Friday, November 26, 2010

The Last 9 Days...

Kia Ora Friends and Partners,

Kia Ora is the Maori way of saying ‘Hi” and “Be well/healthy”. It is so good to be able to write and connect with you. Over the last several days, we’ve only had internet access as we jumped on someone else’s router or were able to go to the library and get in the queue for a public one. You see, web access is slightly different here in NZ. Plans don’t have unlimited access like in the US. Instead, you pay for a certain gigabyte amount of usage. You don’t find free spots in cafes like you do in the states either. SO, finally having access at home feels like an incredible gift to us. I can sit here on the couch before bed and let you know what’s been happening.

Since we haven’t had internet, DaNae and I have been keeping notes to share from our time over the last several days. SO, without further ado, enjoy our life according to Rob:


Wednesday, 17 November
We made it! We are in the middle of our first full day in New Zealand. We (the four of us and lots of luggage – nothing got lost in the travels – boys or stuff) arrived yesterday at lunchtime to an awesome welcome – members of our new community at cession|community plus 1 (Stephanie Garey, another Global Partners missionary). What an awesome way to reconnect with familiar faces and meet new ones. Without much trouble, they split up our luggage and spirited us off to our home.

Cession blew us away by what they did for us. We arrived to a house already prepared for us, even with the touches that make it personal (pictures on the wall, fishing rods for the boys and I) – we could only say, “Wow!”. The boys each had their own room decorated according to their interests. DaNae and got a bit teary as we saw how they settled in to “their space.” For the rest of the afternoon, we enjoyed visiting with people and getting to know each other as we potlucked at our house for lunch. I still can’t get over the embracing welcome we received from everyone.

Caleb didn’t waste any time getting familiar with things. He left for a walk yesterday with a new friend (Isaac) from church to explore the neighborhood and then left with him later to watch his softball practice. Both of them are doing really well.

The trip here went much better than we expected. We were able to rest on the plane together as we travelled. The boys dove into the adventure and loved each step of the way. Jet lag has been very manageable – I think the most tired we felt was on our layover in Fiji. But, then again, it was 5 AM in the morning so that shouldn’t have surprised us. We went to bed early last night and slept through the night (Yay!).

Waking up was odd this morning. I laid in bed staring at the ceiling and saying, “We are no longer in the states. Even though waking up is the same, we’re actually in New Zealand.” I know it sounds obvious, but when you go to sleep in one country and then wake up in another, your body doesn’t feel like it’s really gone anywhere. It was kind of crazy.

Tonight we head to Brett’s for a potluck with folks from church. We also just had a surprise welcome from Richard Waugh, the General Superintendent of the church here. Richard is a friend from my first visit to New Zealand. I love that we live in a community where folks just drop in to visit and say, “hi.”

Thursday, 18 November
Last night was awesome. We spent the night at Brett’s home getting to know many of the people who call cession|community their church. Nothing says community like food, right? We enjoyed a yummy BBQ with friends (new and old).

Today, we explored our neighborhood. We can walk to most everything we will need – the supermarket, banks, church, library, post office, and pharmacy. We opened our bank accounts and signed up for library cards. We only walked through the grocery store – that will be a trip on its own as we try to figure out how to food shop. We also treated ourselves to Memphis Meltdowns – for those of you who have had one, you know what a treat this was. Think of a Dove Bar but WAAAYYY better!

I forgot to mention this yesterday. We have a new friend looking out for us here – Richelle. RIchelle , her husband Nigel, and their two boy served as missionaries in Ecuador for 8 years with SIM (Serving in Missions). They’ve been tasked with helping us adjust to life in New Zealand. Richelle’s given us a list to accomplish this week – everything from sending post cards to filling our car with petrol. So far, we’ve completed 3 and a half of the 12 things on our list.

Friday, 18 November
Last night, we were with the Buckley’s and Kelso’s cell group. One of the things cession organized for us was a week of meals with each cell group in the church. As Greg said, they are “one of cession’s communes (they share a house together). It was a very cool night as we got to know them.

Unfortunately, DaNae woke up not feeling well today. A bug’s been going around and DaNae picked it up. Let’s just say she’s really sick. The boys and I are trying to let her rest so she gets better and we stay healthy. I called to set up our phone and internet today – we should be connected by Monday afternoon – Yay!!

Saturday, 19 November
DaNae’s feeling better today. She’s still low energy but at least she can keep food in her. We continued to set up our household accounts (set up power today) and get things unpacked and organized.

We continued to expand our familiarity with our neighborhood by walking to the park today. We met Brett at the depot to see the space cession meets in. It’s an open space that they transform into a welcoming environment on Sundays. During the week, the church is in a shipping container outside of the building. On Sundays, it all comes out to make cession what it is – we can’t wait to see it set up tomorrow.

We also took the boys swimming today. There’s a community pool in the park that is open to the community – it’s like God knew our boys love to swim ;).

Sunday, 20 November
Last night, we had dinner with the Johnstone’s. We sat outside around the patio as the kids played (yes, they had kids – the boys loved it) and we got to know each other. We talked like we had been together for much longer than one night.

Church today was really cool. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the song, Mighty to Save. This song has been tied to significant moments in our life – when we started to attend MCC and knew that was our home for a bit, while we were at Saddleback on our way here (the service ended up being a reminder of what God has been doing in our lives – that may be another post), and then here at our first service at cession|community. This is a rich community and it’s a blessing to be a part of what God is doing here.

