Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, Endless Possibilities.

Above: My best Julie Andrews impersonation on New Years Eve.

More than 100 new photos have been uploaded to the Cromwell 2012 Link on the right for your enjoyment. They range from Laurens arrival, Christmas on the Farm to New Years Eve in Queenstown.

On Sunday December 31st Lauren and I packed our communal bag and headed to Queenstown, aware that all accommodation was booked in the city. Lauren and I said I quick prayer as we walked to my prized hitch-hiking spot for this and safety among other things. This was her first time ever hitching and I assured her that everything would be good. It took all of 4 minutes to get picked up by a middle age woman in a camper van with 4 'yapper' dogs. Phew. Laurens tension nearly followed her hair out the car window as we enjoyed the sunny ride into Qtown with the windows down. Our host couldn't drop us all the way there but brought us to a good spot some 5 miles outside of town. It just so happened that our next ride was a mid-20's female from Christchurch (that wanted to get away from all the earthquakes) that knew of available camping in the area. We got dropped off on the towns rugby field, paid our money to the man at the gate and then set up my tent with a 1000+ of our closest friends. This was a relief to me as I was responsible for the groups well being could rest knowing that we had secured a place to lay our heads when the night was over.

After a beautiful Fergburger dinner on the waterfront we watched the opening bands play on Queenstowns mainstage. The first band up was the worship team from Freedom Church. I knew Pastor Alister wouldn't be to far away scanning the crowd. We enjoyed the mainstream+ subversive worship music at this public venue and after some minutes I found the Pastor and his wife, introducing my sister to them as we all sat together. We then made our way up at 9:30 to the Gondola which elevated us up to the highest point in Qtown where we walked around the sprawling hills and embraced the sunset. Awe inspiring beauty. Unbelievable. Cruisen' our way into the Gondola Center where the New Years party was heald we were greeted with a assortment of all you can eat cheeses and a fantastic cover band named Mojo. Cheese and music followed by dancing the night into the New Year and the fireworks show took place. Towards 12:30am we took the Gondola back into the city and were assaulted with more drunk folks and personalities then I could point a stick at. We enjoyed some great dubstep/trance/techno drum and bass type music until 1 then called it a night after watching people vomit lost all its appeal.

Rule #484: When camping with 1000+ of your closest friends, be prepared to not get any sleep. I only had a single man tent (my ultra-light travel necessity) so I rigged the rain shield over the tent itself and into some flax bushes to provide me with some level of shelter. We survived the night. 

Breakfast on the 1st was followed by a quick hitching journey home and Laurens views on hiking in this fashion might have changed. So much fun.


A Theological New Years and Christmas reflection:

Farmer Bob woke up that fine day at the same time he did every other day, 4:45am. He had been feeding Chicken Jim, without fail at 5:30am shortly after the moment Jim broke through his white shell barring him from the wide the world. Day after day, Jim ate his fill at the hand of Bob until he was content and satisfied. All Jim knew was the hand that brought him nourishment, day after day after day. On this particular day as Bob rose and Jim's great expectations were aroused, Farmer Bob did something that Jim had never ever in his existence prior experienced. Farmer Bob unsuspectingly wrung Chicken Jim's neck to make food for his family. Until this moment, the chicken could have never even comprehended that this could have been a possibility. Jims reality was changed (albeit briefly) forever. In the same radical manner, the seemingly closed world that  Jesus entered as a child had only known and comprehended life and it's end in a single way. When you died, you stayed dead. That was the reality that all the world had known, but Christs rising changed all that. Forever.

Of all the Christianese terms that get thrown out there, 'born again' could be one of the least understood. It can sound like a very abstract litmus Christianity test of sorts that is rarely qualified with a clarifying statement... I'm not saying I have the market covered on understanding this beautiful thing, but let's take a look at this in light of God entering into our world as defenseless baby. When I observe babies (at a safe distance), the first thing that I notice is that they bring nothing to the table, they are highly demanding and they can smell unpleasant but that's besides the point. We all know that babies are unable to do anything on their own without the loving care of a parent. They would die without the daily resources provided to them by those with the means to provide. Recent natal psychology has shown how intrinsic external sources are to a babies temperament and awareness of the world. Babies actually can't regulate their emotions without the (for example) help of someone other than themselves (General Theory of Love, 2007). Without love, they will die. When a baby falls down, it will look to her loving mother for a response. If the mother grimaces in pain, rushing to the child the baby will cry, on the other hand if the mother smiles knowing that the fall wasn't harmful the child might giggle. In this way she learns her place in the world.

As Jesus grew he perfectly responded to the external love of his Heavenly Father. He trusted in the Father with a perfect faith and grew strong and healthy. The faith that Jesus exhibited in God the Father was beyond what any of us are capable of as he was God and Man (Check out Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane!).By faith, we can enter into and participate in this loving relationship between God the son and God the father. Our faith in Jesus as he showed us the perfect faith in God the Father is what changes everything. Before we knew of Christ our earthly births were headed down a trajectory of death and separation. To be born again, is to have a radical transformation of all that we know and hold to be true. There are endless opportunities in the world competing for our collective affections, only one of them leads to life. If we as infants had a negligent mother who didn't understand what was good or bad, our foundation in what was good or healthy would be shaky. If we let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, teach us how to live we are doomed (Eph 2:1-6). When we are born again, we are 'reborn' into a new world of limitless love, where nothing is static. Forsaking all others (Mt 5:8) but seeking the face of the Father that perfectly loves us, for guidance is the only start that leads to life. When we come with faith as a child to the Father- a newborn, unable to care for ourselves or determine our own future, let alone the next few days- we are transformed. Infants come with empty slates. Previous failures and disappointments are non existent and hold no bearing over their lives. Everything is new, everything is fresh, we are ready to molded from the bottom up.

