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!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

November 1-5

It's hard to believe it's already November, and we've now been here 4 months! It's amazing how fast the time is going by...

This past week was very busy, playing catch up after our Auckland adventure. Thank you for your prayers as we worked a lot, yet weren't overly stressed.
Tuesday and Wednesday morning I was at Massey University playing the patient for nursing students taking their final exams. It was an interesting experience, but I was able to meet quite a few people from around New Zealand (they traveled to Massey for their final), and share a lot about my faith and work at the church since faith/work questions were part of their medical history forms. Tuesday night was guitar class and now that Ken's teaching me the chords, I was able to re-teach them to the students who came. It was really fun! Although my fingers hurt. And Wednesday night was the new praise team's final practice before Sunday worship! Thursday I spent the morning learning the ropes at Trade Aid where I am volunteering, and had fun meeting new people (one of whom is interested in the free guitar classes running out of the church, so long as she doesn't have to come to church - that's cool!) Then I spent the rest of Thursday and Friday working on music for various praise teams, writing the new Bass Line newsletter, and updating the bulletin board with November's music news.
Ken had a great week spending time with people from the congregation, getting know them better over a cuppa. He also was asked to preach on November 18th on "signs of the end time" - he spent a lot of time researching and preparing for this! Another exciting opportunity has been presented to him as well: teaching one hour a week at the Bible College of New Zealand in Palmerston North! We are praying about it and he will meet with the dean to discuss his qualifications sometime soon. Otherwise, he's been busy working with the children's minstiry team discussing how to include the kids more in worship. Right now, children meet for 20-30 minutes during the church service sermon for a type of "sunday school." However in 2008 the children will meet before the service, that way the kids can stay for the whole service since they are part of the church as well. Ken is also brainstorming ways to create an adult education system since as of right now, there are no adult Bible studies running. Finally, Friday night was the kick-off of the latest Bible study series for the youth: Signs. He is going through Jesus' miracles in John for the next four weeks. The kids really got into it, esepcially since it was one of the studies they requested for (earlier this year Ken did a survey asking what they would be interested in studying).
Saturday we had a blast going to the A&P show (much like our State Fair). We enjoyed seeing all the animals, watching the pig races (Lawrence colored his piglets blue and green!), lumber jack shows, and even a hypnotism show! But it seemed fake, especially since the hypnotist would say "1-2-3 waki waki" to get people out of their trance...hmmm. However, we had some great sandwiches made from "wild" meat, and ran into a lot of people from the church! It's really quite fun living in a farming community...

Enjoying some sun in an awesome carved chair!

English riding skills

Now that's a tractor!

See?! Wild food!

There were lotsandlotsa llamas!

Feeding the llamas

Harry Mclarry!

This little calf kept moo-ing every time I stopped rubbing him!

Lawrence's little piggies!

Lumber Jacks
And what's a fair without the clown on stilts?

Saturday we had another practice with the team from Trinity - we are planning on creating a "living room" feel for the Novemeber 11th service. We will start with a short video clip and discuss it, much like you would do in a living room with your family at the tv. The service will also include various parts for kids to be involved since we are trying to create an outreach service for families. We're excited to see how it takes shape!
Sunday the new praise team sounded great! It was so cool to see how God took all our hard work and made it to His glory - so many people in the congregation told us how great it was to see some of the boys playing instruments (especially since these boys usually don't come to church because their dads highly discourage them). It was a blessing to everyone.
And Ken led his first youth-leader team meeting Sunday afternoon and had a great show of about five leaders! There are three others who are "on the fence" thinking about being part of the team. It was a great training session on how to be a small group leader for teens and different ways to handle situations. It will be great for these leaders to plug in starting in the new year - they will each take four weeks at a time so that there is continuity in the small groups so that the youth can really get to know their leaders, trust them with life issues, and grow in their faith walk.
And final conflict was healed between some music members and myself. Thank you for your prayers about that situation as we worked through the issues/pain we've had. It's nice to finally feel open and free to smile genuinely together again!
So, it's a new month and God is promising good things already! Proverbs 16:4a comes to mind: "The Lord has made everything for its purpose..." How good it is to relax in this, knowing that no matter what we run into or where we find ourselves, that God is in control!