Wednesday, February 27, 2008

February 26-March 3

"Worship in the Manawatu connects its members to “God’s service,” in the voice of its people, while carrying out the great commission by creating a welcoming and relaxed environment centered on Word and Sacrament." That is a summerization of the worship vision statement that the PLT and I created this past Tuesday evening! What an exciting night of communication, idea swapping, and vision-ering! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers - now we wait until the 11th when the music teams of St. Luke's gather for the first monthly music ministry meeting where we will discuss this statement and what it means, and how it applies to each team. Also, next Sunday the 9th, the congregation will be submitting their top 5 hymns and songs of which the music ministry team meeting will review. We are hoping to have a base of 25 songs from which all music teams will choose 4 for their designated Sunday (therefore, the congregation will know 4 of the 6 songs - right now each team sings whatever they want, and often the congregation doesn't know the songs.) Exciting times!

Prof Ken Chitwood is also enjoying the exciting times -he has now taught his first BCNZ class and really enjoyed it! He has about 11 students, most of which are in their 20s. He looks forward to working with the students, and even getting to know some of them outside academia (especially the youth worker in his class who works a church down the road from St. Luke's!)

This weekend we went down to St.Paul's Lutheran church in Wellington for a conference on the book of Acts given by Stephen Haar. It was amazing! About 30 people came from around the North Island. And from our church we had about 12, one of whom is a youth member, Sam! He and Ken are holding ourlunch box in the picture below. It was great to have a high schooler interested in learning more about the book of Acts - he seemed to really enjoy the day, his favorite statement from Stephen Haar being, "Don't vomit your faith" meaning, don't be one of those Christians who just throws their faith onto someone, sighs with relief and walks away feeling good about "sharing their faith." Our faith is a lifestyle that shows in how we act as a community of disciples, not a club with members. But anyway, we stayed the evening there with a very nice family who also happen to be quite the musicians - we spent a good hour singing praise songs together in their living room! It was a very special experience and made me realize that God really IS present when two or more people gather together in His name!

Monday we relaxed and took Pepper to the dog store for a winter coat. Yes, unfortunately the weather is beginning to cool down, but look at how cute our little girl looks!

She's a turbo's fan with her green and white sweater!

Other than that, we've just been busy with church work and enjoying the last few summer evenings (and Pepper's been enjoying her bone we brought her back from the states)...Blessings!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 19-25

This week there was a sense of hope that pervaded Ken and my thoughts and devotions. It began with an email from the president at Concordia University Irvine asking if we were still interested in possibly going to work in South Africa on the Themba project. The Themba project is a girls and boys school in a community of 600 people. One of their needs is for music teachers. Before responding, I decided to read various Scripture verses in regards to hope. Proverbs 13:12 says a hope deffered makes the heart sick; Romans 8:24 states that if we hope in that which is seen, it is no hope at all; Romans 5:1-5 explains that to rejoice in hope, one must go through suffering to grow endurance to grow character to grow hope. What all this means? We're not sure. However, we are open to however God moves and wherever this leads, we have hope in our Lord that His will will be done for our good.

Otherwise, the week was filled with many adventures! The sound system went awry, causing the music teams to revert to piano instead of electronic instruments. I worked on the system for two hours on Wednesday and finally called the man who set the system up in for help. Within a few minutes he had everything sorted out! Ugh. However, something good came out of all this - on March 15th there will be a four hour sound desk session led by Mark for all our sound operators at the church! Yes!

Ken took a survey last year on what topics the youth wanted to learn about in Bible studies, and right now they are studying peer pressure. He said that this past Friday was a really awesome time of fun and fellowship. The youth opened up during the study on peer presure and how Scripture address this issue, and he feels he has found a good medium between fun and study -so far everyone seems to be happy.

Ken is also involved with the outreach committee - for the past few months they have been praying for guidance as they work with the Lutheran Church of Australia to find a church somewhere in the world to partner with. This past week they solidified their vision statement: that this partnership be "sustainable and safe" for the Manwatu Parish. That means the congregation they find to partner with needs to be one that can last for several years, and be in a safe location so we can send over youth and volunteers to work hands-on with the church. A possible location in Indonesia has opened up. It was neat to see God working - at their last meeting the idea of Indonesia was brought up. Then Ken was contacted by the LCA - they have a church in Indonesia that needs partnership, but three churches in Australia who were interested just backed out! This leaves the Manawatu a prime canidate for the partnership. We will keep you posted as to how this develops.

