Saturday, December 8, 2007

December 4 - 10

Ken and I celebrated our six month anniversary this past Sunday and also welcomed Pepper, a 2-year-old fox terrier, into our family! We are so excited to have this little ball of energy to play with! We found her on accident - I talked Ken into visiting the SPCA (humane shelter for animals) but there were no dogs left. However, there was a sign for Pepper, a fox terrier, spade, and free! So we visited her, fell in love, and now have a new best friend in New Zealand!

Anglican church in Palmy that looked beautiful as the sun set on it


Besides playing with Pepper (and spoiling her rotten - she has a matching bed and food dish as well as a Christmas squeak toy and some dogie treats!) we celebrated our six months of marriage Saturday evening by going out to a nice dinner and getting martinis for dessert at a fancy lounge.

Dinner at the Mao Bar

The week was busy: The Olive Tree hit the press on Wednesday, so I spent most of Tuesday doing finishing touches. But the hard work paid off - sooooo many people have already commented to me how much they really enjoyed reading it! They said the layout was easy to follow, the stories were interesting, and they loved how large it was (20 pages)!! It should soon be uploaded onto the LCNZ website if you want to check it out: OR just go to and click on "read about olive tree"

Ken also was busy writing and editing this week - a journal called The Lattice contacted him and asked for an article to be published later this month in their journal! It is a journal for young people of today who don't want a corporate ladder, but a corporate lattice. They asked for his opinion on how to balance work and life and family, so he wrote an article about letting the fields lay fallow. Check it out later this month at: and click on "journal"

I finished outlining all the services for December and began getting everything in order for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services (candles, the Christmas tree, and props for the Children's play). I also created a songbook of Christmas Carols for next weekend when I'm taking some people from church to the Lutheran Homes (retirement village) to sing carols! Plus I've been busy practicing piano for the Christmas Youth Fundraiser that Ken is leading for the youth on December 22 - it will be a donation based dinner and all funds raised will go towards helping a underprivileged village in the Darfur through the "Tear Fund" organization. If the youth can reach the goal of $600 that evening, Ken will let them shave his head!

Friday evening was the last night of the miracles Bible study and Ken wrapped it up with a interactive service that reviewed all seven miracles using all the youth's senses (we ate bread while he read the story of the feeding of the 5000, or we sang the song Forever for the miracle of healing the Roman officials son from afar, and we burned our sins at the altar for being healed like the lame man at the pool...)

Other exciting news at church: the mission outreach project team met last week to pray for a place to team up with. Please keep them in your prayers as they will meet again this week to continue the prayer/brainstorming sessions. They plan to arrive at a unanimous agreement of where to begin their partnership. Also, Sunday evening was Trinity's live worship service for the month and we did all Christmas songs! We reinvented O Come O Come Emmanuel and Joy To The World - everyone seemed to enjoy them. It was great to end this year with that team on such a good note.

Nov 27 - Dec 3

It's officially beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This week we put up our little charlie brown Christmas tree and decorated it with little blue and green bulbs (of course we have our one ornament from Bar Harbor that says "Our Bar Harbor Honeymoon").
We also pulled out our Christmas CD's to listen to while baking Ken's Mom's "Chocolate Crinkle" cookies. We had a blast making six dozen of these sugary cookies - no they weren't just for us! We invited five couples to our home on Sunday evening for a Christmas White Elephant party! It was a really fun - Ken ended up with an ice cream maker, and I with some Mary Kay gift packs! Although the gift I really wanted (an awesome photo album box) was stolen from me. :( (L to R: Daina, Damien, Kate, Sam, Jen)

(L to R: Rick, Kerri, Daina)

