Archive for July, 2012

G’day from Australia: Final goodbyes to the land Down Under

by   |  07.31.12  |  Study Abroad

Wednesday 6/27/2012 – Our last full day in Australia by Ian Shepherd

At 6:55 am we set off for our Half Day Straddie Tour. We got to Paddle across the tranquil waters of the Gold Coast, keeping an eye out for dolphins, turtles, and stingrays. We got to visit two of Queensland’s secluded islands where we were served a delicious continental breakfast on the beach. We go to snorkel with hundreds of sub-tropical fish off Wavebreak Island (1hr approx.) then, we took a short paddle to South Stradbroke Island and got to enjoy a stroll across one of the best surfing beaches in the world. Some of us even got to see Spot, the Swamp Faced Wallaby, only found on South Stradbroke Island.

Later on in the evening, Dr. J and Dr. S cooked tacos for all as we celebrated our last night together. It was really cool to see the relaxed friendships and camaraderie that has formed with the group. Students became friends. Faculty became mentors. What a great experience for all.

We leave at 6:25 am in the morning for the USA. Pray for our safety as we travel. We have three students diverting and staying in Manly for a few days (they will be surfing some more). I will be staying with Ethan and Leah at my mother’s for 3 more weeks as we work on mum’s house and do some repairs.

What a great experience. It is with mixed emotions that we say goodbye to new and close friends. Travel well!

Final Goodbyes…! By Ian Shepherd

The day started at 5:00 am for most of us as we had to finish packing and check out of our rooms by 6:30 am. We told the students that they needed to be downstairs by 6:25 and everyone made it on time. After a group photo we grabbed our breakfast in a box and headed out to the bus for our 30 minute ride to the Gold Coast Airport. We really enjoyed our stay at the Mantra Sun City. They were centrally located and well within walking distance of the shopping center and fun activities for all. I would stay there again with our group.

On arrival at the airport we were unable to check our bags all the way through to final destinations. This was odd. On arrival in Sydney (after a smooth and uneventful flight) we all met for one final time at the baggage claim to grab bags and make our way to our own private destinations. As we hugged and shook hands it struck me how close we had become as we shared this wonderful experience.

Some of the students told me how life changing this trip had been for them. That made me feel good. My greatest fear as tour leader was that the activities and classes were not challenging and did not meet the expectations of the students.

We have learned so much on this trip. Darryl and I plan on another trip to Australia in 18 months (if approved) during the Christmas break of 2014. This would be another 3 week class that leaves the day after Christmas and returns for school in January. The trip will come into Australia through Brisbane and then divert into two groups. One group will continue on to do operations research in Sydney and another group will go to the outback and teach technology skills to Aboriginal children on reservations. We will then meet up again in Sydney for a few days before going on to Auckland NZ to finish out the trip. The outback trip will be very “rustic” and may not be suitable for all students (extreme heat and camping type accommodations).

As this is our last post, I hope and pray that this trip has in some way changed our students to be more global in their perspectives. I pray that in some way they will always have a special place in their hearts for the people from down under. Ouray mates! You were a bonza group of true blue Christian representatives for ACU. There will always be a place around my camp fire for any one of you!

Love and best wishes ….Ian Shepherd….!

G’day from Australia: June 25th-June 26th, 2012 from Surfer’s Paradise

by   |  07.26.12  |  Study Abroad

Monday 6/25/2012 Our last day of official class activities in Australia by Ian Shepherd

Monday was test day in Surfers Paradise. Most students started with breakfast in the hotel and then took online tests as required. Some students did a final walk around Surfers and a few took a deep sea fishing trip.

Dr. Darryl Jinkerson and I met with Bradley Johnson and explored the possibility of our next trip involving activities working with technology education for aboriginals. Brad is focusing on spreading the word through the indigenous population of Australia by ministering to them both spiritually and physically. We are excited about the possibility of adding a one week activity to our next Australia trip.

Tomorrow we are four wheeling through the rainforest. Then Wednesday we are kayaking and snorkeling.

The clock is running down and I sense that the students are a little sad at this experience ending. After talking with Dr. J. we think it would be great for each of our students to pick four of five pictures from their personal collection of photos (when we get home) and email them to me ( along with a personal note about why each picture is important to them. I would like to create an album that we can put together and send to everyone that sums up our experience.

