Keeping Up With Life in NZ

Leaving On A Jet Plane


Today is the day...we jump on a plane about 4pm local time and hit the Auckland tarmac (not literally) around 7.30am. The last few days have been a succession of goodbyes which is good because it spreads it out but is bad because it spreads it out.

Last night we went to see Chronicles of Narnia. A good night out. Tilda Swinton was magnificant as the White Witch I thought. Peter was a wimp. The beavers were fun. Some of the fantasy creatures were way cool. Favourite moment: just before Aslan is about to bite the witch's face off and she realises for the first time who he really is.

I am left with a profound question: how come so many Maori are ending up as mercenaries in people's armies these days? In Narnia you've got Shane Rangi as General Otmin (the Minotaur) and Patrick Kake as General Orieus, the Centaur (their face off was pretty cool I thought). This following on from Temuera Morrison turning out to be Boba Fett's Dad (forget the whole "Luke, I'm your father thing") and being like the template for the entire clone army (and subsequently the whole stormtrooper thing).

Deep questions.

See you Kiwis soon...


For Whom the Bell Tolls


A great weekend with Impact enjoying being a part of this vibrant community. Kristen and I got to do a last hurrah with Ryan and Angele, introducing the cessioncommunity to our partner church. We basically took over the service with Ryan, Kristen and myself joining with Dave (drums), Bailey (vox) and Tom (percussion) from the 2005 Student Missions team to form the nucleus of a worship band. Katie Sullivan, soon-to-be cession intern joined us in helping to tell the story of cessioncommunity and the partnership we have with Impact. It seemed to go well. It was a real highlight that Katie's parents and grandparents were able to be there.

I preached from 2 Corinthians 3 - us being a letter sent by Christ. It was an interesting experience having to preach 3 services with the same message. Each time different. Not at all boring, but high energy required!

Sunday evening it was off to Mars Hill. Rob Bell was in fine form - check out the Mars Hill website for the download. Faithfully, I persisted with my plan to introduce Rob Bell and Mars Hill to the riches of the cessioncommunity. It was my goal to create an initial opportunity to connect our 2 churches and to enrich Mars Hill with our innovative approach to worship in a post-Christendom culture, to create fresh impetus to Nooma using the cession-patented Abraham and Isaac approach to retelling OT classics and to offer a unique experience in visiting cessioncommunity here in Auckland, New Zealand. I had set up this opportunity via email and had Rob's instructions to meet him after service to set up a time. So, feeling like a groupie I followed my instructions, shook the great man's hand and introduced myself as "the pastor from NZ who emailed him." He seemed to recognise me was effusive and polite, but unfortunately too busy to meet this week. I then found myself on the end of a highly efficient deflection programme which culminated in being handed off to one of their pastors and offered a tour the next day. However, I've already been to Disneyland so I didn't bother.

Today was lunch with Ken de Peal, pastor at Allendale Wesleyan, and a chat with Dave Drury, connections pastor at SLWC and author extraordinaire. Fortunately, both had time to meet with me...

Its now countdown to our return. I am looking forward to being home but also sad to be leaving our home away from home once again. A wonderful family and great friends make this a place I am truly privileged to have as home. But a year at cession beckons - significant challenges that hold within them great opportunities for growth. May it be so.


Florida Postscript


The road trip is over...we cut 10 hours off our return journey driving through the night in shifts. So it only took us 27 hours...I could not believe how many trucks we saw on the roads and parked in truckstops - literally hundreds. It gives you some sense of the scale of a large country such as the US.

We had a great time in Florida. One highlight was heading to the Everglades and riding an airboat. This was a lot of fun, including seeing large alligators close up. One useful tip from our guide: as alligators can run as fast as a horse over short distances you should zigzag if trying to escape an alligator on land. There was no equivalent hint for the water.

Since we've been back I've had a session with the Impact Missions team. We've begun discussing some exciting possibilities for the future. I also attended a Church Planters Leadership Development group which was informative but mainly a chance to catch up with various people I've got to know here! Had lunch with the Watermark pastor families yesterday at a surprisingly average Mexican joint. But the company was as always first class...then off for a Sam Adams with Jim Wood. I hasten to add at this point that Rev Wood had a cherry coke or some other such sweet "pop".

This weekend I am preaching in 3 Impact services with input from Ryan and Angele, Kristen and Katie Sullivan our soon-to-be youth intern. We get the chance to communicate who we are as the cessioncommunity to our partner church. A little daunting in some repects but I am excited by what we've pulled together. Then on Sunday evening its off to Mars Hill which is always a highlight.

A family day today with Kristen's grandparents and other family turning up for the weekend. A sign that our time here is drawing to an end.


Tropical Christmas


Well we made it...finally...this was the roadtrip that never ended. We crossed Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia and then into Florida...however the Georgia leg just went on and on with traffic congestion and roadwork. The trip times were: Christmas Day - 12.45pm - 11.30pm; Boxing Day 8am - 1am the next day... we kept stops to a minimum so I hate to think how long we actually spent in the cars.

