Friday, September 28, 2007

September 28-30th

This past week was a Blast - literally! Trinity in Feilding held a three day long "VBS" program (they don't call it vbs down here) called BLAST. It was awesome to work with some members from Trinity and help lead music with Ken, do crafts, or participate in games. We had a small turnout the first day, but prayed as a group that God would lead the kids to invite friends. And He came through - the second day we went from only 10 kids, to 14, and the last day all the way up to 17! It was a great blessing, and the kids all really enjoyed themselves. They were able to make friends, play games, do crafts, participate in Bible story time, and learn some silly songs. Unfortunately, there is usally an evening service at Trinity the Sunday following this outreach. It's close to the event so that the kids are still pumped up and want to come and bring their parents to the service to show them what they learned at Blast. But this time, the service will not be until October 14th. So please pray that the energy is still there, and the kids want to attend the service to sing songs and act out a Bible story for the congregation, bringing their families along too.
Game time!
If you look close, you can see Ken and I leading song time in the front

Ken was sick over the entire week, but by God's grace pulled through the camp with enough energy to play guitar and lead games. It was great! He was a great role model for the kids, since most of the other leaders were's always good for young boys to have a male role model in the church so they don't start viewing it all as "girl stuff."

After those three days at Feilding, we met with some of the leaders interested in having live music for October 14th. Trinity is excited about this idea since they always use cds. Next week we will be practicing for the first time as a music team! I will be on keyboard, Ken on guitar, Richard on drums, and Summer, Ashleigh, and Rachel on vocals. This is ground breaking for Trinity, so please pray that everything will go smooth as we "sing to the Lord a new song (Ps.33)."

This week brought something else new for Ken to do - there is a minsitry at St. Luke's called Share 'n Care for the homeless/needy. It takes place fortnightly on Wednesdays and a free meal is offered for anyone, no questions asked. There is always a short talk from a leader in the church, followed with an optional Bible study for any interested. This past Wednesday Ken was the speaker and leader for the Bible study. His message touched a lot of people's hearts, and one lady asked to pray with him after dinner. For the Bible study he used a Nooma video, which was a hit! Everyone enjoyed being able to watch a DVD, and the discussion afterward was all focused on what the show was about: how God's spirit is in us all, with us all the time from the moment we are born, to the moment it leaves us and we die. Ken went on to share this video with the youth group on Friday night and they also really enjoyed it. They never thought about their breath before and how each one is a gift from God to everyone because He wants ALL to be saved and come to knowledge of Him.

Saturday we decided to go to the last Turbos game of the year - and yes, they lost. But we enjoyed a short fireworks show and Haka after the game anyway. We ran into a few people from church, so we ended up sitting with them for the second half.

A Turbine for the Turbos

A gorgeous New Zealand sunset!

And Sunday was out of control! It began with me getting to church early to practice with the praise team. I was leading from the keyboard, and then during the service I was officially installed as a Director of Parish Music and Worship! Ken led the children's message and focused on baptism, since that morning we had celebrated the baptism of a little baby girl, Amadea. All the children were able to remember their own baptism by dipping their fingers in the baptismal water and touch their foreheads. The service itself flowed very nicely, although I was nervous since all the songs were changed at the last minute on me! But musicians have to take it as it comes. That night we had our first church meeting where I played the piano for the Thanksgiving Service that we started with (the church has a lot to be thankful for - over the past few months, they have been financially blessed in many ways.) Ken and Butch shared their vision for a church partnership with another Lutheran church. The vote was unanimous to go ahead and begin the process of finding the church, and parterning with them! This is an exciting step for St. Luke's. They also are starting a church mission plant in a neighboring community, Summer Hill. Lots of big changes, but are going to be a blessing to St. Luke's as well as the people they are helping. It's awesome to be with a church that is so understanding that they have been financially blessed, and therefore are called to turn around and be a blessing to others.

I think the biggest thing Ken and I are learning here, is how to be generous. When you read in Acts 4 that there were no needy among the church, that everyone gave willingly to anyone, it's hard to imagine that type of life. However, after coming to New Zealand, Ken and I have been shocked at how open, giving, and loving these people are at St. Luke's. It's mind blowing, and also a challange, to take and live that way as well. The people here are truely living out Acts today, and we pray that we can learn from them and give as passionately our time and resources as they do!