Remember to pray for Rachel as her surgery is tomorrow evening our time.

Tuesday 6/26/2012 we met our Southern cross 4wd Driver/guide for a full day Window to the Wilderness Tour of Tamborine & Lamington National Parks by Ian Shepherd

Our “Window to the Wilderness” tour began on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We found that a short distance beyond the beaches another paradise awaits, Nature’s Paradise, the World Heritage Listed Rainforests of Lamington National Park. The trek into the Hinterland region followed the original pioneer’s track to the volcanic plateau of Tamborine Mountain. This area of secluded eucalyptus forests provides a private sanctuary for koala, wallabies and other varied wildlife.

Mid-morning we took a break for morning tea and chance to check out the Gallery Walk on the Mountain. Delicious fresh scones, served with rhubarb jam, cream, tea and coffee were served. We took time to stretch our legs when guides, who are renowned for their local knowledge and expertise, escorted us on a leisurely bush walk. Their use of plastic snakes now gets significant respect from some of the girls in our group.

We discovered lush subtropical rainforests with cascading waterfalls, learned about the forests unique characteristics, and how the Aboriginal people gathered food from the forest floor and the animals and birds that call the area home.

Lunch time was great. Tucked away in the beautiful Sarabah Valley was our private lunch venue “Spring Gully”. With all the appeal of ‘The outback” yet only a stone’s throw from the Gold Coast, This 400 acre property provided the ideal venue for a delicious BBQ lunch with all the trimmings. Mouth-watering beefsteaks, chicken, fish or vegetarian accompanied by crisp salads and fresh fruit. Lessons in boomerang throwing and whip cracking had the students enthralled.

Following lunch, the tour continued on into the mountainous regions of Lamington National Park (Australia’s largest preserved natural stand of subtropical rainforest). At O’Reilly’s Plateau, some 3,000 feet above sea level, colorful native birds flocked around us and were fed. The students really enjoyed this up close and personal interaction with the birds.

The Treetop Boardwalk through the rainforest canopy offered a bird’s eye view of this enchanting area, especially for those who climb the observation tower. Several of our students were caught unaware by the guides who were hiding in trees to scare those “Yank tourists”! Very funny!

Leaving O’Reilly’s we took in the magnificent view of mountains and valleys with a 300 degree view from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and around to the great Dividing Range. On the return journey to the Gold Coast, we had sightings of kangaroos and the pretty faced wallabies as they emerge from their bush retreats to feed on the lush grass in the cooler part of the day.

Tonight at 10 pm we are holding a prayer vigil for Rachel Goodman (Darryl Jinkerson‘s daughter) who is having a major surgery for cancer starting at that time. Please pray for her if you have time as well.

COBA students join mission trip to Asia

by   |  07.23.12  |  Current Students, Study Abroad

Five weeks, two countries, six cities, and one mission: to spread God’s love across Korea and China by meeting the needs of the people met along the way.

Dr. Kilnam Cha, professor in the College of Biblical Studies led his mission team, which was comprised of two COBA studentsKyndal Coleman, junior accounting major from San Antonio and Tóng Yíng An, senior accounting major from Taiyuan, China— along with Cannon Spears, sophomore missions major from Blue Ridge, TX.

Below is a blog entry from Kyndal Coleman, one of the students on the trip, as she explains how God moved throughout her team’s journey across Asia.

The journey began in Seoul, South Korea where we worked with local schools to bring support to English students of all ages. While visiting many different learning environments, we quickly discovered how powerful the English language truly is- it’s being taught regularly alongside Korean and Chinese classes to students as young as 3 years old. All across Asia, the English language is seen as the gateway to better job opportunities, more personal connections, and ultimately the possibility of making a name of oneself. Our job was simple: use the skills God has blessed us with as native English speakers to help each person move closer to their chance at a better life once they’ve mastered the language. Even more, we had the chance to share God’s love through encouragement; reminding each of our students how precious they are in God’s sight even without perfect English because God’s love transcends all language boundaries!