On the topic of Christmas, this week at work found me busy getting all the services for December completed. So far I created the 9th and 16th in full, and have a general outline for the 23rd, 24th, and 25th. I'm glad Christmas is my favorite time of the church year - it makes working on these services really fun. The 16th is a special one for a few reasons: 1) My parents arrive that morning from Arizona and will be there for the service! 2) The "new team" that I created is leading the service and we have an awesome rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel, and we're also singing a song that Ken and I wrote together! We're really excited for this service. I've also been working hard on finding the perfect spot for the National Youth Camp 2008 and am working on putting together the camp schedule. It's a challenge, but is really fun too! It looks like the camp will run from April 25 - May 2 in Havelock North. The theme is going to be "Global God" and we will be looking at how different everyone is from each other, yet how in Christ we're united together as one with all Christians around the world!
Youth nights are going really well for Ken - he's really found a good balance of fun, games, Bible study, etc for these students and is engaging all their senses as we are going through the seven miracles of Jesus in John. Each Friday begins with free "game time" that incorporates some sort of running around to get out their energy. Then we go into the study portion watching the miracle on video. Then we break into small groups to dig deeper into the meaning of the miracle, ending with another group gathering to discuss the main points. Well, this Friday was the feeding of the 5000 with the bread and Ken had a fish toss! He brought actual dead fish to church and had the kids compete to see who could toss the fish farthest...except they had to toss it from their mouth, holding the fish tail in their teeth! Ewww!! But an activity that everyone found pretty amusing! They will never forget that Bible study!
Friday night marked the final youth worship team practice as well - we led worship Sunday morning and it was awesome! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! The youth did a great job with their leadership, their singing/instrument playing, and their drama. It was such a blessing to see six weeks of hard work pay off in a great way worship service for the first Sunday in Advent.
Other exciting news: Ken has decided to accept the position at Bible College New Zealand and will begin teaching one course there in February! And I accepted the casual work for Lutheran Support Ministries, working on library upkeep and retreat ministries.
We are also really enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine that spring has brought - Ken is getting out and running a lot (I ran with him a few times, but not as much as he did - he's reached the 50 minute point!) We're trying to get ready for a 100K walk in April. It is called the OxFam Trail and all proceeds go to end poverty. It is a 100K walk in 36 hours with a team of four people. Please pray for us as we look for two other team-mates to join us! We have to have them by the end of December...We also went for a great hike on Monday for four hours in Otaki. The hike itself was quite the adventure as the trail abruptly ended at a cliff edge where the trail literally slipped off! But we were able to bush-wack a way around the cliff edge to continue the hike. It was pretty awesome!
Doesn't this just look like something out of a movie??!

The trail slipage

So we went this way

A fun bridge to cross

Can't get away from the cows!!!
Hope that the start of Advent is a blessing for you as we all prepare together this month for the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as the advent of His second coming as He promises, to take us home to His heavenly eternal kingdom.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 19-26

Happy Thanksgiving! The adventures of creating this holiday in New Zealand were many upon many...yet, the food came out awesome and stomachs were full!
Tuesday and Wednesday were chalked full of work at the church (from 8am-8pm!) as Ken and I prepared for taking Thursday off work to cook and entertain Dr. and Richard Ross as well as the LCNZ President Rob and his wife Besty who also joined us for the feast, bringing the sacred turkey! :) But Ken and my adventure began Wednesday evening after share n care (ministry at church where we provide a meal and short message with a song for underprivileged people in the community.) We went out to the grocery store to buy the ingredients needed to create Thanksgiving. However, hours later at midnight, we still couldn't find canned pumpkin, canned "fried onions", or a pre-made pie crust! However, we decided to use the pie base sold in the store (which I had to roll out and pre-cook), boil a full pumpkin and mash it into pumpkin pulp for truly pumpkin pie, and for the green bean casserole, we substituted onion stalk and cornflakes...Our sweet potatoes were made from orange "kumra" and the pecans cost close to $10 for one cup, but in the end, everything melded together to create absolute tastiness! It was a great success, one that Ken and I are both very proud of considering the trials of creating these foods in another country, not to mention this being our first Thanksgiving together (and my first at cooking any and all of the dishes!) The fellowship with other Americans (Rob and Besty are originally from Phoenix, but lived in Australia for the past 20-some years and now are here in NZ) was wonderful and really brought to life what the pilgrims must have felt like being the only "british" in their new world, eating together trying to create foods like the kind from back home, yet making due with what their new world gave them...
The table we borrowed from church

Thanksgiving meets New Zealand

Cooking in my little kitchen
Dr. Ross helping me prepare
The stove is full!

