Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back in Whangarei and Life Makes Sense Again

I'm back in Whangarei and life makes sense again.

After 3 years in New Zealand, I find that I have become somewhat of a "Kiwi-ized" American. Here's how I know. (If you need a bit of translation, see below.  He he!).

I wear jandals with socks in the winter, eat kumuara and hangi, and actually prefer to hang my laundry outside.  A pie is often on the menu for tea and I enjoy a good tiki tour through the wop-wops wearing my gumboots . Like most people, I don't actually buy milk at the dairy and could care less if my clothes don't match.  I wish I had a bach at the beach and togs that weren't falling apart. My cupboard is chocka block with essentials like wheat bags and hotties since I don't have a heater and my home isn't insulated.  I love good ole Aotearoa and wouldn't have it any other way!

Need a little help making sense of all that?

jandals = flip flops (and yes, many people do wear them with socks!)
kumura = NZ sweet potato, a staple in the Kiwi diet
hangi- an earthen oven (hole in the ground) where a traditional Maori meal is cooked, often including meat, kumura, stuffing and onion.  Yum!
tiki tour = aimless wandering, going for a stroll
wop-wops = out in the boonies or on the outskirts of town
gumboots = rain boots, mud shoes
dairy = corner convenience store that is often open when other stores are closed
bach = holiday house/ beach house
togs = swimsuit or swim clothing
cupboard = closet or wardrobe
chocka block = full to overflowing
hotties = hot water bottles
Aotearoa = "Land of the Long White Cloud", Maori name for New Zealand

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Revolving Door

The inevitable has come.  Tuesday is my departure date.

After three lovely weeks here in USA, it will soon be time to say good-bye to the people and places that make this such a pleasant place to come home to.  Once again I have been blessed beyond measure: enjoying the company of old friends and new, reuniting with family members and even bumping into fellow missionaries from around the globe!
This is a sweet part of what it means for me to be a missionary.

Unfortunately, this is also what makes it bitter, because with every "hello" comes an inevitable "good-bye".

Due to the nature of missionary work and cross-cultural service, life at times feels like a revolving door.  People come and go.  I come and go.  Life goes on.  The only constant; the only One who travels with me through these revolving doors is Jesus, and for that I am grateful.

Enjoy more pics of some of these precious people!


Monday, July 21, 2014

The HOPE Project Update

2014 is a very significant year for New Zealand.  Why? 
It marks the 200th year anniversary of the preaching of the first gospel message in Aotearoa!

On Christmas Day 1814 the message of hope and eternal life through Jesus Christ came to our shores through a partnership between missionary Samuel Marsden, an English-born Anglican chaplain  serving Australia, and Ruatara, a Maori leader from the Ngapuhi iwi (tribe) in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  Ruatara translated Marsden's message into te reo Maori (the Maori language) and played a key role in ensuring that it took root among what many at the time considered a "savage" people group.  Samuel Marsden was a contemporary and associate of the famous William Wilberforce who is known for his dedication to the abolishment of the British slave trade.

Much has happened in the national history of New Zealand since that summer day in 1814.  Now we find ourselves identified as one of the most secular English-speaking countries in the world.  This should not be!  Thus, the reason for the Hope Project.

The goal of the "HOPE PROJECT 2014" is to  share the reasons for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15) with every home in New Zealand in 2014 through various media: TV ads, Internet and social media, radio ads, printed material, and most importantly- equipping Christians to have authentic faith conversations with their friends and family. Churches all around New Zealand, including our own New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Whangarei, are partnering together to see this project succeed.

Prayer, much prayer, and funding are necessary to see that all the material gets rolled out before Christmas of this year.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time at all, you've read about this project before.  We are in a critical phase right now where the ads are being created and the printed material will soon be distributed via post.  The project is still in need of funds to ensure that all costs are covered and that every home in New Zealand hears about Jesus THIS year!

Please feel free to click the link below to make a donation and/or learn more details about the project.

This is exciting stuff!  Just imagine how our nation will be impacted when every single household encounters the love of Christ!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Prayer: An Expression of Servanthood from God to Us

"No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him."  

These words of Jesus Christ, found in John 13: 16, come on the heels of a humbling (perhaps even humiliating) experience when Jesus bowed the knee and washed the dusty, well-traveled feet of his disciples.  Wait a minute; something is a bit backwards here, a bit off kilter.  Who is the master in this situation? Who really ought to be the one getting his feet scrubbed?  
The disciples ought to be the ones performing the duties of a slave, but as usual, Christ is in the business of role reversal, of turning things upside down.  Here he sets an example follow: to attend to the needs of others, to consider others above yourself, to detach yourself from the addiction to status, prestige, and self-importance.

Throughout the course of any given day I find myself calling on the Lord for help in all kinds of situations, whether big or small.  As I breathed a prayer for assistance with a simple decision one day, Christ's words came back to me like a boomerang, "A servant is not above his master." 

"That's right", I thought. A servant doesn't tell the master what to do.  A student doesn't bark orders at the teacher.  A child doesn't make demands of a parent.  It's supposed to the other way around, isn't it?  Only the one in authority has the right to make requests of his/her subordinate.
This is where prayer becomes an act of service from God to us.  He is the One of high and lofty position and we are the servants.  Who are we to ask him for anything?! What right have we to make demands of him and bring to him our needs and requests?  We ought to be the ones at his beckon call, awaiting our marching orders, ready to say "how high" when he says "jump." There is no logical reason on earth why we as slaves should be given permission to petition the Master (God) for anything.

A servant is not above his master.

AND YET. .. God serves us by allowing us to do that which ought not to be: to make requests of him and ask for help.   What is even more mind-boggling is that God would stoop so low as to serve us by answering our prayers. Do you see now?  This is the stuff of grace.  Prayer is yet another expression of servanthood; God's service to us who don't deserve.

How kind of God.  How merciful of God.  How good of God.

It is because of this kindness of God that I benefit from the prayers of others.  This week I have been blessed to reunite with many who have prayed for me, who have battled behind the scenes on my behalf while I am half a world away in New Zealand.

These are precious people to me and I am forever grateful  for the great role reversal that God has initiated. Enjoy the photos.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Familiar Faces

One of the great blessings of returning to my hometown is spending time with significant people who have shaped my life and my history.  Enjoy some familiar faces!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day in the USA

"Operation Surprise" Complete!
I nearly sent my parents to the hospital in shock this week after arriving home in Kansas City on Wednesday, two full days earlier than scheduled.  Call me devious if you must, but I really wanted to bless them with a few extra days together,  so I created a false itinerary, organized a trusty accomplice to assist in executing the plan, and set off on a jet plane bound for home!  After resuming a natural heart rhythm, I think they were pleasantly surprised.  He he!

For my fellow Kiwis reading this blog, today is the 4th of July, our American Independence Day.  It is traditionally celebrated with fireworks, a cookout and good clean fun!  I was able to meet up with old friends, fellow missionaries and heaps of other familiar faces. Enjoy the pics.