Everyone loves the inside scoop when families go on outings… Thank goodness I have a FlipVideo Camera.
In just a matter of hours, we will board a plane and head back to the states leaving what I now believe is the closest thing to Heaven on Earth behind. I was doing fine with liking New Zealand and walking away until yesterday as we drove around and explored the Firth of Thames and Coromandel. A friend of mine told me today that there should be a sign before you drive towards Coromandel that says, “WARNING: If you haven’t fallen in love with New Zealand yet, you will once you visit Coromandel.”
So, as I drink some Frank Ginger Beer next to a drying rack of clothes in a beautiful house nestled in a paddock, my thoughts begin to swarm as I take a minute to reflect on what I have seen and experienced here in truly God’s country.
1. I will return.
For real. No doubt. Without question. I might even get a real job or find a real trade so I can move to New Zealand and at least retire there. Or invest in the lottery to make it happen sooner. This isn’t a case of “I fell in love with a vacation…” I’m not sure what it is yet. But I know without a doubt, it’s not 1st visit buzz.
2. When Jesus sent us out to the farthest ends of the earth to share the Good News – New Zealand is as far away from Israel as you can get… that still has people inhabitants.
3. The English language gets even more complex when you cross the International Date Line.
Things I will probably fold in to my currently vernacular:
i. Have a go
ii. My Shout
iii. Get your life right
iv. Good Onya
vii. Hard Case
viii. He’s wrapped
4. I’ve never been referred to as a “details person” until this trip.
I helped Keith coordinate some things and maybe a tour… I think I’m pretty good at coordinating things, but details? Let’s not jump ahead now, Keith. My friends who really are details people know that I’m really not… I’m sure they have plenty of stories!
5. The healing property of the ocean increases when you realize that it’s an hour’s drive in any direction to the ocean. When I come back, days will be budgeted to sit and stare.
6. Last couple of months, I’ve been working/wrestling with “what’s next?” Not sure what is was about NZed, but only yesterday I began to feel the “push” of home and what’s next… without any real answer. (See observation 1)
7. The Church as a whole is in a pivotal place in New Zealand.
It could quickly go the way of “big” churches and get caught up in ridiculous traditions and politics or just as fast become an example to the rest of the world about how to truly be a light in a very dark, apathetic place. American missionaries – I put this on you. Don’t let the Followers in NZ fall into the same traps. Model/Teach/discuss the way it SHOULD be done. Please don’t force them into the way church is done in the states.
8. There are NO SNAKES, or Poisonous spiders in New Zealand. (well there might be a white tailed spider, but it’s from OZ (Australia) so the kiwis say that doesn’t count.) I think it’s a clear indication that it’s God’s country.
9. People are People are People.
10. The Body of Christ is an amazing thing.
One of my favorite moments from this trip came within the first couple of days at the convention. There was an outdoor communion happening as sort of a good bye communion and one of the Fijian churches began to sing hymns in Fijian. Towards the end, they sang How Marvelous. As I tried to position myself to get a shot on video, here’s what I heard Fijian words – then repositioned to a group of Tongans singing it in their native tongue, then walked by the Americans, then the Europeans. I stood back and watched completely caught up in the moment of The Body united. So caught up that I didn’t get any video… Probably because this is something that you will just have to come over and experience for yourself one day or just wait until we’re all rockin’ in heaven.
This has no doubt been the trip of a lifetime, with great stories and memories and connections. I am so grateful for the,
“Want to go to New Zealand?” call from Keith in February. Thanks dude for an amazing 17 days of ministry, vision and crazy fun.
I’m honored that one phone call turned into all of this.
Over the first weekend we met a group of moms that honestly just floored me.
The NZed school system is an interesting set up compared to the states as some schools have a “Bible Class,” but in general the NZ nation is referred to as a secular nation. More than anything the Kiwis really pride themselves on tolerance.
Which really presents an interesting conundrum of how do you bring or introduce Jesus to a nation that thinks, “that’s great for you”?
Enter Amanda, Michelle, Sarah and others. Moms that saw the need in their kids’ school and did something about it by making it happen. Similar to the states, most parents don’t get away from work until 4:30ish. So every Thursday this group of mums and dads provide a free service to the kids of Greenhithe by providing afternoon tea and supervision until about 4:30pm.
Actually, I’ll just let her tell you… As a reference, their actual church North Shores has maybe 100 regular attendees.
Here’s what I love about this the most. These mums didn’t wait for someone else to do something for their kids. These mums didn’t wait for their church to ask them to help. These mums took the initiative to make something happen for their kids so that they have a vehicle to tell their friends about Jesus.
Not only that, but as a curriculum writer, I was most impressed that they use all sorts of resources in order to make the best possible and understandable program available for their kids.
This group of mums is by far the thing I’ve been convicted by the most. They didn’t wait for someone to ask. They didn’t wait for the church to do something. They just made it happen.
Before I left the states to hop a plane to New Zealand, here’s what I knew about our trip over: Keith, of KC and the Glowworms, had been booked for one conference and the rest we would just see what happens…
Honestly, I was completely game for that, I mean seriously, it’s New Zealand.
After what felt like a short 12 hour flight we arrived in “NZed” (as the locals call it) and immediately went to someone’s house where Keith within moments broke a string on someone else’s guitar. I’ll post a video later.
Eventually, we arrive to the Gathering, a representation of most of the Wesleyan churches in New Zealand. This has truly been the most multi-cultural experience of which I have EVER been a part.
Saturday night was Keith’s “big” concert and let’s just talk about the line up…
- The night started off with several Samoan worship songs (sung in perfect harmony).
- Then a Fijian traditional dance followed by a Fijian dance to “Jesus take the wheel.” (Still trying to wrap my head around this one.)
- Keith Conner – Driving the Bus, singing Great Big God, the eagle song, reading from the Pigeon language Bible and ending with This little light of mine.
- Then, a Tongan a capella choir (AMAZING.)
- Scripture read in Chinese
- A “Sweet As” (As the Kiwis say) Youth Band
- A Monologue
- And a Southern Wesleyan Preacher
Around the world in 90 minutes.
At one moment I was brought to tears just thinking about the tiniest slice of heaven I was watching develop before my eyes.
After the concert requests started to pour in about having Keith coming to churches all over New Zealand. One pastor asked me, “Really? You will go anywhere?” I thought, “Why not?” We’re not doing anything else!
So, starting Wednesday we are doing a tour of schools and churches connecting with people and encouraging families to worship together.
I have to admit, I think words will really destroy what I am witness to at this moment.
But I’m ruminating on the incredible response this people are having. Who knew that Keith Conner would drive the bus around the world?
I probably should have written this perspective about 3 months ago. However, it’s different now than it was 3 months ago and in 3 months it will yet again be different.
I love how life works that way.
So here’s the skinny:
Since I left SpringHill Camps, I have relocated to Clarksville, TN just north of Nashville. I started my own business, Cr8iv Productions and have picked up writing fiction.
Cr8iv Productions has provided a way for me to combine what I’m good at and continue to help ministries and businesses move forward or try something new and different. So far, I’ve been able to partner with a church starting a capital campaign, a Pro-Life Organization create a commercial, helped the marketing department of a camp get their head above water again, and have had the privilege of working alongside a couple of bands. The month of June has me in New Zealand with KC and the Glowworms and then stage managing at the Big Ticket Festival in Gaylord, MI.
The journey is just beginning and I can honestly tell you I have no idea what is next, but what I do know is that this journey is a faith journey and it’s been awesome. Scary? Yes. Awesome? Yes.
So here’s to a life of adventure! Documented, here.
Rather Watch the video? Me too!
I had thought about a different way of tell all of you, but the
Rockettes wouldn’t come to Evart.
With a great deal of peace and excitement, I’d like you to know that my
journey in this crazy life is taking me in a new direction. Over the
last six months or so, I’ve had a sense that Jesus was preparing me for
a life outside of SpringHill. The time has come. My time at SpringHill
has been a leg of the journey that has matured me, grown me, encouraged
me, stretched me, and help define who I was in Jesus in many ways. You
all have had such an integral part in my life, it will be impossible in
limited human language to express my heart felt love and gratitude that
you have shown me, but mostly in the sacrifice of your service and work
on behalf of Christ and Kids.
Top 5 Questions I anticipate:
5. What will you do next?
I have no idea…. While many opportunities are before me, I have not
chosen a definite direction, and am even looking forward to taking time
away to consider many of the things that have caught my attention and
interest. What does a weekend off look like? The opportunities range
from joining other youth oriented ministries to tour managing some
bands… but don’t worry the Girls Gone Wild Cougar Edition has fallen
4. Do you realize this is the craziest month in time to quit your job?
Yeppers. The peace however that is in me is overwhelming. God’s got
something and I can’t wait to see what it is.
3. Will you miss me?
Yes, specifically you. But don’t worry, I will continue to Facebook,
email, text, and use my phone. Don’t be offended if I don’t call you
back… I don’t call people back now…
2. Are you moving?
Yes. By the end of the month, I will be out of my house and into my Kia.
Current plans are Nashville, but may change to Indy or wherever…
1. Is this goodbye forever?
Once someplace is your home, there is no goodbye forever. It’s a “see
you later” for now, with a hint of definite paths crossing, topped with
the SpringHill Compound in Heaven.
Impact is a funny word, I think. And it’s really not used as much in any circle (I think) than how much it’s used in the Christian realm.
If anything, I’m more fascinated by what people are impacted by. Things that seem insignificant or strange to you have the most profound “impact” on someone else.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard stories from students who have remembered something from 4 to 6 years ago and remember it better than I can remember if I ate breakfast yesterday. For instance, I was chatting with a student and her leader last night and she begged me for the “Oven Dance.” The Oven Dance was 15 seconds of an improv sketch… seriously 4 years ago… but yet, she knew the entire story, and why it even existed.
And it really only exists because Trina, Ben and Al think it’s funny to make me inanimate objects during improv games and during our rendition of Hansel and Gretel, I was … the OVEN. So in order to get hot, I needed to do the oven dance. Ridiculous really.
Her leader mentioned that his favorite memory was a talk show several years ago we did about body image. I had forgotten all about it, but in talking with them I remember that it was the only time I ever said anything that wasn’t “facilitating” the conversation. The question came up during the panel, “You seem to be very confident with your self image… is that just a stage thing or is it for real?”
I remembered the question made me feel like every spotlight in earth focused straight on my head and the room was eerily quiet. I remember the feeling I had as I was about to answer . . . I was about to be brutally honest.
Here was my answer (from what I remember of it): I have always been “chubby.” In fact every woman in my family has struggled with their chubbiness. My mom had gastric bypass surgery and so did my sister. I also remember comments being said to me like, “if your not careful, you’ll end up just like mom.” I also remember how that impacted me. I was crushed that my “worth” was wrapped in my appearance. Then something deep inside of me resonated, “My worth has nothing to do with my appearance.” And I am positive at such a young age the Holy Spirit was protecting my heart and my mind from the lies of this world. I remember telling myself that day, if I choose to make a lifestyle change and “get skinny,” it will have nothing to do with because the world told me too, but because I have taken an active responsibility for my health. I firmly believe that if the “lies of the world” had set in, there would be no way that I could do what I do. Even for that I thank God for allowing me to not succumb to those, but seek earnestly to find my worth in Him.
I forget that “impact” takes mere moments. It’s a really convicting reminder.
These are the days I really love my job:
In Genesis 2:16, God tells ADAM not to eat from the tree of Good and Evil. (Eve doesn’t even exist yet) I find it interesting in Genesis 3:2 when Eve tells the serpent what God said. “‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Here’s what I find interesting and potentially a little funny. Can you imagine Adam telling Eve about the tree? So they are running around looking at different things in the garden and Eve becomes enamored with this tree. Adam tells her what God says and seeing that what God said doesn’t really take with Eve, he says, “You know what? Don’t even touch it.” Adam knew us women well. I’m pretty sure that went away with the fall.
Here’s something else about the story in the garden I find interesting: (Just a warning to my “heretic friends,” I’m not crossing over, I’m just thinking aloud.) A question was posed, “Did Adam and Eve understand God’s warning about the tree?” [the fact that it would bring death] And as I was reading this passage, the thought occurred to me. Did Adam and Eve even understand DEATH?
At this point in the garden, everything was alive and perfect. Even Adam and Eve were “constructed” to live forever. How would this concept of death even begin to strike fear? They’ve never seen it, nor was there anyone that could attest to it. How typically human is that? There are things that we are consistently warned about, but because we’ve never seen it or witnessed it – it doesn’t take. Does anyone really understand cancer until they’re faced with it? Does anyone understand, really understand a degenerative disease until they are confronted with it? Does anyone really understand the consequences of our actions today on future generations? Does Experience actually mean enlightenment on some twisted level of humanity?
“Experience what you don’t know.” “See what you are missing out on.” It’s the lie that human kind has been feeding on since the beginning of time.
Interesting . . .
Here’s the gig: I’m going to write for the next five minutes and whatever comes out, comes out. Hopefully, I don’t get interupted. (I will take an extra minute or so to edit – I just got IMed)
I just got home and I realized I’m not ready to be home yet
Lost starts at 9 and I’m willing to boot people off of the TV
I got IMed Again (7:32 – pause)
Keith Conner said last weekend that he has to go through the “after summer depression” – I think I need to allow myself to do the same.
I really like hanging out with my brother.
I really like his new wife.
I really like my family. I’m amazed we have survived.
I got IMed again (7:35)
I’m REALLY REALLY REALLY excited about Teen Retreats
I’ve been collecting pieces from the McDonald’s game and I thought I lost them, but I found them so now I’m ok
I probably should just ask him to hold on a sec, but we’re talking about WTRs and I love that.
I move back to michigan next weekend. Can’t tell you for sure how I feel. Sorta happy, Sorta glad, sorta annoyed.
Kinda bummed Bill’s not going to be here when I leave. Tempted to leave earlier, but don’t know if I will be packed.
I really hate moving.
I really like Nashville. get very excited whenever I go, hate leaving.
I got my camera back – charged me a lot of money for dropping it.
Having a hard time sleeping through the night
Nashville makes me think I’m ready for something new.
Really want to go back to school.
Need to plan out packing my office.
Sent one of my guitars to MI to make room – little stressed about that decision.
Watched Over the Hedge. Kinda wish I could stop time.
Sometimes, I just need to puke out everything that is going through my head, so I can move on to something else. Moving on. Will post pictures soon of Glenn’s new house and wife.