2006 has been a significant and memorable year.  As we all wait for the New Year, our family is also awaiting the birth of my youngest sister's first child.  Let's just say that this baby has kept everyone on their toes up to this time

Mang Pete, the father of a friend, joined His Creator in November.  I visited him when I was in Kidapawan in 2005, not knowing that it was my last time to see him alive.  I was glad I made that visit.  His death made me realize that we always have to remember and value the people we care about because we do not know when their time comes to an end. Another friend and mentor is facing a most difficult moment, a mother suffering from terminal cancer.  Yet, life goes on.

In 2004, Christmas Day was one of the hottest days that year, but this year, it was a grey and gloomy day, perhaps, a reminder for Australians about the bleakness of the years to come.  In a matter of days, weather conditions change from cold to hot or hot to cold

Australia is still reeling with drought, water restrictions, and threats of bushfires.  Among government and non-government agencies, "climate change" is now a buzz word.  "An Inconvenient Truth," was one of the must see movies

Bushfires ravaged three states and fortunately the rains and snow came to give the fire fighters their much-needed break.  For refugees and asylum seekers, the period between December and February is most threatening.  Some asylum seekers were sent back to their countries of origin despite the danger awaiting them upon their return.  A few were granted protection visas; some of those in the community still don't know what awaits them in the New Year.  A few have visas up to January or February without any indication of how their cases will go.

The federal government is abuzz with news of a restructure when Parliament resumes sitting in 2007.  The Australian Labour Party has changed its leadership and is now considered a "serious" threat to the current government

Australia is now considering the use of nuclear energy in the coming years. In general, people just go about their daily lives.  Families are busy with their preparations for New Year's festivities.  There are endless barbecues, drinking and merry making while news of holiday death tolls comes up in the daily news to remind people about the dangers of driving and the fragility of life.

Australia is also looking forward to the final Ashes test in Sydney.  The Hopman Cup – an international tennis event has started and the Australian Open is about to start in January.

Australia is celebrating another Australia Day on the 26th – a day mourned by Aborigines as this was the day they were colonized.

World news reminds us about what's happening worldwide and this is what makes it hard for some people to really get into the mood for celebrations and festivities.

Anyway, there are a few events in my life which I am thankful for.  I was filled with pride and joy when I told my friends that Noellin received the Mary AIkenhead Award for Academic Excellence for her class and the Fr. Ron Harden Award for Christian Leadership.  A childhood friend promptly sent me a text message saying: "Now we know how our parents felt about us during our time."  No parent could have asked for more especially after getting into one of the State Selective Schools for Year 7 where 3,150 students out of the 13,000+ who took the exams were accepted.  Yes, I have a lot to be

thankful for.

Thank you to family and friends who stood by me and still continue to do so throughout these years.

Let me wish everyone a Happy New Year. May the New Year be filled with blessings for everyone and may we have peace and joy in our lives as we welcome 2007! (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews' effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries.  Eleanor M. Trinchera of Kidapawan City is a resident of Sydney and is now working with a non-government organization)*