Pastor Ross, Dr. Ross, Besty and Rob
Our first Thanksgiving together

Some answered prayer: Two days before Thanksgiving, our boxes from home finally arrived after five long months! It was a Godsend to have all my kitchen stuff for preparing food on Thursday. Awesome.
Friday and Saturday were filled with meetings for Ken and Dr. Ross as he was evaluated thus far on his internship. We also had a lot of fun during free times to just chat with the Ross's and enjoy each other's company. Saturday evening we went to Lawrence and Judi's for dinner and a tour of a kiwi farm. Sunday's service was a preview to Christmas since it was Nov 25th and wan an outreach service. We invited Mrs. Crawford, our landlady from England and she really enjoyed the service. Afterwards, Ken drove Dr. and Pastor Ross back down to Wellington to catch their flight back home. I went over to Judi's again for a bridal shower for her niece. It was great to hang out with some other girls my age and enjoy the afternoon with games, nibbles, and fellowship.

Monday we had a doctor's appointment for Ken...please keep him in prayer. He has a syst in his neck, and lately it's been bothering him and has grown. So please keep that in prayer. Also, my mom called to tell me she has an ultrasound test in December before coming out to New Zealand, so please keep her in your prayers and thoughts.
The verse that really touched us this week is found in Col 1 which states "May you be strengtehen with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy" - how awesome is that? That our God gives us ALL His power to endurance and be patient with joy in all life's circumstances?! May we all pray the prayer of faith that Christ truely does and will fill us with all power for the path our lives take us down! Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 12-19

Time is flying by...this week we sent out our first ever Christmas cards so that they would get to the states early! But as we mailed them out, we realized Christmas really isn't THAT far away! Let alone Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving means that Dr. Ross and Richard from the states will be arriving, and then after that it will only be three weeks until my parents arrive to celebrate the holidays with us! So yes, time is flying by...

From the music desk: Tuesday's guitar class is coming along great. We all played "Jesus all for Jesus" alone and sang to it and are now moving on to "Away in the manger" which we will hopefully play in December at the youth night Christmas fundraiser. Also, a woman in the congregation loaned us her guitar, so now everyone in the class has one. However, please pray for guidance as I decide how to get more people into the class, since in January we will be short one student which brings our numbers down to three people total. One possible venue is advertising in the local paper...we'll see. The new team's practice Wednesday night was awesome, and we sang through a song that Ken and I wrote together! The team liked it and thought it would be catchy and easy enough for the congregation to learn, so it's on for Dec 16th (the day my folks arrive, which means they get to hear it too!) The youth team is also coming along - the church allowed me to purchase a djimbay and I'm teaching one of the youth how to play it. Hopefully he will on December 2.

And now from Ken's desk: youth nights are going awesome! He's finally found the right balance between games and book work in the studies. They are still in the study of Jesus' miracles, and the kids are really opening up and sharing a lot as we dig into who Jesus is and what His miracles mean. It's pretty cool stuff to watch. He's also still praying and considering his offer to be adjunct faculty at the Bible College of New Zealand starting in would be a great opportunity to teach an entry level theology course, keep his mind sharp, and give him experience in teaching (something he's very keen on.) Please continue to keep that in prayer as we decide what would be best for him. He has the blessings of the church leadership committee to go and explore this opportunity, and he has blessings from me as well.
The weekend was very busy, but very fun! Saturday there was supposed to be a youth car
wash, but not enough youth signed up, so it was cancelled. But the day was gorgeous so we spent it cleaning outside and in, getting ready for Thanksgiving next week. Sunday Ken led worship at Trinity as well as gave the sermon there, and then booked it over to St. Luke's where I was leading worship until he arrived and took over with the sermon! It was really fun leading the service together; we joked that we're taking over the church. Also: answered prayer! Jenn's boyfriend Sam (who isn't a Christian) came to the service with her because he wanted to hear Ken speak! How awesome is that! Then after the service, Ken and I went out on the Manawatu river with Daina and her family playing in the water and being towed on a biscuit by the jetboat!

