system.

* I love the drinks Lemon Lime and Bitters and Ginger Beer.

* I will never free refills or authentic Mexican food for granted again.

* I will be buying a juicer when I get home and you can come over for fresh squeezed OJ.  

* For parties I will now, instead of bringing little smokies, offer to bring sausage rolls.  You are going to love them.

* Candy is now known as lollies, french fries are hot chips and cotton candy is fairy floss.

So this is just a fun list of how things have changed for me.  Spiritually, mentally, emotionally: I think I could write a book.  And instead of writing all of that here, I would much rather grab a cup of coffee (or a bowl of bottomless chips and salsa and free refill Dr. Pepper) and discuss.  

For those of you who don't know, Dane and I begin our journey back to the USA on December 3rd.  We were blessed to have a friend let us use their buddy passes so we will be flying stand by all the way back to Kansas.  If all goes well we will arrive in Kansas City December 3rd (thank you international date line).  And then we get to begin the next steps of our life journey together.  

We love you all and really appreciate you reading about our lives here!

The Kids Down Under

Weekends Are For....Serving


I recently realized that I haven't explained one of the coolest parts about our experience here in Australia, serving at Hillsong GWS.  Serving in the church has been the most impacting experience I have had here and I thought it would be cool to share with you all.

One of the reasons Dane chose to study at Hillsong was it offered a hands on continuing education opportunity.  Along with classroom study students also receive credit by serving in various capacities throughout Hillsong church life.

Hillsong has two main campus's in Sydney, the Hills and the City.  It also has 12 extension services spread throughout the community.  We were allocated to serve at the Greater Western Sydney campus, also lovingly known as GWS.

Here is what is unique about GWS compared to most churches.  It doesn't have its own building.  Every week we rent out a college lecture hall/building and transform it into our church which includes kids rooms, mother's room, youth areas, young adults space, a welcome lounge, new people's lounge, city care stations, BBQ/food, bookstore, next steps lounge and of course the worship space.  Yes, each week we bump in church, hold two church services and then bump out church.  What amazes me even more is the entire stash of supplies needed to pull this off is stored in the back of a truck the size of a regular U-Haul trailer.  With that said, we are the biggest extension service by about 200 people and we are praying and believing for our own building. Dane and I believe we will have one before we leave and we will continue to pray relentlessly for it!

One of the ways Dane and I serve is through production bump in, meaning we set up the sound equipment.  There are other teams that set up lights, media, kids rooms, the list goes on and on really.  I am new to the bump in team, but I had a really good teacher in Dane and now know how to run cords, set up monitors and mains.  It makes me feel pretty cool in a nerdy sort of way.  I have been blown away at the knowledge Dane has about it all.  Seriously, I wish you could all see him serve and help direct teams.  You would be so proud.

We also serve in other areas a well.  Dane has had the joy of  serving as Musical Director, Monitor Engineer, Guitarist, Technical Director, and Front of House Sound.  I have served in the areas of Background Vocals, Worship Leader, Hillsong Kids, and Creative Set Design.  It has been so cool to see how we can use the gifts God has put on our lives to help serve in the church in ways we never really imagined.

What I love most about Hillsong GWS is the people.  They have become a part of our Aussie family.  As I am sure you can imagine, it takes a team to pull of church each week, and I love how people are always stepping up and ready to serve.  We are so blessed to have Pastor Jay Jury leading the way along with another amazing team of key leaders.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that serving in a church isn't about personal glory.  It is all about Jesus and people.  Trust me, there is nothing glorious about giving up your Saturday afternoon to bump in, or rucking up at 5:00am to make sure things are ready to go for church.  But when hands go up during alter call on Sunday morning, and I know that people are meeting Jesus for the first time, that people are finding healing, restoration, freedom, joy, true peace in their lives well that's what makes it worth it.

Weekends Are For....German Food


We had the most amazing weekend with our friends Gav and Monique.  They took us to the Bavarian Bier Cafe where we had our fill of Oktoberfest.  Following Monique's recommendation I had the pork knuckle which is oh so finger lickin' good and covered in crackle (oh Australia thank you for introducing me to the wonderful world of crackle).  Cool thing about the Cafe, it exists in an old renovated church and includes balcony seating.  The conversation was jolly, the food was delicious and the night was memorable.

Favourite story of the night.  We rode in a taxi, our very first taxi.  While riding I started smelling something, yeah you know.  Immediately I was pinning it on Dane, but he was very clear that if he had the courage to let it rumble in a taxi, he would claim it.  After passing the blame amongst ourselves, we came to realize it was the takeaway container of sour kraut.  Oh you Germans, you are so cheeky.

