We began our day early on the NTC-Brisbane campus. It was a beautiful but crisp morning (Australia’s weather resembles very early spring… which meant extra blankets last night in the dormitory since few homes in Australia possess central heat.) Today was dedicated to a number of preliminary meetings to help us get the ”lay of the land” for the students who will be coming to Brisbane for 365M.
David began the day meeting with Steve Walsh to finalize some of the financial arrangements. Steve will be serving as logistical coordinator as 365m students transition to Brisbane as well as pastor at one of the ministry sites. We also had opportunity to meet with a good friend, Dr. Bruce Allder who is principal for NTC-Brisbane. Bruce was teaching a course today as well as maintaining his normal role of overseeing the school. Students at NTC Brisbane come from a wide variety of countries, some joining by video conference. We had opportunity to meet several of them during “tea time” (a sacred, closely protected, time in Australian culture). As a practical theologian, it will be good to have Bruce’s collegial presence at the school where the students will be living.
One person we had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with is Aaron Park who serves as the facilitator of NTC-Brisbane’s “gap program” (held in conjunction with PLNU and SNU) which includes a time where undergraduate come to Australia for formation and also to encounter aboriginal culture in the outback portions of Australia. Aaron, a transplant from Korea during early high school, also works in youth ministry for two of the churches. I suspect our students will be collaborating with Aaron in shaping and forming a new generation.
We also had a special time connecting with one of the mentors from the Philippines. Rev. Lucinda F. “Luz” Tamayo, pastor of the 400-strong Taytay First Church of the Nazarene. Luz is the wife of the late Rev. Vern Tomayo, former District Superintendent of Metro Manila District. She began to pastor in 1999 when her husband passed away. Under her leadership the Taytay church has grown and celebrated a number of ministries including church planting and ministry to children and youth in the Manila area. She will undoubtedly bring a lot of experience to the program.
David did meet with Richard again to confirm his role in 365M. Richard will be serving as our academic mentor and working closely with David throughout the year. Richard and Steve also possess connections with ministries to aboriginal culture which should prove helpful to students.
The day also included an outing to get the feel of the area. Students will have access to several commercial areas near the college. One such area is called Victoria Point, a larger shopping area with a number of stores and shops. The area was once known as the “fruitbasket” of Australia so we stopped by a local shop to sample some of the local fruit. In addition to the fruit and produce, we also encountered clerks from mainland China. Australia continues to experience a growing cultural diversity across the continent.
Victoria point also serves as the name of the local area that provides access to the ocean. While a large continent, the majority of the population remains primarily along costal access points. This inlet is buffered by barrier islands, many inhabited by locals, the serves the inlet by providing little surf. The short distance between the mountains and beachfront remind me of certain portions of our Pacific coastline in California. I do think our students will be able to experience a wide array of geographic and cultural experiences while in Brisbane.