Monday, September 24, 2007

September 21-24

Wow…that’s how Ken and I both feel after the whirlwind week we just had.
First off, it was my first full week working at St. Luke's as Director of Parish Music and Worship! Yes, that is my official title. I will be installed September 30th. This week I created a music team bimonthly devotion called "The Bass Line" - except the "a" in bass is a bass clef. Clever, eh? I'm excited for the teams to do these together since it will bring a sense of unity to them all as they might never all get together, but they are all reading the same devotions. I also worked on creating the worship roster for the next three months, and creating song rosters for the church so we can establish which songs the congregation really knows well, and which they don't. It will also help us see how often we sing certain songs or how often we sing totally new songs. Finally, I'm getting ready for a new worship team which will have it's first practice in October, and will lead worship in November! Exciting!
Ken has been swamped with work for the youth camp coming up Oct 1-5. He is leading Bible study times as well as helping me with music by playing guitar! He also moved into his own office finally - although it is temporary. For the last two months he has been working in Pastor's office, but now that the NZ president has moved, his office will be empty for a few weeks and Ken moved in. It's been great for him to have space to work. Also, Ken's been meeting with more of the youth to get to know them better, understand their vision for youth nights, and just to hang out with them! It was awesome too, because this past week one of the youth told their mom that talking to Ken was the best part of their week! That was very uplifting for Ken. He's also been busy working with outreach director, to plan a mission outreach project for the church. There is a possibility St. Luke's will be planting a church in another country, but where, when, etc is still to be determined through a lot of prayer and all the information Ken and Butch are gathering for this project. Please keep that in your prayers as they continue to research where God wants St. Luke's to plant. Finally, Ken has been busy with creating the confirmation program for St. Luke's that starts in October! It's called "Plug In" - this program seeks to connect what they are learning from the classes to the student's every-day-life. To do this, there will be a digital journal for the students to communicate online with Pastor and to go on field trips to learn from people how they have applied what they're learning in confirmation to their every-day-lives.
That's what's going on with our mission at St. Luke's. Besides that, Saturday was a fun day - I invited a few youth group girls to bake cookies with me and to shop for some groceries. I needed American ketchup, so we headed to McDonalds and bought a small hot chips, but asked for 30 bags of ketchup! It was enough to make sloppy joes for our dinner date with Kate and Damien (church friends). We had a great time having them over - in fact, we lost tract of time and they didn't leave till quarter past eleven! They really enjoyed the sloppy joes - something that most New Zealanders have never had. Kate and I enjoyed looking at my wedding photos and talking about her upcoming wedding this March to Damien, while the boys gabbed about sports, farming, and other "guy" things. We ended the night playing a game of High Low Jack, where unfortunately the boys beat us girls.
Sunday we went white bait fishing with Kerri and Rick. That was a blast! We went to the Manawatu river and set up our nets and let the little fishies swim in! Well, we only caught one. These things are really tiny and are eaten whole, often cooked with your eggs. I wasn't super upset that we didn't get enough to eat...We enjoyed the sunshine, made a bonfire, and had some sausages with shandies (beer and lemonade) - overall, good fun and fellowship.
Bubbles Rick and Kerri's lamb
Ken and the boys having fun
The Manawatu River
The nets
Redbands are awesome!
Monday we hit the Sledge Track that is near our home for a good tramp in the mud - and was it muddy! But we enjoyed the 5 hours adventure, ending with sunbathing on a rock in the middle of the creek. It was there we talked about some future ideas and plans...we are playing with the idea of doing servant-mission trip for our one year anniversary, and also with the idea that after we are done here in New Zealand to go to another country before heading back to the states. We aren't sure where, or what, or how, but we figure God got us here, and He will get us wherever else He wants. We also really like the idea of a "gap year" - in Europe, NZ and Australia it's quite popular to take a year off and just travel, working odd jobs here and there. Ken and I are quite enamored with the idea of going somewhere and doing some sort of social/servant/mission work for a year to give us more time to decide what we want to go back to school for in the states. Well, it was all fun to daydream about in God's beautiful creation.

Ken made this

They're in no short supply of water here

It got really thick in here

And then we made it to a clearing atop the mountain!

