On January 8th, we immigrated to Australia permanently and entered the often adventurous Queensland. The heat was immense, but in three or four weeks we were pretty used to it, as you either fry or survive (we may have done a bit of both). I have to admit I had my fears about coping with the wildlife and the unique challenges of living regional, but both have proved to be very unfounded. Even termites don't scare me as much anymore, and after seeing a few snakes in the wild, I've discovered they're not all that terrifying either. In fact, they're probably very terrified of me (particularly justifiable, if they knew me). Perhaps the biggest challenge about living regional is coping with the lack of rain. People on the coast think they've had a dry year, but they really don't know the half of it. Chinchilla hasn't seen rainfall above 10mm for months on end, and the drought just seems to continue. Time after time, we all check the forecast only to see that once again, there's no rain forecasted for the next ten days. It can be hard to imagine how life continues without proper rainfall, but it does seem to. Obviously farmers are getting very desperate, and even the animals are getting desperate. But we carry on as best as we can in the hope that God will provide, and it will rain again and the drought will break just like the last one did.
As far as making things work job wise out here, we've done very well. Michael has been teaching secondary school at our local Christian College, and I've been teaching up to forty music students a week and two classes of literacy extension (creative writing) students. We've purchased a house here and are living very happily in it. Peyton, our dog, has settled into Australia beautifully, and copes with the heat often better than we do. Additionally, I've had two new books published this year: Consort to the Shadows Part One and Part Two. This has felt like a particularly exciting achievement for me, as neither of these books have been published previously - they are entirely first editions. There are only two installments left in The Fledgling Account series now, and once they are out then I will have completed my literary magnum opus. I doubt I shall ever write a series this big again - the work involved is simply mammoth, and I've probably gone as far as I can into inventing a whole separate world with its cultures and accompanying languages.
To top things off, we visited New Zealand for ten days around the time of Christmas this year, and caught up with the family once more. Christchurch was freezing and rainy (why can't they share some rain with Chinchilla???), so staying inside was mandatory so that I didn't get sick. Then we flew to the North Island and visited the Bay of Islands and Hamilton. The Bay was beautiful as always, but very windy this year, meaning kayaking was rather fierce. The waves buffeted me around no end, but I usually got where I wanted to go and was rewarded with very pleasant views on the way there and back. In Hamilton, we saw my immediate family and shared Christmas with them. The colder weather was a true shock. Now we're back in Queensland, listening to the squawking of parrots and experiencing the quiet thrum of the earth as the heat builds and builds day after day. It's dry here, but I wouldn't go back to New Zealand to live if you paid me to, even though it's hard to explain exactly why. Everyone has their preferences, and for me Queensland is home now. My citizenship may be dual, but in my heart, Australia is my home.
Next year is going to bring some radical changes for us as a family, as we are expecting a rather different sort of sequel in June, of course praying that everything goes well. I'm not the clucky baby type to be honest, but I've always wanted to have a child - so Aussie baby here we come. Can't wait to show you the wonders of Queensland as well.