A bitter sweet Easterfest

Mainstage - Josh Woning

Finally getting a moment to reflect on Easterfest 2011.  Enjoy!

Festival was going amazing. Ticket sales were record breaking. The campground had sold out days before the festival even started. The vibe was absolutely amazing. Anticipation was at an all time high.

Thursday I spent the day in youth camping welcoming people to festival – particularly groups who had come from all over Queensland – Cairns, Townsville, Maryborough, Emerald, Longreach, Biloela, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Taree, Newcastle…etc..etc…  Everyone was excited.

Friday and Saturday I spent the day moving between the Media tent, Vision Arena stage and the green room to grab artists for their media conferences. Funnest moment was working with the Switchfoot guys. They really do seem to be sweet guys. One of the liked my hat ;-p

Late Saturday afternoon, little did I know was the calm before the storm. It was a perfect sunny afternoon to escaped from everything for a moment and lay on the lush grass hill in front of the media tent. Texted a few friends I knew were at the festival and had then come and say hi. Lovely moment.

Later, I got called down to front desk to meet up with a guy from Channel 9 news. He was keen to get a story on Easterfest. So I hook up for him to meet up with our CEO, Isaac Moody on mainstage. So we were standing side stage as Newworldson began to play. Moments into their set the rain began to fall… From no where the storm came. The sky was pitch black  over the stage but to the left I could still see stars. It was almost eerie.  The drops of rain quickly became like cups of water falling from the sky absolutely drenching everybody and everything in its way. The hardcore fans in the 15,000+ audience kept moshing. Many started heading for cover.

I headed off to see where I could help and to see what was going on. Ran over to my media tent to see that it had just lost power but thankfully no water was coming in and computers were all high and dry!

The tent's gaping hole

Next I went into Pavilion tent and saw Josh Arnold the area manager yelling with a tired, raspy voice to everyone to evacuate the tent. You could see a huge bulge in the tents roof that shouldn’t have been there. Like it was pregnant or something!

I quickly joined in and began to ask people to step back out into the pouring rain and evacuate. We knew we didn’t have long before the tents roof gave way. Reluctantly people left.  Asking mums (some of whom I knew!) to leave the dry-ish tent to move back out into the pouring rain was certainly was one of the most distressing things I’ve had to do in a long time.

As the tent cleared we had to steer people evacuating mainstage to other exit gates or venues.  Water began rushing through the site in somewhat freakish quantities.  The profloor we’d painstakingly laid started floating and in less dramatic circumstances I would have probably chuckled at how funny people looked trying to walk on it!

The inside of the tent next morning...

I got asked to run to the ‘West wing’ to make sure there was a gate open and if not to make one.  About then I was wishing I actually had a spanner on my belt!  Thankfully there was a gate open so I didn’t have to kick down a fence!

At Easterfest every venue has a ‘venue manager’ and their own evacuation procedure.  As I got back to the Big Top venue they were clearing it due to the copious amounts of water flooding through.  So I joined in directing people to the nearest exit.  By that point my radio had gotten to wet and was completely dead.  One wise move I made when the rain started was to exchange my good shoes with some gumboots that I had stashed under my desk – just in case!  So although they were full of water by this point there was some comfort in knowing I had protective attire on!

Eventually more of our team came round and opened a gate higher up the hill on Hume St and we allowed people to exit the park there.  It was a surreal moment running into to so many people I knew and hadn’t yet seen at the festival in such an adverse situation.  Apparently not even recognising some friends – according to one mum who thanked me later!

I’m so thankful everyone, although traumatically for some, made their way safely out of the park and the rain and flood waters soon subsided.  Thousands of campers found accommodation at churches, friends and random strangers houses.  A few braved the campsite and stayed on site.

Switchfoot playing in the pouring rain to faithful fans - Trent Rouillon

Switchfoot did continue playing through the rain to stagger the evacuation.  Hardcore fans who watched the set said it was one of the best concerts they’d seen in their lives!

So for the first time in the 13 year history of Easterfest the program on the park had to be cancelled.  Quite a tough night comprehending what had gone down.  Basically the storm seemed to be fairly isolated to the park (within a couple of kms anyway) and dumped between 50-70mm within 45mins.  The night was spent working with SES and police to help people find each other… find evacuation centres and just shivering!  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so cold in my life.  I thought for sure I would wake up with pneumonia!

