Thursday, December 30, 2010


YES, I have one. Praise God! Thank you to those who prayed.

It happened like this: Tuesday, sent 9 personalized emails out to 9 farms at 5:30pm.... Wednesday at 9:58 am received a call from a farmer offering me a job.... Thursday at 5:45 am, wide awake getting ready to work at Zebra Vineyard... 7am that same morning, working hard in a breezy 85 degree heat : )

This is hugely fortunate, as a rather unfortunate rain made all the local cherries swell and explode. A bad crop means that vast numbers of workers from various farms in the area are being let go of, while the grapes are thriving! Due to this surplus of workers, I'm extremely blessed to have a job right now as competition is fierce.

I currently have $4,000 in savings which is halfway to the finish line for Fall 2011! I have a little over a month and a half to earn another $4 grand. Keep that number in your prayers.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Green Acres, the place to be....

Above: Wellington, getting ready to board the ferry to the South Island, the "land of opportunity."
NEW NZ PHOTOS! Check link to the right---->

Merry Christmas all! Last week has been a whirlwind of learning and new experience. Life is good and things are smoothly moving along, praise the lord.

Life changed abruptly as left Auckland last Tuesday and I will bring you up to speed on what occurred over that week as quickly as possible. On Tuesday night Lachlan and Anna Gordon, with myself left to Lake Taupo where I slept in the van near the water. The next day we made the trip to windy Wellington (bottom of the north island) to wait for the ferry to come in. In the spare hour a had I made my way through the quaint city, visiting some of the shops that had the best Christmas eye-candy in the window (Cervelo carbon fiber tt bikes!). Cruising down the street I noticed an adult store drawing nearer to my line of site, at which I had to make the concious decision to look down at my feet... shortly thereafter I found myself floating in the air! A quick survey towards the ground revealed long hair and a trendy beanie in which I though to myself: " I know that trendy beanie!" - "James! I exclaimed." Within twenty minutes of being in a major NZ city I had found an old friend from Laidlaw (who was not shopping at the adult store) took me on a lovely tour of his city, leading me to another Laidlaw student that was doing outreach work downtown. Had a smashing time and possibly one of the better action packed hours of my life in NZ until the ferry came, upon which I watched a gorgeous sunset from the stern.

Thursday morning, after spending the night in quiet Picton, we picked up a German hitch-hiker named Toby as we cruised down the stunning coast with geographic features similar to California (Mom and Dad you would love it.) we stopped off in Christchurch where we bid Toby farewell. Christchurch is a stunning city, with a fun market where musicians and aspiring actors share their trade. Before night fall we made are way to Dunedin to spend the evening with Anna's parents farm who are successful hydroponic lettuce growers. I was invited in for tea and given a comfortable bed to stay in at this well kept farming estate.

The morning of Friday the 24th we made our way to Lachlans family dairy farm on the other side of Dunedin. I had a full tour of the farm, a fantastic dinner with selection that only a proper farmer can provide before the candle light service at a rustic country church, with a good deal of charm.

Christmas morning brought on a vicious onslaught of raspberry waffles, which I gave my best at defeating, but alas, was conquered. It was fun spending time with this family, but I couldn't help feeling empty and alone somewhere deep down in my heart as I longed to be with my American family and friends. To be candid, the backdrop to this was a deep rooted feeling of spiritual unrest. Even after teaching John 1 to my junior high students the previous Sunday I was wrestling with the impossibility of the virgin birth and incarnation of God. Towards the end of the year at Laidlaw I had some deeper questions about the atonement, and what Christ really achieved on the cross, and during this last week- the loneliness, theological questions, certain ministry frustrations and emotions compounded into a single force. To continue on in this story, I need to rewind a bit to Christmas Eve, where I met a guy named Zane that had embraced satan as his guide to spite his overbearing Christian parents, he has since found Christ and had his heart transformed. I found myself engaging him in a very "David" way bringing the convo to Christ, but for the first time, I found myself being ministered to as I asked him why he believed in Christ. His answer was short and to the point, to paraphrase him, "it was like a dark weight lifted from me." After the Christmas Eve service, I retired to my room in which I found Lee Strobles book, 'The Case for Christ' , sitting alone on the top shelf. I had been praying pretty passionately, and I figured this book was from God to me at that moment. The book answered some of my deepest questions that had come up over the year and in just the previous days leading up to this moment in time. The reason I share this is that I know that it's not just me who struggles with faith at times- if your currently in this boat, Lee's book might warrant a read.

Fast forward again to Christmas, after dinner, the family began unwrapping presents and to see the joy on the childrens faces for the gifts they received was nothing short of therapeutic for my worn out heart. I shortly found out that the family had presents wrapped for me under the tree! I had no idea that was the case, and as I ripped the wrapping paper my outlook began to change. I think God used that small token of love to nurse me back to the reality of what it means to be in relationship with him. Subsequently, I read the Case for Christ cover to cover and I'm now working through some of Spurgeons selected works which have challenged me... ok now back the weeks narrative, that was a significant side story though : )

Sunday morning allowed a decent sleep in as there was no church, and for the first time in my life I participated in the milking of cows! What a experience! I have so much respect for the hardworking dairy farmers. JJ, a farmhand, and I milked 400+ head of cattle in a couple hours, and throughout those hours I did my very best to avoid the explosive, waterfall-torrent-esque-fecal/urine-matter-explosion, that is a cows rear end. After a few unsuccessful attempts of hooking up the suction cups to the cows teets, JJ showed me the ropes, and I was away. Looking back, it was an enjoyable time, but I will leave it to the pros and just buy my milk from Safeway (thank you very much).