Christs life, death and resurrection are the most important things that have ever happened in our world. If someone truly rose from the dead, wouldn't what they said and did be of immeasurable importance? A baby that was born and never died changes everything. If this event is true, we can hold on to the promises this child made. Everything changes. The resurrection shattered (or clarified) all false ideas that humanities previous reality held. Before Christ rose, we couldn't possibly understand this glorious outcome to our lives. We were just like the chicken in the sense that we were fully unaware of what truly lay ahead. Humanity, shaped by gospel reality  (1Cor 13), can now dream dreams, far grander than a static world could allow where the grave was the final destination. Through Christ, humanity has discovered that deaths victory and sting is no more. Christ the King, the infant child, has changed our world forever.

Merry Christmas, blessed day of the Saviors birth to all of those who are born again into this reality- and Happy New Year.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Above: While you all were opening presents Lauren and I were milking cows : ) Merry Christmas everyone and God bless, from Milton New Zealand.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

These pictures say more than a 1000...

Left: Lauren waiting in San Francisco, heading to Auckland.
Above: My welcome sign for Lauren

Above: Me leaving Cromwell for the airport
Right: My welcome sign for Lauren at the airport. 

Above: Queenstown with Lauren 

Above: Fergbakery having a pie and a Speights... Lauren looking sleepy.

 Above: Where bungee jumping was invented. The first in the world. 

Left: Gibbston Winery and Cheesery.

Above: Lauren loving the sun.

Above: Me posing.

Above: I took Lauren out for a quad bike ride tour (her first time ever) at Zebra Vineyard and we picked roses that are on the end of every row.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Times Like These.

Above:  6:52 am this morning, the sun breaks out from behind the clouds at Zebra Vineyard.

I love the holidays. These are times when the days get longer and hotter; quality time is spent with friends and family around the barbecue... that is, unless you are in the northern hemisphere where the complete opposite is true and most people are beginning to look more and more like the vampires found in Forks, deprived of life giving vitamin D. A notable person in particular has decided to trade the northern hemispheres snow for  southern sun- 9am this Thursday my sister lands at the Queenstown airport. Merry Christmas, to me!

Last weekend I was asked by my South Island hosts, the Pendreighs if I was keen to have a 20 something cyclist from Germany stay in the backyard guesthouse with me later that day. I was totally into it. I even cleaned my room. I met Rob and I instantly liked the guy. Easy to get along with and a very conversational traveler like myself- adhering to the same minimalist traveling/life tenets as mine, such as packing lite and only owning things you really need. He noticed my devotional book by (German martyr) Dietrich Boenhoeffer  that Wayne Yammamoto gave me upon my return to the states for surgery (nice one Wayne) and was impressed. Rob considered himself on a journey with God, but knew nothing of Jesus which became the main point of discussion for the next two days. He questioned me on my journey which allowed me to share my testimony and so much more. Some of the questions he asked me clicked in with some of the recent theological studying I had been doing and a few of my answers I gave back to him solidified some things in my faith that really encouraged me. During these summer breaks I find that some of my deepest times of wrestling with God come when things are quietest in my life and the pastoral care I exert is at a minimal point being away from Church and School. It was during a time like this that Christ met me yet again, through a unlikely source- a fellow traveler. Struggles remain, but the foundation in Christ is solid. I would imagine I'm not alone but there are times in life when you get so focused on a tree, or even a leaf, that you forget about the rest of the forest. Rob attended church with me the next day. In continuity with his ethos, he wasn't traveling with any dress shirts, and it just so happened that I had bought a nice shirt on Trademe so I let him borrow that for the service. I ended up giving it to him as it wasn't quite my style/size. More importantly though, I was able to give him a Gideon Bible, signing the the "From," section with a "David Piper." He was very thankful for both, one helping him in the short term- the other in the long, God willing.

Above: An exceedingly friendly Queenstown duck that didn't understand the, "excuse me I just met you, this is my personal bubble," spacial rules. It's like that person with bad breath that wants to tell you a secret. 

I bid (German) Rob farewell Sunday after church as I was leaving to Queenstown to yet again, pick up another item of bargain priced clothing. He was soooo close to accepting Christ so I continued praying for him even while journeying. I haven't heard anything more from Rob since, other than that he is now staying with other Christians connected to the Pendreighs in other Kiwi towns around the country. He is in good hands. 

If you remember back to a previous post, I met a guy that heard I was a youth minister up in Auckland while some kids were trying to get me to buy booze for them... well, I went to their church last Sunday. I have now found my "Upperroom" type Church in NZ. Highly missional, for people who don't normally like/attend church mixed with those that do. Worshipped my guts out, hands held high and heard a gripping yet simple message about Jesus. Over and over again, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Before the service I met the pastor and he sat down with me to talk about the heart and vision of the church. I will most definitely be attending again. After the service a middle age guy named Peter offered to drive me all the way home to Cromwell, I turned him down, but he insisted. Start to finish, that was a good weekend.

Left: Gotta love the glove tan line. 

 Above: Working in the freezing 60 degree rain this Wednesday. The day before was over 100, so this was a massive shock to the system.

I just completed a 6 day work week and I'm a shade above completely exhausted. After this blog, it's bedtime. Wednesday was a notable half day of work. The boss decided to move the company Christmas party to that day (out of nowhere) because the driving rain forced us out of the vineyard. At the end of the dinner party at a nice pub in Bannockburn, I was the only sober person left. One of my coworkers smashed his head on the pub van door that was going to take us home and blood was everywhere. I was able to organize medical supplies out of the pubs first aid kit to be johhny on the spot with my Red Cross first aid skills I learned at Firwood. The bleeding stopped and I patched him up after checking him for a concussion. You may or may not believe the stats I have heard on the amount of people that get fired for silly alcohol related behavior at company parties such as these, thankfully no one got fired.