Florida is close to the equator, so its tropical here. Winter, but like Spring in NZ. Not a cloud in the sky with temperatures that make it T shirt and shorts most of the time. Its pretty laid back - reading, eating, playing with Rhys and binging on playstation - massive Tiger Woods Golf challenges with the in-laws. Kristen's brother Kyle is scarily good on playstation...

The cousins are getting on really well - it is cool to think that they will each have these distant cousins they'll get to meet at various times in their lives that will give them a window into another culture and country.

Anyways, we're out for the evening with Kyle's in-laws so better be sociable! Their house is on a canal! The car is parked in the driveway - the boat is parked out back in the canal! Or I should sau suspended above the canal - because of the storm surge risk during hurricane season the jetties are equipped with "lifts"!


Florida Road Trip


Its Christmas! For little Rhys its a special day: his first rugby ball! He is holding it right now as I type...sniff, sniff...

Kristen was nearly surprised by her new watch...she is the world's hardest woman to surprise about gifts. I wasn't much surprised either - I have a new coffee thingie for the wall - its very cool - its to store my coffee and has a retro coffee shop feel. I like it a lot. It will be a bit annoying to bring back but when I saw it I had to have it!

Today we head to Florida - 2 days of driving! As you can see from the map we virtually travel the length of the US to get there - 1403 miles - NZ is itself only 1,000 miles in length from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island...its a long way! We will travel through several states on the way down so that will be something. I have multiple bookage to sustain me. Anyway, I have to go, my help is required! Have a good Christmas...

Christmas Eve


So its Christmas Eve in the US of A - this means its Christmas Day in NZ - we rang through around 7pm US time to catch the family at their Christmas Day lunch. The whole tribe was at my sisters enjoying a traditional Christmas Day BBQ. Only thing that was slightly disturbing was the report that my brother had made 2 great salads...I logged my Christmas requests: LOTR Extended Version gift pack, sharpening stone for my cooking knives and a new outdoor umbrella...anyone reading this should not feel constrained from participating...

Christmas Eve here was pizza for lunch followed by traditional Christmas ham for dinner. Unusual accompaniments included: jello salad with fruit in it; corn casserole (creamed corn with corn muffin mix - comes out like a sort of soggy bread); root beer. Dessert was Dutch apple pie (lots of Dutch live here - there is a place not far from here called Zeeland) and a Cherry Pie (Michigan is big on cherries).

Anyways, we have a big day tomorrow so better sign off. But before I do here is Rhys looking at his first Christmas tree...

The Week That Was


Its been a busy week! But a good one...

Monday was Watermark day. Some things never change! Deur is never short of a "dodgy" comment...Thompson is always working a new angle on spirituality...Nate is still complaining about cession not partnering with Watermark...a good time catching up on life and ministry - so cool to celebrate the stories of growth at Watermark and yet to acknowledge the niggle that precedes the inevitable structural innovation that must emerge from such growth.

Then it was a race home from Grand Haven and out to Lowell to meet with Katie Sullivan. We also had the chance to meet with her parents which was a great bonus for their preparation as a family. Its very exciting seeing what God is weaving together with our emerging ministry to youth.

Tuesday was another Impact day, Brett meeting with Jason Holdridge and Kristen with Elisa, the children's ministry leader. It was awesome to see Jason's collection of LOTR memorabilia - 2 swords on the wall that I was most impressed with. A good chance to simply share who we are and where we have come from. Tuesday evening was a party time with the De Peals and Jim Wood over for shop talk at all...well just a little...lots of salsa and lettuce sandwich remembrances!

Wednesday has faded into oblivion apart from the evening where we had dinner with the Deurs. A relaxed have those kids grown! Steve was privileged to enjoy a private viewing of "The Invasion of the Wobblejellies" starring yours truly as Flush Gordon, an unlikely hero who "rescues" Princess Laidback from the evil step mother and thwarts the sinister Wobblejelly invasion. Truly awful. Memorable appearances from a truly skinny Jacob Powell as the trusty rebel leader Batarang and David Pitman as the Android and the First Minister to the evil step mother (ask him about his underarm problem).

Thursday was a lazy day at home. Kristen and I have now watched the entire first season of Lost on DVD! We even started the second season: wait till you see the first episode...especially the bit where...

Friday was lunch with Ken De Peal and Jim Wood. We enjoyed a modestly good Thai followed by the best coffee so far at Beaners (still only NZ Starbucks quality). Notable for me navigating down the interstate! Good times sharing about church politics (!) and ministry. Finished the evening at friends of the Hintermans for dinner. Highlight of the evening was Rhys dancing to this dancing, singing snowman - just priceless!

Its been a great week all up. Been reading Church on the Other Side which apart from anything else is packed full of common sense. A very good read so far.

Well thats it for the moment gentle reader. No great insights, just a travelogue account of the week that was...

ATOM 0.3