Above: View from SkyTower
What a truly amazing weekend. On Thursday I walked across the street from my house to visit Avondale Baptist Church (ABC... how cool is that acronym!) - the front office was closed as its summer holiday , so I emailed what I thought was the secretary and the Pastor responded warmly as did an elder of the church as well. That was quite a surprise. I'm looking forward to my meeting with the Pastor tomorrow (Monday) at 11. I'm excited to start getting plugged in here to the church local before school starts. It seems as the plan to evangelize with a friend* from the States didn't work out but new things I couldn't have expected to happen are coming into place.
* Due to the nature of where this friend is, his name has been changed for his protection*
I met up with Josh Best this weekend in downtown. We did some touristy things like go to the top of the Sky Tower which looks like a giant hypodermic needle... and normally I hate needles but this one was OK in my book. Quite amazing actually. From there we proceeded to "Burger Fuel" and we each ate a famous half-kilo burger that was a true monster complete with : beet roots , mango , onion , bacon , ham , guacamole , lettuce , tomato and pickles... truly an ambitious culinary feat. Wow. After that we walked to "One Tree Hill" which now doesn't have a tree on it after some vandalism. On this Hill that was originally a volcano you could see all of sprawling Auckland. I have come to the realization that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world- Auckland boasts 30? volcanoes that make for grassy islands with houses all over them. Climbing this hill I couldn't help but feel like Frodo- but instead of fighting off wraiths to deliver the ring to the top of mordor we had to dodge a horde of wild sheep. I believe anyone from Northern California or Washington could really appreciate the landscape and weather here. After that we came back to his flat which he shares with 4 girls and 2 guys (all but one was a christian! neat group) and watched the Disney movie Aladdin which I had no idea I could still quote almost the whole thing even after not seeing it for 14 years? Great times .
Saturday Josh and I walked to his work upon arriving I was asked if I wanted to life guard for under the table cash that day as one of the guards was drunk. I thought it was bizarre that they would allow any guy off the street to guard- then I realized that all pools in NZ are a "swim at your own risk" event and guards cannot be sued if someone dies. That is very foreign to me . Josh (and I) having a standard Red Cross Life Guard training would put us ahead of 90% of the NZ "LifeGuard" staff. I had a blast lifting+running and swimming all day , I even met a few interesting "believers" outside the center in the park as I ducked out for an hour to listen to a sermon... I have since found out that it was an occult that approached me. At the pool I met some really neat Christians that shared with me the ropes of getting visas and my residency here. Very encouraging. Josh and us cooked up a feast that night and checked in early.
Today (Sunday). Most amazing day since my arrival. I went with Josh, Rebekah and Yuri to The Tabernacle Baptist Church or Tab as they call it and enjoyed the fellowship of Kiwi believers. It felt awesome to worship God! During the service we stopped and grouped up to pray for Haiti (2 years ago I met the directer of Yele Haiti relief program sitting next to me on my flight back from Guatemala and I emailed him today to encourage him as he was interested in God) and asked God for lives to be spared and the gospel spread. The pastor also announced a Church pic-nic following the service... After walking a kilometer to the park where the lunch was being hosted I found out shortly that it was a International Students lunch , but I was invited to stay. I talked with a woman named Lin (from Malaysia) that began to explain to me that this was an outreach to international students- what she didn't know was I was apart of this same thing in Port Angeles , using the gospel to teach students English. I was overwhelmed with awe of God! Even around the world I can't escape his plan for me. Lin began to tell me who the leaders where.... one of them included my future missions Professor at Laidlaw, Gordon that just so happens to be my neighbor in Avondale. We talked about God and my journey here and all the miracles to this point that have occured to get me here. I was so excited! After the convo I started mingling with the Asian students making friends with my terrible Chinese skills (that they acted impressed with). Incredible day! After the lunch was over Gordon drove me home and we talked about the condition of the Church universal and ministry. I keep seeing Gods hand in my life every step of the way , from provisions of a house to the incredible people I meet. God has stuff going on and now its seems the adventure just kicked into high gear. WOW. Sorry this is long (to those that made it). God has been teaching and revealing Himself to me in a beautiful way as He prunes the sin/junk from my life - like me worrying about how everything would work out here. That worrying showed that deep down that I still have issues of pride in my heart to deal with. After this last week I have learned that I need to completely trust in Him even when all looks like its lost. Im resting in this and His love and provisions are shining full brighter than ever as I continue to die (painfully) slowly to myself.
As I learned in Sequim and PA I can take on abunch of "good causes" and burn myself out so I count myself blessed that I have no expectations or commitments to any ministries in my life as no one knows me here. It provides a sweet opportunity to sit back (for a mere moment) and ask God , "what was I born to do, and where do you want me." The international student ministry seems like more than a perfect fit to my life and the fact that I was involved in that ministry back home and have lived/traveled in Asia giving me some credibility. But does that make it something I should commit to? That is me though , Im going to pray and ask God if this is where He wants for me to do lest I take on a "good cause".
... Friends? - is that to much to ask for? haha