The Olive Tree is getting ready for print again. This issue is called "Branching Out" and covers various outreach opportunities going on around the LCNZ. It won't be quite as long as the last issue (16 pages instead of 20) but the articles were all inspiring to read. Although the LCNZ may be small, God is moving in big ways with the generosity and creativity of the church. One of my favorite articles was about a BMX park that the church opened up in Upper Moutere - it's a great way to reach out to the community, offering a new dirt park for the youth, while being right next to the Lutheran church, allowing youth minister Mark Seek to easily work with the youth in that area.

Finally, Ken and I are learning what it means to be in leadership when there is no leader. The Manawatu is still searching for a pastor, and meanwhile the lack of leadership is beginning to take its toll. Communication is the biggest issue right now since there are 10+ leaders, but no "leader of leaders" to gather up all the loose ends. It's actually working out for the good - it has forced the PLT to take a closer look at the worship vision for St. Luke's, it has forced me to move faster in organizing the parish-wide monthly worship team meetings, and it has forced Ken to work closer with his youth and childrens ministry teams. We smile when we read Romans 5:1-5 knowing that the suffring that St. Luke's has gone through in the loss of Pastor Greg has produced endurance as we wait for a new pastor, which has produced character as we all learn more about being leaders, which has produced hope...hope as we look to future of stronger leadership and communiaction here in the Manawatu.

Monday, February 18, 2008

February 12-18

Our first week back at work went awesome!

Tuesday I threw myself back into planning worship services for Sunday (one for the 9am liturgical service, the 10:30am contemporary service, and Trinity's 9am relaxed service.) I am finding that I really enjoy using my resources to plan services with creative responses and organizing the songs each music group picks to fit in the service to create a smooth flowing worship experience.

Ken was busy Tuesday with meetings with the Children's ministry director, a conflict resolution meeting with one of his volunteers (which went very well, but please continue to keep this person in your prayers that they be given a teachable humble spirit), and a BCNZ meeting where he got to interact with the other profs and discuss the semester coming up!
That night we led our guitar class and made some goals for our group: mainly that by June 2008 we should all be able to plug into a worship team and play with them the songs we're learning together in this small fortnightly meeting time! How exciting!

Wednesday Ken and I enjoyed lunch with a church member in Summerhill who shared with us their vision for reaching out to the people of Summerhill. It is exciting to hear how God moves in so many people's lives - it is rather overwhelming to think how He can orchestrate so many things within His church all at once.

Thursday was Valentines Day. Ken and I went to coffee and began to read a book entitled The Five Love Languages. That night Ken had a meeting with the children's minsitry team - they decided last time they met to include children back into worship at St. Luke's instead of taking them out during the sermon for sunday school. However, this is being met with oppostion because it's difficult for some people to have their children the entire time. Please keep this in prayer as it is essential for the spiritual growth of children to be involved in the worshiping church body. Ken feels very passionately about this and hopes over the next year to equip and teach the leaders here about the importance of this.

Friday Ken led youth night on his own - I officially am no longer a youth leader. I felt it was burning me out to do so much at the church and decided to give it a break for a while. He felt that the night went really well. He's revamped it so that the first entire hour is filled with games, snacks and hang out time. The second hour then focuses on Bible study and discipleship. Although his dream would be to have Friday nights be just a fun night and have the youth be meeting in smaller break-out groups during the week at various youth leader's homes. Please keep that vision in your prayers.

The weekend was one of relaxation and rest. We didn't do a lot outside of Palmy. Took the dog on some nice long walks at the Esplanade, hung out with Sam and Jen for a "game night" and became hooked on our new favorite TV show...Desperate Housewives (everyone has their little sins, right?!)

So, it's great to be back home. We both feel very settled and enjoy the work the Lord has given us to do here.

p.s. sorry there are no pictures...we really didn't take any!

Monday, February 11, 2008

28 January - 11 February 2008

Our Visit to the States...doesn't that sound strange? It was weird knowing our time in America was only a trip! But it was such an awesome one!

We flew out of Palmy Sunday evening after a busy morning of leading church and children's messages. The flight to Auckland was beautiful - here is a shot from the plane.

Once in Auckland we had a three hour lay-over before the next plane took us to LAX. Isn't it annoying that when we flew out of Auckland with no customs stuff to do, we had a forever long layover, but flying into Auckland with lots of customs stuff to do, we had a 1.5 hour layover (barely enough time to make it to the flight)??!! Airports!

Anyhow, our flight to LAX was awesome - we had very spacious seats at the back of the plane so we could spread out and relax.

