I’ve Been To Bali Too

Remember the classic Redgum song from the 80s?!

It was when Aussies first started invading Bali and discovering what it was like. Friendly, cheap, warm, cheap, great surf and did I mention cheap?…

And so it began. What was once a depressed third world situation has changed considerably – although not completely.

We first came here around 15 years ago for a holiday with some good friends. It was a standard cheap package deal with a Kuta hotel and a bit of shopping and sight-seeing thrown in.

Since then Danelle has been back 3 times as she does her work in the Bali Orphanages and right now we are here as a family with the larger Faulkner family. And large is not an understatement – there are 32 of us in total (which means any cafe owner gets excited at the sight of our group heading their way)

We are here for 10 days for a family holiday and to catch up with the Orphanage work that many have been involved with.

So far I reckon we’ve done pretty well and the time has been a lot of fun and even relaxing – not a word I would normally associate with being around 32 people!

Some quick observations

– Jetstar need to get a ‘recline’ button on their seats. We all spent the 4 hrs upright and packed in like sardines. Not nice.

– at Bali airport got slugged a sweet $20.00 Australian as ‘import duty’ on the 6 pack of red wine I brought in. The $20.00 wasn’t receipted but instead was quietly slipped into the file of the customs officer. Welcome to Bali…

– weather has been good in that it hasn’t been suffocatingly hot. It’s been cloudy and humid most days, but very bearable. I was expecting it to be more like Darwin – very relieved.

– I fail shopping. I get weary of having to haggle over the smallest amount of money so always pay more than I need to, partly because I reckon the poor bugger selling the stuff needs the $$ more than me.

– Danelle and Ellie do not fail shopping.

– good to see the places Danelle speaks of and the work she is doing. What struck me most was that the kids in the orphanages don’t have a ‘sad orphan’ vibe about them, but rather seem to love life. Big credit to those making it all happen.

– I don’t like men patting me on the bum, grabbing my arm or showing me any other personal physical attention in the hope of getting me to buy stuff.?

– the food is great and the prices are even better. $5-10 for a feed is pretty normal and very good.

– Bali belly got me once… I like to eat anything and everything and in my 20’s did 9 trips of the Philippines without the slightest tummy upset. I got known as the bloke with the cast iron gut. But yesterday I got the shivers and the runs. After 4 days of doing everything to stay cool I found myself having a cup of tea and a hot shower, turning the air con off and hopping onto bed with the blankets pulled up. It lasted a day and now I’m pretty much back to normal – except my immune system must be more resilient… Right?… All ready for those king prawns at Christmas dinner!

– I was missing good coffee and then discovered a place called Mugshot in Legian about 100m from where we are staying. We went there today and they do a sensational job. It’s Aussie owned with fresh beans and even some cakes and stuff to go with it. I’m sure there is plenty of good coffee in Bali if you know where to go.

– the surf has been pretty average all the time we have been here. I should clarify that I am describing the beach break out the front of the hotel. Gentle chest high close outs are ok for learners, but not much fun if you know what you are doing. We drove past Medewie on the way to one of the orphanges and it was head high, glassy and looked great… But I didn’t think it appropriate to ask everyone to stop for me… Given it’s a two drive in ugly traffic I’m not sure I want to try it again.

– I have only read one book. The Messenger by Marcus Zusack. I loved it. A great story and full of hope filled redemptive images. Everyone raves about Book Thief, but I thought this was a more appealing read.

– I watched Inception on the day I was sick and then fell into a deep, sick, sleep and dream. You know those dreams where you are almost delirious? Not a good movie to watch that day!

– waddya do with video piracy? Personally I don’t buy them, but when you see how some of these guys struggle to live you can almost support it.?

– did I mention I suck at shopping? I used to enjoy the haggle but now I just want to be left alone. I am particularly fussy so chances are I might not even buy anything, but with Mr Shop owner breathing down your neck you feel like you have to. Best if I avoid those situations.

– this might reveal insecurity issues with my masculinity but I won’t be getting a manicure or pedicure any time soon…

– traffic… Ouch!

– how’s an introvert coping with a massive extended family holiday? Pretty good i reckon! 20 years ago this wouldn’t have been my cup of tea at all, but I reckon it’s a real privilege to be part of a family like this who really do enjoy one another and know how to have fun. I don’t have any extended family in Oz so marrying Danelle created a bit of culture shock in the early years of our marriage. I found it hard to be around a rowdy, partying group who were having fun – and no doubt they found it hard to be around an uncomfortable introvert. These days I enjoy the relationships, take my moments of solitude to recharge and it all works out well.

Well… 5 days to go… It’s great to get a break from work and be in a different space so I’ll be soaking that up for as long as possible.