Yesterday I met Avondale Baptists Church's new pastor (and my new boss) on Skype and I'm excited for the direction and vision he has. My prayer is that God is glorified and honored even more at our little Auckland church. Thank if you have been praying for this pastor searching process. Last summer I came back from Cromwell with no pastor, this summer I will come home with a new one. This, combined with the warm summer sun today and Laurens coming arrival on Thursday has left me feeling optimistic for the future.



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day Tripper

 Above: Zebra Vineyard

Like the Cheryl Crow song, I have been soaking up Central Otagos 85 degree sunshine all week. As a vineyard worker, my Portuguese skin just might be the darkest it has been in a long while. The days of work are long and good, I sure sleep well at night and that's no joke. Recently my sister Lauren has decided to make the 8,000+ mile journey down and visit her brother, here in Cromwell. I'm pumped up and have been anticipating her arrival since she mentioned it earlier this week.

Above: Glove tan line.

Even though Summer just went into full effect 3 days ago, it's the dreaded season of the lay-off. As the vineyards wind down on the prep work necessary to produce straight, healthy vines, people lose their jobs (most times temporarily) for a 2-3 week span until January when the vines have grown to full height. 10 days ago I was made crew supervisor of my Argentinian coworkers. There is no pay raise attached to this esteemed honor (sarcasm) just more responsibility and now what I have learned, job security. Starting last week, ethnic groups of people began to get laid off. You are probably thinking right now: “laid off by ethnic groups, what kind of racist farm is this?” - but rest assured that's not the case. Usually, groups of people from a specific country apply for jobs at Zebra Vineyard, then get laid off in the same fashion according to the overall groups perceived productivity. The (4) Argentinians were the first to go, then the (3) Malaysians on Tuesday which gave me a bit of a fright as there were only so many folks left. Then Thursday the (2) Czechs were told there was no work left as well as the (2) Chinese. 

On Thursday I was almost certain I would be in for a cut of sorts, maybe shorter term as I had seniority, but come Friday the boss told me that I would be the last temporary worker standing alongside the (2) year round middle aged Kiwi couple- possibly with work for the entire low season of now until a few days after Christmas. Praise God! On Friday I was given a unspoken compliment of being trusted to work completely alone for the first time ever with a empty vineyard as the boss left early to attend a charity golf event. I'm very thankful for the now* healthy body and ability to work. Ok, enough work stuff....

There is a NZ online classified section that is a hybrid between the highly regulated Ebay and the peer to peer easy going Craigslist called 'Trademe.' Dad imparted me with this intrinsic love of shopping around for the best prices to save money, on Trademe they are found. I have recently picked particular items based upon the location of the Trademe seller as an excuse to hitch-hike to/explore that town and meet its people. Last Saturday after winning two auctions for a guitar and pair of shoes collectively, I made the journey to Queenstown. I was picked up outside of Cromwell by 3 stoners in there beat up 4x4 truck that was living on a prayer. Cruising down the highway we only crossed the median a few times at highspeed until the truck began to sputter. The stonies were heading to Queenstown to get a new fuel filter and the engine wasn't getting the energy it need to continue forward. At one point the truck choked and sputtered- to which the driver responded by going off road on a dirt trail and doing donuts (cranking the steering wheel to one side and pushing the gas peddle to the floor causing the car to travel in a circular, donut like maneuver). The donut was only marginally successful so the passenger had to go underneath the car and manually pump the gas. We were on are way. Upon arrival in Queenstown, I bid them farewell had Venison and portabella mushroom sandwich for lunch (6 bucks dad!) then began to walk to the sellers house, who happened to be a friendly Brazilian guy. He and his sister tried to make me lunch etc, and we had a good conversation. I picked up the beautiful lightly used Vans shoes and headed on my way to collect my guitar. The guitar seller suggested we meet at the Liquor store to which I obliged. During this time my phone kept vibrating, but I was busy looking for the guy in the blue truck. I thought I found the seller, but it was actually a 16 year old student that tried desperately to convince me to buy him booze. I told him I was a youth pastor of sorts, but that before Christ had really changed my life, in high school my friends and I did something similar to what he was trying to do. I was beginning to share Christ with him when I was stopped by separate a car full of guys. They said “you're a youth pastor?,” and I explained to them what I do in Auckland with Bible College etc. I shortly found out that they too were Christians and invited me to church with them. Boom, instant 4 new friends! Fast forward 10 minutes, had my new guitar in hand and then checked my phones messages. Little did I know, I had overpaid the Brazilian guy and he asked me to come back over and get the cash that I left there. Coming back to his house, I found out more about his families history and that they were Christians... When I shared that I was one as well they invited me to dinner with them for legit Brazilian food. Hitch hiking back to Cromwell I was able to talk about Christ with a scientist and a doctor. It was a great day quick hitchhiking pickups, good food, great conversations and potentially 6 new friends.

Above: Wanaka 

As I type to you today I'm sitting on the stunning Wanaka waterfront for the first time, having hitched here to pick up a shirt with a Czech guy named Auto. What a great Saturday this has proved to be. After Church tomorrow I will be making authentic Chinese dumplings with my coworkers from Hong Kong. Catch yall soon.



Just made it home in a car driven by a Frenchman named Mikkel. he got a speeding ticket so I insisted on buying him dinner. After dinner he dropped me off at my house where I invited him in for tea. We (Pendreighs) collectively invited him to church tomorrow and a place to stay tonight but he turned down both. He was a really nice guy, hopefully the spontaneous hospitality made a impact on him- I was frustrated that I didn't have a Gideon Bible to give him...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving pt. 2

Above: What was left of Thanksgiving lunch on the Vineyard.

The Thanksgiving turkey/ham feast that I was able to bring for work really blessed everyone as I shared about the traditions beginnings. I was able to pray over the meal in English then a Catholic coworker named Mattias from Argentina prayed over it in Spanish. It was a great time and opened the door to some great conversations with my Chinese coworkers, it will be neat to see where this goes. I was praying that God would use this to open up doors, everyone loves free food.

