Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 29 - June 2

This week was pretty typical, except for Wednesday, Aunti Joy's funeral. Ken and I were both asked to be a part of the service: I was asked to play piano and arrange some singers for three hymns, and Ken did the powerpoint and sound. It was an honour to be a part of her funeral and I arranged for two singers and a recorder to be play along with me. About 300 people came to remember her - what a testimony! The service was beautiful and although somber, it was not filled with tears, but instead joy at remembering her life and the love she had for her Saviour and Lord Jesus. We all knew where she was!

This week Ken decided to teach another course at BCNZ in the spring (our spring, your fall). It is an upper-level course for students about to graduate! So that will be exciting to work with more advanced students and see them get their diplomas/certificates!

I was scheduled to have an interview with a radio station to see about working part time or having an internship (just to get some experience in broadcasting using my music background). However, the manager was out sick on our day for the interview and will contact me when he is better. We'll see where this leads - I'm open either way as I firmly believe that if it's something the Lord wants me in, it will happen! No need to worry about it!

On Saturday morning, Ken got up before dawn to get out to Damien's house because it's duck season! Yes, they went duck hunting and actually got quite a few! Ken shot three, and we have a whole carcass as well as some breasts. I should figure out some recipes I guess!

Later that evening we went to Kate and Damien's again for tea and to hang out to watch the rugby. It was a fun game (probably because NZ won! yeay!) and it was great to see the Humphries' wedding album! There pictures were so pretty - and their photographer used one of their photos for the back of their business cards!

Please continue to keep the mission to Indonesia in your prayers. It's only a month away and there is still no news as to where they are going/where they are staying/etc. It's a leap of faith for them to just get on a plane and not know what's going on!! So, for the sake of our congregation (and their sanity), please keep the whole process in prayers. It's beginning to feel real though as Ken went to the doctor for vaccinations against every kind of scary disease possible! He's got quite the sore arm now (probably from that and the kick of the gun on Saturday morning too!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 20 - 28

Well, there's no pictures this week. But just because we didn't carry out camera around with us, doesn't mean we didn't do anything!

Monday, our day off, we decided to have a relaxing day walking around the square. I felt like dropping off some CVs at various places to see about some extra work - I ended up getting asked to do a "working interview" at a cafe and scheduled it for Wednesday. We then met up with our friends from Feilding for some ice cream in the afternoon sunshine.

Tuesday's evening Ken began the Adult Education Bible Study on Habakkuk - with some 23 people in attendance! It was a great turnout with some even greater discussion and questions: the main one being did God create evil? We didn't really learn the answer yet. Hopefully in five weeks we'll be able to tell you one though. Not everyone in attendance was from St. Luke's. We actually had about five people from the BCNZ came. What was really awesome was that a few months ago I saw this girl at the BCNZ and wanted to introduce myself to her (she looked about my age and seemed really nice) but I didn't. I forgot all about it, but then on Tuesday night, she showed up to Bible study! Isn't that crazy?! We hit it off right away - it's always exciting to meet other people closer to my age!

Wednesday I spent the whole day at Cafe Cuba being a waitress. It was actually a lot of fun, although tiring! I'm not sure I would want to do that all day long all the time, so I'm glad they haven't called me back.

Later that afternoon, there was a National Youth Camp debrief meeting. It was good to review the camp, discuss things that worked and things that need to be worked on, etc. At the end of the meeting everyone told me that this was the best youth camp the LCNZ has ever had! Wow - what a wonderful compliment. It made me feel good about all the work I put into the program. Although, I don't think I'll be signing up to lead another anytime soon!

Thursday Ken found out definitive answers on Indonesia - the grant came through! So everything is set and ready to go. There was another team meeting that evening and Pastor Rob came to share his experiences with Indonesia as well as a documentary his team made when they went over a few years ago. It was awesome to see the landscape, the people, and the culture that Roy, Lois and Ken are going to in a few weeks! Please continue to keep this mission in prayer as they are still waiting for complete details as to where they will be, what churches they will be meeting with etc. The trip is mainly to sus-out various congregations to see which would be the best suited to be in partnership with the Manawatu Lutheran parish - one that we would be able to offer assistance to, but one that will also be able to offer assistance to us as well. That's the cool thing about mission partnership - it's about both churches learning to work together, sharing with each other to complete the body of Christ, being a blessing to each other.

