Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kumura Triathlon done and dusted!

Yep, I survived.  In fact, I thrived!
 The Kumura Triathlon this weekend was a very enriching experience and the perfect challenge for me.  Don't get me wrong, it was HARD WORK and quite grueling, but never once did I stop to walk or consider giving up.
The weather was perfect, the scenery just pristine, and the outcome positive.  Though there were well over 100 competitors for the day, only 17 of them were crazy enough to sign up for the adults' long course, including me.  It soon became apparent that I was a fish-out-of-water when I looked around and saw that everyone else   had snazzy lightweight road bikes, full- length aerodynamic tri-suits (super thin, fancy wetsuits made just for events like this) and all the gear to go with it.  Me?  I rocked up with a clunky mountain bike, no swim cap or wetsuit, bright pink sunglasses from the $2 shop, and a general desire to have fun and not die.    

And not die I did. I am proud to say that I came 12th out of 17 with a time of 2:30:03!

Many thanks to my friends Angela and Jes who cheered me on a took photos!
(More photos to come soon.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Deep Waters - Kumura Triathlon

training run at Tutukaka
Hillsong United has recently released a song to which I've taken a liking entitled, "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)".  I have found the bridge and beginning line in verse #2 to be especially challenging and appropriate:

 "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders [. . .]"

" Your grace abounds in deepest waters [. . .]"

(You can read the rest of the lyrics below.) This song likens the life of faith in Christ to the ocean, filled with depth and uncertainty, mystery and miracles - an experience where our feet may fail to get us across the sea.  Walking in self-sufficiency will never do.

Kai Iwi lakes from above
This applies not only to the spiritual realm, but the physical as well. Silly as it sounds, I know that God's grace does indeed abound even when I find myself in deep waters, literally.  Tomorrow I will compete in the 'Kumura Triathlon', a race for which I have been training months.  It incorporates a long-distance swim, bike ride and run around a real gem of the Northland's west cost, "Kai Iwi Lakes".  

I am very familiar with the lake in which I will be swimming, in awe of its beauty and white sand beach. . . yet keenly aware of its depth and cold temperature.   It is a place where feet may fail.  There's no stopping and walking, no resting, no recalibrating until you get to the other side, 1 kilometre later.  I'm a strong swimmer and have always loved the water, but have to admit that the blackness of the deep beneath me causes a small bit of nervousness.  But even there, God's grace shows up and abounds. . .in deepest waters.  So in a very literal sense I'm expecting God's grace to meet me there and get me to the next task. . . the 20KM cycle  . . .and then onto the 10KM run to finish it all off.   The hills may be grueling and the terrain unstable, but what fun would it be if everything were smooth and comfortable, right?

I'll be sure to post photos when I survive it all!

Verse #1
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Verse #2
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Zealand Diversity

I've been in New Zealand over 2.5 years now and the longer I live here the more intriguing this little country becomes.  New Zealand is making its way into the list of most ethnically diverse places on earth.  In fact, according to the 2013 census, New Zealand actually has more ethnicities than there are countries of the world; 213 to be exact.  (There are currently 196  countries recognized.)  I can see evidence of this in my own sphere of influence.

I recently stopped to think about the ethnic groups represented just among my closest friends here in Whangarei and was quite amazed at what I came up with: Kiwi, Maori, South African, Brazilian, Egyptian, Samoan, English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, Chinese, Korean and American.  And that doesn't count my Fijian students in gymnastics, my Greek next door neighbour, Indian, Tongan and Vanuatu friends in Auckland, or the Croatians who live just down the road!

 What a special thing it is for me to serve and learn in such a place as this!  God loves diversity and creativity and I can't help but imagine what it might be like when Jesus Christ the King of Heaven, finally becomes the king of this earth!  That is why I am here: to make Christlike disciples in the nations. .. and well, there's plenty of "nations" here in good ole' Aotearoa!

In order to continue serving in this amazing place, I need your help in many different ways.  Please see the attached letter about how to can lend support to this ministry and get involved.  

And of course, enjoy some great photos of our beautiful land!

 Dear Friends and Partners in Ministry,

Kia Ora from Whangarei, New Zealand. Greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ! Wherever you find yourself reading this message right now, whether shivering in the cold or enjoying the glorious autumn of the southern hemisphere, I extend you three invitations: 

1) Come for a visit to experience life and ministry in New Zealand for yourself!
2) Partner in ministry with me through prayer and financial contribution.
3) Come for a visit to experience life and ministry in New Zealand for yourself! (Oops! Did I already mention that?! :-)

 The Lord has blessed me incredibly and allowed me to serve the people of Whangarei for over 2.5 years now. (You can always read weekly updates and reflections on my blog: 

Many of you have supported me though financial contributions, letters and emails, and powerful prayers on my behalf. All I can say is "THANK YOU". Impacting this community with the love and power of Jesus Christ is truly a team effort and you are a key member of this team. 