As we moved on to China, we were blessed to have Tóng Yíng available as our guide and translator, as we found the environment to be much different than that of Korea. Throughout all four cities we visited while in China, I sensed this deep longing for excellence in the people we encountered. This desire made it very easy to find students who were open and willing to work extremely hard with us to study the English language. I found that I was actually the one being encouraged by the Chinese student’s inquisitive and hard-working spirits, an unexpected shift from what I was prepared for. Isn’t it funny how God sometimes uses unexpected people and situations to teach us such valuable lessons?

Before we left for our trip, I had a hard time believing that I was prepared to travel across the world to teach a foreign language. But the truth is, I was more than prepared, for the skills I needed to spread God’s love across Asia were not complicated at all. In fact, these “skills” were things I would sometimes take for granted in the past- things like growing up in a home that speaks English fluently, my daily Bible classes at ACU, perseverance brought forth by the COBA professors who have pushed me to excel, and even just the ability to sit down and have a conversation with someone. Teaching English in Korea in China wasn’t about being the most “skilled” English teacher around; it was about using the skills and experiences God had already blessed me with to make a difference in the lives of others. God had equipped me and the rest of my team LONG before He called us to this mission field, and we were overly prepared for the work He had for us to do.

As our five-week journey came to a close, we had the chance to spend one of our final days in Beijing with the COBA Study Abroad group who had arrived in the area just days before. Again, I was unexpectedly encouraged by the sight of familiar faces all the way across the world! After working so hard for the duration of our trip, it was nice to wrap up our voyage with fellowship and an exciting adventure. We traveled together to a unique part of the Great Wall of China: an area complete with a gondola ride to the top and a toboggan slide down the mountain. Our group spent over two hours marveling at the breathtaking sights of the ancient structure. Set high in the mountainous landscapes of China, the Great wall spans further than our eyes could ever see. We were in awe of the beauty that surrounded us, and for me it was the perfect ending to a life-changing trip.

Thank you to the COBA Study Abroad group for making our last day in China so enjoyable. I will never forget those glimpses of the Great Wall, and can’t wait to proudly hang the gorgeous photos all around my apartment for all to see!

G’day from Australia: June 23rd – June 24th, 2012 from Surfer’s Paradise

by   |  07.19.12  |  Study Abroad

Saturday 6/23/2012 Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast) – A Lazy Saturday by Ian Shepherd

Not much happening as a group today. We did catch a few of our students for breakfast and got to share in the lovely hot buffet breakfast downstairs. Many of the students planned on hitting the beaches today and walking down town to the main part of town that has lots of ritzy stores…and lots of restaurants and activities for tourists.

Tomorrow some of our students are flying up to the Great Barrier Reef for a day of exploration. Pray for their safety.

Sunday – June 24, 2012 Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast) by Ian Shepherd

A great lazy day as we were able to sleep in because our worship was scheduled for 7:00 pm tonight. We had our wonderful breakfast and then opened up our apartment for students to work during the day on whatever internet assignments they needed to complete. The internet has been incredibly expensive here. We will plan on budgeting more for this access in future trips.

As we gathered for worship many of the students were beaming and excited about their experiences. Many had gone to the national park and bush walked. Several had gone to a beach and had gone scuba diving for the first time. Another group took a charter flight up to the Great Barrier Reef to visit Lady Elliot Island. Here is a snippet of what they experienced!


At Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef, you can step off the beach and snorkel, swim or dive in an underwater holiday world of brilliantly colored species of marine life, or just simply relax and soak in the natural island atmosphere. The lagoon protects and nurtures the curiosity of the beginners while a little further out experienced snorkelers and divers descend to see the coral gardens.

Lady Elliot Island is one of only three island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the only resort with direct flight access to the island airstrip. The island is located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in the highest possible classification of Marine National Park Zone by GBRMPA. Lady Elliot is an island teeming with life and live corals, famous for a resident population of 40 Manta Rays which form the iconic logo of the island.


