Saturday, September 20, 2008

September 16-22

Great news! Reinhild from Themba emailed us twice this week with information about next year! We will begin in mid-March 09 and we are beginning the visa process -- so it's for real! I will be teaching music (and whatever else that entails) and Ken is going to plug in however needed once on the ground. We're just so excited to have heard from Reinhild and can begin to start arranging travel etc.

Well, Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful sunny days which was perfect since we were car-less. Good thing Palmy is such a small town! Tuesday evening we went over to the Esplanade to watch Rachel Nelson play field hockey - her team took silver (wooohoo)! Field hockey is very popular down here, so it was good to go and see a game and hang out with the Nelson's.
Wednesday Ken had the best class ever - he said that he felt really good about his teaching and also figured out Rob Bell's theology (sometimes the things Rob Bell says on his Nooma videos and/or books don't quite resonate) - Rob Bell sees things from a narrative perspective, which is why he doesn't so much focus on the event in Scriptures from a historical perspective, but instead from a more literary-what-does-this-story-mean perspective. Over the past few weeks in Ken's class they've been looking at how Christianity and it's theology began after Christ left the earth, and are finally making their way to modern theology (hence, Rob Bell). Very much a high for his week! Wednesday night I had the youth team for the upcoming mission trip practice again - just the instrumentalists. And it was a great practice! Things are shaping up - we have a saxophone, keyboard, bass, guitar and percussion instruments in the arrangement! The evening ended with the all-music-team meet. We've changed it so that we only meet once a quarter now, which has been working out great! The meet went smooth and we planned out all the "special services" for the rest of the year. When we got home Wednesday night we were pleased to see our car back! yeay! Perfect timing since the rest of the week was cold and rainy.
Thursday we went to see Rose, our counselor, again. It was good to talk to her about some of the issue's we're dealing with at the church (ie lack of support). We left feeling very refreshed and will probably go back to see her once more before leaving New Zealand. Thursday afternoon I met with Pauline for some coffee - we realized this month we didn't have any long drives together for Segue planning (the music conference next month) so we thought a coffee break would be good. That evening was PLT/Directors. Ken and I are beginning to feel bad about ever bringing up our issues regarding that family...but we've also decided that we're done discussing it, thinking about it, talking about it, etc. We've done all we can. Dr. Ross affirmed us saying that in a counseling situation, often someone brings up how they feel and then feel bad when nothing seems to be done about it. But it is not our job to control an outcome, but simply to bring forth our feelings.

Friday night Ken was sharing about Fair Trade at the salvation army church - some of our youth came which was awesome. The night went really well and everyone seemed to enjoy the coffee and facts about trade awareness. As a consumer, we CAN make a difference by buying fairly traded coffee, chocolate, teas, etc. It may not be as convenient, but then again, what is your convenience worth? After going to Indonesia, Ken is more on fire for fair trade as he met some coffee-growers who are making the transition to fair trade coffee and they said even a few cents more will make all the difference in the quality of their lives!

Saturday morning was the youth sausage sizzle fundraiser event - sold over 500 of them too! South Island mission trip here we come! Ken and I were on shift from 8-10am (although there were other shifts going until 2ish). Then we went home to take Pepper to the pet store - it was Pet Fun Days, so she got to get some treats and visit with some farm animals. Gotta love Palmerston North! After that we took her to the park to run around - wow, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom! Then we went to church to set up for the Five Love Languages seminar led by Pastor/President Rob Erickson. It was a great success (30 people attended from Palmy and Marton and Wanganui) and it ended with a nice dinner for those who desired to come. We also met a woman from Wanganui who was originally from Gilbert, Arizona! Small world!
The first ones there to prep for the sausage sizzle
It's early so I need my coffee! It's Fair Trade too!
The bbq arriving on forklift - sweet as!
Ken and crew setting up
Sizzle sizzle sizzle
Pepper having fun at Pet Fun Days
The Cherry Blossoms in the Esplanade
Ken introducing Pastor/President Rob Erickson
Would you like a book with your registration packet?
Enjoying dinner at The Elm - the woman in the pink vest is Karen from Gilbert!
True love...

