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!