At about 6 pm, Matt and Tish Harris (ACU and COBA graduates) who are vocational missionaries in Ipswich, Queensland dropped by to lead our worship. It is amazing to be able to travel around the world and run into people you have known for many years. Matt is the son of Dr. Scott and Leonie Stovall. Matt spoke to us about his passion for lay ministry where you work in the country and spread the kingdom through your life experience and house church. We also had a time of prayer as a request for Puneet who has friends back home in the USA who are being evacuated due to large fires. We also prayed for Rachel Jinkerson Goodman who will be undergoing surgery on Tuesday for cancer. Keep Darryl in your prayers as well as he will be with our students rather than his daughter during her 12 hour surgery.

With only three days before we leave we spent a little time getting logistics worked out for the next few days. Monday is exam day. Tuesday is a 4 wheel drive tour with Southern Cross 4wd Driver/guide for a full day Window to the Wilderness (Tamborine & Lamington National Parks).

Wednesday is a kayak trip to South Stradbroke Island and then Thursday we leave.

G’day from Australia: June 21st – 22nd, 2012 from the Gold Coast

by   |  07.17.12  |  Study Abroad

Thursday 6/21/2012 – From Sydney to the Gold Coast and our Bandag Tour by Ian Shepherd

The day started early for many of us (5:30 am) as we got up and finished packing our many bags for the trek to Queensland. Our bus arrived at 8:00 am on time and dropped us a little early at Jetstar in the domestic terminal in Sydney. We had to wait about 30 minutes to check in and then made our way through security. (Security was much easier in Sydney than the USA for some reason). After a gate change we sat down and prepared ourselves for the trip. While waiting it struck me that there was something different about our students. Take a look at the airport pictures and notice how “Mobile” our students really are! iPads, iPhones, and laptops pounding away on almost all of our 22 students and 2 faculty. Our students were quite the picture of reliance and comfort that we are so renowned for in our push for mobility at ACU.

Our flight to the Gold Coast was a noisy one with a young child having problems with their ears. There is nothing worse than a young child who is screaming because their ears hurt and they don’t know how to pop them to clear the pressure. I felt so sorry for the parents. It was quite terrible for them.

Our bus driver picked us up on time and we made our way to the Bandag plant in Ipswich Queensland. The tour was extraordinary again with the students asking great questions. Take a look at the production process pictures that will be uploaded today to get an idea of how the tires are made (much like waffles).

After Bandag we made our way to the hotel. Oh my goodness! It is extraordinarily incredible. This hotel is much nicer than the Adina hotel in Sydney. Take a look at the pictures of the apartment the Darryl Jinkerson and I are in. It is mansion like.

Tomorrow we will finalize class notes and some of us are going deep see fishing! That will be fun.

Friday June 22, 2012 First day in Surfers Paradise (The Gold Coast) by Ian Shepherd

We arrived at the Mantra Sun City after our tour of Bandag and the students thought they were in Disneyland. The hotel is definitely a high end resort with apartments larger than some of our houses. You have your choice of three pools (2 outside and 1 inside heated) and 2 Hot tubs (1 outside and 1 inside). The largest pool has water slides (but it is not heated).

The weather here is beautiful. The temperature is very mild and even warm during the day. We have used the outside pools and hot tubs with no one freezing to death. Our breakfast together today was interesting. When we booked the hotel the coupon came with a free full breakfast for each person in all our rooms. At $22 per breakfast we worked out that the breakfast alone for 7 days and 24 people costs $3,696.00. Now…someone somewhere must have messed up because…we didn’t pay that much for the rooms so Dr. J and I think someone somewhere messed up. In any case, we are taking advantage of this hot breakfast buffet. This morning I looked over at the boys table and there were plates piled everywhere. The girls did not let us down as well.

Having eaten so well almost all of us skipped lunch and just ate a light dinner. We baked fresh tuna fish from our fishing today and had so much left over that we invited other students to drop by and eat some fresh Aussie fish. About 9 students did so and really enjoyed the food. I liked the fact that they wanted to hang around and visit as well. I feel that this group is forming a bond that will bind us all together for the rest of our lives. I think I can honestly say that “Study Abroad” has changed our student’s lives…!

Some of our students shopped a little today and a few went to the beach and swam (remember, its winter time here). The weather is so pleasant!




G’day from Australia: June 19th – 20th, 2012 from Sydney

by   |  07.11.12  |  Study Abroad

Tuesday 6/19/2012 – Sydney University – Sydney by Ian Shepherd

Today we had class both in the hotel for Dr. J and at Sydney University for my group. We made our way there at 9:00 am sharing cabs this time. The day was very quiet as most students knew that this was the last day to get free internet so many were working on journals and assignments.

