Apart from living through three back-to-back winters, Pastor Erik Trovall from Sidney’s Peace Lutheran Church said his family’s exchange with an Australian family was the experience of a lifetime.
The Sidney family, Erik, his wife Jennifer and their son Nathanael, 13, returned to the Saanich Peninsula from a six month exchange in Australia at the end of October.
The Trovall’s made the exchange with pastor David Wear from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Hamilton, Australia, his wife Kate, daughters Misha, 4, and Eve, 2, and son Henry, 1.
“We left B.C. in mid-April and I met David in Adelaide where we spent 10 days at a pastors conference. At the end of April we went to Hamilton and David and his family left for Sidney,” Erik explained.
“It was wonderful because we swapped homes and vehicles so it was a really easy way to do it.”
Erik, David and their families were matched for the exchange through Lutheran Church Canada and the Lutheran Church of Australia who have an intercommunion program.
“David had expressed interest in doing the exchange and so had I so they matched us up after a vetting process. We had originally planned it for 2012 but they ended up being blessed with a baby boy so we put it off for a year,” said Erik.
The exchange taught both families new things about living in a different country he said.
“Even though there aren’t huge differences in language or culture, going to a different a country like we did in the exchange taught us a lot about Australia. I mean, what better to learn about a country than to go live there? It was especially great for our son who is 13 because he was able to absorb so much.”
Hamilton, Australia is known for it’s mountainous green landscape and sheep farming, he added, which made for a different experience from living in Sidney by the Sea.
“Jennifer and Nathanael were able to get out so many excursions around the area but we were also able to do all the bigger destinations too like Canberra and Cairns which is one of Sidney’s sister cities,” Erik said, adding that the highlight of the trip was the people he and his family he met.
“The highlight was definitely the personal relationships we made,” he said, smiling.
“The congregation at the Church of the Good Shepherd was wonderful and their compassion and spirituality were amazing,” he added, noting that the only downside of the whole experience was the fact the family endured three winters.
“If I was to do it again I would do it so we got to be the ones who had three summers,” he laughed.
David said the experience was also one to remember for his family.
“I had great discussions with and learned a lot from Erik during my time spent with him in Australia. Above all, being with the wonderful people of Peace Lutheran Church was something that made a real impact on me. I think I really hit the jackpot going there. Not only are they are a wonderful group of friendly and caring people who embraced us, Peace Lutheran Church also happens to be in a picture postcard location. Looking back on our time living in Sidney for six months it’s a little bit hard to believe it really happened, it’s like a dream. We loved the town of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula and a bonus was that we there for a great summer.”
During the exchange, David and his family made the most of their time here, taking trips to Vancouver where David dragged his wife (who teaches classical violin) to a Rush concert.
David also said the family visited Seattle, took several trips up island to visit Tofino, Mt. Washington, Cathedral Grove, the Kinsol Trestle and Chemainus among other places, as well as enjoyed a trip to New York City and time in Phoenix, Arizona at the end of their trip before returning home.
Now settled in back at his home and at Peace Lutheran with his congregation, Erik said he would do an exchange again in a heartbeat, not only because it enriches knowledge of other places in the world but also because it solidifies the love and appreciation for your own home.
“When I came back, the first time I stepped up to the front of Peace Lutheran do my sermon, I really felt that sense of home,” he said.
“It’s definitely good to be back.”