Monday and Tuesday were significantly more sanitary as Lachlan and Anna showed me around Dunedin, which smacks of the university town Bellingham in Washington. Dunedin, being a university town in its own rite, had a special character and feel to it. I might be able to live in this town. Monday night the Gordon family helped me get in tune with their (proud) Scottish heritage as I sipped whiskey from the homeland, and smoked a cigar near an open fire, underneath the tranquil Dunedin night skyline. Good conversation and ideal weather made it a perfect night for roasting marshmellow and lighting off a few fireworks.

Today is the last day of relative vacation like bliss, Lachlan+Anna and I leave for Cromwell early in the morning where I will start working again lord willing. Pray for me to get a job. I put my application in with 9 farms so all I can do now is follow up with them. Christmas in summer is about the least appealing thing I can think of, but this one has proved awesome, as God has been with me every step of the way.

Quick prayer list:

School scholarship
Men's Resident assistant
Increased faith


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winds of change.

Life in New Zealand is changing quite rapidly. After unsuccessfully landing a steady job for the summer holiday in Auckland, on Tuesday night I will be moving to Christchurch, the land of opportunity, the place where fruit picking and pastures abound. I will be experiencing my first Kiwi Christmas with my married friends Lachlan and Anna and their family in Otago. No work has been secured there as of yet (the previous plan that is now a bit up in the air) so your prayers are greatly needed.

It's a strange thing to be away from family and friends over Christmas, the last few weeks have taken there toll. I couldn't put my finger on why I was so homesick, but now I think I can fully attribute that to the lack of Facebook and the instant disconnect from life in Washington. On the bright side, I got to experience a little of winter in Cadburys Chocolate publicity stunt called "Winter in the park," where participants enter into a giant climate controlled snow-globe that produces artificial snow from the ceiling. It helped ease some of my pain : )

I had been praying for 2-3 months about being able to attend one of my closest friends wedding in Guatemala, and today it didn't quite happen. Judah and Mary I wish you the best future possible and it grieves me that I won't be there.

Thank you all for the continued prayers and support. So far this Summer I have saved $3,000 NZD which is only about $750 off the halfway point. I was able to apply for a scholarship through Laidlaw this year and if you would pray that the selecting committee would be abnormally favorable with my application, that would be fantastic. I'm fully trusting God even amidst the emotional ups and downs. I was accepted into Laidlaws program on May 13th, 2009 - and God has taken care of me since that date with school and I know that even in dark times life has always worked out for me up until this very moment in time. In Christ, all of my hope rests.

I hope everyone takes a moment out to truly celebrate the incarnation, when the God that created the entire universe took on flesh. Wow, just let that marinate in for a second. I hear that so much that sometimes the gravity of Jesus being God is lost on me. God walked around on earth experiencing joy and heartbreak, just as we do today. The Logos that spoke the universe into existence became flesh... seriously blows my mind. This is what we celebrate and remember.

I have been in New Zealand just two weeks shy of 1 year and this will be my last blog entry of the year. Alot has happened in this one year and there is much to look forward to next year. Along with my being on the student council, I was asked to consider being the resident assistant (RA) for the men's dormitories on the Laidlaw campus. This potential opportunity excites me and your prayers are coveted for this as well.

Merry (May the God of the universe who took on Flesh, bless you and your family as you remember and celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus) Christmas,


Miss all you DCC Junior Highers/Highschoolers, I cherish the emails you send.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tis the season.

There is nothing quite like 70+ degree weather to stunt the Christmas season vibe. This is my second summer Christmas, and they are not what they are cracked up to be (like the Corona commercials would lead you to believe). As of recently this summer holiday, I have played the role of 'Santas little helper,' packing and mailing toys to all over New Zealand and Australia. I have found it quite interesting to see the inner-workings of small business, namely a online based toy shop.

Many neat things have occurred recently in church and school life. My final scores came back the other day and it looks like I pulled through with 3x B+'s and a single A. I'll take it. At Church, the prep and planning stages of establishing contact then bringing a team to the missionaries living in Rakiraki Fiji, is well underway. A couple emails to DCC's team back home put me in touch with the heart and ministry model for Montana, which I will try to incorporate into ABC's overseas mission model. Please continually pray for this process, it's exciting and daunting at the same time.

Random news that's cool to me (and possibly me alone : )

-Sold my Kona touring bike on NZ's version of Ebay for more than I (my mother) bought it for then bought a meticulously kept Giant OCR2 racing bike with carbon fiber forks/stem etc. This trade simultaneously allowed me to stack some cash away in the bank for school and buy a meannnn bike.

Prayer requests:

-Work, post December 20th
-My leadership with the Junior High and High school students here in Avondale. I finished a book called "Contemplative Youth Ministry" by Yaconelli and I was challenged to shake up the way I have been doing things for the last few years.... pray for discernment.

Now for something completely unrelated, half a reflection:

I was listening to the radio today (a practice that rarely to never, occurs in NZ) and I started focusing on the pop lyrics to a song, "I want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world, like the only one you've ever loved." It went on to suggest a less romantic premise of a spectacular, other worldly, one night stand, that would fix her seemingly endless quest for love. I have heard it said, "sin is a legitimate need met in a illegitimate way," and this seemed like the poster song to that statement. Genuine  relationship is so powerful, humans crave this love and attention but don't know where to find it. It seems pop music can be like a thermometer dipped into a specific culture, exposing its guts. I don't have any particularly deep insight to leave you with, I guess though, my heart just goes out to her. What a sad place to be. Maybe in that self-inflicting search of hers she will find true love that lasts a lifetime. All I can say is: what a good, faithful and loving God we serve,  I'm glad my search ended some 3+ years ago now. I can't imagine what life would look like outside of the reality that is the risen Christ now.