Above: Wellington, getting ready to board the ferry to the South Island, the "land of opportunity."
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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:
Work (12/29/10 UPDATE ... I NOW HAVE A JOB AT A VINEYARD, PRAISE GOD, THANKS FOR PRAYING!!!)
Men's Resident assistant
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