Friday night youth was a game night based on the 40-Hour-Famine. The youth didn't have any snacks and learned more about various cultures and lifestyles through a set of tribal games. It seemed to go over fairly well, although Ken was slightly disappointed that some of the youth didn't seem to take some of the issues (aids and poverty) very seriously. But kids will be kids, eh?

Youth band is coming along - we lead worship in three weeks. Half of our songs will be played/sung by the band and the other half will be cd. The whole service (powerpoint creation, confession/absolution, readings etc) will be created and led by the youth. Please keep this in your prayers as we work on preparing our talents to lead the congregation in worship June 15.

Saturday night we had Pastor Peter from Marton over for some pizza and beer. It was good to catch up with him and to give him some company. He's been through some major life traumas since he arrived five months ago, but he seems to be doing pretty good. A very strong man, with quite the story.

Pastor Max arrived this weekend as well - he's the new interim pastor for the next three months. He seems really relaxed and fun. Just the opposite of the last interim pastor. I look forward to working with him in service planning and leading. Ken did the children's message at Feilding as well as led the youth program that is offered during the sermon. He hasn't been able to do that very often and really enjoyed being with the youth over there. Back at St. Luke's, we had a baptism of a new baby in the Satherley family (one of the larger families in the church). However, as we were welcoming Millie into the family of God, her great grandmother Joy was taken home to God. It was a bittersweet service, but it was amazing how God works through the gifts and talents we bring to Him in worship. The songs were absolutely perfect for both the celebration of new life, and the remembrance of a great woman in the church. The sermon was also appropriate and there was no technical or sound issues/glitches. It was the perfect service, and everyone walked away quite touched with how special it had been. Aunti Joy I'm sure was pleased that she passed away in the morning before the service, because last week she had asked us to pray she'd be able to see Millie baptized. Well, she was bedridden by Thursday and would have been unable to come to church. However, being taken in the morning before the service, she was able to be there in Spirit to see her great-grandchild become a member of God's family! How special is that? Gives me chills!

Monday we relaxed and took Pepper to Himitangi beach. It was a beautiful day and we were the only people there (which meant we had optimum pickings for shells!) We also have moved on from Desperate Housewives - our latest tv series is Lost. What an adrenaline packed show! If you haven't seen it, go rent it - you'll love it!

We've made it over the hump - as of 25th we've been here ten months. Only eight more to go! It's amazing how fast time goes...we told our parents that next year memorial day, we'll be celebrating with them! :) We love you!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 12-19

This Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, where we celebrated the church's 1,979th birthday! (according to modern scholarship.) Services were great - at St. Luke's we had all the art from the art devo night on display and Ken led the children's talk, focusing on how at Pentecost, everyone could hear "Jesus loves you" in their own language. So, each kid got a different name tag that said "Jesus loves you" in various languages. It was really neat. That evening we led worship at Trinity - the songs were all spirit-oriented (it was really fun for me to learn some new music to play for that service, especially since I didn't have any notes, only the chord charts - i definitely found the songs online and listened to them over and over!) and Ken led the message, which as I mentioned in the last blog, was very insightful yet inspiring at the same time (chosen by God to be God's people)! I liked it because he had a lot of the "third use" of the law in his sermon (meaning that we are to live out our faith because we have been saved. It is not to gain favor or acceptance by God, simply to live out His love in our lives so others may see it and know Him). I think we Lutherans need to hear more "third use" so we don't get so focused on grace that we lead a life of habitual knowing sin, abusing the gift of grace.

