Monday, August 17, 2015

Windshield Wipers

The car is going at full speed, but I notice that my destination is fast approaching, so what do I do?  I press the brakes and turn on the windshield wipers, of course!

 Wait . . . Ugh.  I've done it again!

Intending to indicate a left turn with my blinker; I click the wipers instead, something I've done dozens of times since my arrival back in the USA.

In case you weren't aware, we drive on the left side of the road in New Zealand.  This means that the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, as are the blinkers, and the gear shifter is on the left.   (And for you curious types, you cannot turn right on red, but you can legally go 100 down the highway - 100 kilometres that is!  :-) 

 I've been here in America four weeks and still experience the occasional brain fart, defaulting to my habits as a Kiwi.  In fact, just the other day, intending to drive myself home from the supermarket, I entered in the right side of the car, then sat down and put on my seat belt before I realized that there was no steering wheel in front of me!  Sheepishly I exited the car, scoured my surroundings for any perplexed observers, and then walked around to the driver's side.

My embarrassment, however, soon turned to pride.  The sharp awareness that New Zealand was still affecting me, still shaping my behaviours and still my default mode made me secretly happy. Somehow it brought me comfort to realize that Aotearoa was still running through my veins and that without even knowing it, I was acting like a Kiwi.  I confess that I am proud to be Kiwi-ized, and admit that much of me rebels against the American status quo. You can take the girl out of New Zealand, but you can't take New Zealand out of the girl.

In my rebellion, I'd rather eat tomato sauce, not ketchup, and munch on biscuits, not cookies. Taking out the rubbish sounds a bit more posh than taking out the trash. I'd prefer to push a trolley through Wal-Mart, instead of a cart, and pack my groceries in the boot, not the trunk. I will continue to pronounce some words with a New Zealand accent and use the British spelling for everything from colour to kilometre (at least until spell check gets the best of me!).

Why such stubbornness? Why the refusal to adapt?

Is this behaviour a natural result of adjusting to a new country, new culture, new way of doing life?  Yes.

Is this expected for those grieving a move away from loved ones and loved surroundings?

Is this an attempt at justifying arrogance and an unwillingness to adapt?
Ugh . .. I've done it again.

Its true. I take pride in being different. The irony is that the desire to be perceived as unique and special is common among mankind.  The inability to be "figured out" too easily allows you to remain a bit mysterious and unlabeled, which can be quite attractive, especially to the human ego.
We all want to be different. .. just like everyone else.

I enthusiastically invested time and energy into adapting to life in New Zealand, eagerly shedding my "American-ness" and embracing life as a Kiwi, so that I might like the Apostle Paul "become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22)
That worked well for me in New Zealand . . .but I'm not in New Zealand anymore.

 For most people enduring daily grind in Kansas City, discussing the potential flag change, sky high youth suicide rate in the Northland, Christchurch earthquake recovery, or any other New Zealand issue is basically irrelevant.  Bragging about New Zealand's  breathtaking scenery or the high quality of dairy doesn't really matter to someone who is just scraping by, trying pay the bills and make sense of life here. The humbling reality is that just as I embraced God's call to serve across the seas and learn to do life there, so must I adapt to life here.

I will heed Pauls' words in Romans 12:2 and "not be conformed any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [my] mind, so that [I] can test and approve what God's will is, His good pleasing and perfect will."

I will not conform to the pattern of New Zealand, nor the USA.  Vices and virtues exist within all cultures and not one is superior to the other.  Thus, I will embrace the culture of the Kingdom of God and embrace life wherever I am planted in my Father's world.

Next time the windshield wipers make an unwanted appearance when I'm trying to turn a corner, I will thank God for the remarkable years in Aotearoa , then self correct and click the blinker to indicate that I am not only turning the vehicle, but turning my attention to loving God and loving people right here in Kansas city. 

* Forgive me, but I just had to include a few more of my favourite photos from my old neck of the woods!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

God of the Underdogs

Ahhh.  Just like old times.  Sweating buckets, spending energy, being silly, hauling equipment, setting up, tearing down, giggling, laughing- you name it.  These are the makings of a great Vacation Bible School!

This week Faith Journey Church of the Nazarene has been hosting "God of the Underdogs" Vacation Bible School, and in true Faith Journey fashion, we don't wait for people to come to church (as if it were a destination),  we bring Church to the people (because that was God's design in the first place.) Remember, the Church doesn't have a mission.  God's mission has a Church.

We've been hosting the VBS outside at a local park, nestled amongst town homes and apartments, proclaiming the love and power of our God to dozens of children and parents.  It couldn't be a better venue!  When the neighbourhood kids see the tents going up and hear the music playing, they come running!
It is a great joy to partner with people to whom the mission of God is more important than convenience and more valuable than their pocketbooks; it is something decidedly worthy of their time and devotion.

We've had 45-50 children each night and the week isn't over yet!  Thank you, Father, for the rain-less skies, humble servants, and your love that compels us to spend energy on behalf of our young people.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Thank You Plymouth Heights!

Who doesn't love a handmade quilt?

I came home to find that a lovely package had arrived from Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Ohio, a LINKS church that has been supporting my ministry in New Zealand. 

This is what I found inside!

Even though I am currently in the USA, they found a way to get it to me before my birthday.

Thank you to the "Sewing Seeds Quilt Group"!  You know how to take good care of your missionaries!