Just a health update (these are becoming all to common now) , my lab results came back from the sores on my leg and it was 'Streptococcus pyogenes group A' I just finished the antibiotic treatment Friday. The sores are dead, some gone completely and some skin area is still healing, but I think it's all over. I didn't realize at the onset that what was visibly manifesting on my legs was also floating around in my body which would explain fatigue. This was the second and hopefully final installment of what Fiji has done to my body. Between this and the diarrhea, Fiji related sicknesses were a 6 week venture. Previous to this I had surgery after fighting parvovirus. The parvovirus alone can take months and months to recover from so even though my body looks good now, I should probably take things easy until the end of the year and not get sick to let my organs recover from fighting all of these illnesses. Thank you to those who are praying for my health, I'm not sure what this will all do to me long term.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011


 Above: The Fam.

There is so much to be thankful for. The wise Joe Walsh once said, “I can't complain but sometimes I still do... life's been good to me so far...” and I think most of us can resonate with Joe on that one. I thank God for my amazing family: Mike, Deanna, Lauren and for Dungeness Community Church, Upperroom, and Avondale Baptist Church... some of the best folks I know come from these places. I thank everyone for the continued support, encouraging emails, phone calls and most importantly your prayers. What a blessing this journey has been. I'm going to try to minimize complaining this year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,

Above: Complaining.

I typed the section below a few days ago as a reflection on previous months. It was one of those moments when your brain is so filled that stuff just needs to come out or you're going to explode. This is one of those explosions. I didn't post it earlier because I didn't like it, thinking I would come back and fix it... but today I decided to just leave it the way it is.

The only place of safety is where we faithfully live out the gospel in it's completeness. When we live out the gospel, we participate in the resurrection life of Christ. It's exciting to think about and proclaim the returning Christ when one day Heaven will be transfused with the Earth that God deemed good, very good. We need not forget though, the participation in the life of the cross, where we go through trials and explicitly put to death things in our lives that were already dead. Can't have one without the other, if you want to eat cake, you're going to have to eat some flour. Health and success aren't the locus or litmus test of Gods provision and blessing, do we only accept the good things that God has given us, then reject him when we face adversity? It's funny how when wrestling with whatever issue presents itself to us at the time, we can lose sight of the larger picture. When in pain or in suffering, sight becomes shortened, things look dismal. It was just one more issue dealing with a nasty skin condition that disheartened me, during that, I never ceased to praise the risen Christ. My hope for the future though was thwarted briefly as I couldn't look or plan past the sores on my legs. A philosopher I once read said that the absence of pain does not constitute pleasure, but a man in the midst of his suffering might truly think so. He would take what was considered normal as joy over whatever ails him. He can visualize the pleasure it would bring him to be free of his captor. Reflecting on this, I've come to thank God for the tremendous amount of normalcy that my life has consisted of. Everything has always worked out, and it always will until the day I'm no more. It's easy to get wrapped up in lifes extremes, the resurrection life of triumph and beauty, freedom from death and the expectation of the returning Christ where all is right... this is the ideal, (now) not yet fully realized. The other extreme being the participation in Christs death, tribulation to overcome... this is life now. Dietrich Bonhoeffer breaks these parts down in a easier to comprehend version of garden life. The stunning rose requires at its base manure of the foulest sort. To focus solely on the rose is to forget its roots and to focus on it's beginnings is to miss the heights and grandeur that are in store for it. Some Christians focus on the manure, some just want the rose- if anything fruitful is to come of either, we must embrace both aspects. We so desperately want now what our Christian hope beckons us to hold on for in faith; the day when everything is made right. We need to hold the life of the cross and resurrection in tension, flowers and manure.  In refusing to face difficulties in favor of the ideal, we turn our back to real people and situations, missing real life and the ability to relate to the hurting. The Christian is called to be content in whatever season they are in, whether continual blessings or sickness- being in either situation as not a gauge on how your spiritual life is. As never before in my life, I've experienced the frailty of my body and it's limits and it's increased my thankfulness of “normal” life. Normal is a blessing, a blessing we readily miss out on. As I sit here today, I'm so thankful to be typing this in jeans. In days previous my legs were oozing nastiness and the abrasive nature of pants caused a lot of pain. May I continue to be thankful of this normalcy. As children we prayed oft repeated simple prayers about being thankful for this and that. Do we still do that as mature adults? I bet we would be more thankful for that food that sat in front of us after missing a few meals because we didn't have the money to buy any... we wouldn't know the level of thankfulness that was actually proper until we had experienced that separation and returned back to what was normal. Normal is a blessing. I don't believe God sent me the past months health woes to punish me for anything, but I don't want to miss out on the flowers of revelation that came from the manure. Oh to be aware of the loving God's presence and to see his steadfast provision in times of plenty and need! Praise your name God. Your Kingdom come.

Above: This song has been a real source of encouragement for me. I hope you enjoy it. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

South for Summer.

After winning a 13 day battle with diarrhea from Fiji and spending a fruitful two weeks in Auckland, I made the big move to Cromwell again for the summer. How was that for a opening sentence. Did you like that? Nothing like the word "diarrhea" to kick off a fresh blog. I hope your currently not in the process of eating.

Above: Exiting the plane in Queenstown at possibly one of the most gorgeous airport settings I have ever seen.