Getting the boat ready (Daian and her boys Jakob and Sam)
Daina and Hannah

Us being silly us

Adventures on the biscutt
The night ended with tea at the beach house
(the boys from L to R: Matt, Daina's husband, Jakob, G-pa Roger, Sam, Ken)
and a gorgeous sunset over Foxton Beach.

Monday morning we got up bright and early, grabbed a Starbucks and made our way down to Wellington where we met up with the Ross's for a day of sightseeing around the city. It was awesome to meet up with some friends from the States - we realized we haven't seen anyone from the States in close to five months! We stayed down there until 9:30pm and didn't make it home 'till half past eleven...but it was worth it! Like I said, the weekend, although exhausting, was awesome!
Dr. and Pastor Ross with us on our tour bus
The Bee-Hive, also known as the capitol building!

On top of Mount Victoria
Pastor and Dr. Ross
As we prepare this week for Thanksgiving, Ken and I are thankful for the sunshine and friends we have around us. God is so good, and we truly do have a lot to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 6-12

Yeay for Guy Fawkes! Here in New Zealand Guy Fawkes Day is a huge celebration and for the last two weeks we've been watching fireworks go off every night. It's awesome how you can walk into any store and buy backyard fireworks too! And of course, the youth group had to celebrate along with everyone else and on Friday we arranged for the youth and their families to go out to Rick and Kerri's house for food, a bonfire and a fireworks show out on their farm. It was a blast playing soccer and cricket with everyone, visiting with the parents of some youth, and playing with sparklers. Saturday we attended ANOTHER Guy Fawkes celebration that Richard (the drummer for the new team at Trinity) threw for friends in Feilding. Unfortunately, you'll just have to imagine these fun events since I forgot my camera on both occassions!

Some other fun events that occured this weekend: Ken gave the children's message this Sunday at both St. Luke's and Trinity, and I got to help by teaching the kids a fun song: "I Just Wanna Be A Sheep." Otherwise, this was one of the first Sunday's we were able to worship together without doing anything else! It was nice. After church Ken led another confirmation lesson, and then we were out the door to Trinity to practice with the team out there before worship. It's awesome to see how willing and excited they are for this new praise team! Worship ran very smooth out there as well, and Ken played the newest musical edition for the church that PLT allowed me to purchase: the djimbay! It is a small african drum with a nice deep "boom" sound, played between your legs. We're really excited to teach others how to use it - it will be great for slower/softer songs where a drum set isn't needed, but some sort of percussion is. As great as Sunday was, there also was some sad news dropped: Pastor and his family are moving back to Australia come January 2008 taking a call in Adelaide...that leaves us in an interesting position since Pastor was Ken's mentor/supervisor for internship. It's amazing how God's timing works though because next Monday Dr. Ross (internship advisor) is coming out to evaluate Ken as well as talk to PLT and the new LCNZ President to see who will be the next advisor. The timing couldn't be better. But please keep the Manawatu parish in your prayers since no one expected Greg to take the came as quite the shocker and gutted a lot of members.

Monday was an amazing day of relaxation and sunshine! Saturday morning when Ken went to Shedmens (men's Bible study), I took a walk on the river with Jen and her new dog, Anna! So Monday, we went over and took Anna for a ride to the river again and went on a nice walk. Enjoy the pictures of the Manawatu river next to our house and Anna having a blast in it!

After our walk, we went home and did some work around the house/outside, and enjoyed some strawberries and cream! Then I took a 20 minute sunbath. It was glorious! We ended the day with a movie and made tacos...a great break since this past week we were busy at the church every day and every night between music groups, feeding the homeless ministry (Share N Care), and children's ministry meetings...and this next week looks very similar.
Our backyard

Our little patio set

A rose from our rosebush

This week God made something very evident to us through our quiet times: just how in control of life He really is! Sometimes it's easy to think we do everything and get ourselves where we are, but then we read something like "A man's steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?" in Proverbs 20:24. Or "The king's heart is a steam of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will" in Proverbs 21:1. Or again, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" in Proverbs 16:33. It's pretty awesome to realize how important each and every one of us is to the Lord, that He invests so much time into each and every one of our lives!