If there was one word for this week it would be: Adventure.
After church on Palm Sunday, Ken and I packed up the car. He dropped me off at Kate's bridal shower: here her mouth is filled with bubble gum for a game we're playing.
Then it was off to Easter choir practice. When that was over, we began the adventure to Ohakune with Pepper. We decided to get away for two nights before the barrage of Holy Week began. However, when we arrived at the park (mind you it was late) there was a sign that lit up with our headlights that showed a dog with a big red line through it. No dogs. Great - we didn't know what else to do but to stay there and hid little Pep. As we set up tent next to the only other campers on the grounds, we killed our car battery (we used the headlights for light...) Luckily we woke up early enough to catch the other campers just as they were leaving. They jumped our car and we then decided to relax with a nice cup of tea...but we forgot the matches! So instead we enjoyed our water and read from Scripture together for almost an hour. It was very relaxing to be in the wild, completely alone, reading Job where God talks to Job telling Him how great and massive He is - how He completely rules this earth and cares for each and every living thing, so who are we, His creation, to question Him?! It's very moving reading that I recommend you check out (chapters 38-42).
Then we thought we better get out of the campground so we took Pepper and drove off to the city. However, the city was anti-dogs too, so we had a fun time of hiding her throughout the day in the car. We had some close scares, but she was never found. Phew! That night we decided to set camp up on the side of the road by a ski tavern. We enjoyed St. Patty's day with some kumra chips and beers. That's where we met Bill and Craig. Bill is a local drinker who is billed monthly by the bar. He bought us a round. Craig is his friend - an old man who works as a carpenter and told us we're welcome to come back to make a rimu bowl with him! He then went on to tell us that he is a drug dealer, but never deals to school children, only to "equals" - adults who have made their life decision. It was a rad evening listening to his life stories. And it was really touching to see the generosity of these guys who didn't even know us. Their actions towards us, even when they learned we were church workers (people in NZ tend to ignore you once they hear that) was awesome.
The campsite where Pepper was an illegal...
Playing in the creek by our campsite off the roadside
Pepper fishing for rocks
Pepper and Ken thinking about life
When we arrived back in Palmy, the metal hit the grinder! We were full on this week getting ready for Maundy Thursday service, two Good Friday services, and Easter Saturday prayer vigil, and Easter Sunday services. A woman from the music team who was leading on Good Friday had her baby and so I stepped in to sing with her team for her. She is currently in the hospital with her newborn who has jaundice complications, so keep them in your prayers. The Good Friday morning service was an experiement: it used tangible items throughout the service. So after reading about the crown of thorns, we sang "Where you there when they crowned him with the thorns" as a crown of thorns was passed among the congregation. We did this for the nails, the gall, and the wooden cross. The service ended with the main cross being carried out and Pastor giving us an absolution, that we could leave knowing we are forgiven and free. It was a shorter service, but a great sucess! The afternoon service is a unique one to Palmy - all the churches in the city work together. The people begin at one church for the first reading, then move to the next church for the next reading and so on. St. Luke's is doing the reading of Christ being speared and we are singing two songs. Besides leading singing, I played the recorder while another woman played piano to O Sacred Head Now Wounded. It was great to see all Christians regardless of denominations, joined together to worship Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Ken left Friday evening for Taupo. Damien (Kate's fiance) had his "stag du" that night and Ken was invited. He had a blast being with other guys for a weekend. They spent most of their time in the local pub or on a boat they rented where they went swimming, fishing (yes, caught some and ate it raw!!!) and clay pigeon shooting. He came back Saturday night just in time to relax before Easter morning where he preached for Trinity's service! I led the Easter Choir in three songs for the 10:30am service at St. Luke's, which went wonderfully! It was a bit nerve-wraking being the first choir I've ever led! Then we enjoyed a lunch with the LaGrow's before heading down to Wellington for a Bach Cantata at St. Paul's. We stayed the night with Pastor Mark and his family (I made them cross sugar cookies as a a thank you) and we came back Easter Monday. Ken and I enjoyed dying our Easter eggs that evening.
Enjoying our Easter goodies from our baskets:
Jen and Sam after church
St. Paul's in Wellington
Warming up for the Bach Cantata
War Memorial in Wellington
A fun fountain on Cuba Street
So, He is risen! He is risen indeed! May this Easter be filled with joy and peace as you rest assured that the victory over death is won! Because He is risen, because He lives, we can know that we live too. Yes!