Sunday afternoon I helped Ken lead confirmation. They recently finished learning about the difference between Law and Gospel. So to relate living out these out in our daily lives, Ken had them go on a scavenger hunt to find certain fair trade or organic/locally grown items. The point? That how we use our money affects the world (are you supporting slave-labour, or fair trade? etc) and that as Christians, we are called to think about what we put in our bodies (organic foods without additives are much healthier for our bodies, which we are called to take care of). It was a really fun afternoon.

Sunday was also Mother's Day, so we called our mother's at home (and again on Monday, when it was mother's day in the states). It was good to catch up with family - we really do miss you guys!!!

Tuesday, Ken hosted the local youth ministry network meeting at St. Luke's. About eight of them were there (sometimes as many as 13 show up) but it was a great morning of exchanging ideas, expressing joys and frustrations, and getting to know each other better as youth ministers in Palmy. That evening, Ken hosted the Oxfam Great New Zealand Coffee Break. Only 17 people attended (we were hoping for more with the amount of publicity we did), but we raised over $100 towards helping coffee growers plant more coffee trees! The evening was really fun - there was free coffee for everyone to try (all fairly traded, meaning the farmer receives at least 1.?? for every kilo, whereas non-fair trade coffee buyers only pay the farmer .08 per kilo)! After a bit of socializing, there was an education video about fair trade, and then the evening ended with a raffle drawing for fair trade coffee, mugs, and the video we showed (Black Gold - really good documentary! Get it! And then start buying fair trade coffee - you're dollar makes a difference)!

I was greeter/ticket saleslady for the coffee night

The poster

Ken talking about fair trade before seeing who wins the coffee raffle

Wednesday was the third monthly all-music-team meeting and about 10 people were there! I am very pleased at how all the teams are sending representatives to these meetings. There has been a marked difference in communication since these meetings have been going. And it's fun to choose songs that we want to introduce to the congregation as a whole united body of musicians. But please keep these meetings in your prayers - there have been some hurt feelings as we've gone through each team's songs to decide as music leaders which songs we should all "take a break from" versus which ones we should continue to play. It is important for this type of communication to happen, yet we need to make sure it's done in a sensitive way. However, it is also important that all teams are coming to this with a servant-heart, open to positive ideas for the congregation.

Wednesday also had some good/bad news. The good news is that there is funding for the NOISE worship conference in June to cover all five people attending! The bad news is that Ken's application for a grant for the Indonesia trip was rejected because 1)the PLT forgot to sign it and 2) confusion on the emphasis for the trip (to obtain the grant, the focus needs to be on Ken's growth as a church worker in New Zealand while the PLT wanted Ken to focus on how this trip would help the church). However, with this clarification, Ken is resubmitting the application and it should have no problems being accepted. But please keep this in your prayers as well.

Thursday we left for Wellington - I had a meeting with Mark Whitfield (musician/pastor at the Lutheran church in Welly) and Guy Jansen (worship speaker/church musician widely known in NZ). We began planning for the Lutheran Music Conference in late October! I am excited to be a part of this group as we are doing something that's never really been done here. We're hoping for a weekend for Lutheran church musicians (but also open to anyone else interested, Lutheran or not), where we can grow deeper spiritually (especially since most of our church musicians have never been trained) and also have break-out sessions to learn hands-on new techniques for worship leading in bands, organ, sound system, etc. Then on Sunday, those break-out sessions will lead part of worship (ex, if you were in the organ session learning a new intro for a song, you would play that intro on Sunday). The conference would end with sharing of resources/ideas between everyone and a Bach Cantata (Mark's church has been doing a Cantata Series using professional musicians as an outreach into the community). As much work as this is going to be, it is going to be awesome!

Enjoying another sunny day in Wellington

Kapiti Island

Friday Ken took the youth to a Palmy-wide youth concert called Fuse. He said it was a great success - everyone had so much fun, and the band was awesome. Saturday we relaxed in the morning, and took Pepper for a long walk to enjoy the autumn leaves at Massey University. Ken also worked a lot on his Habakkuk Adult Bible Study which begins next Tuesday at church. We ended the night with some pizza and beer, watching some Indiana Jones to get ready for the newest movie coming out next week!