So grateful for the strong presence and use of twitter and facebook!  This aided the delivery of messaged twentyfold.  We’re still hearing of stories of how people connected with each other or with phones to make calls out of ‘tweets’!  Unfortunate though was Optus’ mobile reception!  We might have to get our own tower on site next year!

Sleep was really distant that night.  Every worse case scenario streaming through my head.  Wondering what tomorrow would bring and hoping that morning light would just reveal it all to be a dream.  Alas no… the tent was still all broke and a hive of busy volunteers were already stripping the tent of its insides preparing for its dismantle.  Media were every where and stories where making headline news everywhere!  I guess it was one way to get nationwide attention!

I and my American assistant, Kevin, did rounds of the campsite Sunday morning to see how everyone survived.  I was amazed at how many smiley happy campers we encountered.  Many of them had made their way back from ‘dryer’ accommodation to see how their belongings had fared.  But still they seemed in good spirits considering how wet and muddy everything was.  And they were excited that we had managed to relocate some headline artists to play in the city’s centre on the CBD stage.  (Which during the January flood was four metres under water!!!)

The crowd Sunday afternoon at the CBD stage. Impossible to get a accurate photo with people sitting 360 degrees around the water, squashing in to try and hear the bands.

The highlight of my day was managing to sneak away from the park in my muddy, rubber boots to check out the CBD stage.  Literally thousands of people lined the pond to get a glimpse of the incredible ‘vocal play’ group, Naturally 7.  It just brought tears to my eyes seeing right then how something I thought had gone so horribly wrong had turned out so amazing.  The city of Toowoomba was alive.  The message of Easter was forced from the park into the streets.

Easterfest Today captured the scenes live here on their Sunday report.  Check it out!

Love to hear how Easterfest went for you if you made it.  Or if you weren’t there did you catch the news somehow either on the news or via a social media site?

Festival Blogging… why I’m not here!

Hey Friends…

Just wanted to check in and say Easterfest is seriously just round the corner.  Our office is a mad house and we’re hoping to get everything organised in time…. but whatever the case… whether we keep up or not it’s all happening.  We’ve got crew already living on site (on the park) nine days out from the beginning of festival and the mini-city has begun to emerge.  Even had my mate from Nashville TN, Kevin Banks, swing by here to help on his way home from a six month holiday in New Zealand.  (BTW – check out his blog he has taken the most amazing pictures!)

So I’m overseeing the construction blog for the festival so everyone can get a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what’s going on.  So if you’re not seeing too many posts on here for the while… come and say g’day at Easterfest site.

Check out today’s video blog…

Thanks for stopping by!  Keep in touch… love your prayers!

Super Mario Brother is in Toowoomba!

This is who you call "Super Mario"

So at the Easterfest launch last week, I officially got launched into a world I know nothing about!!!  Japanese pop culture…  Anime…  Manga and mega ‘Super Mario’ brothers!  Two young, hip entrepreneurs, Chrys (Yes, he has cool, unique name spelling!) and Cameron decided (of all places!) to open a Japanese pop culture store called Neo-Tokyo in Toowoomba!    Seem’s like such an unconventional store to find on Margaret Street!

Anyway, these guys spoke at our launch from ‘business’ people’s perspective in Toowoomba.  For them, they actually have their busiest days of sales during Easterfest – bigger even then Christmas!  Crazy festival kids go nuts over their cartoon crazed merchandise!

Unfortunately, in the January floods, their store was swamped by the ‘inland tsunami’.  A three feet deep muddy river invaded ‘anime land’ and devastatingly destroyed lots of their precious merchandise.  (Some of it’s for sale at some pretty heavy discounted rates if you’re game!)

So if you’re in Toowoomba for Easterfest this year, why not swing by their store (or any store for that matter!) on your way to Grand Central or McDonalds.  It’s just near Coffee Club (which still isn’t open since the flood).  They’re gonna have some special new merch in for the ‘fest crew… lots of cool beanies you won’t find anywhere else!  (Maybe!)

Check out their online store at www.neo-tokyo.com.au.

Toowoomba's Neo Tokyo

Behind the festival scenes…

Jess during the manic ticket sale week trying to keep up with the manual orders when we crashed the system!

It’s 8:30pm on a Friday night… I’m still at the Easterfest office…  the dad jokes are getting worse – considering all the males in the office have ACTUALLY gone home early tonight!

