Saturday, June 27, 2015

No Ordinary Life

I have completed four cycles around the sun here in the Land of the Long White Cloud and in twenty-three days I will find myself saying good-bye.  Good-bye to Christmas at the beach.  Good-bye to meat pies and pavlova.  Good-bye to pohutukawa trees and pipis. Good-bye to fejoas and fish 'n chips. Good-bye to a small church in small town in a small country.   Good-bye to friends with big love and big hospitality, flowing from even bigger hearts.


It's the end of an era, really.
As you might imagine, I've been reflecting a fair bit on my last four years here in New Zealand.  In doing so I have come to the conclusion that, by the grace of God, what I have is no ordinary life!

The quirky characters that play leading roles in my New Zealand story are nothing short of unique and extra-ordinary, hailing from nearly every corner of the planet and representing nearly every walk of life and religious conviction.  During any given "normal" week, I love, laugh and work with friends representing a dozen different nationalities from Brazillian to Indian to English to Chinese to Dutch to South African. . . and the list goes on.

 This is no ordinary life.

Privileges are afforded to me of which I would have never dreamed!  I get to coach gymnastics, pastor a church, volunteer at the food bank, teach Bible in the public schools, get goofy with teens on Tuesdays, learn from indviduals with disabilities, travel the country, organize camps, hike mountains, swim with dolphins, kayak rivers, surf in the sea, eat fresh from gardens I didn't plant, care for a sick friend, preach the Word of God, learn hard lessons, be humbled, make mistakes, look like a fool. . . and have a blast doing it all. (Well, most of the time!)

This is no ordinary life.

What was once foreign and frightening to me is now familiar.  That which I used to despise I now prefer.  Who would have thought that I'd actually grow fond of three minute hot showers and hanging my laundry on the line in the rain?  Driving on the left-hand side of the road is natural and normal, and the high price of eating out keeps me eating more home-cooked meals.  These are all good things I have come to love and appreciate about life here in Whangarei, New Zealand.

Now, as I say good-bye to this place and these people whom God has used to challenge and shape me, I am keenly aware that by His grace, I have no ordinary life.  I sure don't deserve any of this,  but I'll do nothing but receive all of it!

This era may be ending, but a new one is beginning.  In just over four months my "mission field" will widen trememdously to include that of marriage to the godliest man I know and motherhood to four rather incredible step children! I could not be more thrilled and thankful at the Lord's kindness to me.

This is truly no ordinary life!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The "Engle" Has Landed!

The long awaited arrival of the Engle family has finally come! Auckland welcomed them with cool temps and light rain, as per usual, but that didn't dampen their spirits. 
We are blessed to have this precious family as our newest missionaries on the district, teaching in the rural NZ town of Kaeo, 1.5 hours north of Whangarei, and serving with our local fellowship on the weekends.

None could be more thrilled and relieved than Steve himself!  He arrived here in country a month ago alone, ahead of his family, due to visa and employment complications, and has eagerly anticipated reunion with them since the day he left.  The Engles have been trying to get to New Zealand for over two years now, but encountered many obstacles with immigration and the lack of available employment in the Northland . . .until now!

  In his perfect timing and foreknowledge, God provided a teaching position for Steve at a very difficult high school up north, and now has opened the door for the rest of the family to join him. 
Finally, as my district superintendent Neville says, "The Engle has landed!"

Please pray for Steve, Lori, Harrison, Hollister, Heidi, and Hadley as they acclimate to life on the other side of the planet! They hail from Tennessee, USA, and are in for a wild, yet rewarding ride!

Welcome Engles!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Support for Solo Mums Continues!

If you've followed my blog for a length of time, you might remember a post entitled, "Support for Solo Mums", celebrating the courage of one young woman who chose to respond to the needs of young teenage mothers here in Whangarei.   This amazing woman, and mother of six herself,  is the daughter of  my dear friend and has now been nominated for the"Pride of New Zealand Award"! 

At the time of the last blog post Michelle had provided assistance for seven teen mums.  One year later, she has served over 300 families in need! Way to go, Michelle!

Click here for the article published in the Northern Advocate Newspaper this week:

If you're interested in more of the back story and want to read my original post from April 4, 2014, please click here.
Support for Solo Mums:

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Wonders of the South

The South Island of New Zealand is full of wonders and World Heritage Sites. I was privileged to experience a few of them this weekend with a dear friend who "shouted" ("paid for" in Kiwi lingo) me the trip as a last hoorah before saying good-bye to this fair land we call Aotearoa.

We visited Queenstown, Fjordland National Park, and Milford Sound!  The scenery is nothing short of dramatic and impressive . . .and very cold! We even went white-water rafting in the frigid waters of the Shotover River and explored the snow-capped peaks of the Remarkables (part of the Southern Alps) via helicopter!  Enjoy the photos!