Look at these leaves!!

Pepper loving life

We're "falling" in love...get it? It's fall, and we're in love... :)

Sunday at church we had some great conversations with the Satherley family. It's getting very hard for them as Aunti Joy came to church in a wheel chair today. The love the church and the family has for Aunti Joy is absolutely astounding - it is truly an awesome thing to witness.

After church, I went to Himatangi beach with Jen. We took our dogs and had some nice girl time to talk about life...she's going through a bought of homesickness/upset with jobness/etc and I can relate!!! So we just talked, vented, and listened to each other while watching the dogs have a blast in the ocean. Ken was back at the house cleaning our car (for the first time in 10 months!!) That evening we went to Roy and Lois Price's for dinner to talk about Indonesia - they will be going with Ken. It sounds like an awesome trip! However, it's a huge leap of faith working with the Indonesian church as all three of them are "dot-ever-i" type people while the Indonesian people they are working with are much more relaxed. They still don't know details about transportation/billeting, but know that all will work out. Other teams from Australia have recently gone and had no problems, so it's just a matter of being patient and waiting to dot those i's!

Pepper and Anna

Monday was our day off - we ran errands, called my sister to wish her a Happy Birthday, got ice cream in the square with our friends from Feilding, and took Pepper on another long walk down at the Esplanade. The weather has been just beautiful lately, and autumn brought to mind how even in death, there is such beauty. And isn't that true for Christians? That in Christ, death is no longer something to be scared of, but instead something truly beautiful, to be enjoyed knowing that we are headed for eternal life with Him?! How awesome...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

May 5-11

After the busyness of last week, we woke up Tuesday morning with stuffy noses and sore throats. Yes, it all caught up to us. But we got into the work routine once again anyway.

The weather has definitely changed for winter - although there are still many leaves on the ground, the air is sharply cold. But we've actually found it fun to bundle up to go outside...the only thing we wish was that we had better heating in our home so that we wouldn't have to bundle up to be inside...

Tuesday evening Ken lead an art devotional evening where he read the story of Pentecost to everyone and after some prayer and meditation on the reading, we went in and painted what we felt represented the reading. It was a really neat evening, especially to see all the various interpretations of Acts 2. The pictures were displayed on Pentecost Sunday in the entry way to church.

The artists hard at work...

The end result!

Ken's Holy Spirit

Ken spent most of Wednesday in meetings - it turns out that the pastor we called to our parish declined. So we're going to extend a call to our second choice. Please pray that if this is God's will, he would accept. Otherwise, we start all over again, looking through names of possible candidates. Ken and I are definitely ready for a pastor to be here again. It is difficult to be the only paid employees of the church as everyone looks to us for pastoral care (which we can't give them).

Ken also is working with the children's ministry team to switch back to the original way Sunday school was done - for the past month and a half they had created the program so that the kids were more involved with worship, having Sunday school begin 30 minutes before the service and they would arrive at the service 10 minutes in. However, most parents did not like having their children in the service, so we're back to having the kids in for the first 10 minutes, then out for the rest of the time. Ken was a little disappointed, after all the research he's done (and learned) in university about the positive aspects of having children in worship. But if that's what the people want, Ken as an intern does not have the authority to do otherwise.

Some exciting news from the BCNZ - they've offered Ken another course next semester! He is prayerfully considering it. As much as he loves teaching, he's not sure if he has the time to dedicate to another course. This semester alone has been a difficult balancing act for him with all his activities and responsibilities at the church. But we'll see.
On the music front - I signed up to attend a music/worship leader conference called Noise, put on by Parachute. It should be an awesome three day event with leaders from the Newsboys, Hillsong, and Parachute there. There will be break out sessions to learn more about worship leading, instrumentation in a worship band, technical aspects to worship, and vocal training. It will be in Auckland from 12-14 June. So far there are three other members from St. Luke's going with me and we applied for a grant to cover costs - hopefully at least some of the grant will come through. I also recorded my first song Sunday evening with Tony (a friend from Trinity in Feilding) and sent it in to a competition put on by Noise - the winner gets two days in the Parachute studios to record their song! Wish me luck!