Philosophy Precedes Policies and Procedures

I was having dinner the other night with a friend who runs a successful IT business specialising in online marketing. His business is growing and expanding and sounds like its going very well.

I was discussing some ideas with him in relation to my own business and some opportunities for growth. He quickly told me that I needed to ‘focus on policies and procedures’ if I was to develop a growing business. That made pretty good sense and I guessed he was speaking from his own experience. He knows what he’s doing so I pricked up my ears, but as I was listening I was experiencing an internal dissonance.

The thing is I am not sure that I actually do want to grow it beyond its current scope. And as I was discussing this and reflecting on why I became aware that (as with any project), ‘philosophy’ must always precede policies and procedures. Currently my philosophy is to keep it simple, make sure I run it and it doesn’t run me and to minimise any need for infrastructure. I want the business to serve me and I don’t want to be at its beck and call.

In its current form we generate an excellent return on the time we invest and my guess is that to make it worth the effort we would need to expand significantly – an exercise that would involve a fair amount of $$ in marketing and insurances and processes. We would then enter a different market and would need to compete in a different way. We would need to be prepared to work very hard for a while to get the business into a new zone and that is not a price I am willing (or able) to pay. I see people flogging themselves and confessing ‘we can’t work at this pace for long’. No doubt it has its pay-offs, but that is where philosophy is critical. I/we don’t value the pay off enough for the pain now. In fact I imagine a few years absorbed in running a business could be quite detrimental to the lifestyle we have been able to develop.

So far the growth has been slow, organic and sustainable over the 3 years I have been in operation. What started as virtually a hobby is now an integral part of our life. My kids think I am a retic bloke as much as they think I am a church leader and I’m ok with that.

It is now at a point where the question of ‘what next?’ is a valid one, but if the answer is that we simply keep going as we are, then that’s a good answer – because its the answer we have chosen. If at some point I feel like I want to take up the challenge of growth or franchising then I imagine I would do some serious work exploring it, because the cost would be high.

For now the choice of philosophy – small, simple, sustainable – allows us to live well and enjoy a life not consumed by work. I’ve been a workaholic in the past and its not a place I ever want to live again.

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”

I thought this was a really well written and stirring article from Susan Campbell. Susan did a great job as the Young Adults Consultant for Global Interaction, before entering motherhood.


Thursday lunchtime. North Island café, Fitzroy North, Melbourne.

8 women, 8 prams, 8 babies, 8 variations of ‘coffee’.

One of those women, Susan Campbell (mother of Lucy), explains how loving church and engaging in mission go together like poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

The addition of one tiny person to my family has lead to the addition of 16 new friends to my contacts list. Half of them are learning how to fit their fists in their mouths while the other half are learning how to feed-shower-settle-clean-feedchange- pack and get to the North Island in time for lunch.

Non-Melbournian readers may need a profile of a Fitzroy North mothers’ group: Women in their late 30s. Brief breeding breaks from careers in academia, graphic design, environmental science and alternative medicine. Exorbitant rent or mortgages for warehouse-turned- apartments or century-old terraces. Vegetarian. De facto partnerships. Funky haircuts. Independent. Arty. Politically active. Designer clothes with op shop accessories. Discuss landscaping designs for the 2×3 metre courtyard; absorbency of modern cloth nappies; personal post-natal Yoga instructors; organic baby foods; nanny services and pram-friendly cafés to take baby Django, Jemima, Celeste, Jasper, Harriet or Poppy.

This is my ‘hood’, this is my context, and these are my wonderful friends. And as the only follower of Jesus in the group, this is my mission field. We have recently formed, so the level of sharing hasn’t progressed further than opinions about the child health nurse’s new hair do or nappy-explosion-in-the-café stories, but as the summer rolls on I’m sure we’ll be sharing our lives on a deeper level. My hope is that through our relationship, my new friends will be able to recognise the transforming work of Jesus in their lives.

… but then what? What happens if they begin a relationship with Jesus?

I live in one of the most secular postcodes in Australia. Developers and restaurant entrepreneurs are eager to get their hands on church properties. Tiny congregations are struggling to survive, and like most places in Australia, young adults and families who grew up in the church are leaving in droves. This creates challenges for maintaining church functions, but an even greater challenge for being effective in mission.

Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf wrote: “The interest of the people of God in transmitting their faith will not be much greater than their interest in the Christian congregation in which they actually live out their faith.” In other words, we’re unlikely to share our faith if we’re disengaged, embarrassed or disappointed by the friends and experiences we have with our church community. If a new believer asked about connecting with church and we awkwardly reply, “Um…ahh…well…I used to go here… I sort of go there but the people aren’t that great…” it doesn’t give a fabulous impression or encouraging start. Yet the sad reality is very few people

I know actually love their church community.

