In Mark 7:21-22 Jesus warns us of what comes from the heart; things such as evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. You don’t have to work at these things; they come naturally to the human heart.
Take a child for instance; you don’t have to teach a child to be selfish, say no or throw a tantrum. You do not have to teach the child to hit, scream or get in a fight with another child. Rather, you find parents trying to teach their children how to be nice, caring, share and control their temper.
Some time ago I posted a blog on the challenges I faced when I first arrived here in New Zealand and started jogging. For those of you who missed that post or need a refresher you can find it here, How Rude! Now nearing the end of my stay here, I have noticed a very interesting change from my early experience.
In the last month or so, while out jogging, I have noticed drivers waving, even smiling at me as they drive by. Some even wave and smile before I have time to wave or smile first! Most surprising of all, I have noticed that some drivers are giving me the right of way! What a contrast from when I first arrived in January.
During the past few weeks of jogging here in New Zealand, I have become known as the guy who jogs with the blue shirt, black shorts, black and blue shoes and yellow cap. Yes, I jog with a cap because the risk of sunburn here is very high compared to other parts of the world. I jog three different routes; the route I take on a given day is determined by the distance of my run.
While jogging, I occasionally stop and talk with someone. I usually say my name, but not often do I get a name from them. We will converse about life in our different countries, and then it will eventually come down to talking about the weather. Many farmers and people who grew up on farms in the area live so naturally, the weather is an important topic!
I began thinking about how I am known in the community by those who see me jogging daily. I then wondered, how do people remember us after they have encountered us?
One of the things I have had to get used to in Dargaville, New Zealand, is the number of people who walk to their destinations. It is a small town and one can get to places quite easily and quickly without driving. As a result, people are always walking the streets.
Since people walk so much around here, they must cross the street from time to time. As I mentioned in my blog (How Rude!) two weeks ago, unless you are at a designated pedestrian crossing, vehicles have the right of way. Sometimes crossing the street is risky business!
As I also mentioned in the previous blog, where I live in the United States, stopping for someone to cross the street, even when there is no pedestrian crossing, is fairly normal and considered the kind thing to do.
As I have been driving and jogging around Dargaville, New Zealand, I have been noticing something very interesting. Wherever building construction is happening, whether commercial or residential, the property is fenced. The fences are mandatory to restrict access so that people don’t walk onto the building site. On the fence are any number of notices, such as, “Keep Out,” “No Trespassing,” “Danger,” etc.
Those of you who know me well, know that I am an avid jogger. When arriving in a new place, some may look for places to shop or eat, but one of the first thing I do is check out where can I go jogging. Consequently, moving to a new place for six months meant that I would need to discover the jogging areas.
I started my jogging routine soon after we arrived and quickly discovered something rather interesting. In my experience, where I live in the United States – Nampa, Idaho – drivers are very courteous to joggers. For example, when I approach an intersection, although vehicles generally have the right of way, they almost always stop and let me either make the turn or cross the intersection ahead of them.
One of the church members invited us to come out and look around his property. He told us he has some cows, chickens and other animals there. He instructed us to bring gum boots (rubber boots) if we had any; fortunately, there were some gum boots at our house (left by the previous residents), so we took them. He also told us he would take us “around the mud track.” OK – sounds fine (though not sure what he meant).
We arrived at the property, spent a few minutes in the house greeting the family, making small talk, etc. Meanwhile, the man who was going to show us the property went to get a vehicle and soon reappeared at the house and asked, “Who wants to go for a ride?” Well, we knew that meant the three of us: my wife, my daughter, and me. (Pictured are Rhonda and Kimberly in the midst of this adventure.)
One of the nice things about being here in New Zealand is that we don’t have a language barrier. English is the spoken and written language, which has made communication easier. Yet, while communication has been relatively easy, we have had some challenges with communicating – because context determines meaning.
When we arrived, one of the members of the congregation asked if we liked fishing. Well, of course we like fishing; it’s something our family enjoys doing together. So, he offered to take us ocean fishing. We were excited for this opportunity since our family has never been ocean fishing.
When the day came, we were told to make up some sandwiches, meet at the member’s house and we would go from there. From our limited wardrobe, we dressed as best we could in clothing appropriate for fishing, packed some sandwiches, grabbed a towel just in case, and put on our water shoes since we expected our feet might get wet with water splashing into the boat.
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!).