The past few weeks worship has been running incredibly smooth! There have been few technical glitches, the powerpoints have matched the songs, and everyone has been very pleased. However, this past Sunday two songs were wrong! The team on did not check my powerpoint and so it was a little awkward, but most of the congregation knew the correct words to be singing and things continued as normal. But even with these errors, people still came up after the service and said how the team sounded so wonderful, and that it was a very worshipful service. God is good - working through our fallible hands to create something wonderful!
Trinity worship went smooth - Ken was leading worship and preaching for the evening service as well as playing guitar on a few songs. The team sounded great. I was nervous because on our practice date, hardly anyone was able to show up and we relied heavily on cds. However, on Sunday evening, everyone arrived, we ran through the songs and it sounded great. Again, God is good! Ken enjoyed giving another sermon. This one was based on the parallel between Pentecost and Mt. Sini when God meets the people to give them His law. It was really awesome to see how everything, as small as the detail as the time of day when God met the people at Mt. Sini and when He came upon the apostles, was linked together between these two events.

It may be obvious then, but what Ken and I really felt God speaking to us this week is how awesome and in control He is. No matter what of our efforts, He takes them all and has His way with it. He is involved in our lives, to the smallest details. As shown in Exodus and Acts, He is intimately involved, creating us to be His people. Thinking that this is the God we worship gives me chills - I think we're starting to just grasp what His unconditional love looks like!

April 28-May 4

Global God...that was the theme of the 2008 National Youth Camp for the LCNZ! This week we spent all our time in Havelock North at Riverbend Camp with 41 youth and 4 other leaders. It was pretty awesome to see youth from as far south as Dunedin and as far north as Auckland meeting together and making friends together, regardless of age, race, and origin.
The van

The Car

We spent most of the morning in song time and devotions, with small group break out sessions. Tuesday afternoon we had a photo-scavenger hunt in Havelock North, Wednesday afternoon was a service event, and Thursday afternoon was a hike up Te Mata Peak. Between all that we had pool time, archery, and a flying fox for the kids to play on. The nights were filled with large group games, a movie, and a culture night where we learned about other Christians around the world through a video shared by the camp pastor as well as created a painted mural of what it means to be a New Zealander for Ken to take to Indonesia next month! Overall, I think the camp was a great success (although I don't think I want to be in charge again - that was a lot of work, and I am so thankful for Ken who co-lead the actual camp with me!!! Thank you!!)
Ken debriefing after a game
Fun times

As soon as we arrived home on Friday, our friend Aaron was back in Palmy from his month on the South Island. We made pizza and hung out together Friday evening and Saturday got up bright and early to head out to the Coromandel via the Republic of Whangamomona. It was a great trip, although long. We pulled into a spot on the side of the road at about midnight and set up our tents. We woke up with a beautiful sunrise Sunday, but the day ended up being rainy. It was still great to see the Coromandel. We saw where Captain Cook first landed, enjoyed some wine at a shady winery, and ended the day getting to Auckland where we crashed at the Lutheran church. We stayed up pretty late again playing cards and hanging out. Monday morning we grabbed some Dunkin Donouts (yes, Ken and I found out they are in Auckland and vowed to get some when up there) before showing Aaron a few of the "must see" landmarks in Auckland. We dropped him off late in the afternoon (he flew out a day later for the states) and began our 6 hour drive home.

Enjoying some time in the Republic

Pepper loved the trip

Beautiful country
In the Coromandel: Kauri Trees
The beach where Captain Cook first landed
Look at this wineary!! Looks a bit shady, but it was full of character and life inside!
The cityscape
Long week, longer weekend, but all of it was such a blast! Thank the Lord for safety in all our travels and for the joyous fellowship times we had. Amen!