Sydney On Fire


The sky has been filled with an erie glow today.  At some points it has been reddish/pink and others simply black.  We are experiencing some of the worst bushfires this area has seen in over a decade.  Just so our family and friends know, Dane and I are safe but we ask that you lift up in prayer the many families who have lost their homes and the fire brigade out all night fighting off the blaze.  Praying tonight.


Celebrate Two Years


This weekend we celebrated our two year anniversary with a little trip to the city.  Dane surprised me with tickets to Romeo and Juliet at the Opera House (ahhh freak out), ate the most delicious gelato in Sydney Harbour (chocolate truffle and chocolate chip to be exact), we enjoyed a stroll through the city, played with a mirror sculpture in the park and then finished the night off at the Play Bar which is a secret little pub in Surry Hills.  Overall it was the perfect way to celebrate two years.  I am so in love with you Dane Wutke.  ♥ 

Exploring Tamworth


Long weekends are the best!  Last weekend we joined our friends Gav & Monique for a little road trip up the coast to the town of Tamworth.

Some things you should know about Tamworth:
= It is the country music capital of Australia
= Weighs in at a population of about 36,000
= History fact: it was the first city in Australia to use electric street lights
= Gets super hot during the day and super cold at night.
= Known as the National Equine Capital of Australia (yes we saw lots of ponies)
= Home of the Big Golden Guitar
= Also home of the best South African restaurant ever (more to come on this)

Tamworth is the country music capital of Australia and holds the world's second largest country music festival.  Yes, eat your heart out Country Stampede.  Sadly, this festival is in January so we missed it by a few months, but that didn't stop us from taking in the site of the big golden guitar!

While in the area we decided to take a little bonus road trip to the down of Gunnedah, also known as koala capital of the world.  We have yet to see a koala in the wild, and Gavin, living in Australia his whole life, hadn't either.  This was going to change.  After searching literally, high and low, we found one (thanks to the help of some fellow hikers).  There is something so incredible about seeing animals in their natural habitat, no fences or cages separating you.  It just makes you feel more alive.  For a long time we just enjoyed watching the little guy take a nap, but right before we left, he popped up and started stretching.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was enjoying the South African restaurant The Safari Club.  My beautiful friend Monique is South African and so she knows what to order!  I really can't say enough how much I love meeting people from all over the world and enjoying their country's food with them!  So Monique and Gav have frequented this spot before, and know the owner/chef Elliot.  They also know the secret to ordering!  Just call the plate you see above the Shane special.  I am telling you, this was the best BBQ I have ever eaten.  Yes, that is saying something.  Any of you who went to Thelma's BBQ with me in Houston, TX, well this tops it.  I am not kidding.  It was such a privilege to meet Elliot and tell him thank you for cooking us up such a lovely feast.  He even let us sign his wall!

Other things that made our weekend great:
= Late night trivia competitions: boys vs girls of course!
= Checking out the Aussie farmland (pictured above for all you curious Kansas farm boys)
= American candy store with Big League Chew & Candy Corn
= Cable TV in the hotels rooms, yes we watched American Football
= The alphabet license plate game...the letter E!!!!!
= Girls Night Dinner: super fancy complete with wine, seafood marinara, roasted chicken, and sticky date pudding
= Guys Night Dinner: pizza, coke & the Grand Final Rugby Game

Tamworth, we had such a great time.  Gav & Monique, thanks for the awesome memories and all the amazing treats!  We love you!  ♥ 

Two Years


Today we celebrate our two year anniversary.  We have been on one crazy adventure the past two years and are so excited about the journey to come.  Here's to many more years with you my love!

Enjoy a trip down wedding memory lane here. here. here. here. here. and here.  

For We Are Young and Free


The new sound of church music is here.  Today the first ever Hillsong Young and Free album is out, and the music is incredible.  Young and Free is the youth ministry of Hillsong Church and this album represents the sound and the heartbeat of the youth of our church and this generation.

I highly recommend you pick up a copy, especially if you have a teenager in your life.  Hook the kid up alright?  And if you are a youth pastor, this is a must have!  It has been such an incredible experience to watch this project come to be and I am so excited for the lives that will be impacted by this music and the glory it will bring to God.  You can get your copy via itunes or your local Christian bookstore.

Happy Dancing Everyone!

The Kids Down Under