Crossing Paths & Fleeting Moments

Excerpt from Shannon Nace’s personal blog “Crossing Paths and Fleeting Moments.  Shannon is a Spring 2016 ASC student from Messiah College (PA). Reproduced with permission.

Life in Brisbane:

 School: is busy but interesting! I’m learning a lot. My favorite class right now is a Communication for Ministry class which is teaching me all about effective communication in a ministry role. This is definitely something that will influence my career and I’m really excited about what my future holds.

Personal Life: I’ve started volunteering with Red Frogs Australia! They’re an awesome organization who goes to college parties and events to hold hydration stations, give out food, snacks and make sure that students get home safely at the end of the night! They’re really great and you should check them out.

Weather: it’s beautiful! Finally cooling down so a t-shirt and shorts are good for the day and I can even where a jumper or pants around in the evening. It’s in the 70’s, which is my favorite weather. But it’s certainly still nice enough for the beach!

What I’ve seen: Cairns, QLD. Traveled with some mates for spring break! Coff’s Harbour/Red Rock, NSW. Went camping with my host family & Bree.Byron Bay, NSW. Got to stand at the eastern most point of Australia!…….I’m headed to the outback in the morning!

Friends: See Below!


Lessons in Brisbane:

One of my biggest struggles of being abroad is feeling like I’ve lost my support system. The people that I used to spend late nights giggling with in the basement of Mellinger or playing pool with in the Union. It feels like I’ve just been picked up and placed again on a different continent. I keep wondering where all my friends ran off to.

If you know me at all, you know that I love people and will find you and hug you and ask a bunch of questions. But imagine how weird that is when you’re in a country filled with strangers. At bus stations, in parks, in the grocery store with a bunch of people you will likely never see again. It is strange thing that people are living their own very personal lives amongst us and we often pass strangers by without a second thought. It’s times like those where it’s difficult to remember what it’s like to be surrounded by people whose stories you know and resonate with.

I had a revelation just the other day; I’ve met a lot of really awesome people here. At first, it was frustrating not having my people around but now; I’m quickly realizing it’s a blessing. If it weren’t for my lack of comfort, I would just be getting by without ever realizing the stories people are living around me; without finding others who are searching for something too. And I’m glad we’re all searching together. Life is confusing and messy and the thing is, we weren’t created to face that alone. As I travel and write my story, I’ve met some really great people who are feeling the same way.

People are genuinely nice, when you care about their stories. When you acknowledge them as a person and ask questions. Even if you might only see them for 1 week or 1 hour, investing in others lives is so very important. It’s in those moments where you find a sense of clarity, hope, fun and sometimes bravery. Opening your arms wide to others not only welcomes them in but welcomes joy and love into your heart, but only if you let it.

I have spent much of my life not letting that joy and love in. I loved people on the outside but never let them touch my heart. It wasn’t until I got here that I learned how important it is to take every moment for what it is worth. I used to think that only the people that I was close to or that I spent time with regularly were the ones who would change me. That what they thought of me, saw in my future, wanted from me, was all that mattered. When in reality, this experience has taught me that those lessons and clarity can come from people that you meet in fleeting moments.

I spent my spring break in Cairns (pronounced cans) with two of my mates. We spent some time on the Great Barrier Reef, in the clouds and exploring hidden beaches. It was a great time to unwind and relax. But you know that it’s in those moments where your mind starts to wander. I was on a beachside oasis when I got a message from a friend back home. He was asking about my experience and ways that he could pray for me. Much of what he said reminded me of the importance of taking a step back. I was looking too closely at my situation that I was missing out on the lessons that I was being taught. I’ve been too busy reading the fine print, and have been missing out on GOD written in big bold letters. That there was so much I could be learning from the paths I was crossing along the way.

  • After we landed in Cairns, we were waiting for the shuttle to our hostel when someone sparked conversation with a girl named Emily. She is a kindred soul from England who is living and working in Brisbane as an au pair. We spent some time chatting and decided that we would grab some breakfast and invited her to join. Over the following three days, we spent time hearing about her experiences, sharing our lives and getting to know one another. It was refreshing to meet someone from a totally different cultural context, experience and style. It had never crossed my mind that I may never see her again, but I enjoyed her company for the time I was able to spend with her. She taught me mostly about spontaneity and that is something I will always carry with me.


  • During our same trip to Cairns, we spent a day on the Great Barrier Reef. It was a beautiful sunny day and our boat set sail around 8:30am. Around 9 am, I became a lone snorkeler as my mates were overcome by seasickness. At first I was really disappointed, because I wanted them to feel better and also because I didn’t want to snorkel alone. I was frustrated that I would have to experience one of the seven natural wonders of the world by my lonesome. After the first of three snorkels, we had time for lunch and I made conversation with the girl in front of me in line. Her entire family was on board vacationing from Buffalo, New York. We immediately bonded over our homeland but shared discussion in a wide variety of topics. I remember the passion in her eyes when she was telling me she just received a scholarship offer for her first choice, University of Michigan. After lunch, she asked me if I wanted to snorkel together and I immediately said yes. We snorkeled and had a great time. Her kindness, passion and excitement for life are something I will always carry with me.

Before this experience, I would have never thought to grab breakfast or snorkel the GBR with a stranger. Those experiences for me were reserved for my friends. But I’ve been learning that in those impromptu experiences there is so much richness and fullness of life. To hear about others passions and dreams is encouraging. Even though I know I may never see either of them again, I am thankful that when I think back on those experiences, I’ll remember their kindness, their laughter and their drives for life.

It’s a small, small world. It’s incredible to see the ways that God has comforted that need for me by introducing me to people who are in the same boat (literally and figuratively). People just trying to find their way. People like me. It’s cool to see how much of a community you can build just by spending time with people who are feeling a little like yourself. A little scared. A little hopeful. But mostly brave.

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