Friday, January 27, 2012

Summer Update.

Above: Sebastian, Myself and Gabrielle at Zebra Vineyard.

Nothing like the harsh weather conditions in the middle of Summer and everything that comes with it. Stinky sweaty palms, feet and underarms- bugs, spiderwebs and dust up to your ears+ sunburn..... and the occasional snowfall. All of which are just apart of Central Otago Summer. What??!!

On Monday and Tuesday it hovered around 90 degrees, then on Thursday evening a cold front (most likely from the Antarctic) moved up into Cromwell and it Snowed that night on the mountains and hills of the surrounding area. When we started work that day it was around 40 degrees, which is a tremendous shock to the system. I bundled up like a Eskimo from the loaner pile of clothes at work as I wobbled around the vineyard. Shortly thereafter, I couldn't feel my fingers as I mentally willed them into the grape canopies covered in what felt like nearly freezing rain water. The clouds effectively blocked out all of the suns radiant warmth until 2pm when the day was nearly finished. We all asked ourselves if that really had just happened. Crazy.

 Above: Thursday. Noah Pendreigh and I mini golfing for his 14th Birthday.

Above: Friday Morning

Today Lauren and I will move out of the Pendreighs guest house as we make room for their friends from up north visiting. We will be shifted into a (massive) beautiful house on the lake that is closer to work (woohoo, we get to sleep in to 5:40am now!) being hosted by David and Francis Stewart from Cromwell Presbyterian. Lauren and I are both extremely grateful for the hospitality shown us over the last two months by the Pendreighs as well as the excellent dinners cooked! We are now looking forward to our own rooms in this new house as spending almost literally every moment of the last weeks together can be a lot. The time though has been very special and will probably never happen again, so we are doing our best to enjoy it.

Our time in Cromwell is slowly winding down. On my physical birthday in the United States (February 23rd here as NZ is a day ahead) we will be flying back home to Auckland from Queenstown to celebrate with friends and church family etc before school starts on March 5th. Big plans have been made for my 1+ week holiday in Auckland showing Lauren around the area. The tour will include, snorkeling at Goat Island, 4 nights at Laidlaws Piha beach guest house, go carting and more; a perfect way to end the summer. I thank God for the blessing of 'normal' health, sickness free. I don't take that for granted. I'm currently in the best shape of my life, and feel as strong as ever. I recently dropped a huge chunk of change on a iphone that I have been waiting to buy for around a year. When I first arrived to NZ two years ago, I slowly sold off my items of value to make ends meet. It's a great place to have paid off school and future school and have the ability to buy “extras.” It's currently loaded with all of my Hebrew flash cards and soon to be Greek cards to help me learn the language. I've also discovered that I'm capable of listening to sermons while keeping a solid work pace. What a blessing that was to have been able to listen to 12 sermons in the last 4 days while still having the ability to respond to the bosses text messages and calls out in the field. If anything, hearing teaching from Habakkuk gets my heart pumping and blood a flowin' and I work even faster. I just need to remind myself not to cry in front of my coworkers when Matt Chandler retells the story of how Josiah found the Torah after years of perverse kings ruling and the subsequent revival the Law brought. So good.


Above: Nothing runs like a Deere.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jews + Gentiles, Mustangs and Rocks.

Above: Firwood 2003. This photo has nothing to do with this post, but brings so much joy to my heart at its recent unearthing by a fellow staff member that summer that I had to post it. Guess which one I am.

Above: One of my favorites at the show.

It's that time of the season where life explodes, as if a switch was flipped and the vines can hardly be contained. The days of work are longer and hotter as the previously soft vineyard workers bodies become hardened by the daily 85+ degree heat, 6 days a week. The boss man decided that we had been working really hard and decided to give all 18 of us the weekend off so that we could get some rest. It's funny to me how this 6 day weekend coincided with Cromwells largest Ford car show, boasting over 700 vehicles-1 of them being the bosses Mustang.

Above: Batmans weekend transport?

Above: Part of the Zebra Crew with the boss in shorts and glasses next to me. I think there is suppose to be a Mustang in this picture. 

We now have a work crew at Zebra that represents: Mexico, United States, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Czech, Germany, France and Chile, and they're all fantastic to work with. The people that showed they weren't interested in really working have been pruned, leaving the best. This Saturday nearly the entire crew met at the car show, viewing some classic North American muscle cars and enjoying one anothers company around Craigs stang'. Before the show Lauren and I met up with two of our favorite Jews, Omri and Adva, a precious couple that we walked around town with. After the car show the group decided that we would go out dancing in Queenstown while Lauren and I hosted the group at our house, providing some food and water. As the group was to large, we broke off from one another leaving Lauren and I with Omri and Adva. I had been praying the week to get a chance to show them Jesus through the Torah, Nev'im and the Ket'ivim (TANAKH) and then into the New Testament, but that would come later. The four of us decided to pursue my favorite mode of transportation, hitch hiking towards our Queenstown destination. I thought that the 4 of us might have difficulty getting picked up but that was proved very wrong when Dan with the van, pick us up. Lauren sat in the front (the only available seat belt) and myself and the Jews sat in the back. Dan discovered that Omri and Adva where from Israel and he lit up. Dan is a 26 year old Maori guy that just so happens to love Israel after visiting and accepting Christ into his heart a year ago. As the three of us were sitting in the back we couldn't really hear the people in the front, so conversation was divided between the front (Lauren and Dan) and the back (myself and the Israelis). This gave me a chance to share about my near death experience and where God had lead me in life, providing a foundation for future conversation.