How stark is the contrast to the picture of the church in Acts? “The whole group were of one heart and soul…everything they owned was held in common…with great power they gave their testimony…there was not a needy person among them…great numbers of both men and women were added to the Lord.” Those were the days!

I am currently looking for a church to belong to and a friend asked what I was after: Solid teaching? Yep. Inspiring leadership? Definitely. Opportunities to get involved? Absolutely. But one of the most important factors for me is a place where there may be some connection, resonance and relevance for my North Island friends. ‘Place’ might mean a service or event they come to, or it could mean that during parties and picnics they experience welcome and acceptance from church people, and the friendship networks spread.

We face two big challenges: The first is to invest time and energy into our church, to make it a thriving, mission-focused, Acts-like community…yet still have time and energy to maintain quality relationships with those ‘outside’. The second is to be a people who are different from the crowd, noticeable by our characteristics of love, justice and peace…yet similar enough to make sense to those around us.

I’m excited by the vision of the Global Interaction teams working among unreached people groups. They empower communities to develop their own distinctive ways of following Jesus. The vision is for people movements, whole families and social networks to follow Jesus in personally meaningful and relevant ways.

There are places around the globe where faith communities are beginning to take shape – a handful of new believers meeting in a rural area in Thailand and small discipleship groups sprouting up in African and South Asian villages.

It’s a significant time, as the new believers are making choices about the form, style, character and function of their faith community. They are deciding who and what they want to be. The process of reading how the first church in Acts started, waiting on the Holy Spirit, and discerning their way through many situations is a fascinating process. With so much ‘buy in’ at such a formative time, the new believers are passionate about their community and keen to share their faith with others. With the focus on whole communities, the gospel will spread like butter on hot sourdough!

How much we have to learn! Imagine if we adopted a similar approach as we invest in our churches here in Oz. Imagine if our generation could wake from apathetic slumber and make some bold and radical decisions about who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Not just to make us more satisfied and comfortable. Not just to grasp a tighter hold on those joining the exodus from the church. Instead, let our motivation be for mission. Just like the new believers overseas and those in Acts, let’s love our faith communities and strive for relevance, cultural sensitivity and an unswerving commitment to those who don’t know Jesus.

May our generation see mothers’ groups, tute classes, footy teams and Facebook friends experience transformation through Jesus, and may my North Island friends slip into Christian community as smoothly as organic honey slips into a soy chai latte.


I love Saturdays.

For us Saturday is our day of rest, our sabbath, our time out or whatever you like to call it. Its a day to read, laze, hang out, go to the beach and generally catch our breath.

Today was a typical one.

Wake at 5.30am. Realise its Saturday and drift off back to sleep until 7.30am. Get up and curl up on the couch with breakfast and the paper. Flick the cricket on – and then off again as I realise how depressing it is.

Wash two cars with kids. Drench two kids. Get drenched by two kids.



Go to the shops and buy milk. Get waylaid by a home open and a garage sale… End up chatting and take an hour instead of 5 minutes.

Go out to help Danelle in her garden (not normal – but its too cold to take the kids to the beach). Get distracted by Sam who wants to play basketball. Shoot hoops with Sam in the street. Feel good that I can dunk on the neighbours 7ft ring and beat Sam at ‘Donkey’.

Home for a coffee and one of the biscuits Ellie made.

Read blogs while contemplating a shower.

Shower before heading out to dinner with friends.



We went to the third Narnia today (gold class…) and it was very cool.

The little people loved it and I reckoned it was a great movie full of symbolism and a great storyline.

Danelle is especially grateful to Robert Banks for his kids guide to the movie. I’ve just had a look and can recommend it.

You can check it out here.

I’d go see the movie, but maybe not gold class 🙂

Gold Class?… No Way!

We decided to give the kids a bit of an end of year treat and with the new Narnia III out on Friday we thought that would be the go.

Then we thought ‘why not Gold class?’ Admittedly it has been over 10 years since I last ventured into this type of space, but I was remembering popcorn and drinks and snacks. But apparently that has changed.

Now you get… a big chair

That’s it – a big red chair – and the privilege of paying an exorbitant price for food off their menu.

It was my stuff up as I didn’t read the fine print, but at $29.00/person (no discount for kids) you’d expect more than an oversized armchair!

And here’s the even suckier part. There was a ‘booking fee’ of $13.00. And that was with me doing a DIY over the net. How do they justify that one?…

Well ‘Gold Class’, we will be there on Friday, but it won’t be happening again.