There is a nervous sense of excitement looming as the days before ‘bump in’ close in on us.  The program is being designed… proofed… redesigned and reproofed… the marquees orders are being checked on… final sponsors are being locked in… this list goes on and on.  I stumbled upon an absolutely fascinating spreadsheet the other day… 800 lines of everything that needs to be dropped off… picked up… moved… set up.. stood up… and who’s doing it and whether or not the task has actually been followed up yet.  So next time you’re wondering obliviously around a festival (maybe even Easterfest)… that rubbish bin… that powered light that miraculously appears in the middle of what normally is a soccer field… yep you guessed it… it just didn’t “APPEAR”!  Someone planned for it to happen and who knows how many where involved to make it happen and how many visits to the council where made to get it “APPROVED”!

There are four kinds of people who go to festivals

[Inserting disclaimer here... these views are totally my own and are by no means any reflections of Easterfest and are VERY generic... ok?!!]

Claire our awesome graphic designer burning the midnight oil to get the program ready for final proofing

Firstly, there’s those that actually love going.  They’re happy to pay for tickets and obliviously wander around barely realising how it all got there.  They dance… eat… drink… and just enjoy everything put before them.  They occasionally wonder why the lines to the toilets are so long… but mostly they are just happy!

Secondly, there’s those who think they should get in free because their girl friends, aunty’s, best friend… is playing on the up-and-coming stage and they are taking photos for them.   These people just don’t have a clue.  Oh really?!  It costs money to put on a festival?

Thirdly, there’s the event organiser type persons – firstly you can barely sit through an entire concert and secondly you definitely can’t sit through without analysing everything!  If you’re a sound engineer you know what sound system’s cranking and you’re wondering why that don’t fix that annoying reverb!  Or if you’re into logistics and you’re checking out their ticketing process or wondering how many ‘freebies’ were in the audience and how much they had to pay the band!  You’ll even travel oversees and ‘volunteer’ to get into events so you CAN get behind the scene and see what’s really going on!

Heather is the chick who actually coordinates all crew... all 800 of them!

Fourthly, there’s the acts.  You also wander around oblivious to all the work that has gone on to ‘prepare the way’ for your absolutely amazing performance.  You wonder why your stage water is cold instead of room temperature like your rider requested.  You wonder why the rainy weather has put your sound check back… or why there isn’t free wireless in the green room for you to tweet your fans… or why lasagna is on the menu again… and of couse there is always one more favour you need… and some of you are even paid to do all this!  (I can pay out the muso’s cause I’ve worked with them and have even been this person!  We’re just painful at times –  albeit obliviously!)

So whoever you are and however “oblivious” you are (I’ve really overused that word this post!) just enjoy your festival or event experience!  Those of us who put them on wouldn’t actually be doing it if we didn’t actually like it.  No one does 18 hour days for weeks on end without some secret event obsession… hey Dave?  I’m just hoping I get the adrenalin rush everyone’s promising me during festival… because I NEED my sleep and I DON’T drink coffee!

To close, why not have a listen to an interview done by ABC with two of the hardest workers on staff – Dave and Linda – here. (They’ve got some good tips here for upcoming artists too!)

Shameless plug – if you want to be blown away by this incredibly well organised event come check out Easterfest this year.  More details www.easterfest.com.  This festival is not just a festival contained in a park… it takes over an ENTIRE city!  Over 100 artist are playing actually in Toowoomba City this year on top of what is already happening in the park.

Lacking creative juices

Mainstage Easterfest 2010... Newsboys rocking it out.

I’m Running out of creativity…

Easter is getting closer…

Work hours are getting longer…

Easterfest is just round the corner…

Hopefully I will find something more meaningful to say before all my readers run away!

PS… are you coming to Easterfest?  Free Premium ticket upgrades are available till Feb 28!  Or if you just wanna serve we need hundreds of volunteers to make it all happen.  Grab an application form here to join the team!

That’s all I got…

Preparing for disastrous Cyclone Yasi

Cyclone Tracey vs Cyclone Yasi ... slight size difference

It’s hard to believe my awesome country is about to be hit by a second disaster for the year!  Cyclone Yasi is brewing and is said to be bigger then anything we have ever seen.  Above is a picture comparison Cyclone Tracey which hit in 1974 which killed 71 people, caused $837 million in damage (1974 AUD) and destroyed more than 70 percent of Darwin’s buildings, including 80 percent of houses.  [4].