 Above: The view from Dan's condo deck.

The Queenstown plan was for Lauren and the Israelis to stay in a hostel, with me hitch hiking back to Cromwell after dinner. I wanted Lauren to experience a international night like I have had so many times before that was all her own. That wasn't to be as Dan opened up his house to us to stay at for the night and offered to give me a ride back to Cromwell in the morning. Everything changed, as we walked up to his beautiful lakeside condo that was paid for by his work. Whoa. As the women made us a beautiful pasta, I was able to discuss Israels history with the Israelis in a way they had never heard before. God opened the door for conversation on, covenant, Jewish hopes pre/post exile, Abraham Isaac and Jacob... along with Jesus as defined by a Jew named Paul. They were totally enthralled and I was more than grateful for education and Laidlaw and background in Hebrew language. I was blown away by the response. This is a work in progress... pray for these two. After the history/Bible lesson they asked me to share my testimony which provided fantastic dialogue. Now for a complete change of pace.

The Flying Frenchman showed up. Gabriel, who I have affectionately named, shares almost as much enthusiasm as me for working. He is natural leader based on his personality and charm. With him he brought the rest of the Zebra international work crew in a van to Dans house. Dan was completely ok with this (invited all these strangers to stay the night at his new condo), and both Dan and I took on the roles of designated drivers for the crew. We danced/ road mechanical bulls until 3 in the morning, I haven't had so much fun since New Years with Lauren. At one point Dan and I decided to leave the dance club and talk about Jesus which was a sweet time with a amazing brother. Later that evening the club decided to promote a distasteful competition among volunteering woman, I walked out with Dan and Lauren. Shortly behind us followed the Flying Frenchmen who was confused/impressed 1. with Laurens rejection of his advances as he had never experienced that before (Lauren went for a walk on her own to pray and wasn't there for the following conversation). And 2, my love for God as he respected me/was equally angered by it. For the next 15 minutes he told me why he didn't believe in Jesus but prayed to a god that he identified as his ancestors. For not believing in God, he was certainly angry with him. I smiled while telling Gabriel we would chat about God on Monday when he was sober.

Above: Leaning tower of Wanaka. 

Above: Andrew scoping out a good boulder problem to work on. 

Everyone got home safely that night. The next morning, Dan drove me back to Cromwell where I briefly ate and dressed for a day of rock climbing with another coworker in Wanaka. I hitch hiked to Wanaka with a lovely Kiwi family and then met up with Andrew. We drove out to the stunning rock fields in Wanaka where we climbed all afternoon. All in all, it was a amazing weekend. Some might object to Christians dancing in a club and in part I resonate with that. What happened though was a beautiful opportunity to share with those that previously thought Christians didn't know how to have fun. They saw stone cold sober Christians having just as good time as them for far less money. I think this will open multiple doors in the future for conversation. As for me, I need to go to bed. Pushing 26, I'm to old for this and need my sleep.


Above: Camera betrays massive scale. Those dots are Cows.

Above: Unreal Beauty on a huge scale. 

Above: Least safe thing I have done since my trip to the hospital. 

Above: Me stopping on a free-solo route before the top. Decided it was best to turn back, thanks for that one wisdom.

Monday, January 16, 2012

For Zhong Guo.

Above: View from a place I frequented in Shenzhen, China 2006.

Recently, Blogger put a feature onto it's page that would allow me to see where people are reading my blog from. The results were surprising, especially in recent months. Just for fun I wanted to put some numbers up before getting into the most important thing I can think of. These results represent views since the blog was started in May 2009. Since that date this site has been viewed 8,329 times. The numbers below are views from respective countries. Only the top 10 countries have numbers next to them. The list at the bottom is hugely incomplete but provides some idea of other sources.

United States: 4,312
New Zealand: 1,169
Australia: 410
China: 341
Netherlands: 288
Russia: 175
Germany: 157
Israel: 112
France: 97
Rwanda: 94

Chile, Taiwan, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, UK, India, Malaysia, Canada and Italy.

The reason why I bring this up (other than I find it interesting) is that in the last 3 months the views from China have drastically spiked. I'm not going to speculate to much, but knowing that is blocked in the mainland leads me to think that people from censorship or the government are reading my blog. Maybe that is entirely untrue and it represents views from Hong Kong that has wider internet access, but I find it to coincidental. The 300+ view spike comes directly in the wake of a email I sent to someone about Ye su Ji du, in the mainland.