One of our students was not well the last day and a half. It is no fun to feel sick while traveling overseas. After a rough night with migraine we finally found a Chemist (Pharmacy) who recommended a migraine specific over the counter drug. She is doing better but still is not quite feeling back to normal.

Tomorrow is our last day in Sydney. Lots to do as we pack and verify travel plans to the Gold Coast. Our last official class days will be Friday and Monday with other days being free or tour days.

Pray for us as we travel! I hear the students are reporting that they are having a great time. I am so proud of how they have represented themselves. Parents…you have done well!

Wednesday 6/20/12 – Last day in Sydney by Ian Shepherd
After a last day of class in Sydney we planned on cooking for our group. This afternoon we set off to Woolworths to load up on hamburger makings and hot dogs. Strangely enough, we couldn’t find any hot dog buns or wieners so we settled on good old Aussie Snags (Sausages). We had about 36 burgers and maybe 36 snags…and by the end of the evening…we had exactly…..ZERO! The last student showed up and ate the last 3 burgers on one bun!

Excellent inventory planning and great operational expertise were used in our production process tonight. I might also say that Darryl Jinkerson displayed wonderful management style as he maneuvered himself around the huge Aussie BBQ’s (2 in fact). After a wonderful dinner together some of the students set out for one last night on the town.

Pray for us tomorrow as we travel again that all might go well.

G’day from Australia: June 17-18th, 2012 from Sydney

by   |  07.06.12  |  Study Abroad

Sunday evening June 17 2012 – Sydney Australia by Ian Shepherd

As we gathered tonight it struck me that this group of students is very special to me. I appreciated the 100% attendance at our worship service after such a fun weekend for all. As we gathered and had a cup of coffee or tea, each of the students were loudly telling of their wonderful experiences this weekend. Today was probably the sunniest day we have had this whole week. There were three basic groups traveling around Sydney. One group, along with Dr. Jinkerson, spent the weekend walking and sightseeing in Sydney (The Rocks, George Street, Darling Harbor, Paddies Markets). Another group went to Bondi Beach and spent the day walking the cliffs of the beaches along the coast. Another group went to Manly beach on the ferry and spent the day surfing and swimming. There were so many great stories and such exuberance from a group of excited students. A few of the students now want to extend their trip and maybe learn to surf here in Sydney. We will be looking into that tomorrow for them.

I was lucky enough to go to see my mother with my son Ethan and his wife Leah. What a joy it is to go home to the old home place. We had a great weekend just visiting and listening to stories and just catching up on what was happening with everyone.

Tonight as we gathered for worship we were glad to have Peter and Claire Tickner and family from the McQuarie congregation here in Sydney drop by to bring the lesson and share the Lord’s supper with us. We sang, prayed, read and worshiped together bringing a great weekend to a perfect end. Peter and Claire are longtime friends and missionaries here in Australia. We have appreciated the faithful nature in which they have served the Lord for many years. Strangely enough, Ethan my son told his workmates in the Adams Center at ACU that he was traveling to Sydney and one of them said “I know someone in Sydney, Peter Tickner”. Nuria, from the Adams Center, used to baby sit Peter when he was young. Ethan responded quickly that he had known Peter since 2002 when Peter baby sat him in Murfreesboro Tennessee. It truly is a small world when you are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tomorrow we will spend the day cranking out assignments at Sydney University here in town. We have arranged to have a classroom for both our classes for the day. We will be able to use the internet and catch up on all our work that requires the internet.

Take care!

Monday 6/18/2012 – Our walk to University of Sydney by Ian Shepherd

Having had so many problems with internet access I called University of Sydney (who have a large campus here in Sydney) to see if we could get a room with internet access for all 24 of our travelers. The university was able to allocate a room for 2 days with internet access for $130. Doing the math for internet access for 24 people for 2 days…..that is pretty reasonable. After booking the room I received and email with directions. The email said it was a short walk from Central Station. I jumped on the web and mapped our walking directions to the school. It was 2.8 kilometers….how bad could that be? It is not much more than walking around the walking track at ACU!

