Pouto. An unassuming little place at the end of the road, literally. It is on the northwestern coast New Zealand, with million-dollar views and completely isolated from everyone and everything.
Saturday afternoon we set out to enjoy a bit of Maori culture on the marae of our fellow Nazarene brother Moses, who fellowships at the Dargaville Church of the Nazarene. Moses' family marae is in Pouto.
For those of you who have read this blog before, you might remember that a marae is a sacred meeting area/complex for the Maori people, where community meetings and ceremonies occur and where Maori cultural celebrations take place. Each town or village has a marae to service the local iwi (Maori tribe) in that area. When on a marae, there is strict protocol that must be observed by both the local people and any visitors present. Moses and his family organized for the LoveWorks team and a few of us more permanent kiwis to come and spend an afternoon on the marae, experience a powhiri (formal welcome ceremony) and enjoy some delicious kai (food) made hangi style (in a big pit in the ground.).
It was lovely, but did not come without some extra effort in just getting our army of people to Pouto in the first place. (More photos of the actual marae to come. I need to snatch some pics from the team members.)
Pouto is about an hour from Dargaville, which itself is already bit out in the boonies, nearly an hour from Whangarei. The only way to get there is to endure some pretty windy, gravel roads, pray it doesn't rain too much, and ensure that you've filled up with petrol (gas) before you leave town. As one of the drivers and a newbie to the area, I often questioned if we had gone too far and should turn back. We hadn't seen a single soul for far too long, or so I thought. But no; it's true. Pouto is literally where the road ends, right on the edge of the sea.
Our caravan of vehicles started the journey only to find that 30 minutes into the drive, one of our vans decided to bite the dust, both literally and figuratively! :-) It was completely stuffed and we had to find a way to get all those passengers to the marae, which was still a long way down the road. So what do you do when you have no other options? You throw all the driving laws out the window and cram as many people into the remaining vehicles as you can. Who needs a seatbelt when you can just ride in the boot (trunk). . .or on someone's lap. Lol!
We finally made it to Pouto, and though we lost quite a chunk of time, we still enjoyed a shortened powhiri and filled our bellies with yummy hangi... before squeezing everybody back into the cars and heading all the way back to town. A bit of an adventure, but so worth it!
This "little" Saturday afternoon excursion got me thinking. When we finally arrived at Pouto we were miles from where we began. There were times I sincerely wondered if we were lost, even though friends had told me just to continue driving until I couldn't drive anymore. Apparently they were most certainly telling the truth.
My last 8.5 months here in New Zealand are a bit like that road to Pouto. When I look back to the first week I arrived here, I see that I am miles from where I began. Thanks be to God! Boy, have the Lord and I been on quite the adventure! In times of stress or difficulty when the road didn't seem so clear, I just kept hearing the voice of my Father saying, "Just keep going. You're still on the right path. You'll get there eventually...but you're there yet. Persevere." I still believe that my ministry and faith journey here in New Zealand has only just begun and that the road I am on is a long one. But, just as I eventually trusted the driving directions of those who pointed me down the road to Pouto, I will trust the the guidance of my heavenly Father and keep going in faith that he will eventually complete the good work he has started. And one day I'll get there and receive my reward. Then I will and smile as I look over my shoulder and see that
. . . I am miles from where I began.
This last photo has nothing to do with the Pouto marae. This was actually taken last Tuesday after painting the sanctuary, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the Point Loma team all together. Also pictured are our good friend Scottie and Renata Slykerman (from Rock Solid) and their kids.