Wednesday, January 23, 2008

14-27 January

It's summertime! The weather has been really warm (upper 20's C) and sunshiny days make for lots of outdoor activities. Things are really slow at the church as most people are out of town. We've enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere to say the least, especially after all the excitement and activity from December!
Last monday we took Pepper to the beach for the first time - she had a blast running in the waves! We just relaxed and read some "fun" reading material between playing with beach toys and Pepper.

During January, most people are away on holiday, so we only have one service on Sunday. All music teams take a break, so whoever wants to volunteer to play organ or keyboard covers the service. The 20th happened to be my service - it was a real treat to just play piano for the congregation instead of leading an entire music team.
Ken got ready to have his hair shaved off - because the youth raised over $600 for their fundraiser, he said on the 18th they could take the razor to his head. Only a few youth were able to make it (again, due to summer holidays) but those who came had a great time - I think Ken did too!

Saturday we enjoyed some cricket at the park with the Sathereleys as well as some time out on their land at their swimming hole. And after church on Sunday we took a beautiful hike down BeeHive Creek. As you can guess, it was a creek walk (although there weren't many bees, thank goodness!)
The swimming hole
BeeHive Creek

This week we've been getting things ready for our trip to the states: Ken finished up his article for the Lattice journal and looks like the editor likes it, so it should go into the next issue. He also is wrapping up his semester outline for Bible College of New Zealand class, which he will begin teaching as soon as we get back to Palmy in February. I've been creating all the worship services for Trinity and St. Luke's for the next few weeks, as we as an outline for sermons in February. I also have some interest in an Easter choir, so I am hunting for good music for the group of five or so singers that are interested.
We also have been prayfully filling out our call packages. Once back at CUI, we are meeting with the placement director to discuss where we go from here, after Ken's internship is complete next year. It's a really exciting time as we begin to think about our future together and where we feel led.
Our last weekend in New Zealand before heading back to the States, we decided it would be fun to go camping down at the southernmost tip of the north island at Pinnacles National Reserve. It was soooo awesome - very unique landscape, gorgeous ocean water (where we found tons of paua), weird wildlife (stick bug!), and were "attacked" by this little pony (seriously, it tried to bite me, and it ran at us full speed)! It was fun to camp for the first time in our little two-man tent (although Pepper woke up a lot because of the animals in the ground ie the possum).
Should be called "paua shell beach"

Pepper rock climbing
The Pinnacles

The crazy pony that attacked us!
A view from the top of the hike
After the hike, we decided to drive down to Cape Palliser
Cape Palliser Light House
We climbed up the 250 steps
And saw this view
Back at camp, there were no fires allowed, but that didn't stop us from making s'mores!
Because there is no pastor as the Manawatu parish at this moment, church is generally led by a "worship leader" and the sermon by one of five lay-readers (or the circut preacher). This Sunday I was the worship leader at St. Luke's (leading the welcome, confession/absolution, prayers, etc...)and Ken led the children's message at Trinity and St. Luke's. It works out nicely that even though Ken goes to a different church, the service starts at 9am while my service begins at 10:30am, so we generally are still able to worship together.
We finished cleaning house and packing up before heading out on our long flight back to the States! We are so excited to see all our friends and family!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

December-January 13th, 2008

Where to begin?! The past month has been full and busy of fun, adventure, family, and celebrations. My parents arrived in Palmerston North December 15th, ten minutes before church began (the church is pictured above). It was awesome to worship with them, and they were able to hear the newest band at St. Luke’s play (of which both Ken and I are in), not to mention they were able to sing the song Zechariah Nine that Ken and I wrote for worship. After the service, we gave them just enough time to drop off bags at home before heading back to church for the children’s Christmas production practice.

That evening was a Christmas party at Trinity in Feilding where they were able to meet the other part of the Manawatu Parish.

We then took Pepper on a long walk through the Esplanade before finally letting my parents get some sleep. Monday morning we went down to Wellington to visit the Te Papa museum and eat at Mac’s Brew House.

On the drive home, we stopped a beach to hunt for Paua shells and enjoyed this beautiful sunset:

The rest of the week was spent in Palmy with my parents helping however they could (from decorating the Christmas tree at church,

to preparing food for the youth Christmas fundraiser!

The funds were used for a village through Tear Fund and the youth raised over $600! That means Ken is getting his head shaved next week at youth night.)

Christmas celebrations were very special – my parents taught us more about the Slovak traditions that we do every year.

On Christmas Day we enjoyed the fellowship of some church friends over at Chris and Denise Satherley’s home. It was fun to share in some Kiwi Christmas celebrations as well.

Chris Satherley and the Christmas Pig

(Dad playing cricket)

We left for the South Island on the 26th arriving in Christchurch. Some highlights of the trip: +Ken turned 23 in Christchurch on the 27th!

+Saw many gorgeous churches and stained glass windows

+Elephant rocks!!

+Moeraki Boulders – awesome rocks that are carved out of the cliff by the ocean tides in these perfect circles.

+Saw "Pancake Rocks" which scientists today still don't know how they were formed!

+Cathedral Caves (which can only be accessed in low tide)

+Ken and I were the first tandem bungy jumpers of 2008 at the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown 9am January 1st, 2008

+Kayaking in a fjord – Doubtful Sound

(Sunset outside the town)

+Walking up Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world

+Going to the southernmost tip of New Zealand

+Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier

That is Fox Glacier

+Driving on a one-lane bridge outside of Greymouth where we had to share it with a TRAIN
+Marveled at powerful waterfalls and exotic flowers.

+Always searching for kiwis...

+Taking the scenic TranzApline train (one of the top five train rides in the world)

The "wet side"

The "dry side"

+Whale watching for Sperm Whales in Kaikoura

+Enjoying the "Blue Pools"

+And checking out all the great brew pubs throughout the south island!

When we arrived back to the North Island, we made out way to Waitomo for a caving/tubing adventure to see the glow worms, and ended in Rotorua enjoying a Hangi (traditional Maori celebration and meal, where my father was chosen to be the chief of chiefs!)

We also enjoyed seeing all the natural steam vents and mud pots in Rotorua, an active volcanic site.

On the drive home we dug a hole in Lake Taupo (another active volcano) where we put our feet in nice warm water heated up for us by the earth!

My parents left on the 9th and our pastor and his family moved to Australia on the 10th. The rest of the week Ken and I slowly got back into work-mode, and this weekend we did some major house cleaning, enjoyed watching some cricket at the Esplanade in the sunshine, and had a good BBQ with our friends Kate and Damien. We ended the evening rabbit hunting with them - I was the spotter (using a huge spotlight as Kate drove us on the back of their truck through the paddocks) and Ken shot three of them! Not bad for his first time! Sunday Ken lead children’s time at St. Luke’s and we led worship for the Trinity evening service, ending the night with dinner at the LCNZ President's home with him and his wife.

It looks to be a great start to 2008, and we hope and pray that all is well with you!

Much love from Palmy!