Staff Conference

This past week was staff conference, where all Student Life staff come together for about a week to refocus after summer and prepare for the school year. Everyone has had very different summers, from going on summer project, to raising support, or taking training courses. It was good to hear from our leadership team on their vision for the year, and to spend time as a team talking through some of the logistics of that vision on our individual campuses.

Max, the final member of our team, arrived just in time last week to join us for staff conference which was really good. We are going to have a really young team this year, but I'm excited to see how the Lord is going to use our "weaknesses" to show His strength.

One of the highlights is the marrieds/singles touch rugby game every year. This was Ryan's first time playing Rugby, and he did great! We're definitely still learning the rules of rugby, and I'm convinced some kiwis don't even know all the details of the rules. But anyway, the single guys won, but there's always next year!

And lastly, at the staff banquet on the last night we all met Mrs. Vonette Bright, the co-founded of Campus Crusade. Crazy huh? She was super sweet and talked to us a little about how she and Bill founded Crusade and their relationship.



After summer project, Ryan and I spent a few days in Christchurch to rest for a quick bit before heading back to work in Wellington. To be honest, one of the major highlights to the trip was our hotel room! We had been staying to backpackers (or hostels) for the past two weeks and it was so nice to have our own room...and for the first time since August, our own bathroom! No only was this OUR room, but it was so cool! It was super small (about the size of a bedroom/bathroom on a cruise), but pretty much the same price as a backpackers! I added a few pictures here in case you are interested :)

This little round area served as both the bathroom and shower (bathroom on the left, shower on the right):
And this picture was taken standing right next to the bathroom/shower cylinder. Small, but so perfect for our little stay. Oh! And one of Ryan's favorite parts. The alarm in the morning was a "natural" alarm, so it slowly woke you up with a light shining like the sun.
Anyway, when we weren't hanging out in our room, we went to visit the Canterbury campus. This is where Ryan spent his summer about 5 years ago doing ministry with StudentLife. It was really neat to get to go back and hear about all the Lord taught his that summer and see some of the places I've heard a lot about. It's crazy to think that in that summer the Lord put something on Ryan's heart, and here we both are back doing full time ministry with uni students. Amazing.
Ryan claims this is the best hot chocolate ever. Found on Canterbury's campus.
The other tourist attraction in Christchurch is to ride the gondola up to see Lyttleton Bay, and all of Christchurch.
And the view! Unbelievable.
We tramped (hiked) around a little bit once we got to the top.

And the last highlight of Christchurch is going to see the cathedral. There is a huge town square in front of the cathedral, and at night they light everything up which is really cool and there are a lot of performers.

The next morning before we flew out we went to the cathedral to go on a free tour. The building really is beautiful and every hour they pause for prayer. Pretty cool. Anyway, that's the end of our time away and now it's back to life in Wellington!


Staff Goneburgers

In the middle of summer projects, there is typically a day or two where staff leaves to allow the students to take ownership of their own ministry. So, in order for our 50 students at Nelson Beachie to get to practice leadership and taking the initiative, we, the staff team left for about a day in a half. Where did we go? It's a secret :) Just kidding, we went to Lake Rotoitit where we spent some time together as a staff team getting to know each other, cooking for each other, studying the bible together, and debriefing about summer project and documenting information for the staff team next year.

We headed out to a cabin in the woods, and to our surprise, the owner didn't leave us the right we were locked out...
The place looked nice, but here we are stuck on the outside.
Ok, so not really that dramatic. We drove to the neighbors and they had the key to let us in. One of the highlights for the boys was getting to chop wood out back. Ryan, Daniel, and Marlon did this for hours.

The next morning, the beautiful Penelope made breakfast.

And after all of our work was done documenting, we spent a little time at Lake Rotoiti. Seriously, you can't find a bad view in this place can you? We had made some friends at the lake the night before and they took us out on their boat around the lake which was pretty sweet.
We tramped (hiked) a bit through the bush (woods).
And the boys learned how to kayak.

And swam. The water looks nice, but it's ice cold. Ryan is about to find that out...

