We had a very busy final week in Australia. We were fortunate to be able to go caroling with our Salvos brass band and songster team to a retirement village in Thornbury. I love Christmas and especially Christmas carols, so this was a great treat that the residents really seemed to enjoy.
The Saturday evening before we left, Grattan and Glenda gave us tickets to see the annual performance of "Our Christmas Gift", which is a concert put on by the Salvos to thank the citizens of Melbourne for their generosity and kindness throughout the year. The night is filled with big name Australian artists, carols, comedy acts and of course, a nativity scene (with live camels!). I was so excited to go and really enjoyed the 2 hours of non-stop Christmas carols!
The next day was Sunday and I knew that it was going to be a tough one. It would be our final service at the Thornbury Salvation Army Church and we've really enjoyed our time as part of the congregation. We've met some truly amazing, kind and generous people who went out of their way to welcome us into their church and for that we are eternally grateful. Before the service started, we went back into the band room and shared a moment of prayer with the band members and then they started to wish us best of luck etc., at which point I broke down and started crying and had to leave the room. Marvelous.
I had requested that the songsters sing O' Holy Night because that is my favorite carol. Well not only did they sing it, they had Hyatt and I come up and join in too. I haven't sang in public since show/competition choir my senior year of high school so this was a little nerve-wracking but nevertheless, truly beautiful moment and a lot of fun!
During the last march, band leader (George) called Hyatt up to play the drums. Bravo for Hyatt because he has never played a musical instrument before (except for recorder in 5th grade) and some would say he is rhythmically challenged. I say "Ha!" - he did fantastic!
Look at him up there keeping the beat on the bass drum. And looking so dapper while doing so :)
Since I'm a picture fiend, I asked the whole congregation to stay after for a picture so you could all see the fantastic people we have had the pleasure of calling our friends.
After some tearful goodbyes at church, we only had a mere two days to pack our things and get ready to leave. We ended up having to ship home about 40 kg of stuff (80 lbs) and that cost a pretty penny but at least we didn't have to throw too much away.
Our last night in Melbourne, all of our Uni of Melbourne family (because we're tight like that) came out to dinner with us at La Spaghettata. FANTASTIC FOOD! I forgot to take pictures on my camera that night but Surinder was snapping pictures left and right.
Vickey on the left, Will on the right.
Kristy and Ryan
Kristy, Ryan and Fiona
The whole group getting ready to enjoy some fab Italian food.
Hyatt, Surinder and I.
After dinner we said our 'see ya laters', because I HATE goodbyes (with a passion - I think Hyatt needs to write a post specifically about how much I loathe goodbyes). It was a mix of laughing and crying and generally just sucked. The next morning we headed back to the good ole U.S. of A. with a year full of memories.
To all of our Aussie friends, we sincerely appreciate the kindness that each and everyone one of you showed to us during our stay in Australia. You will long be fondly remembered and hopefully we will see you all again in the relatively near future.
To our American friends and family - if we haven't already seen you we are really looking forward to getting together with everyone! Hope to see you soon!
Cheers and Merry Christmas!
~ FroBuzz ~