Monday, 21 November
We have our phone today – still no internet, though. We’re waiting for our modem to arrive and hope it will be here tomorrow.

We are finally moved into our house – all of our things are put away and organized (DaNae is a super-woman). While the kids were asleep, we managed to assemble two desks from a bunch of miscellaneous desk parts and snuck them into their rooms. Let’s just say they woke up and didn’t leave their rooms for a bit.

Tonight, we had a teaching team meeting to begin planning what the 2011 teaching calendar would look like at cession. I felt a bit like an observer as everyone reviewed 2010’s services but it was good to be a part of it. I like this team :).

Tuesday, 22 November
Today’s our one week anniversary in New Zealand. The week has gone by so fast. Jane (Richard Waugh’s wife) brought over flowers from her garden and Richelle gave us a really cool orange sunflower. Caleb’s celebrating by having the bug that DaNae had last week. It’s tough to see him so miserable and sick – we pray he’ll be better soon.

This morning, Aedan and I were a part of Mainely Music, a tot music program offered by cession for parents and toddlers in the community. It’s a pretty cool outreach to the community - seven of the ten families there aren’t part of cession’s community. We want to help sort out how to better connect with the families here and figure out some technical challenges (they need a better portable CD player to play the program’s music – about $400 here in NZ).

We found out today that there was a glitch in the system and our modem never was ordered by our internet provider. We should have internet by Friday . DaNae went grocery shopping with Kristen today (Brett’s wife and another American). They were shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner with other missionaries this Friday (US Thursday) and Kristen was showing DaNae the different places to shop and save money. She found out turkeys aren’t cheap here - $80 for a bird that feeds 14 people. We all chip in for the bird so it’s all good for a taste of home :)!

Wednesday, 23 November
We called home for the first time today. Last night, I ran over to the corner store and bought a calling card so we could do this. In New Zealand, calling cards allow you to call overseas for less than .02/minute. We woke up and rang DaNae’s folks – it was awesome to be able to talk to family!

We also had our first “How are you doing as you adjust?” debrief. Nigel and Richelle meet with us each week to talk through how we’re doing. I know I mentioned them before but these two are godsends! They’ve done this before and understand what a cultural adjustment is like. They are our people on the ground that we can be totally open with and will understand what we may be going through. By the way, remember the list. We did nine and a half out of twelve AND we have a new list for this week!

Thursday, 24 November
Last night, we were at the Masunu’s cell group. Another great group of people and awesome night of fellowship. Nata and Juanita run a home called Oasis House. They provide family support for families of children with disabilities. Their kids will join them for anywhere from a day or two a month to a few days a week. It gives the parents a break from giving constant care. We were able to share dinner with them and a couple of kids they care for. These two have a lot of love to share with the kids and families they work with. During the group, we spent the night playing an “activity” Juanita put together and praying with each other. Awesome night!

Remember earlier when I mentioned I love being in a culture where drop-in visitors were OK? Another pastor came by today – Atu is a pastor at Streams Community and was in the neighborhood. He stopped by to say “hi” and we spent the next hour and a half sharing our stories with each other and praying together.

We were also able to start sorting out our car – it is now in our name and licensed. We just need to sort out insurance and we can begin terrorizing New Zealanders by putting another American on the road!

Well, I think this brings us to today. It’s 1 AM Friday morning right now. Stateside, y’all should be getting up soon to enjoy Thanksgiving together. We probably won’t always do a play by play like this but it’s been a way for us to stay connected while we were waiting for our internet connection. The modem came this morning and I spent about an hour getting it set up. It’s good to be connected again. We pray that you can really enjoy the day today. Love on your families and take time to see how God’s walked with you this year. We all have a lot to be thankful for!

Monday, November 8, 2010

WE HAVE A DATE!!!!!

Many of you know this from our Face Book page and word of mouth. I am so sorry we have not updated here, things are moving so fast. But the word is........yes its true we have a date!!!! We leave this Saturday Nov. 13 (or the Kiwi way 13/11/10). This all went down like a whirl wind! We found out from the Embassy about two weeks ago that they received an email from the advisers in New Zealand that we were all clear for Visas. It still took some time to get the official paperwork to the embassy for them to issue the visas. We were woken up by the FedX man last Wednesday, who had our Visas in hand!! Then the chaos began! We were able to purchase tickets that same day, and the end result is the 13th......crazy!! So our good and faithful God has said "now is the time", so hard to believe. Our emotions have ran the spectrum - elation, panic, joy, tears, unbelief, excitement...........the list goes on and on. We have decided to wake up each day and just take it as it comes, work as hard as we can and not "fight" the roller coaster, just take in the ride. God in His power and strength has just carried our family each day.....and each day, its enough. So, we are packing suit cases, moving out of my parents house, scheduling time with family and loved ones, and doing all the things that need to be done to transfer life over seas. In all the craziness it has been a beautiful week, so many sweet sweet moments with those we love and today was our last Sunday with our precious church. We are so excited to begin this next phase of the journey and take all of you along with with us! There is so much more in my heart I want to say but for now I will get this information out and then we will update some more before stepping on the plane. We would not be here in this place if it was not for all of you that answered the "nudge" to pray for us and support us! Thank you. We love you! Please pray us through this week.