So if I'm speaking about you, my curious Chinese friend, this is a simplified account of what God is doing in the world and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's you who I write this for.

Even if there is no church near you, if you seek Jesus, you will find Him. What is amazing about Jesus was that He came to earth, ate and drank, slept, was tired and hungry just like us. God (Jesus) became a man and entered into human history and time. We know from the Bible that Jesus was beaten and abused and even abandoned by his friends when he needed them most. We know that the God who became man (Jesus) suffered just as we suffer today and can relate to our problems. God feels the pain of your family because he has experienced it as a man on earth. In Jesus (the God who became Man, but was still fully God at the same time) we see what is near Gods heart. When we read the chapters in the Bible Matthew/Mark/Luke/John we see how Jesus lived and treated people. Now we know how to live and treat people, Jesus said, "If you have seen the way I live my life, you have seen how God truly is." Ever since the beginning, man has been trying to do life apart from Jesus and God, thinking that they know a better way to live life than Jesus. Every person alive though needs to repent and ask for forgiveness from God for trying to do life on their own, no matter how good a person they are. All people have tried to live apart from what God wants, and all people fall short of being like Jesus. All you need to do to become a Christian is to ask God for forgiveness from trying to do life on your own, and make the teaching and life of Jesus the most important things in your life. As you live like Jesus in faith, God transforms your heart to make it more and more like the heart of Jesus. What's important to Jesus becomes important to you, your life will be forever changed. Being a Christian you don't need to do any ongoing special rituals that all other religions demand, you simply need to place your faith and trust in Jesus. Your faith in Jesus is what saves you. The greatest Christian hope is that one day Jesus will come back to earth to restore all the bad things to good. We are certain of this as Christians. When Jesus returns there will be no more sickness, death, wars, natural disasters. What God calls Christians to (Christians are followers of Christ) is to live like the future is now! We as Christians are to live like Jesus has returned and made everything good. We are to love others without seeking reward, help those who have nothing and to share Jesus with others to free them from the evils of the world. We do this in faith until we die, or Christ returns. Faith, Hope, and Love are the 3 greatest things the Christian must pursue. No Christian is perfect, they still make mistakes.... I make lots of them. But as we seek to become more like Jesus, our faith in Jesus saves us from separation from God and our sins. I rejected Christianity when I was 19. One of my best friends died, and from that I wanted to know what life was about and what was important because I know life is so short. The best life possible is the life that Jesus lived. I want to be more like Jesus everyday. I pray that you will find Jesus as your savior and that your life will be transformed forever. I know in my heart that this might be the start of something special in your life. If you want to know more, click on the comment box below.

Christ's servant,

Da Wei

Thursday, January 12, 2012

One down, Two to Go.

Above: Stunning Central Otago sunsets. Unbelievable reds and pinks, photo doesn't approach the justice it's due.

With joy in my heart and a smile on my face, I can say that semester one at Laidlaw is now paid off... again. Last year while attempting to pay for semester 2 at Laidlaw I came down with parvovirus that put me in the hospital, 3 days before the start of the semester. I had paid for half of the semester through some of my own funds but mostly generous donations from DCC family. The Friday night I was in the ER, I received a call from the schools principle, stating that I had received a $4,000 scholarship from Laidlaw. I was all set to attend school that Monday, except my gall bladder wasn't and I was a physical wreck. I used some of the donors money (at their approval) to fly home.

As of today though, I have finally paid off the remainder of my balance (as well as 10% of semester 2) after working this summer in Cromwell and receiving a $1000 donation from NZ out of the blue. Praise God, it's been a long time in the works. I thought this would have been paid off a long time ago, but between the surgery and month and a half battle between camplobacta and then stapholoccacus from the mission trip to Fiji, I was unable to work like I thought I would. I'm now working towards paying off semester 2, and Lord willing I will pay off 1 third to 1 half of semester 2, which has put me in the best financial situation since arrival to NZ.

As for my health, I'm as strong as ever, maybe in the best shape of my life- working 6 days a week in the beautiful Cromwell sun. Drinking plenty of water and eating at least 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables a day to fortify my immune system. I'm thankful for this life and still have more to live. Today marks the 2nd rainy day this summer where work is impossible, allowing me time to respond to emails and update the ole blog.

If you can remember back to my November 13th blog entry, I shared about a friend from China that I got to share Christ with over email. After not receiving an email back from him in 7 weeks, I began to think crazy thoughts. Maybe I had said to much about Jesus? Maybe he was in Government custody, as the Chinese government screens emails. I was frustrated at myself for maybe putting him in possible danger(?). Then... last week I received word back from him thanking me for introducing Jesus to him. I won't share further or mention his name but the next blog entry I write might prove to be a interesting read, a letter to the government. Stay tuned.