Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Aotearoa (New Zealand) Christmas

We wanted to update as soon as possible because we knew so many of you were carrying us in prayer over the past week. Thank you for covering us, We have felt your prayers and carried that into the past weekend with us. This past Saturday morning our church (which meets in a community center in the center of a large park) opened its doors to welcome families from our community to a morning of quality time with their children, in a fun environment with activities, crafts, challenges and live puppet show. One of the huge wins with this outreach was the way our church community came together to see this happen. This has been such a busy time between the Santa Parade and then the Aotearoa Christmas (pronounce A-O-TA-Row –A; which means New Zealand) this past weekend. We had so many involved from singles, to families, to youth. It was an awesome time of serving together and have had several comments of people sharing they didn’t feel craziness or stress. The other big win was that we saw several families come through that had nothing to do with cession or the other programs we offer. They came from the community because of the Santa Parade or the printed invites we had. I saw children giggling, parents smiling and most stuck around like they wanted to be there. We have names and contact info for these families and we will be doing “gentle” follow ups with them. We are grateful to God for all of his provisions both in staffing and supplies and for the families brought onto us. Continue to pray for these families, that our churches name might stick in their minds, that they may choose to come to a Christmas service or some of our other programs and that they would be open to our follow ups.
So amazing to believe that we are now only days away from Christmas Day!! I have shared this with many of you but, I have done a lot of pondering in my heart in mind over these past weeks of what does it means to be thankful….it would be easy for me to just go down the list of things I have, people in my life…..all the good things. But I think the word, thankful, means so much more then the list of provisions, people or blessings in my life (although of course I am thankful for those things). I think that true thankfulness is also an attitude of the heart. Am I thankful in the trying times as well as the good times. Am I thankful on thanksgiving and Christmas, or on all days? I feel that having an attitude of thankfulness directly effects my worship to my God, and then as a result effects how I live out my day. It helps to keep me from being in that place of “entitlement” and instead strive to be in a place of surrender. It tenderizes my heart to remember that all of this, my life, my family, serving in NZ……..all of it, is all about my Savior and that it is not about me.
As Rob and I look over this past year and serving in NZ…..words cannot express the gratefulness that overflows in our hearts. We have seen our family through transition and adjusting to a new culture, we have been given amazing relationships both within and without our church walls, we have seen hundreds of people exposed to Christ through community outreaches, we have seen the birth of youth ministry within our church and the opportunity to influence youth ministry as a whole on the North Island, we have witnessed the pain of a city literally broken by earthquake and were blessed to help be a balm to weary souls, we have seen healing of relationships and have been blessed to mentor some on their journey, we have seen the growth of the Trust which will enable cession|community to continue to reach out to their community, we have had the opportunity to work with at risk teens, God has carried us through illness, home sickness and times of fear and doubt. And God has taught us about His provision and His manna month after month as He has continued to keep us here month after month through our partnership with so many of you. As God continues to remain at work here, we would love to hear how God has remained at work in your lives over this past year as well. I would also love to hear your thoughts on an attitude of thankfulness.
In our last post we were pretty open about our current goal to remain here at least until February to see the National Youth Camp through completion. We are still waiting and fully trusting on our Lord to provide our “manna”. We desperately need your prayers in this area. If you at all felt your heart nudged in our last post about end of year gifts and would like to have further conversation, we have a way to call you for free so just drop us a note at or you can go to giving links on this web site.
Please know that during this season, and all other days that we are deeply grateful for you, for the offerings of your prayers, love, friendship, gifts and support. We are here representing you and we serve with a humble and joyful heart.

Friday, December 9, 2011

There is so much I could update on this blog I would be writing (and you reading) for a week! So we will do it in chunks instead  We put out the word that this month is a huge month in outreach opportunities for our community. I know that several of you have been praying because we literally feel your prayers sustaining us, thank you! Our God delights when His people pray. Last weekend we participated in the Santa Parade. Now you may be asking “how is being in a parade an effective outreach tool”. Well for us it was just that, a “tool”. It served two functions. First It was an event that our church community came together with families from Mainly Music (which is one of the ministries we offer to families in the wider community) to create and participate in this fun event. We had a least 4 families that came and “rubbed shoulders” with us all morning, it was awesome! Secondly, the way the float was designed it advertised to hundreds of people the event we have this coming Saturday along with some of us handing out over 150 invites along the parade route. It allowed from some great conversations with families watching the parade. Thank you for praying for us, and now shift your prayers to this coming weekend. It has been a lot of working doing the two events back to back, but we have an awesome team along beside us, and we are anticipating at least 300 kids this weekend. Pray that people from the community was would come, would be blessed and fell loved on, would hear good messages, and just might choose to connect with us because they feel loved and welcomed. Pray for our energy levels, this has been an intense two weeks plus looking ahead to our Christmas services and even our health as some families have been attacked with throat and stomach bugs. I really look forward to updating you on this event.
God remains at work in our lives, the life of cession|community and the impact she can have on her community. We had another huge prayer answered last week as we found out we received money from a grant Rob worked on, that will allow cession to be able to fund this Christmas event and the events that will revolve around Easter. This is a huge blessing and a great win for the beginnings of the Trust.
Finally as most of you know, we are probably in one of the most crucial periods financially that we have been in since we arrived. We do not know how long our ministry will continue here in NZ, we do know that God remains at work in our lives and we will strive to approach each day we have to minister here with thankfulness. Because God has used so many of you, we are seeing these current December projects through. We are humbled and grateful. We now are trusting God to provide our manna to keep us into Jan/Feb as Rob leads the National Youth Camp. We have a deficit of a few thousand dollars to make up by Dec. 15 and have made it our goal to do what we can to stay at least that long (Jan/Feb), knowing that all of this belongs to God.
As we look at the last few weeks of 2011, Rob and I would like to ask you to pray about considering an end of year gift, and to have the conversation with God if He is asking you to join us now.
We are aware that many of us look to this last month of the year as an opportunity to give to nonprofit organizations as we evaluate our giving over the year and taxes for the next. If you are in that place of evaluating would you consider an end of year gift to invest in what God is doing here in NZ? We were so blessed by individuals who stood in the Gap a few weeks ago to insure our commitments could take place this month, we know that they were blessed in return to be a part of it, and ultimately God will use their gives to help touch the hearts of those who will be influenced by our outreaches this month. Would you pray and ask if God is asking you to invest in our ministry in January, by offering a onetime gift now before the end of the year?
We are very aware that this is a huge season for most of us with the extra business, family focus, travel, church……..the list goes on during the holidays. Rob and I feel the magnitude of the upcoming Dec deadline, and strive for the goal of at least seeing ministry through Jan/Feb to see the national youth camp project through to completion, knowing full well this is all in God’s hands. We appreciate your time in reading this update and would be humbled if you set aside a few minutes to pray over this area and discuss with God if He may be asking you to be a part of this journey. If He is nudging your heart there is more information on the tabs here on the website or you can go directly to our giving link - click here or go to .
It is with a thankful heart that I close this, knowing that God can and will do more then we could possibly imagine and that He alone is our past, present and future