I woke Monday the 7th before the sun rose and made the flight from Auckland to Queenstown. In the morning sun glistening off the Remarkables Peaks and the Milford Sound, I was fully awed by the regions untamed beauty. Getting off the flight into the cool morning air was the best start I could think of for a grand summer, money making, vineyard journey. I used my default setting of hitch-hiking to make the 40 mile journey to Cromwell. In less than 5 minutes I was picked up with a fellow hiker named Will by a middle age Kiwi couple in a luxury Toyata that had just sold their large food company ( to Sanitarium and were taking the year off to travel and sail around NZ in a soon to be purchased yacht. The journey was comfortable and the conversation good- and then things became great. The couple asked Will and I if we were interested in wine tasting with them. At 10:45 in the morning I thought to myself that it was a little early to drink, especially before breakfast but they said that the tour would be their treat. That began a 3 vineyard tour consuming top rated cheeses and sampling $100 dollar bottles of wine. When I arrived to Cromwell (sober) , I was in high spirits.

Above:  It's 5 o'clock somewhere... Enjoying a wine sampler for 4, with 4 people (not pictured).

Last summer I was invited to live with Reverend Pendreigh and his family and they have since welcomed me in with both arms (or would that be 10 arms?) into their home. They are a fun group and have been beyond hospitable to this lone American. The next day I started and survived work on the vineyard making new acquaintances and catching up with familiar ones. On Thursday I received two incredible emails. One was a very personal email from a dear Chinese friend of mine from when I taught English in Shenzhen stating that upon attending a Christian funeral of a family member he was compelled to know more about the Gospel. I've been sharing and praying for him some 5+ years and this was a glorious shock. I can only imagine the coming redemption to him and his family. The other email was this one:

Dear David,
I am writing to advise that your claim has been accepted.

Settlement of $107.00 has been credited into your nominated bank account.

$6776.95 has been paid to Waitemata DHB.
Thank you.

Kind regards,

This was another jaw-dropper. On my Facebook page I responded to this email by posting:

My Uni-Care claim for my collapse/transfusion/stay in North Shore Hospital, Auckland was just accepted today after a (nearly) 4 month ordeal with the insurance company. They initially denied it because I had a hereditary condition that was never properly diagnosed- even when being tested for it. Pay out was to the tune of $6,776.95 - completely covering the hospital bill!! Praise God. I even got $107 back, that should make Saturday in Queenstown that much more enjoyable : )

Praise God! I don't even know what else to say. Nothing more needs to be said. Praise the risen Christ. 

At the vineyard I had been specifically praying for a co-worker to share Christ with this week and that prayer was answered. I began praying for him earlier in the week that I would get a chance to share Christ and invite him to church. On Saturday he was going to do a the largest bungy jump in the southern hemisphere so I suggested we make the day that much more enjoyable for a stop over at Fergburger. I offered to tag along to take photos for him, and he accepted. After the jump in Queenstown the chance finally came up to share and it was a great discussion... then he came to Church today for the second time in his life, the first being in Germany (he is German) with his family on Christmas. That was very encouraging for me even when new health issues are literally popping up.

Above: Looking at the river below the tallest bungee jump in the Southern Hemisphere. I simply observed. The only thing I fear more than jumping off something ridiculously high is losing $280 in a minute. The thought alone is enough to give me shivers.

Above: The launch platform that my friend jumped off from moments later.

Above: The hard to hold, harder to eat "Big Al" burger at world famous Fergburger in Queenstown.

While I was in Fiji I got a funny cut on my knee that was healing up just fine until getting back to NZ. The boil like sore ended up spreading to another part of that very same knee, then it jumped legs. I didn't really know what was going on with the spread, I thought it might be springing up from the inside of my body until it began rapidly spreading this week. The spread was fueled by the irritation and sweat on my shorts from working in the vineyard even though I was bathing daily and cleaning them specially. From my google images/wikipedia research it looks/sounds like impetigo/mrsa. I was excused from work tomorrow to go to the Doctor for creams and antibiotics. Please pray for a positive outcome in this area, I'm tired of being unwell and spending money on doctors visits. It's real frustrating.

God has always taken care of me and this journey has been blessed. The summer in a slower paced environment, encapsulated with beautiful flora and fauna is always good for the ole' soul. I look forward to reading my Bible and reflecting on all that I have learned and experienced in the last two years whilst sharing Christ with the various internationals I meet on the vineyard over the summer break. Be sure to check out more flight/Queenstown photos in the links section above.

Shalom and blessings,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Long and chatty, but hey, I added lots of pictures.

Hundreds of new Photos added in the "Links" section to the right. By clicking on "All of my Pictures" you can have access to the all the new albums including: "Summer in America 2011" //"Fiji"// and "Growing Pains," plus much much more. You can also click on the individual links. Enjoy!------------------>

I was so blessed by my time in America that served as a superb halfway point with my degree and time in New Zealand. I anticipate not coming home until I'm finished here, but I never anticipated that my body would stop producing blood and my gall bladder would need to be taken out- anything is possible. A few moments that really stood out to me (besides fantastic conversations and experiencing mutually loving relationships) were the hikes I did with friends and family in the mountains. There's nothing like putting in a decent morning of work to have lunch at a stunning and lonely location. A notable hike was going with a few long time friends up Second Peak, Klahanne Ridge then dropping down to Lake Angeles in the Olympics. 

Above: last picture ever taken of Mike in 2004

What made it so special was the fact that Mike Haley did this hike 4 days before he died and the last photo ever taken of him was from the very look out I got to see with my very own eyes. It was special, a celebration of life- dually special to me given the recent life circumstances I found myself in.

Above: 2011 hike with Phil Kemp, Ivan Welch and myself. Ivan did this hike in 2004 with Mike. I was invited to go on it, but had to work instead.

At the Upper Room just a few days before I began my journey back to NZ I fully felt the presence of God in a overwhelming way, totally in awe of Gods presence. Earlier that week a long time friend called me on a character flaw. Thank God for these friends willing to speak up. He shared with me something I had seen in my life as well, something that I had to give up to God fully. That night worshipping the Father at UR I asked the Lord for forgiveness for my pride, an ongoing process but a process worth taking up and chasing down. I feel the trip home was not just good for my physical body but my soul as well. On my way to Fiji I had a layover in Hawaii (cheapest way to Fiji, honest!) where I was blessed with lodging by the Davidsons. I had a million dollar view all to myself in Makaha, it was a incredible time. Big thanks to Tiger and Diane Mosier as well for hosting me at their house and for the ride(s) to and from the airport.