Cyclone Yasi is due to hit around 10pm somewhere south of Cairns and is a category 5 with the potential to cause as much terror as America’s Hurricane Katrina.  You can read more here.

From my little office in Toowoomba today there’s not much I can do expect follow the prompts from an email sent by my mentor and friend, Graham Sercombe.  I’d love to urge you… wherever in the world you may be to join me!

G’day Everyone
This is an urgent call!

We have a category 5 cyclone (300 kilometer winds – more devastating than cyclone Tracy in 1974) the biggest cyclone in living memory on direct path to the North Queensland coast, expected to make land fall at 10.00pm tonight (Wednesday)
We know that God does answer prayer.

God once said to a man in a crisis situation, “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know”.

This is a call to prayer for Australians to pray – to pray on the hour every hour for one minute asking God for three things
1. Pray and ask God for safety and protection of people and property that are affected by the cyclone
2. Pray the cyclone will be redirected in its anticipated path and head out to open sea and dissipate.
3. Pray that we as a nation will be humble before God and that we will acknowledge our need of Him in all of life not just in a crisis.

There is powerful statement in the Bible that says, “You have not because you do not ask!”
Come on Australia – we have no time to waste. Lets act immediately and acknowledge that we need God and pray and believe for a miracle in our hour of need.
Sincerely

Graham Sercombe
Brisbane


Escaping death but in the nude!!

Devastation after the 'inland tsunami' went through

On the weekend I met an elderly couple that lived to tell their story of survival after the ‘inland tsunami’ swept through their little town, Grantham.

Graham and Helen were having a normal day at the Grantham farm they were caretakers at… oblivious to the fact that half an hour earlier, a significant deluge of rain had fallen in Toowoomba (the mountain range behind Grantham) and had turned streets into raging rivers.  This ‘inland tsunami’ was now racing time and plummeting relentlessly towards them.  Tiny creeks became cascading huge rivers.  Water poured down the range – the main highway up became a channel for the raging torrent.

A wall of water began coming through the creek behind Graham and Helen’s house… not down the creeks natural bed but ‘across’ it!  Down, across and out straight for the home and farm sheds.

The couple are in there sixties.  Helen has a bung knee and has trouble walking at the best of times.  When they saw the water, they knew they needed to get out and ran as fast as physically possible to their car to try and drive away only to find themselves stuck with raging water all around them.  They knew they had to get out of the car before it was completely indulged and they were drowned.  Without even thinking about it they opened the ‘electric windows’ that where now completely under water and they miraculously opened!  They climbed out their respective windows and balanced on the window ledge holding each other’s hands across the roof of the car as ‘waves’ of water plummeted them – sometimes completely going over their heads.  As I said earlier, this couple are elderly and Helen has a really bad knee!  They have no idea how they physically even managed to get themselves out of the window let alone stay standing, perched in such an awkward manner for so long.

Eventually, the waves of water were too strong and Helen and Graham were swept away – Helen, towards the growing mound of rubble that resembled parts of a shed. She was able to swim towards it and cling on for her life.  Graham who is unable to swim, was swept away from the property in a different direction.  His clothes were completely ripped from his body as he was thrown around in the water like a rag doll in a washing machine.  Eventually, realising the waters were too powerful to even struggle against, he cried out to God and said he was ready to go home if he so willed.  He then closed his eyes and lay on his back and floated… thinking this was his final moments.  He said suddenly a peace just washed over him.  The water seemed calmer around him and he opened his eyes to see he had floated right near the area his wife was!   They were then able to cling to life together as they waited for the waters to subside.

My mum found out that this couple needed help and we went out on Saturday to see what we could do.  A team of about 20 of us were asked to ‘search and rescue’ anything salvageable from their property.  Two external walls of their house was completely ripped off!  So the contents of their home are buried under thick layers of silt.  They said when they were clinging to the rubble waiting for the waters to subside, their bed – still made and pillows in tack floated past them!  Unbelievable hey!