April 20-27

This weeked was so relaxing! We left after church to go to the Clausen' s beach house in Foxton. It was like staying at a resort - the two-story house is on oceanfront property with a path leading you to the beach. They had cable tv (so we got to watch some movies) and a full kitchen, which made cooking really easy. We took the time to catch up on reading, spending time away from the ringing phone, taking long walks on the beach, and exploring one of the elven forests from Lord of the Rings (Waiterere Forest).

The beach house

Just a walk away to the oceanfront

The South Pacific/Tasman Sea

Our little family

Being elves

The rest of the week was filled with final preparations for youth camp. It was fun to find all the materials needed and organize everything so that the week would run smoothly and be jam packed with fun activities, crafts, and songs. We have two camp cooks, 5 small group leaders, and 41 youth attending! Please keep this in your prayers...

Tuesday night was a girls night out chocolate night put on by some ladies from church. It was a really fun idea, and eating all the chocolates was great, but unfortunately there was just too large of an age range (we had teenagers through to young mothers) and motherhood became the dominant coversation. I know more than I ever wanted to know about baby poo. yuck.

Thursday night Ken went to bloke's night out at the Clausen's home. He always enjoys these nights to get to know some of the older men in the congregation, however, it would be nice if more of the young men came.

Friday was ANZAC day so Ken and I attended the dawn memorial service in the square - it was actually a really neat service, beginning with the air force flying their helicopter over the square. Then the band played a hymn, Psalm 23 was read, there was a small speech about remembering those fallen in war then and now, and it closed with the laying of wreaths and the NZ national anthem in Maori and English. By the end, the sun had begun to rise - it was a beautiful sight. We met up with some members from the congregation at McCafe and enjoyed fellowship with them. Then we headed back to work (although many people get this day off, we still had a lot to prepare for next week).

We ended the evening hanging out in Feilding with Trinity friends Tony and Rachel along with two friends of theirs they invited. It was a really fun night of games and mexican food!
Sunday our team led worship. Everything ran very smoothly and we had a special song (You Never Let Go - Matt Redman) during communion. Ken played guitar, Rachel and myself sang solos and Jen sang harmonies. It was a lot of fun. It's great to see the team melding closer together, learning new techniques, as I am better understanding what it means to be a worship leader. Ken and I often enjoy daydreaming about the day when he'll be the pastor and I'll be the worship planner/leader...we'll just have to wait and see where God leads us in the future. :)

April 14-20

Monday is our day off, and so we decided to drive back to Otaki Forks to pick up some gear we'd left up in the hut last weekend. After grabbing the headlamp and pocketknife (to which we realized we were neither very "bright" or "sharp" to have left these items behind...haha) we went on a few tracks. Pep track took us to a drop-off where the trail must have slid. But the other track was fun to walk along the river and Pepper and I watched Ken rock climb up to the bridge! We ended the evening in Wellington at Mac's for a yummy meal of fish and chips with their seasonal brew.

Look - her very own track!

Ken climbing up to the bridge

Enjoying a good brew

Tuesday we were able to hang out with Rick and Kerri again - it was the first time this year we'd visited with them! It was a good time to catch up and play card games. Please keep the Satherley family in your prayers though, as they are dealing with Aunti Joy's cancer...she seems to be getting worse by the day. There is nothing that can be done except wait for it to win, but everyone hopes it will happen with as little pain as possible.

Wednesday Ken enjoyed his last day of class for a while (they are on a holiday break for the next two weeks.) He is finally getting the hang of grading (they have a very odd system at the BCNZ) and got back reviews from the course that were all pretty much positive! The Bible College was very pleased to see that Ken is doing so well and the students are so happy with the course. In fact, his reviews were some of the highest among all the teachers!

Wednesday evening was the second all-music team meeting. There were only about 7 people that showed this time, but at least there was someone from each music team representing. We took time to go through some of the music we play to decide what we thought should "take a break" and what should be played more often.

Saturday night we went out on the town for Jen's birthday. We are turning into quite the social club members, aren't we??! But seriously, we realized this weekend just how many friends we have here in the Manawatu. It's awesome to see how quickly these relationships have formed and how deep they are. God is so good!