Today marks one month since we left the United States to begin this amazing journey of interim pastors for six months in New Zealand. It has been a good month for us as we lead this church. As we have been adjusting to our role and meeting the people on the community, here are some observations.
We are now three weeks into our journey of living in another culture. So far, the journey as been good and enlightening. We are learning a lot about the people of this country. They are friendly, helpful, and kind.
Two weekends ago we took the opportunity to play the role of tourists for a couple of days before Kimberly started school. Before we left on the trip around the Northland of New Zealand, we were told of the beauty of the countryside we could expect to see. Places to stop and sights to look for were pointed out to us. We loaded up our car and headed out in the early morning with great expectations.
As we continue to settle into our temporary life here in New Zealand we are meeting more of the people in the church and the community. Some have shown up at the church just to check us out, while others are excited to have us and eager to see what we have to offer as their pastors.
Kimberly, our daughter, begins high school here this week. Last week we took her to the school to be registered and gather all the necessary information parents should know about the school their teenager is about to attend in a different country (at least I hope we got all the necessary information!).
We have been in New Zealand for one week and today started our assignment as co-leaders of the Nazarene church here in Dargaville. Coming into this situation puts us out of our comfort zones in many ways.
We are in a country where neither of us have been before. We are now driving a car on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. In terms of food, we can find foods here that we are used to back home, but most often the taste and/or texture are different. For example, sweet corn is harvested later here, so what we might consider overripe is considered just right. There are things we know we will not find.
Well my friends, today begins a new journey for my family and me as we have arrived in New Zealand for a six-month stint of pastoring, leadership training and, hopefully, launching a Celebrate Recovery ministry. In those months, you will be hearing from us as we experience what it means to lead in a culture different from our own.
As we were making preparations to come to New Zealand, I had a thought: We are not going to New Zealand looking for America; rather we are going to New Zealand to be in New Zealand. This means that we will resist comparing how New Zealanders do things to Americans, but rather try to understand why they do things the way they do.
While in graduate school in the mid-‘80s I read Henri Nouwen’s book, The Wounded Healer. That book changed my life.
At the time I was walking around with wounds I had experienced physically, emotionally, verbally, mentally and spiritually. I was ashamed of these wounds and did not know what to do with them. After reading the book, I began the journey of becoming a wounded healer.
How are you doing with the goals and plans you have set for 2018? Although we are only into the second week of January, perhaps you have already run into some challenges that are cutting into your plans.
The challenge for many of us is that we set goals without really thinking about how we can be at our best in order to give our best. We set career or ministry goals, relationship goals, and financial goals, as well as goals to improve spiritually, physically and mentally. But when the going gets tough, many times the personal goals are compromised first.
Here we are at the end of another year. For some of us it was a great year; for others, not so great; and for some, it may have been a disaster. Regardless of how 2017 may have been, at this moment you are looking at a new beginning.
As you look ahead to 2018, you may be thinking it is an opportunity for a new start. Perhaps you are anticipating a fresh start in business, family life, personal life, spiritual life or some important relationships you may have been neglecting. Whatever the possibilities, I offer a few observations that I hope will be helpful in how you approach 2018.
This is the time of year more than any other we think about giving gifts. We find ourselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of making a list and checking it twice to make sure we have covered everyone. I found myself caught in the hustle and bustle when I left the house at 10 p.m. the other night to see if I could find a gift or two.
In recent days we have experienced shock and disbelief at hearing news about people we know – or thought we knew. It’s difficult to wrap our heads around the shocking behavior of some of those people.
Consider another perspective. Have you ever been surprised to hear about someone you know doing something that took a great deal of courage? Perhaps they stood up to authority, or did not back down on a principle. Well, many courageous people have been coming forward lately.
We have witnessed both perspectives in recent days. We have been shocked to learn of some of the private habits that have been brought to light by a courageous few who took a stand, some at the risk of great cost to themselves.