Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Day in Pictures - Sydney (Blue Mountain, Olivia's Place, Hillsong Church)

In this section, I give you a glimpse of my travels.

This is the story of my trip to Sydney to visit my very good friend Olivia. I went for four days on a long weekend (in New Zealand it was Labour Day) and loved every minute of it. I came back feeling refreshed in body, renewed in spirit, and having met a lot of amazing people.

The story begins with Olivia meeting me at the airport and then whisking me away (with her friends, though they did most of the whisking) to Blue Mountain, which is a big, hilly area west of Sydney.

We had a picnic lunch on the way there, where I ate vegemite for the first time!

My first local birds! I think theses were cockatoos.

Here are the so-called "mountains". Everyone I talked to in NZ told me that they would be kind of unremarkable, but I still thought they were pretty sweet.

We took a group shot on a sample rail-car. I loved Olivia's friends! There were two kiwis and a girl from Papua New Guinea. We were so international!

After that we took a hike along some previous rock landslides; it was such a beautifully sunny day! Perfect for hiking!

Here's Olivia posing and admiring the landscape all at once.

Here's all of us posing for a picture.

Here's all of us after Olivia pointed out this ostrich that was flying by us.
...just kidding!

The way we did it was that we took a railcar down the mountain and then hiked back up. There were so many twists and turns (but with some beautiful waterfall scenery) that it took us a long time to get back up! We definitely got a good workout. There were something like a thousand stairs? It definitely reminded me of the Grouse Grind.

Anyway, after that, we went and looked at some shops around Blue Mountain, but at night we had a delicious barbecue! Just look at this sumptuous feast:
Also note the flower petals and the candles. Doesn't Olivia live in such a girly house!

Oh! Oh! The next delight of the trip was the Olivia made cinnamon buns!


Oh! Oh! Oh! Did I mention Olivia has a pool? That night, after dinner we all took a dip in the pool! AND THEN ATE CINNAMON BUNS!!
(this picture is of the pool next morning)

The next day, I went to church in the morning at HILLSONG. It was absolutely amazing!
If you look really closely, you can see Olivia in the choir!

The above picture is from the morning service, which people assured me was quite tame compared to the night service. It did not disappoint:
It was jam-packed! The mosh pit was great and we were right near the front, so we had front row action.

What really impressed me about Hillsong was just the overall polish of everything. From the news bulletins to the cultivated atmosphere to the passion of the speakers, you could tell that everyone's spiritual gifts were being used to their maximum potential. Everyone doing their best, working as part of a bigger picture; just fantastic.

After the service at night on Sunday, there was an amazing lounge where people could socialize while listening to a live guitarist (and harmonica-ist) play music! What I loved about this lounge was that the musicians didn't play worship music, but rather just some popular songs that people knew and it was a very relaxing atmosphere. I can see how this could be less intimidating for someone new to the church. That said, I'm not sure if I would have coped if I didn't have Olivia introducing me to people, but the idea was stil nice.

...and that's it for now! I'll have another post about my trip to downtown Sydney the next day up soon! In the mean time, remember that these are but a small number of pictures I have of my trip! For the whole story, go to my Facebook!

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