We arrived at the airport Tuesday morning ready to go, only to find out our flight had been delayed a bit. Finally we boarded the plane and as we were about half way into our hour long flight the pilot informed us that we couldn't land in Auckland. We were instructed to stay in a "holding pattern"...pilot slang for fly around the whole island in circles for an hour and a half due to fog. Yes, I literally saw Mt. Ruapehu through my window about 5 times as we circled in the air. Then the pilot announced we were clear to land so put on your seat belts, blah blah blah. As we started to descend, he came back on said "just kidding!" (not really) but that we were headed back to Wellington. Three hours and we were back where we started! Pretty funny actually, we had an entire tour of the north island. After an hour we re-boarded the same plane and tried again...successfully!
It was great to visit with our Auckland staff friends and chat with them about ministry this year (even though we were very delayed in arriving). Early the next morning we drove down to Waikato University.
We went to visit the staff team in Waikato to encourage them as well as get an idea for how ministry is similar and different on another campus. It can be extremely helpful to gather ideas since we all face very similar challenges, and it's just fun to help think through some of those challenges together. Outside of staff conference in January, and winter conference in July, we don't usually get to catch up with other staff that often.
Another reason for us going to Waikato was to try out a new evangelism tool they are using to see what we think. The "tool" consists of several cards, kind of like a deck of cards, that show different perspectives on God, purpose, Jesus, morality, human nature, that kind of thing. Then people can share their perspective. It's an easy way for them to identify with, or put words to their perspective on these topics. It was actually a great conversation starter!
After doing a little sharing on campus we headed over to a staff couples home for a bit, and then to dinner. And flew back to Welly the next morning! It was a quick trip, but really good to connect with fellow New Zealand Student Life staff.
I just never really know how to answer! Of course part of me will always miss home. I miss our family, sitting by the fire, watching movies, eating :), laughing, and our friends. There is a good chance we won't be back "home" for another year and half, so does that make us homeless? What makes a home?
I was telling a friend the other day, I think back to living in Indianapolis and I miss it a lot, but I also know if we went back it wouldn't be the same. I would be restless and would be scared to death that I would be stuck in that comfortable life for, well, the rest of my life. I think about living in Wellington and it still feels strange sometimes, but then I travel for a few days and want to come back home to Wellington. So I don't know, "home" seems so relative. Some days I'm so grateful for the adventure and other days I just want to be comfortable and in our own home.
It's just amazing really, when you are forced to adapt to something new, you really can! Wellington is our new home, at least for the time being, and it is starting to feel like a home as well. I was out of town this past week up in Auckland and I actually wanted to come back home...to our flat in Wellington. I feel like that has to say something! And let me tell you, our flat is nothing spectacular. It's pretty basic, but gets the job done, most of the time... There are so many things that I would use to describe "home"...comfortable, clean, decorated, full of our stuff, family and friends. Our flat isn't really any of those things, but, this is where we are for now, together, so it is home :)
As our team mate Cody said, "Well, here's to 3 more!" I hope it's many more than 3, but I appreciate his enthusiasm.
I know God has brought us to New Zealand. I am grateful for all of the ways He has shown Himself faithful in the midst of our planning, support raising and decision making over the past year. Those are the things I rely on the most when ministry is hard. And when I just don't "get" why we're here some days, I look back to God's faithfulness and find some comfort. These are the things I want to remember when looking back over our journey here. It's hard, has required more faith than I've ever wanted in my life, and God has been faithful.
I've been reminded over and over again these past few months about the sufficiency of Christ. Even if I was stranded alone (no friends), in horrible circumstances (in a foreign land), with what seems like no hope...Christ should still be enough for me (not that I'm saying we are all alone in horrible circumstances, but even if we were...). Because of His love for us, and His grace, He doesn't usually leave us in that situation. But either way, Jesus should be more than enough for my joy and contentment. This theme is found all throughout the book of Colossians, but this section has been particularly interesting to me lately.
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Paul is really praising Jesus for who He is; that He created all things, was before all things, and in Him all things exist. And then he goes on to talk about how all the fullness of God dwells in Christ and that ultimately all things will be reconciled through Christ. What comfort to know that my Savior has such power! And to know that my loneliness is not beyond His grasp. So often I turn to the world to satisfy that loneliness, by looking at facebook, or going shopping, or reading another book...but ultimately those things are not even close in standing to the One in which all things consist. He is sufficient for me, and always will be.
Just some thoughts from these past few weeks :)
I totally missed a shot of Cam and Ny, but it was great to meet them as well!
Lindsay is from Madison, WI, actually! She came over to STINT with Student Life a few years ago, met Rob, they got married and now live in Wellington. We were thankful for their great hospitality, lots of laughs, and for a delicious dessert!
I tried to get some close up footage with my little point and shoot. Ha, here is a scrum:
And when they throw the ball in from the sidelines they actually lift each other up in the air to catch it. It's part soccer, part cheer leading?
And they actually won! At the last second! Woohoo!
The topics include:
1. Is the Bible a myth?
2. Is there more than one way to God?
3. Why are there so many rules with God?
4. How can a just God allow suffering?
5. Why are Christians so hypocritical?
6. How can a loving God allow hell to exist?
Pretty controversial huh? It's good stuff, and on a campus like Victoria where students are extremely skeptical of religion and God, it's necessary that we are able to engage in these conversations. We believe Christians need to be able to dialogue about these things without becoming defensive and, well, prideful. We are learning, our students are learning, and non-Christians are brought into community to answer some of their deep concerns about God.
There are six videos, and we are halfway through. Tomorrow we will have the discussion on how God can allow suffering. This is a big roadblock for many people, so we are praying several new students would come out to chat. Please pray with us that students would come and be heard, and that truth would be shared.