Setting off on the walk a little late I set off with 23 people in tow. I can tell you that the 2.8 kilometers at a brisk walk up and down hills and through heavy traffic was no fun! It took about 40 minutes to get there…and…it is NOT within walking distance of Central.

We found our room, set up, and then held class for most of the day. During breaks and at the end of the day the students were able to upload most of their pictures and also skype with parents at home. It was enjoyable to quietly listen to all their excited discussions with parents about the new experiences they have had these last few days. At the end of the day we shared a cab back to our apartment and collapsed onto the couch.

Tomorrow….we do it all over again!


G’day from Australia: Days 4 and 5

by   |  07.03.12  |  Study Abroad

Sydney – Day 4 by Ian Shepherd– Johnson & Johnson Visit to North Ryde.

Finally a day without rain! Our day started at 6:50 am when we met in the lobby of our hotel. At 7:00 am we set off walking to Central station (about a 10 minute downhill walk). After purchasing 24 return tickets at the station we set off for platform 16 and our first test of the Sydney Urban Transport System. The train system here is very easy to use. Each destination is easily found on display boards and trains are announced electronically up to 3 in advance of when they arrive. We boarded our train on time and had to stand for a few stations until the majority of Sydney workers left the train. As we headed north over the harbor bridge we were able to take seats and enjoy the quiet ride north to Ryde.

When we arrived we had a short distance of about a block to walk to get the Johnson & Johnson headquarters (J&J). I am proud to say that we arrived at J&J exactly on time at 8:30 am ready for a great day of information gathering. A few of the students had new shoes on and we had a few blister injuries due to the walking today.

Once at J&J we signed in and then were escorted to a large conference room for our day of presentations. Thanks go out to David Swearingen for arranging what came to be “An MBA in a day!” for our students. Both Dr. Jinkerson and I agree that the presentations today were of the highest quality we have seen and covered in detail all the topics in both our Leadership and Operations classes. The students presented themselves well with engaging questions and interest in all the topics.They did COBA and ACU proud. I must also say that many were dressed very professionally and again made great impressions with the executive team at J&J.

At the end of the day several of our students were asking how they might apply for internship positions with the company there in Ryde. Tomorrow we go to Subway for a comparative analysis of their stores here in Australia compared to Abilene.
Tonight we were so tired that we caught a cab to dinner in china town. After dinner Dr. Jinkerson, Ethan and Leah Shepherd, and I walked around Darling Harbor to give Dr. J. an idea of where we plan to pick him up on Saturday with our fishing charter.

Sydney Day 5 – Subway Visit to Flemington Markets

Up again at 5:30 am to get ready to leave at 6:50 am for Central Train station. Our students once again looked great as they donned their business attire and set off on a second day of train travel to review operations and leadership methods in an Australian Subway Franchise. Once again we arrived exactly on time at the Subway and we broke into two groups. Group 1 (half our group) met with Tony who is head of Subway location finding in Australia. This group focused on the operations of location and store setup and how the franchise portions of the business are run. Group 2 met next door with an actual subway franchisee who covered his management style with his employees and how operations within the store run on a day to day basis. In each session the students posed questions that drew out further discussions on other important aspects of the business.

After the technical side of our business visits were completed, we were treated to a Subway lunch outside in the lovely sunshine (a first for our trip). As we were leaving we walked back through the largest fruit market in the Southern Hemisphere where early activity in the day peters out at about 2 pm. By then all the Sydney stores have purchased their daily requirements and have set off for their own stores.

As we made our way back to our hotel, we rode the train for what may be the last time. Class met for a little while this afternoon and now we are advising students on how to behave and spend the next two days of free time in Sydney. Most students are staying in town. I am going out to see my mother in Blacktown and a few students (I think) are going tandem sky diving on Monday afternoon.

We will gather together Sunday evening at 7 pm when we get together for Devotional and worship with Peter and Claire Tickner (another local preacher from McQuarie Church of Christ). We look forward to hearing great stories from the kids as they become more comfortable in getting around the city.

Parents…the more we are with your kids…the more we love them. I am proud of each of them and their patience and presence that exemplifies Christ.

Blessings to all…!