Above: 7am, the view from my Hawaiian condo.

Above: View from my bed. I ate lunch daily on the patio overlooking the ocean.

Fiji was one of the most challenging experiences I have had in recent memory. God proved overwhelmingly faithful and I watched a team of Kiwi students become transformed more and more into Christs likeness. I saw prayer utilized in a way I hadn't previously in this group as well as positive attitudes and hearts willing to serve. We spent 10 days as a church (Avondale Baptist) outside of Rakiraki preaching and living the gospel of Christ. We were able to interact with school children as well as build chicken coops and bless the missionaries that lived there with concrete work and painting etc. I had the chance to share the gospel message at a small Indian Church in the hills of Nanuku.....

 ....but the most profound experience I had was in realizing the power of the Gospel in a real way- trumping (destroying?) the ways of this world and the convoluted structures people erect to make sense of this life. A woman who was left highly immobile from a stroke was looked down upon by her family and community. In the Hindu karma system if something bad happens to you, you probably had it coming from this life or the previous one. Her family and neighbors were unwilling to come wash her or provide for her because in doing so they could lower their own personal karma. Long story short: stay away from hurting and broken people because you could end up that way next. The Christian missionaries in the area were some of the few people that invested in this woman. Given her situation, she was the first person selected to receive a chicken coop which was built more like a chicken palace. As she received this monstrosity, in her context, her karma was changed forever.

Local Hindus (and her family) would want to come see why she was so blessed now. That was it. We built a chicken coop that only cost a few hundred dollars and this woman's life was changed now forever. I can't think of any better example of gospel living. The world says to look out first for your own happiness, the message of Christ is so counter-intuitive to worldly living by saying to make yourself the lowest or servant of all. She was about as unlovely as they come in her context, but that didn't change her intrinsic worth as a daughter of God. She is loved, and so are we, even though we are not worthy of such extravagant love. I still can't get over this, this was a supreme highlight of my trip. No trip involving myself and a foreign country is complete without some level of sickness, and Fiji did not disappoint. At nearly the end of my trip I got campylobacta from chicken, aka debilitating diarrhea. 

Flying home from Fiji I was able to cross the border without a problem being bright yellow and I was invited to stay at a family from Churches house. The next day they paid for my Doctors visit and blood tests (very blessed) and I was able to watch NZ's Rugby team the All Blacks beat France for the World Cup. My health was going up and down and there were some worries about my blood being ok as I felt drained like I did the week before I crashed and nearly died some 3 months ago. A friend of mine from Laidlaw set me up with a Christian Doctor that heard my story and agreed to see me for (nearly) free. I was so blessed as I was running on a tight budget. God has been fully looking out for me and surrounding me with his presence. Yesterday I met with Laidlaws principle to catch up on the prior months happenings and subsequent surgery in America. He asked me to speak today to the entire college at Community Worship and that was a blessing to me to share about what my God has done in my life to the Kiwi body.

Above: Zebra Vineyard... my job site for the next 3 months.

Now I'm preparing to fly to the South Island this Monday to again work on Zebra Vineyard in Cromwell to make money for school starting in February. I will be down there for 3 months and was invited to stay with Reverend Pendreigh and his family so I won't be out in the cold. As always I'm looking forward to this adventure and the chance to share Christ to other internationals this Summer. It's been a roller coaster of a year, but I feel I'm being prepared for the days ahead. Because of my illness I won't be able to double major anymore due to scheduling conflicts and I will need to switch from Hebrew to Greek but other than that school is still moving along well. I feel this year will be different from others in the way that I will be doing far less things than years previous, but I want to do them well. Coming to the understanding that your not Jesus (saving the whole world) but to be like him is freeing. As long as I'm living the future is bright, and as always I'm excited about what the road ahead holds. God bless yall.


More Pics!

Above: I had the opportunity to run HS youth group (as well as JH the night before) which consist of all my JH students that got taller/older. Daniel Gillam shared his testimony and I discussed Faith, Hope, and Love and the ultimate Christian expectations. A student accepted Christ into his heart this night.

 Above: Communion in Fiji on Sunday morning with missionaries Shiu and Lesley Narain.

 Above: Shiu breaking bread.

 Above: Soccer game at Nanuku Elementary School. I'm in white, Hama is in Green.

 Above: The "waste," cut angles from the chicken coop where painted by Avondale Baptist girls and made into building blocks for the the young students at the school.

Above: A beaming smile, proof is in the pudding.

Above: Dwinak the dog. Dwinak in Hindi means "two nosed."

 Above: Jyodi's kitchen art.


Friday, September 30, 2011


Praise God for his steadfast loving kindness. The last two months in the States have been a beautiful experience, even with all the post surgery aches and pains. It's funny how coming back to the town you were raised in and loved can rejuvenate your soul, after two years, I needed it. I always feel in times like these that it is good to do what the prophets of old did, remember the Lords provision. I use the term 'steadfast loving kindness' as that stems from the Hebrew word, hesed. Hesed, was how God's love was described in reference to His people through the prophets and beyond.

