Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Kiwi Christmas!

Meri Kirihimete from New Zealand! 

     For those of you in the northern hemisphere shivering in the cold and snow, here is a little something to make you smile (or jealous)!  I had the wonderful gift of spending Christmas with the Careys at One Tree Point, about 35 minutes from Whangarei. Nigel and Jae Carey are fellow Nazarene pastors in Dargaville and good friends of mine who invited me to spend Christmas with the whole Carey clan  at their parents' beach house.

    The day was sunny and warm, with the Puhutukawas in full bloom, and children's giggles echoing through the house. Though I am 10,000 miles away from home and family for my favorite holiday, this was not  a bad way to celebrate!  :-) I was absorbed into their family, even getting me presents including a new couch for my new flat back in Whangarei.  Yes, a couch!

 You know, "It takes a long time to grow an old friend."  I've no idea who coined this phrase, but they were right on, and their words have passed through my mind many times since the big move to New Zealand 3.5 months ago.  Before moving to New Zealand, I was living and ministering among "old friends", those whom I really knew and who really knew and understood me.  I was a bit spoiled to be honest. We spoke the common language of shared experience and life together over a number of years.

Now I find myself blessed immensely by friends who may not be "old", but have a similar bond because we are siblings in the global family of God.  There really is a special unity and bond among believers worldwide, and it is all because we have the same Father; we all carry some of our Father's family traits.  In some of my friends I see my Father's eyes, that look that says, "Don't worry;  I see the bigger picture."  At other times I see His mouth in the warm smiles that seem to speak of acceptance and grace.  Even the wrinkles in the foreheads of some reminds  me of my Father God, as if they sing the melody of age-old faithfulness and loyalty.  Whatever it might be, I see the Lord in my brothers and sisters here in New Zealand and know.  .. I am not far from home.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Raindrops on Roses and. . .

I can almost hear it now, Julie Andrews singing the classic song from The Sound of Music, "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. . .these are a few of my favorite things."  Here are a few of my favorite things about life in Whangarei:

-- Kids Club Sunday Nights
-- Fresh avocados
-- Puhutukawa Trees  (The "Kiwi Christmas Tree" full of rich red blooms against deep green foliage.)
-- Laid back nature of the people here
-- Meat pies
-- Waking up to mountains towering above and flowers blooming below.
-- Dedicated Christ followers at New Hope Church
-- The beach
-- The childlike faith and growth of new Christians with whom I get to meet every week.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lessons from a kina. . .sore foot part 2

As you may remember, last weekend I had the privilege of enjoying a leisurely afternoon with a new friend out at the Tutukaka coast.  While there, I managed to step on a kina ( NZ sea urchin) and get a bunch of sharp spikes lodged in my foot.  Many of you have probably done the same thing at one point or another, but seeing as how I grew up in landlocked Kansas, I have never encountered sea urchins before.

Well, I was able to get most of the spikes out, but it soon became evident that a small piece broke off and worked its way a bit deeper into the center of the sole of my foot.  Ugh! I wasn’t able to get it out on my own and as the hours passed, my foot grew swollen and inflamed;  every step was very painful.  If you’ve ever had a thorn in your foot you know how much impact one tiny foreign object can have on the rest of your body.

Consider this:  with the kina spike still in my foot, it was too painful to walk, so I had to limp.  After a while limping, my other leg was getting weary and began hurting.  Then because my hip was also bearing extra weight, my spine was out of whack, making my back hurt.  And when my back hurts I get tired . . . and when I’m tired I get grumpy more easily. . . and so on and so forth.  See how one thing leads to another, all because of something that seemed so small and insignificant at the beginning?

Thankfully Donna came over the next day to a little "surgery" on my foot and was able to dig it out with a needle and some elbow grease.  (All the while I am wincing, gripping anything I can get my hands on, and trying not to cry.  J  Once the thorn was out, relief came and healing could begin.  While that silly thing was still making it home inside my body, I could not go on. It could have become infected and led to yet another more serious issue.  Whew! Its remarkable how something so small can have such a big and lasting impact!

 This thorn is like a sin, a dark spot in our life that festers and keeps us from ultimate healing and relief.  It may be small and hidden to others, but like everything else in life, it affects more than just us, and the longer it is left unattended, the distress grows.  Healing and wholeness, mending and repairing cannot come until the sin is confessed, removed, and dealt with.  Sin affects our relationship with God, with others, with family, with . . . everything. Sins, even “small” ones, affect everything. 

God knows this. And he has an equally "small" remedy to match it. . .and its wrapped up in the baby Jesus Christ, whom we celebrate during this blessed season of Advent.  God, in Christ, is “small” enough to go in where others cannot.  We couldn’t understand a God so big, we couldn’t go to a God so big. .. so God came to us, and continues to come to us in our current context, in our messy situations, in a way that is tangible.

God, who is so big we cannot measure him, so strong we cannot beat him, so wise we cannot trick him. .. became a tiny baby, helpless and vulnerable, born into a specific time and space in history.  He became small enough to fit into the tiny hidden places of our heart to remove those seemingly small ‘thorns’ in our life so that healing can begin.

Is it time for a little surgery?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tutukaka Coast, Jelly Fish . .. and a sore foot?

Wherever you find yourself in New Zealand, you are never far from the ocean, mountains, and nearly every form of breathtaking scenery. Today I enjoyed a leisurely Saturday afternoon with my new friend Tanya on the Tutukaka coast, about 30 minute drive from Whangarei.  Believe it or not, I've been here in NZ for 3 months, yet have had very little exposure to the beach, due to my lack of transportation.  Today was different.

Though it was a fairly cool and cloudy day, we enjoyed chatting, watching surfers, and playing with jellyfish.  Yes, I said playing with jellyfish!  Apparently there are varieties of jellyfish that are not poisonous and today hundreds of them washed up on shore, making the sand look more like bubble wrap than a beachhead. See photo.
I also managed to step on what might have been some type of sea urchin, filling the sole of my right foot with little spikes.  Ouch!  Still recovering from that one! Other than that, it was a wonderful day and I am thankful for the treasures of  sea that God gave us to enjoy.  :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

My new home!

For nearly 3 months Adrienne has so graciously welcomed me into her home and made me feel like part of the family! Thank you, Adrienne!  Now, I find myself in a new home, an adorable little flat just walking distance from the church.  The flat (apartment) is one bedroom, with a little kitchenette and bathroom, attached to an old Victorian house owned by Maurice, a wonderful elderly Christian man.   Thought you might enjoy a few photos from inside.
My flat is the left side of the house, shrowded by trees.  It used to be the the wrap-around porch of the house, but now is my entry-way.