And then we headed back to the camp to check in on our students :)


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

So, to get to summer project, we pretty much took every major mode of transportation. A ferry, bus, car, train, and finally a plane. Oh, and a bike and gondola should be added to that list as well. We had been told by other Wellingtonites that we should take the ferry to the south island at least once while we are here. So, we figured this was a good time, and it cost about the same to fly!

One have to hope you catch it on a good day or else the water gets really choppy and people get seasick. Awesome. Luckily, one of our team mates gave us some seasick medicine, so even though the water was a bit choppy, we survived. The ferry ride really was beautiful, especially once you get near the south island.

(leaving the north island)
Once we arrived in Picton we took a bus to Nelson. After summer project, we headed back to Picton in a car and we to Christchurch for a few days. We were in Christchurch to debrief a little bit before heading back to Wellington to resume flat hunting and getting back to StudentLife there. On our way to Christchurch we took a train so we would be able to see some of the scenery along the coast. Oh my gosh was it beautiful. This could try really is amazing. You don't have to go very far to either find mountains or the coast...and sometimes you can even find mountains along the coast, crazy!

(the coast around Kaikoura)

(the viewing cart - a bit windy)

After being in Christchurch for a little over a day, we flew home to Welly. Whew, what an adventure :)


Nelson Beachie!

So summer project was fantastic. It was so good to get to work and do ministry in New Zealand! Nelson has the nickname "Sunny Nelson" for being the sunniest place in New Zealand. Well, when we arrived it was anything but. Most of the south island was actually flooded and the students had trouble driving north because roads were closed.

Anyway... once everyone arrived, we had a blast! Project lasted 12 days, and on each of those days the students usually had some sort of evangelism training, and then we would do outreach and put those skills to use. We were right near the beach, so naturally most of our sharing was on the beach :) Students learned how to clearly communicate their testimony, or their journey with God, and how to clearly communicate the gospel of Grace. From there, we would pair off and try to start spiritual conversations with uni students on the beach or in the Nelson area. Our students learned so much, and the gospel was shared with about 250 people! Isn't that amazing? That means that possibly 250 people were hearing about Jesus for the first time in their lives. And several of those decided to place their faith in Christ and walk with Him.

I actually got to have a really awesome conversation with a girl named Merle who had heard about Christianity over the past few months but really felt like God was trying to show himself to her. She believed He was real and had a plan for her life and wanted to have a relationship with Him. It was so neat to see her make that decision right in front of us, and then get to meet up with her several more times while we were in town to talk about the bible and answer some of her questions. Merle has an awesome story of what God has been showing her over the past few days and months, and it was so cool to be a small little piece of that to be able to share truth with her and tell her how she can have a relationship with Jesus.

Some of the best parts of the trip were with my action group (or bible study) that I led. There were 6 girls, all with very different backgrounds that just really wanted to learn more about God and how they can serve Him on their uni campuses. I was blown away and humbled by their desire to grow in their faith and how much they loved the Lord. And I know Ryan felt the same about his group of guys.

One of the other highlights was date night! Ha, where each of the boys action groups are challenged to take one of the girls action groups out one a "date" as sisters in Christ. It was so cute to see how the boys stressed out a little bit, and how the girls loved being treated so well! Our action group was blindfolded and taken to a lookout spot over the city (as seen in the picture below) and then served a beautiful dinner. The boys were awesome.
In the evenings students would usually just hang out and play cards and talk a bit about what they were learning.
One of the evenings, we had some time to talk about "eternal perspective". We took the students to a cemetery (sounds creepy, eh?) and had them spend some time thinking through some questions about what are we living for here on earth? How short is our life here compared to eternity? And how should we live our lives to reflect that? It was a really challenging time for my self personally too, just thinking through what really matters and how we should live our lives with an eternal perspective. At the cemetery:

Another highlight was Ryan and I being asked to give the relationships talk. Woohoo, the fun stuff! We talked about what it should look like to have healthy relationships with other believers in general as the body of Christ, and how we take that one step further in romantic relationships. It was a lot of fun and the students had a million questions, but we were really encouraged by their feedback and pray that something we said will stick with them.

And finally we had to say goodbye to Nelson. Sunny Nelson we will miss you :)