Recounting the Lords steadfast love for me and provision will take a moment, a moment well worth taking. At 21 in Guatemala I finally submitted to the Lords relentless love after years of fighting. From there I returned to the states, devoted to the pursuit of God and building/expanding his Kingdom here on earth through Junior High and university ministries. At 23 (nearly 24) I responded to Gods call to be trained in New Zealand at Laidlaw to think Biblically. I was introduced to the school through a friend of a friend and after much prayer and seeking the discernment of wiser folks, I made the move to Auckland. Before arriving in Auckland my plans changed drastically, but God used a Kiwi couple I met on the beach of Fiji to provide me with a home. After moving in with them in Auckland, I discovered the church directly across the street from my new home had been looking a youth leader for a year and half. Again I felt and saw the Lords hand of provision. Shortly thereafter I was adopted so to speak by a kiwi family from the church that took me in and loved me in a way that still makes me shake my head. In this previous semester at school as was asked to move into the dorms on campus to be the men's resident leader, while also serving on student council. In this time, every time I got my student visa it was a miracle as financially it always worked out at the very last minute. While applying for this semester (that I had to sit out for health reasons) I received a $4,000 scholarship for my schooling, 3 days before school started which would have allowed me to study. The Lord provides. Instead of studying though, I caught the parvovirus that nearly killed me in North Shore Hospital. God again protected me, and in the following week I was sent off with tremendous love from Laidlaw/ABC back to Sequim Washington, where I find myself now.

Spending the summer in Sequim with family has been a huge blessing. Hiking in the forest with mom, some late night talks with dad, reconnecting with old junior high students that now dwarf me. My body recovered from the virus and it was business as usual until surgery on September 1st. My gallbladder was removed and since then my body and blood has been deemed, “back to normal.” Two weeks after surgery I spent a amazing week in Montana, visiting my friend and brother Danny Gillam along with his wife Karilyn. We talked Christ, climbed rocks in the mountains and went fishing in the river. In that trip there were some major God moments and a 3am evangelism adventure which left me charged up. The next week I had the opportunity to teach youth group at DCC for both the Junior High and Highschool, which was a thrill. Danny shared his testimony and I taught on 1 Cor:13.13 , the spirit moved and a student accepted Christ into his heart.

I now leave for Fiji on Tuesday the 4th from Bellingham to meet my Auckland church in Fiji for a two week service trip to the Hindu people outside of Rakiraki. After this, I will return back to Auckland on a work visa where I will spend the spring/summer working at Zebra Vineyard with plans to return back to school in February. God is so good, he has taught me so much in these two months renewing both my vision and perspective. I would never imagined that I would be back in the US at this stage but it's Gods timing not mine. I have enjoyed spending time with old friends that are spiritually hungry, always wanting more God in their life. I have discovered that those who are hungry in this way usually find food and lead others to it. It's been a feast. Thank you Jesus. I'm excited for the next chapter in life back in New Zealand, a decent lamb chop and All Blacks rugby. Praise the Lord for His provision and hesed love.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surgery was Successful.

Everything went well. I'm home resting now with a solid amount of stomach pain. Thank you for all the prayers and love. I showed up to the hospital at 7am and they began doing the final prep work. At 8:30 surgery began. They shaved my stomach+swabbed it with iodine, pumped it full of gas to expose the gall bladder then began working on it. The gas is not in my intestines, but inside my body (I can't just fart it out) and it should be absorbed by my system in 3 days or so. The pain is sharp and intense but I'm taking pain pills to help me sleep. It feels like I have been shot in the stomach, I wasn't expecting that from what I heard from various folks- different body types I would imagine. Now I just have to take it easy for the next month and I should be right as rain : )

Monday, August 29, 2011

Health Update #4 Time for Surgery

My status as of 3 minutes ago on Facebook reads:

My surgery consultation went well. Laparoscopic Surgery for my gall bladder with Dr. Heisterkamp is now scheduled for tomorrow at 7am in Port Angeles....lets do this thing : )

 I will wake up at 6am to wash my torso with antimicrobial skin cleanser before my dad and I drive to Port Angeles for the hour and a half surgery. If all goes well I will be out the same day with minimal pain in my abdomen. Thank you all for your prayers and support. This is the moment we have been waiting for and I can't wait to have this thing out. I have enjoyed myself tremendously catching up with friends while Stateside, getting to attend no less than 3 weddings throughout my duration here. This time has been beautiful, but there is much to be done still in New Zealand. If God wills it, I will be heading back to NZ October 3rd, first stopping in Fiji for 3 weeks to participate in a service trip with my Kiwi Church family at Avondale Baptist. On Oct. 22 I will fly home to Auckland with the group and then shortly thereafter make my way to the south island where I will once again work at Zebra Vineyard ( in Cromwell, a small town close to my heart. These are all big plans that I hold loosely. I would love your prayers for all of this.

The plan is to work the Kiwi summer until mid February, saving money for school which will start on the 28th  of that month (Fall Semester). I have three semesters left after taking one off for medical reasons towards my bachelors degree in Theology.


Time for Surgery

My status as of 3 minutes ago on Facebook reads:

My surgery consultation went well. Laparoscopic Surgery for my gall bladder with Dr. Heisterkamp is now scheduled for tomorrow at 7am in Port Angeles....lets do this thing : )

 I will wake up at 6am to wash my torso with antimicrobial skin cleanser before my dad and I drive to Port Angeles for the hour and a half surgery. If all goes well I will be out the same day with minimal pain in my abdomen. Thank you all for your prayers and support. This is the moment we have been waiting for and I can't wait to have this thing out. I have enjoyed myself tremendously catching up with friends while Stateside, getting to attend no less than 3 weddings throughout my duration here. This time has been beautiful, but there is much to be done still in New Zealand. If God wills it, I will be heading back to NZ October 3rd, first stopping in Fiji for 3 weeks to participate in a service trip with my Kiwi Church family at Avondale Baptist. On Oct. 22 I will fly home to Auckland with the group and then shortly thereafter make my way to the south island where I will once again work at Zebra Vineyard ( in Cromwell, a small town close to my heart. These are all big plans that I hold loosely. I would love your prayers for all of this.

