Extraordinary Lives

The Bonell family, Australia’s equivalent to the Duggars, were truly a blessing to Wendy and me. Our short (far too short) visit to their home was filled with down-home fun. There was a lesson in the mix of our visit, too, that the local newspaper caught a glimpse of (read the article).

Two mums with 32 children between them meet.

Two mums with 32 children between them meet.

One of the most enjoyable things of our visit was discussing the differences of our two worlds. We exchanged a bag of Hershey’s Kisses for some TimTams. Our luggage was placed in the “boot” of the car, and we had to pop the “bonnet” to see if the battery was “flat.” All sorts of quirky differences were fun to explore.

Some were a little heated. Aussies can’t fathom why Americans love their guns, why we don’t call our conservative political party “liberal,” or why our dollar bills are all the same, bland color. I’m assymilating to the idea of water-proof colored bills, though. It is a bloody good idea. (But I don’t know why “bloody” is a swear word, though.)

The Bonells and the Jeubs hit it off, and Wendy and I had a blast simply hanging out with them for a couple of days. Ray and I got into a particularly deep conversation while dropping his children off to school: Our families may be considered “extraordinary,” but neither of us feel extraordinary. Sure, we each have 16 children and we have to manage a household that most people can only imagine, but we find great joy in our lives. It rather interesting–sometimes disturbing–how others perceive our families as super-duper blessed or cursed.

This theme continued unawares when Wendy and I flew back to Melbourne yesterday, back to our daughter Alissa and her husband Asaad. We spent perhaps the most enjoyable day not doing anything “extraordinary.” We just sat in their living room and talked for about six hours before finally getting dressed and moving onto the market. For Wendy and me, the chaotic chatter of children was replaced with deep conversation about family and culture. Alissa and Asaad live an incredibly interesting life, mixed cultures and faiths and traditions. I hope to share with you some of our conversation in the future, because it was quite “extraordinary.”

This meditation is far too short, because we are learning so much about life, culture and love on this trip. I hope to write more about what Wendy and I are learning in coming weeks, but suffice it to say this: prejudice of any kind–whether of big families, Middle Eastern culture, city and country life, whatever–dissipates when you get to know the people and their stories.  

Check out the story on the Jeubs and Bonells meeting: Two mothers with 32 children between them meet. It seems extraordinary, and I suppose that’s what sells newspapers. But what makes it awesome is the ordinary love we share.

Here are some favorite photos of the last few days: