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.