Enjoying the creek

And that brings me to our latest revelation: Christ is so awesome to us! Reading Isaiah 43-45:14 opened our eyes to the fact that God is so in love with us! He choose us to be His servant, but yet we are more than servants for He loves us. He goes before us to level our ground, to place us where He wants us. And therefore, who are we to question why we are here? Why we are doing what we are doing? Because He is in control, with a good purpose for us. Amen.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 14-17

This weekend was great - it began with baking cookies with the youth for Saturday's garage sale and youth bake sale! The kids had a great time in the kitchen and made $250 from the sale! WOW! Ken was there Saturday with the kids bright and early at 7:30am, but I slept in a little and had Jennifer pick me up at 9am to check up on how things were looking. She was on a mission to buy cookies, and I looked around the sale and found my 10 cent treasure...a paua shell! These things are large enough to put small candies in, so now we have one sitting in our living room with some salt water taffy in it. Judi saw us looking at a cast-iron wine pourer, and with a wink gave it to us. That was very sweet of her. And if you come down to visit us, we will use it to pour you a glass of New Zealand's finest.

After shopping, Jennifer and I made sandwiches for Ken and Sam, who then met up with us back at the house for an afternoon of tramping at Otaki Forks. We hit a new trail, and also did the one Ken and I walked a few weeks ago. They really enjoyed themselves, although I think we wore them out.

This was a really steep part of the hike, as you can see the drop off...

Ken enjoying lunch

We make tramping look so good!

During our walk, we got to know them a little better, and found out Jennifer's keen on explaining all geological features. So we got our science lessons in for the day throughout our hike. Ken and Sam spent the whole time talking about V8!

When Ken and I got back to the house, we had just enough time to wash up and head over to the La Grow's home. Steve is an American who works at Massey, and his wife is a kiwi. They wanted to make us feel at home and baked us some amazing jalapeno cheese enchiladas! They were absolutely awesome! We had a great time hanging out with them, and I look forward to working with Susan and her son Joseph with music at St. Luke's. Ken is excited about Steve's prospective fly-fishing classes that he will be leading for blokes at the church who want to learn.

Sunday was busy - Ken and I led worship with the "cd" team...pastor encouraged us to get some live music mixed in with the cds, as well as a variety of music (not just loud worship songs, but also some quiet meditative ones...). The service ran very smooth, and everyone seemed to be ministered to by the type of music chosen, the manner in which we played it, and also the placement of the songs in the service. Pastor was so enthused - he thinks that it was the best worship service that St. Luke's has had in a few years! I am excited to continue working with the team to encourage them with the news that through the new manner of worship leading they did this past Sunday, they were able to lead the congregation in meaningful worship! And it was a blast being able to play together with Ken - we both look forward to jammin some more!

After church we went to Jude and John Nelson's for lunch and to talk about church ministry/youth/ was a great afternoon to learn their thoughts about things going on in the church. It was especially beneficial for me to see what Jude thinks about music ministry since she is a key-player (literally - she plays the keyboard) in music ministry at St. Luke's. They were also excited to talk to Ken and tell him how their kids are loving everything he's got going at youth nights - how they are still fun, but also very Bible focused so they are learning. Both Sam and Rachel are planning on attending the youth camp coming up this Oct 1-5. In fact, there are about 7 kids coming to the camp from our church, which is a great sucess!

Monday we decided to take it easy, sleep in and clean around the house, ending the night with the Satherly's and pastor's family to celebrate his birthday! Overall, it was a great weekend, fulfilling both spiritually (some of the discussions we had with church members and/or youth), and physically (hiking and hanging out with friends). Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of anything besides our hike! Soon though I will post pictures of the youth and church friends!

Ken and I are reading through Acts together, and in chapter 15 it was awesome to read how the apostles and elders "chose men from among them" to send to minister to the Gentile believers. We were struck with how awesome it is that Concordia through prayer and consideration, decided to send us down together to New Zealand to work in a Lutheran congregation here. And although it is not an LCMS church, it is still a Lutheran cousin who needs our help. We are glad to be here and look forward to how God works in our lives and in the lives of those around us!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 8-11

What a fun birthday weekend! It began Friday morning, when Ken asked me to open the gifts he gave me...a coffee maker! YES! I'm a real barista now! You see, down here, everyone seems to enjoy instant coffee. So I've decided to become a tea drinker. But now with my own machine, I can grind up some good fresh beans and enjoy a cuppa in the morning. He also gave me an awesome mug from the Te Papa museum, a NZ photo album with Paua shell on the cover, and a puzzle game (yes, it's a game and a puzzle, in one.)