When we got back on land, it was wonderful to spend a few days with Ken's parents in Simi Valley. Our first meal: In N' Out (also our last meal leaving the states back in July...). Monday we ran errands (Ken got some new running shoes to help his marathon training!) and just had family time. Late that night we were able to meet up with my friend Whitney in Santa Monica for drinks and to catch up. Tuesday was filled with time spent in Santa Barbara - we went to the mission and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the pier.

Wednesday afternoon we left for Irvine for the DCE conference after grabbing coffee with Aaron Mutal and lunch with Ken's family. Before the conference, I had a meeting with Christ College to discuss placement after NZ...I'm not sure where the Lord is calling us next, so it was an ambiguous meeting. But I did learn that I need to take one more class before I can be "called" - so guess what I'm doing online this summer??!

The DCE conference began that night with a kick-off dinner at the Ross's which was really fun! It was encouraging to see everyone again and to hear that they too have their ups and downs in ministry. That night we went out for drinks with some other friends (Ben Meraz, Tony-D, Jenny Bilsten) to the Yardhouse (it was glorious to see things open until midnight!! We'd gotten quite used to things shutting down by 8pm...) Thursday Ken was in conference meetings all day discussing internship, going through some training, and speaking to DCE students. I bounced around campus hanging out with friends, giving a presentation in a music class about the Lutheran church in NZ, attending women's ensemble again, and being an alumni djimbay player for SHOUT that night (wow, it was wonderful to play with such musically talented people...) Something I realized going back to school was how much of a bubble it really was - never in a normal small church will I find the musical talent that is at a school where it's all young, ambitious kids playing for grades. It was awesome to be a part of that, but it also made it very hard to go into the "real world" church - such an abrubt change. Ken also had his call meeting on Thursday and decided to defer his call. He isn't sure where God wants him next, but he knows he's done with youth ministry after this, and thinks he's done with traditional DCE ministry too. It's exciting times for us right now as we enjoy what we're doing currently, but have no idea where we'll be next year! Friday was the last day of the conference and that night we asked anyone interested to meet us at the Karl Strauss brew pub to hang out - 16 friends came! I almost cried, I was so happy to see such support and love from everyone back home! Saturday Ken's folks came down to the Irvine area and we went to Mission San Juan Capistrano...beautiful!

Then we got on the plane for Arizona. Our time in Apache Junction was a blitz: Super Bowl Sunday we spent with all my family. The game was suspenseful, the food was yummy, and being with everyone really made me appreciate how awesome my family is!

Monday it snowed on top of the Superstitions!! That was awesome:

We also spent the day inside (since it was so wet and cold) at the Heard Museum

Tuesday we ran a lot of errands...after we met new people when Ken locked us out of our car on accident at the voting polls! Yes, Mom and I hitchhiked it home not once, but TWICE because on the first time Mom grabbed the wrong set of keys!! haha...

Wednesday we went horseback riding and for Ken, it was his first! He had a really slow calm horse and unfortunately Dad's horse was behind him and liked to can see where this is going (Dad ended up getting kicked by Ken's horse!)

A gorgeous sunset...

And Thursday we left for CA again!!! Back in Simi we hung out with Ken's family for the day and then left Friday to go back home to Palmy. I said, a blitz!

The plane ride home wasn't as comfortable as the one back to the States, but it was very exciting! We brought our year-anniversary cake topper back with us to eat when we crossed the international date line (to celebrate our 8 month instead). So when we crossed the line and it was officially Feb 9 (you see we flew out on the 8th and would arrive on the 10th, so we effectively missed the 9th) the pilot announced it was our anniversary, everyone clapped, and the attendant brought our cake out with champagne! It was very special!

Getting back to Palmy in time for church, we met the interim pastor (who is an older man, but very wise with great sermons!) and caught up with friends from the church. We found out that the matriarch of the church, Auntie Joy, is very ill with cancer and is expected to live only a few months...please keep her and the Satherley family in your prayers during this hard time. We also found out that a young couple had a baby - a healthy baby boy 8.5lbs! What a blessing!

So now the business of holidays and traveling should be at an end. We look forward to settling down this week, getting back into our routine and doing ministry again in the Manawatu. It was very rejuvinating to go back to the States - we feel pumped and ready to rock out this next year in New Zealand. I think we really understand 1 Thessalonians 5:11 when it says, "Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing" because that is exactly what our time with our family and friends in Christ did for us back in the States. Amen!