Going to bed Saturday night I knew I was sick with the cold/flu bug. So I stayed home Sunday morning. Ken went to church where our interim pastor was preaching on God's will...the pastor in Australia we called rejected the call. Back to the drawing board. Please continue to keep this parish in your prayers as they deal with being pastor-less. Then Ken had a final information meeting for the South Island mission trip - we leave on Saturday! He came home to feed me some chicken noodle soup (perfect when you're sick) and then we made some chocolate chip cookies (also perfect when you're sick! hehe). We were going to go skiing on Monday, but I think that will be postponed. Otherwise, Ken finished his New Zealand history book and is starting The Shack (yea)! I'm through with reading Christian books right now, although I'm going to finish Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (very interesting - you should have a read on that AFTER you read The Shack!) but once it's done, I think I'm going to take a break from God-books. Nothing wrong with them, I'm just getting tired. Instead, I'm going to read Elephant Memories all about this woman who lived 13 years with the elephants in Kenya (Ambrosi National Park). So far, it's awesome! It's just getting me more excited about seeing them in South Africa next year!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 9-15

Me, getting a birthday hug from Mom and Dad Steinbart and the Johnson family!

Happy 23rd Birthday to me! This week has been one long birthday celebration in the Chitwood Household! It began Monday with my first card arriving from Uncle Darryl and Aunt Betty. Tuesday Mom and Dad Chitwood's birthday box arrived filled with yummy goodies (m&ms with my face on them! no way!) and fun hair ties that I've been sporting all week. Then on Wednesday, the office brought in a yummy chocolate cake for a tea party in the afternoon and that evening 12 people came to The Steak Out to celebrate with us! At the end of the evening, the lady who runs the front counter gave me a special Chinese birthday blessing of health and wealth for all the rest of my days - it was very sweet of her! The cards and emails/ecards/facebook notes continued to trickle in throughout the week from family and friends back in the states. On Thursday morning at Trinity, (see below as to why we were there) the Cuttle's surprised me with a cupcake and candle and that evening the Hopping's invited us over for dinner, surprising me with a little cup cake and candle too! Sunday other families surprised me with cards and then on Monday (today) the "birthday box" arrived from Mom and Dad Steinbart (with stuff packed in from Aunt Judy and Uncle Steve as well as Steph, Anthony and Tiana) as well as card from Jaime. WOW! I feel sooooooooo loved! Thank you every one who sent me greetings and blessings - it means so much to me and has been a real joy! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! If God is trying to show me His love through His people, I think He made it loud and clear this week!

Personalized M&Ms from Mom Chitwood!

They're fun and yum!

The Steak Out

Good food and fun times with friends

Birthday Sundae

Morning after my birthday enjoying some yummy chocolate cake from the office party

Birthday Box from Mom and Dad Steinbart!

Following the Birthday Box directions

Other news from the home front. The week has been a very nice week - quite relaxing. Tuesday evening Ken led a devotion on Rob Bell's DVD "Everything Spiritual" with about 12 people attending. It was a good turnout for a one-off study during the September break. He will begin the Adult Ed classes again in October with World Religions in New Zealand.

Thursday morning we went out to Trinity to talk with other children's ministry leaders about the upcoming holiday programs. The focus of the program will be Jesus as the way, truth and light. The first day should focus on the blind man on the road being healed, the second day on the lame man who was healed and the last day on the Easter story. It was a good two hours of brainstorming up ideas for songs, crafts, games, etc. Watch for more info once the holidays begin in early October as Ken and I will be involved with Blast again.

Thursday evening we were invited to the Hopping's for dinner to catch up a bit as well as hear their concerns regarding the negative impact that certain family at church has been having on their son. They are worried about his attitude changes and considered taking him out of youth, but they feel that Ken's positive attitude negates that family's negative one, so for now they will allow him to come so long as he doesn't hang out with that family after youth (I guess for a while now that family "takes kids home" after youth, but really goes and hangs out with them for another hour or so at McDonalds or something!)

Friday, Ken and I were beginning to dread youth night. I've realized the bullied feelings we get and the negative comments made to us from this family is a form of verbal and emotional harassment! No wonder we feel the way we feel! But, this Friday evening the family was unable to make it so youth worship and youth evening went smoothly and all the kids seemed to have a great evening together. It was refreshing for Ken and I.

Saturday Ken did a long run out to Feilding (he's in marathon training) which was about 14kms and then we had music practice with Trinity's group. It was a really good practice and then we headed over to the Cuttle's for dinner. It was such a fun night - we feel like family when we're around them. And because they have relatives in America (and have visited lots) we feel we can talk about home unapologetic-ly around them. Again, refreshing - God is good!

Sunday morning in church Ken and I both felt very moved by the sermon on forgiveness...we realized that we do really need to forgive this family for their hurtful comments and glares no matter what the church decides to do. Although the situation is abusive, we are still called on to forgive and love (think of Christ on the cross...). Please pray for us as we know and understand this, but find it hard sometimes to daily practice this.

Sunday night Trinity service went well, although attendance was a bit low. We ended the night at the Brewer's enjoying their new IPA.