The plan is to work the Kiwi summer until mid February, saving money for school which will start on the 28th  of that month (Fall Semester). I have three semesters left after taking one off for medical reasons towards my bachelors degree in Theology.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Health Update #3

My health status has moved in leaps and bounds since the 5th. The Doctor gave my most recent blood test a "A" with a giant smiley face on it. That document now hangs proudly on my parents refrigerator the same way a child's artwork or report card would. On the whole, I feel good. Wednesday I went rock climbing to test my bodies capabilities after a 2 mile hike, then yesterday my mom and I successfully completed a 9 mile hike without much difficulty.

I thank everyone who prayed for clarity on the spleen issue. On my moms side, I have had various family members with the same condition take both their spleen and gall bladders out- and for the better part of a week it looked like I would need to follow in their footsteps. That all changed on Monday after a weekend of mom researching this disease and myself reading her notes. As the years have continued, so has the knowledge of this condition expanded. Doctors know much much more about it now than when my mom was struggling with it as a teen. I was diagnosed with a mild case of hereditary spherosytosis which means that I get to keep my spleen as long as it doesn't act up. Hooray!! My fall and eventual collapse from parvovirus was textbook in nature, and so is my hereditary condition which has made it easier to asses. I have a classic case of mild hereditary spherosytosis and that's why it's gone undetected for so long. What this means is that I will most likely go on to live a normal life with a slightly enlarged spleen. My abdomen scans revealed gall stones as a byproduct of my condition and that is scheduled to be removed shortly. My surgery consultation was moved until August 29th, then surgery should take place 1-7 days after.

In conclusion, I'm feeling strong and thankful to be alive. I've overcome or nearly overcome the potentially deadly parvovirus and now we are dealing with the separate condition which is my hereditary disease. My gall bladder is getting the axe soon after the 29th, we sure had a good run though and I will miss it. I'm tremendously thankful for Gods provision. The Wednesday before I was admitted into the ER (Friday) I was in semi-remote Whangamata, 2+ hours east of Auckland. I'm thankful I was in Auckland when all this went down. I praise God for the life he has continued to allow me to live and the clarity and peace that has come through the prayers of the NZ/US/+beyond, body. It has brought much joy to my heart to be in Sequim/PA reconnecting with friends and students- the summer sun hasn't hurt anything as well : ) Thank you for your love.

Grace and peace to you all.


Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Health Update #2

Thank you all for your prayers and love. I'm back on Facebook for the time being to keep everyone updated. This was my "status update" as of 10 minutes ago:

"What's on your mind?" Alot is on my mind. Been in/out of doctors office frequently. My blood is doing much better after slowly recovering from parvovirus. Ultrasound has revealed gall stones and a enlarged spleen. Adios Senor Gall Bladder? Doc is not to keen to remove my spleen just yet, more tests need to be done. Thank you for your prayers- not to sure what to do from here. Great seeing Americans again, miss my Kiwis ABC+Laidlaw. Still haven't seen Lauren Piper : (

I arrived safe and sound from NZ Saturday evening late after a few hang ups in Fiji and LA. My bag arrived Sunday evening, to which I (and my teeth) was very grateful for. It was amazing to be back at DCC after such a long stretch; and to be living in Sequim again so suddenly, driving a 88 Lincoln Towncar (almost the exact same car I had in High School) is like living in a strange dream.

On Monday I visited my Doctor, on Tuesday and Wednesday I had blood/ultrasound testing. The ultrasound was a new experience for me, I now know what is like to be a pregnant woman: it's fun to see what's on the screen, but awkward and uncomfortable. From those tests we have deduced that my blood is recovering from parvovirus, but that I have stones and now the great debate is to whether my spleen needs to go. Spleens are really neat. They filter your blood and boost your immune system. I'm a big fan of spleens. Leaving new Zealand I came with a strong sense imparted from my mom (given vast family history) that my spleen and gall bladder would get the axe. The gall bladder most likely will and I have come to terms with that and have said my goodbyes. Where my struggle is now stems from the conversation I had with my Doctor on Tuesday stating that he was reluctant to take my spleen out, even to the point of suggesting I keep it. This was, granted, before my recent test results came back in, but it really got me thinking. My mom, uncle(s), cousin(s) etc all had the condition and had there spleen and gall bladders out and it looks like on the surface that I will join the ranks in having a slightly compromised immune system. My uncle(s?) (who is or was a heavy drinker) had a spleen attack when he was 30, requiring a surgery to get the thing removed. My quandary is that my insurance under my mom runs out when I'm 26 and I could be in New Zealand again when a attack occurs? It's hard to think clearly in times like these. I mean, I really like my spleen- but if it's best that it should go, it should probably go..... then again, I will have a weakened immune system and I'm not a drinker like my uncles so.......??? More information is needed, please pray for my and my doctors/family clarity of mind, wisdom, discernment and trust. I'm trusting God, fully aware of his love and would really love for him to guide the future decisions.

On the whole, I feel better, more mobile and almost over my jet lag. Thank you for your prayers and please pray for the issues I'm having with the NZ insurance company. I need to produce a few documents to prove I (and my family) was being truthful. Some of these documents are from 20 years ago in a Californian hospital, others are more recent but could be equally tricky. I'm somewhat doubtful they will surface to vindicate my claims that I didn't know I had this disease until 6 months ago, and even then it was never medically proven by a doctor, just something my mom told me I most likely had. I didn't claim on my NZ coverage that I had a pre-existing hereditary condition because I was told from a young boy up until I was 23 leaving to NZ that I didn't have the rare disease that was hard to test for. It's frustrating to be called a lier by an insurance company and then potentially unable to prove innocence.

Again, thank you all for your prayers. It's what kept me safe on the way home, I know it. I learned recently that the combination I had of parvovirus+hereditary sphersytosis was deadly. When I collapsed in the hospital in Auckland, that wasn't a good thing. I praise God for his provision and access to medical care. Being strong enough to fly to the states 5 days later was a gift from above.