We became citizens of Australia on Tuesday 29 June, 2010. We will be dual citizens of Australia and the US. Many have asked why we went to the effort. We were permanent residents and did not have to become citizens to do work here in Sydney. It is a valid question, but all it does is open a series of other questions that will lead to the answer of the ‘Why’ of citizenship. So I will leave it to answering some of the top questions asked by people who hear our ‘funny’ accent. We get asked these questions weekly and, yes, they do asked very bluntly. Question 1: Are you Canadian? Cathy & I grew up in Maryland & Iowa and we do have a ‘softer accent’ than our friends from other areas of the US, but that is not where the question is based. Most Australians experience this,when asking someone from the North America about their accent. Canadians get quite offended if asked if they are from the US and Americans do not get offended either way. Americans just tend to be louder and verbose in their clarification of their country of origin. So, the safe call for most Australians is to ask ‘Are you from Canada?’
Question 2: What are you doing here?
Ah, the beauty of the accent. We are able to get into a gospel conversation without even having to ask any questions ourselves. We do not call ourselves missionaries here (sounds too Mormon-like), but as ‘ministry workers’ we get to share the reason for living here and the work we do in Sydney. We are able to share the name of Jesus and the work He can have in the lives of the people we come in contact with in the city. What a gift this silly accent provides for us to share the Gospel. God has a plan.
Question 3: Which country do you like more?
A very wise woman gave us advice on how to steer this potentially loaded question out of dangerous waters. The standard and genuine answer to this question would be, “Which do I like more? How do you choose? It is like picking which of our children I love more. I love all of our children equally for their unique qualities and unconditionally." The same could be said about Australia & the US. We love them both equally.
Question 4: When are you leaving?
Finally, the answer to the question of our citizenship. Depending on how people respond to the first three questions, we could take this question in different ways. Generally, it is in reference that Americans do not immigrate. Americans represent the smallest immigrant population in Australia. Most Aussies are used to their American friends moving back to the US eventually. Our answer can now be, we are citizens. We are ‘all in’ and committed to being here as long as the Lord wants us to be here. If you study James’ epistle, it is foolish to commit beyond the will of God. So, if he wants us here for the rest of our days, we are committed to being here. Also, it does communicate commitment to our friends in Australia. We love this country and look forward to seeing how the Lord will use us here, even to the end of our days.
Question 5: How do you like our football?
Australia is a sport crazy nation and it has four codes of football. Rugby, Rugby League, Australian Rules Football & Soccer. This question is another potential challenge, depending on the state you are living. First pitfall for most Americans is to rave about NFL. There are pockets of people who like grid iron, but generally the only time people care about NFL is around Super Bowl time. Our response comes from a love for two of the codes, they are more exciting and faster than NFL. We started as Rugby League fans (Rabbitohs are my team - I will tell you that story someday) which is a NSW and Queensland code. Then Josh started playing AFL two years ago and we all have become hooked. So, we cheer for Josh’s team, the Southwest Tigers and for the professional team, the Sydney Swans. Like food, sport is a great way to reach into the hearts of people and see what they are most passionate about, then we can begin to share about the passion in our lives, Jesus Christ. Also, it is great fun to watch the various codes of footy. Go Rabbitohs, So Swans, Go God. Not necessarily in that order.
There are more things to share, but I will leave that to another day.
Hope this answers the questions about our citizenship in Australia & a fun cultural education.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi,Oi, Oi! (If you do not understand the cheer, ask us about it when we come to a church near you.)
The ‘Aussie’ adventure continues...
Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline