I hope that you all are doing well. I am now in my third month in New Zealand and I feel like I have finally settled in. I was told before I left home that New Zealand was a very friendly country, and that certainly has proven to be true. So many people have welcomed me and helped me to adjust to everyday life here in Auckland. I know already, that this experience is going to leave me with many good memories, new friends, and new knowledge.
A typical week for me here in Auckland begins with worship service on Sunday morning. I usually get to the church at 9:00 AM to help get ready for service. Our service begins at 10:00 AM, and about 160-170 people come to worship. I have helped with our services in various ways, such as helping to serve communion, greet people at the door,and help set up the café for morning tea. On some Sundays, I help with the children’s church for the under 5 age group. I enjoy this a lot because I was working as an assistant pre-school teacher last year after graduation from college. It also reminds me of my sweet little nephews back home. After church I will usually go home and get ready for the week, and do things like wash my laundry, grab groceries, and take an afternoon nap😊, and go on outings with some of the church members. This past Sunday, I got to attend East City Wesleyan’s Family Picnic, and it was a lot of fun to be with my church family here.
During the week, I help with a variety of different things. On most days, I arrive at the church between 9:45-10:00 am. I may work in the office, helping with paperwork, filing, and typical business type tasks. I also work with the children’s program on Friday’s and help with the Playgroup that ECW has called “Sing and Sprout”, where we engage with the children by singing songs with them, playing games, and showing them Christ's love through unique activities. On some Tuesdays, Friday's and Saturday’s, I have been working in the Hope Shop at East City Wesleyan, which is a community outreach that sells goods and clothing to individual's near by at a reasonable cost, while also sharing Christ with the people we meet.
Fridays are busy days because we have the Youth Group that meets from 7:00 – 10:00 PM. I arrive for youth around 6:00 pm and make sure that the tables are set up,and wiped down, and that the chairs are all set for youth. During youth we have worship around 8:00 pm, and then the message not long after that. This past Friday the youth and leaders got to have a Q and A with one another, and a couple of Friday’s ago I spoke on leaving our past behind to focus on our future , which sparked some really good discussion among the youth and leaders.
I have also been participating in the young adult group which meets every other Monday night at 7:30 pm-9:30 pm. We have been focusing on a series called “ The Story”, which is the same series we are doing each Sunday at church. This series is really good in that it get’s us to look deeper into our stories in the connections they have to scripture. This past Friday we discussed Moses and the story of Pharaoh and God was telling Moses to tell Pharaoh to let his people go. Like many of us when God wants us to do something scary , Moses was not to sure about this, but when he trusted in God everything turned out for his good.
I have also had the chance to participate in a lot of different special events or gatherings with my church family. That might include going to a child’s birthday party (one was a traditional Maori style party), a church-sponsored classic car show, picnics, beach outings, and other things. A few weeks ago, I went on an all-day hike with the youth group. It was a long hike, but the waterfall that we saw at the end, definitely made it worthwhile!
Mondays and Saturdays are my scheduled days off, and I have just recently started exploring new things, such as taking the Ferry into Auckland City. I am from a small town, so learning to use the public transportation systems in a big city was a bit scary at first, but now I am enjoying it and it has opened up new opportunities. For example, yesterday, I took the bus by myself into the city to visit a church member in the hospital in downtown Auckland.
I have enjoyed the new relationships that I am building and the ministry opportunities that those relationships have provided.
I am also beginning to see that mission work sometimes leads us to unexpected encounters that I like to refer to as “God Things”. For example, this past week, as I was riding the bus, I saw a girl crying a couple of seats behind me, so I decided to go ask her what was wrong. It turned out that she had just lost her job. At first, I just told her I was so sorry, but then I felt the urge to ask her if I could pray with her, and the next thing I knew she grabbed my hand and we prayed together. At that moment I realized something, and that was that God is using me even in small ways to help share his love with people that I encounter along the way, here in New Zealand.
The next day, I was approached by a young woman sitting next to me on the bus, who began to tell me about some difficult things she had been going through. She shared with me that she struggled with partial deafness, and we were able to make a personal connection about dealing with challenges. After talking a bit, we prayed together, and it became another “God Thing”, and I Invited her to church. I may never see these two individuals again, but they impacted my week last week and for that, I am truly blessed.
I think that by stepping a little bit outside of my comfort zone, venturing into the city, and talking with the people I encounter has been a good thing. I feel like God is using me in small ways that I never imagined. I am beginning to see that we all have the ability to push past multiple kinds of challenges through prayer and trust. God has great plans for me and for you!
Thank you to all of my friends, family, financial supporters, and prayer partners. You all mean so much to me and I feel very blessed. I do miss my friends and family (especially my sweet boyfriend Alex). Sending my love and prayers to all of you!
Greetings from New Zealand! I arrived safely at the Auckland airport at 5:45 am on New Year’s Eve day after a 33-hour journey from Knoxville-Atlanta-San Francisco- to Auckland. My travel went well, and I was very happy to be greeted with a “welcome home” and hugs from the East City Wesleyan (ECW) Church ministry team. We gathered for a McDonald’s breakfast and then headed on to the Millington’s house, where I will be staying. On the ride there, I was able to soak in the beauty of God’s creation around me. I loved feeling the warmth of the sun as we walked to our destinations. After settling into my room, I quickly made friends with “Lloyd”, the resident bunny! I was able to meet more people from the church during a nice 11:00 pm New Year’s Eve service. I immediately felt the Holy Spirit as I entered the doors of East City Wesleyan. I can already tell that ECW will be very special to me in the months to come! I feel so very blessed that Christ has given me the opportunity to help spread his love to the people here.
On Wednesday, I kicked off the new year with a trip to a beach close by called Eastern Beach. The beach was beautiful, but the water was pretty cold, so you had to move around to get warmed up. While there, we all enjoyed some hot chips (French Fries) and enjoyed fellowship together. I had another fun day on Thursday when the Bowlin family invited me to visit the Hamilton Gardens which was beautiful. I loved smelling the roses and seeing the unique attributes of each flower. After the gardens, we had a treat a Duck Island Ice Cream. Friday evening was my first time to meet with the ECW youth group that I will be working with. I enjoyed playing a game with them called fruit salad and learning some about each of them. We had a good time worshipping and then got to share our New Year’s goals with one another. It was a great night and I am really looking forwarding to working with everyone here. Today (Saturday) I am looking forward to meeting Eliza (the other WME Resident in Mission) for the first time when we meet to do some planning for an upcoming youth camp.
I hope all who are keeping up with me, have a Happy New Year filled with many blessings. Thank you for all your prayers as I begin this new journey.
Today was a special day. I was honored to be commissioned for my upcoming RIM assignment during the 8:45 and 11:00 worship services at my home church, Central United Methodist Church in Lenoir City, TN. It meant so much to have my home congregation pray for me and lay on hands as a blessing, as I prepare for my departure for New Zealand in just a few more weeks. It was great to have Rev. Rob Haynes, Director of Education and Leadership for World Methodist Evangelism join us from out of town. I have been working with Rob through phone calls and emails for almost a year, but today was the first time that we had been able to meet face-to-face. I appreciated so much that several of my family members and friends, including my boyfriend Alex, were able to be at the service to support me. Rob talked with our church a bit about the significant need for ministry in New Zealand. It was good to hear more details about what to expect. There will be so many new experiences and a lot of unfamiliar things along the way. I know that everything is in God’s hands and I have faith that He will guide me in this journey. I will be leaving very early in the morning on December 29th. It will be a 34-hour trip (including layovers) and I will arrive in time to ring in the new year in Auckland. I am excited about meeting my new friends and ministry partners in New Zealand. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for all of us! I want to thank everyone that has supported me through prayer and as well as financial support. It means so much to know that you are with me! I promise to keep you updated on how things are going.
My name is Annie Kate Leinius, and I would like to invite you to follow along with me as I travel to New Zealand to serve as the 2020 Resident in Mission for World Methodist Evangelism. I feel blessed to have this opportunity to share my faith with others and to also learn and grow in my own spiritual journey.
I will be headed to New Zealand right after Christmas, where I will be serving with the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand until August 2020. I hear that New Zealand is a very beautiful country full of wonderful people, and I am looking forward to new experiences and making new friends. I also hear that it is a very secular country, where almost half of the population claims to have no religion. I am praying that in some small way, I might be able to make a difference by spreading the good news that Jesus Christ is here for all of us.
I am setting up this blog so that I can share my experiences with my friends, family, and prayer partners. Please check out the other tabs at the top of this site for more information about World Methodist Evangelism, the RIM program, and my personal journey to follow God’s plan for my life. More to come soon!
Blessings to all,