Saturday I enjoyed a music retreat hosted at a local church led by New Zealand hymnwriter Collin Gibson. It was a great day to meet other church musicians, as well as gain insight into the creation of hymns particular to one's own congregation. Collin believes there are a vast number of hymns from the "old world" to use in congregational singing, but that it's important to also sing songs of the people in the congregation today. It seems to be very important right now in New Zealand to reach back to New Zealand's cultural and spiritual roots, especially Maori spirituality. It was interesting to learn, but some of Collin's theology wasn't based off Scripture, but instead based more off what he and his congregation want to hear. One example that I found disturbing was a song that thanked God for changing with us. Collin explained he wrote that on purpose, because he believes that God is a changing, mutable God! It was an eye opener to attend this conference and meet with so many other Christians in New Zealand, but to hear that some of the things they believe are so different from the Christianity I know! Please keep the churches of New Zealand in prayer.

That evening Ken and I enjoyed another date with Sam and Jennifer - we are getting to be quite good friends and we are so thankful that God brought them into our lives. It's great to have people that are not work-related to hang out with!

Sunday the adventure began - after church (where the congregation sang Happy Birthday to me!) Ken and I drove up to Woodville where we enjoyed my birthday cheesecake. It was there I found out our destination: Napier! It's a beautiful art deco city on the pacific with great vineyards...which means great wine!

Our little B&B...

...with ocean-front views!

This beach has black sand

We had dinner in the West Quay (pronounced Key) wharf district, and then ended the evening with a game of pool!

Monday morning our first stop was to the sheep factory to see how the sheep skins turn into awesome apparel and those cute New Zealand stuffed sheep gifts!

Brookfields, our first wine stop

Our second, and favorite winery

Each vat holds enough wine for Ken and I to each have one bottle of wine a day for 65 years!

The third and final winery - Mission Estate. It is the oldest in NZ, and was started by monks who needed communion wine and a little extra for themselves!

Last stop: chocolate tasting!

Tuesday morning was beautiful, so we walked around Napier!

Sunken Gardens

Beautiful art deco fountain

Great view of the ocean and Cape Kidnappers

The old theatre, now in art deco style (after the great earthquack in the 1931, Napier decorated the entire city in this style)

A working sun dial!

Art deco meets Maori influence!

We drove to the top of Te Mata peak on our way back home to Palmy

Other exciting news...St. Luke's officially offered me a part time position as Director of Parish Music! I am really excited to begin this next week. It will be a 20 hour position and there are a lot of goals the leadership team has in mind! The next PLT meeting will be 100% dedicated to creating a vision for the future of St. Luke's worship. I will be asked to come and contribute and after it's all said and done they will produce a pamphlet for the congregation so that any changes that occur over the next two years will be through the leadership team, not the "new worship leader." Exciting times!

Ken has been loving his work, as well as finding it challenging. Time management is definitely a huge part of his day as he works on youth nights, creating a confirmation study program with pastor to start this October, setting up a youth event for the 125th anniversary celebration of St. Luke's coming up this October (where Lutheran's from both islands to celebrate over the weekend), getting ready to take 7 youth to the National Youth Camp in October, helping the youth sell baked goods at next weekend's garage sale (not to mention, help them bake those goodies!), lead children's sermons twice a month, and help Trinity revamp their children's organization and leadership. Keep him and the outreach director in prayer as they explore a possible international mission partnership. And this is just the start of some of his responsibilties!

Ken has also been finding time to "relax" and come to grips with manhood working with Lawrence Satherley from the church. Lawrence is a farmer who's taken him under his wing and on Wednesday mornings is training Ken to be a true kiwi farmer! So far Ken has helped birth a cow, catch a lamb, drive a tracktor, teach lambs and baby cows to suck on a tit, and all sorts of other crazy things! He even owns his own pair of redbands (type of boots all good farmers wear down here!) You'll have to ask him for stories, he's got a bunch!

Continue to keep us in your prayers that we "press on to make it [our time and work here] my own, beause Christ Jesus has made me His own" (Phil 3:12) and not give up. We have our good days and our bad days alike, as any other person in the world does. Sometimes we hit rough patches where all we want is to come back to the States. But we know that God has a mission for us here and that with Christ's strength we can press on "toward the goal" (vs.14) because with Him, all things are possible!