Today, Monday, we've enjoyed our day off, not answering the tele when it rings. We took the dog for a long walk, Ken had a 50 minute run and of course, I enjoyed opening the birthday box from Mom and Dad Steinbart! Also had some great conversations with our families back home (called them both) and got grocery shopping done. We're enjoying a chicken bbq pizza for dinner and a nice long bath. Ah, Mondays. We love them!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

September 2-8

Monday the 1st was the first official day of spring and the sunshine followed us throughout the entire week until Saturday with a bit of rain and again on Monday.

This week Pastor Rob Strelan arrived (our new interim pastor for the next few months) - we met him on Tuesday morning. He seems like a perfect mixture between our first interim and our second interim (the first was a bit strict and inflexible, the second very very easy going). I think we will enjoy working with Pastor Rob. :)

Tuesday was a pretty busy day - I got most of my work done in the morning and then took Pepper to the beach in the afternoon to get some rays! Ken was busy preparing for his lecture on Wednesday and made his way to Starbucks in the square to also enjoy the sun while working on his computer. Tuesday evening was completely free - a first in quite a few weeks! We enjoyed the night with a good book: I read more in The Shack and Ken continued his Penguin History of New Zealand - only about another 200 pages for him to go!

Wednesday Vicki (office admin assistant) brought me some flowers to thank me for all the hard work I have done to get her settled into her job! That was super sweet and made my day! Wednesday afternoon Ken and I both enjoyed getting to know Pastor Rob and his wife Irene better as they came to the office to celebrate Lilian's (the LCNZ office administrator) birthday. It was a great lunch and a enjoyable time of fellowship. Wednesday night was our music team's last practice - we lead on Sunday.

Thursday we went to a counseling session - we've been dealing with the stress of culture shock and work for a while now, and thought it a good idea to seek some guidance. We also ended up talking to President Rob Erickson about our issues with that certain family in the church...Ken's director in the States feels that the church needs to take some disciplinary action on the family because it's not just an issue of them vs us, but is an issue that the entire church deals with! So, Ken decided to be honest and bring up our feelings to the PLT meeting on Thursday night. It was God's timing as Pastor Rob Strelan began the meeting on Matthew 18 (where Jesus talks about how to deal with conflict in the church) without knowing what Ken was going to bring up! Wow! Then when Ken opened up about this family, other leaders in the church also unloaded about how this family has been hurtful and destructive as well. We hope that something will be done, but unfortunately, this church is family owned and operated and often it seems that they value a false sense of unity rather than true Christian relationship and fellowship.

Friday we headed over to the Brewer's Apprentice for their new IPA - yum! Before heading back to the church for youth worship practice...which was a disaster! It was then that I realized it is pointless for me to be in leadership when I have no respect from those I am leading and no support from the church leadership. That evening at youth Ken also talked to the group about unity as this certain family has been dividing the group into two over the past few months. One of the PLT members came as well for support, but unfortunately, I'm not sure that talking will do anything about the problem so long as the problem itself is never fully addressed.

Saturday we enjoyed practice at Feilding with the team for the 14th evening service - it was such a refreshing experience! We thank God for the hearts and smiles of those people! We ended the evening with dinner at the Nelsons - which was really fun! We played a card game called Rummy and I lost horribly! But I won on the practice round - that should count for something, eh? Before leaving, they talked and prayed with us about the issues going on at St. Luke's. It is definitely a huge problem, something spiritual, that must be dealt with. Please pray that this church will have the strength to pull out the sliver before it infects the whole body.

Sunday our team led and we played one of my songs (always a neat experience). But Ken and I still felt very heavy about the whole situation at the church and decided to take the afternoon out at the beach to get some sunshine! It was a wonderful afternoon - I finished The Shack! Two words: read it! And Ken is now only 150 pages away from being done with his NZ history book. Phew! Pepper enjoyed running around and digging - she dug a whole that was as deep as she is tall!

Pepper and Ken playing

My turn

The master digger at work

Playing in the water with her stick

Love, love, love!

Today, Monday, the rains have arrived again. It is still spring, so although those sunshine days feel like summer, they are broken up every now and again with these gray days. Ken is busy preparing for his lecture on Wednesday as well as his Bible study event for tomorrow night called, Everything Is Spiritual (a video by Rob Bell). Looks to be good, although we're not sure how many people will attend.
Pep relaxing on this rainy Monday afternoon

Please please please keep us in your prayers as we try to discern God's will in the mess of the church. As hurtful and painful as it is for us, it is even more so for the church especially as they continue to do nothing about the problem but just sweep it under the rug. May the church have the strength and love to walk this family through discipline and healing, for the family's good and the community of the church as well! Amen.