Graham’s machinery shed was the same story.  I thought they’d already cleaned it out… but no… everything (bar a car that was jack knifed between the wall and the slab) was gone!  A caravan, tractors, vehicles, heavy machinery… you name it were completely washed out into the paddocks.  The hydroponics set up that had recently cost $400G to set up – a mangulated mess.  Truly this farm looked like a war zone.  This epitomised every house and farm in the tiny community.  Some residents didn’t get to live to tell their story.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks hearing story after story of devastation and loss.  The heartbreaking thing now is a massive Cyclone (bigger then ever recorded in history) is now threatening Cairns and the entire northern parts of Queensland.   Pray… for God’s mercy!

Here’s a youtube video of the couple sharing a bit of this story at their church.

Also I posted some pictures on facebook here.

Australia Day watching an American band

Australia day Brissy show

For the first time in four years, I was home in Australia for ‘Australia Day’.  It was HOT!  Spent the morning with family and then went and saw the American band, Skillet play at the Tivoli Centre!

Here are some links to memories of my ‘Australia Day’s’ in the US…

Australia Day 2010 at Outback Steakhouse

Australia Day 2009 with Tommy Emmanuel and Rick Price and then of course a visit to Outback Steakhouse

Australia Day 2008 Second annual trip to the Outback steakhouse

Australia Day 2007  was when the Outback Steakhouse tradition began.  My American friends and any token Aussie’s I could find bombarded the most ‘Australian’ restaurant that exists in the US.  I was surprised that they didn’t even know it was Australia day and weren’t capitalising on it!  I would have been selling homemade Pavlova’s!!!   I even brought my little stash of dodgy Australia Day paraphernalia to decorate our tables all up!

So 2011 – Australia Day with an American band.  Skillet show was great!  I kinda wondered how it would compare after having seen them in the US a couple of times… with all their bells and whistles… and pyrotechnics!

Here’s a clip of Skillet Live at Ichthus Festival in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Till next year…

A week after the 2011 flood

Calling in the troops to deal with the rubble

It’s the ‘day after’ a week since the ‘Inland Tsunami’ reeked havoc on the streets of Toowoomba and the neighbouring towns of Grantham and Murphy’s Creek.  We watched this amateur video in horror as cars were swept away like match sticks by a raging torrent of water in an area that is normally a small barely running creek.

I spent the next days watching the rivers rise in my neighbourhood – an hour east of Toowoomba.  Houses completely inundated just down the road.  As quickly as it came here… it went somewhere else.  Turning everyone’s stuff into worthless rubble!

Since the waters have subsided, literally thousands of Queenslanders have turned out in force on the streets to help out their fellow mates.  Most of the time, people they’ve never even met.  The comrade brings tears to your eyes.  I’ve driven through neighbourhoods and stopped to talk to people I never would have been game to.  A g’day to a stranger at the local shop, ends up being a moment to listen to someones stories.  Strangers sharing… everywhere there is brokeness… everywhere there are strong people doing their best to hold back floodgates of tears.  So many lives lost… and some may never be found.  It’s something we never expected to see on our doorsteps. Not in Australia… not in Sunny ‘Beautiful one day… perfect the next’ Queensland!

Truckload of clothes to wash. So grateful to the women (and Ian and Tim) in North Ipswich who did load after load to wash muddy, smelly clothes to help out their fellow Ipswich-ites!

One of the most powerful stories I heard on the ABC was about an Indian family who moved here about four years ago and became Australian citizens.  The husband said if something like this happened in India no one would have come to save them… no one would have cared enough to send out a rescue team… they would have just been another casualty. But for them, here in Australia, living in Goodna they were rescued and they were cared for.  Valued as a human being.

We’ve tragically seen lives lost during this flood…all of us affected somehow as we try to imagine how hard it would be if we lost someone close to us in such horrific circumstances.  Makes you think hey?  How do we respond when we hear about the floods in Brazil where the death toll is now over 650?  One guy reported that he lost 23 relatives including his dad and son. (ABC PM report) Is it even possible to imagine such loss!

How do we respond to the daily disaster called hunger or malnutrition or cholera or malaria?  Tragically, lives are lost every single day.  Many preventable.

Let’s not let another disaster happen before showing love and compassion towards someone we don’t know.  Life is too short to live alone.

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment(C) greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

I’d love to hear how you’ve been affected by this flood and stories of how your community banded together to rebuild and start again.  May God bless you and be your provider.

Social Media’s impact on Floods

Water inundated this house half way up the roof. See the debris line.