Perhaps you have not been able to give financially in the past, but now you are in a position to do so. If that is you, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to my Global Serve account, which helps to cover some of the costs required for life and ministry here. The Lord is always gracious to provide for me and the people with whom I serve in creative ways and I have no doubt He will continue to do so in the future.

If you are interested in making a financial contribution, you can do so online at this link. You will receive a receipt for tax purposes: 

Give Online Here at Alison's Mission Corps Site

As always, prayers are the most powerful gift you can give. Please continue to pray for the people of New Zealand, especially in this year of 2014 as we celebrate the 200th year anniversary of the first gospel message preached in New Zealand.

I look forward to hearing from you and learning how I can pray for you!

"Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me." ~Psalm 66:16

Grace and Peace,
Alison Weinstock

Monday, March 17, 2014

Now that the storm has passed.

Cyclone Lusi came and went, leaving her mark on New Zealand.  Though she caused damage and inconvenience, uprooted trees and power outages, she was less destructive than expected.   We are thankful. 

Now that the storm has passed, the sun has returned and with it warmer temperatures. 
Thankfully the road between Whangarei and Dargaville was also cleared, allowing us to enjoy a special combined worship service on Sunday as planned.

During times like this, one cannot help but think about the universal flood that sent everything on earth swimming during Noah's time. The whole story is quite remarkable, really, and I would encourage you to read about it in Genesis 6-9.  I won't go into details here, but would like to point out one thing.

 I find it interesting that God instructs Noah very specifically as to how to construct the ark, which is more like 3- tiered floating football field than a simple wooden boat.   He turns Noah into a skilled craftsman, tells him to fill it with pairs of animals that will eventually repopulate the earth, and then gives him these hope-filled instructions:

Genesis 7:1-24 (NLT)
1 When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous.
2 Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. 
Noah would have already been accustomed to offering sacrifices to the Lord at this point, so here it is as if God is saying, “You know what these are for.  You’ll need these when you make it out on the other side.”
Do you see it?  A glimmer of hope.  A word that says . . . ."You will make to the other side.  And when you do . . . remember me.  Honour me. Yes, the flood will be treacherous.  It will be long.  You might even doubt that the ark will hold up against the waves.  BUT it will not last forever.  You will make it out to the other side."
The flood did come to an end. The waters eventually receded. And guess what Noah did:

Genesis 8:20-22 (NLT)
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.
21 And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things.
22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” 
Put your trust in God through faith in Jesus Christ his Son and you'll make it through the storm.  And when you do . . .remember him.  Honour him.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cyclone Lusi headed toward NZ

Infrared radar from the NZ Met Service website.
As we await the arrival of Cyclone Lusi in the next few hours, I chuckle at the fact that my sermon this weekend happens to come from Genesis 6-9: Noah and the Flood.  I began studying and preparing for this message long before I knew we would find ourselves in a similarly stormy situation (albeit much less severe and universal than the flood of Noah's day!).   I will have more to say about that in another post very soon.

 We have already postponed our church picnic and dedication originally scheduled for this weekend in favour of another time when the weather is more stable.  As cool as it is to watch the weatherman getting blown to bits on TV, I think most of us would rather avoid such experiences. He he!

We will however, keep our plans for a special combined worship service with our Dargaville Church of the Nazarene on Sunday. Please pray for safe travels and a truly blessed time together.

Cyclone Lusi is hovering over Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia at the moment, but it's next target: New Zealand.  It is currently a category 3 storm and will weaken slightly in our cooler southern waters, but is still expected to bring heavy rains, damaging winds, and possible flooding before it fizzles out.

I will keep you posted as to how we fare.  In the meantime, anticipate some great photos when this is all said and done!

Friday, March 7, 2014

This is how we roll in Whangarei.

It's Saturday in Whangarei, and for the first time in many weeks I  had a day off!  When life gets a bit confusing or you need to decompress (actually any reason will do!), there are few things more therapeutic than fresh veggies from the market and a long run on beach.

This is how we roll in Whangarei.
Enjoy some photos from the first few days of autumn here in the Northland.