Yesterday was a bit of an emotionally daunting day… (thus the failure to blog!) We came over to my bros house for power and brekky… The floods waters had begun to subside and I got really restless and hated the thought of sitting around and doing nothing.  The night before I had posted a blog including this video of a house completely under water in Karalee.  Through twitter and facebook, two different strangers – Adrian and Carly from Karalee found the youtube video and asked if I could go and shoot some footage and take photos of their homes to prepare them for how bad their situation was because they were unable to get close enough to asses themselves…  And to see if I could see any stray chooks wandering around the neighbourhood.  I found one person who had spotted them… but they are yet to be found… hopefully they found a good home!

Wandering around neighbourhoods I met more people in MY community then I ever have and heard story after story of hardship and loss.  I met ‘Pete’ and ‘Andy’ in the shop carpark up the road.  They had made their way out of their isolated quarters on dirt bikes… I broke the news to them that the grocery store was out of power… thus out of food, KFC and smokes.  We ended up having a great chat.  Andy’s house was completely under water and Pete was housing them.  Funny story – I spoke to Pete tonight and he’s now wired his house to run off a generator!  Must look pretty funny being the only house in a neighbourhood with power!

Today, around lunch time I visited ‘Adrian’s’ house.  The site was repulsive…

Personal belongings turned to landfill. Onya Mark!

overwhelming and seemly impossible to clean up.  I offered to take some clothes to wash and my parents and a good friend Mark stayed to clean up.  By the time I got back you could see the floor boards.  People from all over the place (maybe 20 people), unaffected by floods had turned up and just kept knocking on doors till they could find someone to help.  It was truly amazing.

As I said in early blogs, my brother in North Ipswich had power the whole time.  So we hit up his neighbours to help wash people’s clothes.  This morning Tim and I return a basket of clothes to an elderly lady he had met the day earlier.  She just held the clean clothes up to her face and shed tears of thankfulness.  It was tear jerking for sure… somehow something so taken for granted every other day mean so much today!  It was inspiring!  I just want to thank the ‘mums’ in North Ipswich who chipped in (and still are) washing horrible, muddy clothes… I’m sure you never want to see another load again… and you may never know how  much your help is immensely appreciated.  One teenager was grateful she didn’t have to wear the same t-shirt for a forth day!

Imagine returning to your office and seeing it in this state...

The second home I visited was Karlie’s.  Her two story house went under up to the eaves.  She was devastated to say the least.  Thinking the water couldn’t possibly get to the second floor she left all her precious officework and business papers behind (and everything else) and escaped with her animals… only to come home today to find them not only saturated with mud and water but also covered with dirty, soaking insulation that had fallen everywhere when the ceiling collapsed.  It was ghastly.  Anyone that goes through this deserves a medal I reckon.  I can’t comprehend it.  Seeing all worldly possessions ending up over the balcony railing in a pile of rubble!

Carlie put it right though when she said, ‘It’s just stuff’ as we were looking down at the growing pile of rubble.  It really is.  We have our lives… and the stuff we’re blessed with along the way is just with us for a season.  At some point we’ll all leave it behind.  These guys have just all had an early ‘spring cleaning’.  Makes you refocus on what truly matters.  People. Humanity.  Love. Sharing.  Serving.

In some ironic way this flood has been a blessing.  I’ve watched introverted people who dont like hanging out with people be forced to reach out or allow people to love on them.  No human should have to deal with a crisis like this alone.  And I don’t think we were made for that.  Community.  Sometimes I think the third world countries have this worked out better then us.  They might not have much… but they live together, eat together, farm together… they KNOW each other.  It takes us a natural disaster for us to realise we even have neighbours!  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the statement – “We’re gonna have to have a street party after this to celebrate!”  And that’s what will happen. Queenslander’s are resilient!  We will fight for each other.  We will survive… and we will know how to LOVE better and SERVE better.   I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many ‘troopers’ in Karalee.  I hope and pray God blesses you in your loss and provides in ways you could never think possible.

Love how twitter, facebook and youtube actually connected me to stranger who are now ‘real people’ who are becoming friends!

On a POSITIVE note…  today I got to visit my new beautiful niece!  She was born last night in Ipswich hospital.  Thankfully the waters had subsided enough for them to get to the hospital safely.  Congratulations Cherie and Matt.