Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

See You Later, Charlie

By Jaron

Charlie Hinson, a lover of sports, pranks, Jesus, and the church.
Photo by Bryan Swisher

“Charlie died tonight.” We received the text a couple of days ago. Charlie had been sick for a while, in and out of the hospital, finally landing in a nursing home. A few days later, just a few hours after my parents visited, Charlie drew his last breath.

I grew up with Charlie in my life. He was always around at church. For many years he and his sister Gail cleaned the church building every week so that we could gather for worship. I’ll never forget the one year that Charlie (presumably while cleaning the church during the week) decided to play a prank on the church choir of whom my dad was the director. The choir was planning to sing a Christmas cantata the following Sunday. They had been practicing for weeks for that act of worship and were finally prepared for the big day. When Sunday morning rolled around, my dad arrived at the church early and found that the music for the cantata had disappeared without a trace. He looked everywhere for the missing music but to no avail.

He immediately suspected Charlie. This was, after all, not the first time something like this had happened. Charlie had a reputation as a prankster. When confronted with the missing music, Charlie denied any and all knowledge of the missing choir books. Alas, the cantata was not sung, and the books were not found until later the next week when they mysteriously reappeared in their normal location. This was quintessential Charlie.

Charlie always carried a notebook with him so that he could jot down everything that happened around him. You never knew if something you said in Charlie’s hearing would be quoted in a later conversation. When I later pastored the Lovington Church of the Nazarene, the same church in which I grew up, I asked Charlie to serve as our greeter and head usher. He absolutely loved doing these jobs in the church and he took them very seriously.

He did however go about his duties in his own unique way. It was not uncommon for Charlie to be conversing with everyone who entered about the Friday night Wildcat football game, or the Thursday evening J.V. game, or even a seventh, eighth, or ninth grade game from earlier in the week. All of which he had entered by conspicuously flashing the Lovington Leader press pass my dad had given him. He was even caught commentating from the announcer’s box a time or two at J.V. baseball games. If someone in the church made the paper, Charlie would proudly present them with the clipped article and/or picture as they entered for worship.

When there was no sporting event to talk about, Charlie would bring along one of his joke books. You know, the thin ones you used to buy from the end caps at variety or grocery stores. He would read selected jokes to me or other members of the congregation throughout the morning. On occasion, I would suggest he choose a different joke, but most of the time the whole practice was rather funny and enjoyable in a corny joke kind of way. I do have a favorite from those Charlie shared over the years. With a completely serious face Charlie recited it to me one Sunday morning as we stood in the foyer waiting for worshipers to arrive:

Charlie: “How many Nazarenes does it take to change a light bulb.”

Me: “I don’t know Charlie, how many?”

Charlie: “Twelve…one to change the light bulb and eleven to plan the fellowship dinner afterward.”

Funny….right?!

The truth is, I will miss Charlie. He was so much more than a prankster. He was an authentic follower of Jesus Christ. Because of Charlie our church began playing in the city softball league, where we had tons of fun together and engaged intentionally with people in our community who needed to know the love of Christ. It didn’t matter if we won or lost, Charlie loved it and our church became stronger for it. He made us better, with his simple faith and his enthusiasm for life.

Charlie taught me some valuable lessons about the Christian life. One day, Charlie stopped by our office and told pastor Aaron and I that he didn’t have any furniture anymore. When we asked him why, he told us that a homeless man had come to visit, so he gave him his furniture. Charlie didn’t have much to begin with, a couch, a chair, a dining table, a T.V. a coffee table a bed. We were a bit upset by this, but Charlie just said: “I thought he needed it more than I did so I gave it to him.”

Wow! What generosity. Charlie would literally give the shirt off of his back if he thought someone needed it more than he did. I can’t help but think of the words of Jesus in Mark 9:35 “Whoever wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” In the kingdom of God Charlie is not poor. He is rich, for he was indeed a servant of all.

Charlie had more than his share of challenges. He lived with a mental disability for his entire life. In many ways, he was a 12 or 13-year-old boy trapped in the aging body of man. This brought with it significant challenges. At times Charlie faced bullying and ridicule. At times he didn’t understand what was going on around him. More than once he was the target of thieves who no doubt thought he was an easy target and that his bicycle or other processions should be theirs.

But these are not the things that defined Charlie. I will always remember his unconditional love for our church and community, his giving spirit, his sense of humor, and his childlike faith. And so I look forward to the day of resurrection when our Lord returns and we are raised to new life. For on that day, I know I will see Charlie again.

Rest in the presence of Christ my friend!

 

Parting Shot

Springtime worship in November at Crossroads Church, Hamilton, NZ.
photo by Padmaja Chagaleru

School Days

By Elizabeth

At a crisp 48 degrees Fahrenheit when we took these pictures, it was the coldest first day of school I’ve ever experienced. Thankfully, the sun was shining and it warmed up beautifully.

 

School Days, School Days

Dear old golden rule days

 

Our school boy and his dog, who waits for Q to return with her nose pressed to the porch railing every afternoon.

It’s official! Two weeks ago, Q started school. Real school. No longer in kindergarten (the kiwi word for preschool), we have a real school boy. That means a 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday kind of routine with morning tea (snack) and lunch to pack and reading homework in the afternoon. It’s all new for us.

In so many ways, it’s the most nostalgic school experience imaginable. Our neighborhood school is on the next block over—just a short walk or scooter through an ally pathway. Kids attend this school from year 1 (kindergarten) through year 8 (7th grade).

Not a cafeteria in sight, students chatter as they eat the morning tea and lunch they’ve brought with them on simple benches under awnings outside their classrooms, which open directly to the outdoors, or put on their sun hats and sit in the grass before hurrying off to play. 30 minutes for morning tea. 45 minutes for lunch.

Jaron and I both confessed to each other just yesterday morning after school drop off that we may have been known to test our own speed on Q’s scooter on the way home. Empty scooter to return home? Wouldn’t you?

The morning scooter ride is fun, but pick up times are simply the best.

Cafeteria equivalent

As 3:00 pm nears, parents gather on those same benches outside the classrooms.  Some push strollers while others share tips on strawberry picking and commiserate on yet another rainy weekend. The kids bound out of the classroom barefoot, dragging backpacks and jerseys behind them. I absolutely cannot wait to see our boy’s great big smile and hear the words, “Hi Mommy!” It’s the best part of every single day.

Then, everyone from our neighborhood walks home in a big stream of independent big kids with muddy legs from playing in the field and little kids with mums and dads in tow, all chattering about the adventures of the day.

For convenience sake, some of our friends from church who live further than walking distance park on our street for school pick up as well. It’s one big community building revelry every afternoon.

All of these things evoke a Leave It to Beaver sense that all is right in our world, but there are some unusual idiosyncrasies about our education situation as well.

Kiwi kids typically start school when they turn 5, no matter when that is in the school year. Then, everyone moves up when the new year starts in February. As it works out, some kids have more time–up to a year and a half of new entrance/year 1 (the American equivalent of kindergarten), while other kids have only 2 1/2 terms or quarters of their first year of school. It’s one of those things that can make your head spin if you didn’t grow up with this system.

Q turned 5 in May. Had he started school then, he would be starting year 2 (1st grade) in February at the ripe old age of 5 years 9 months, having had 3 quarters of year 1 (kindergarten). That’s a wee bit young and there’s no need to rush things if you ask me. This educational philosophy of mine jived perfectly with delaying his school start until we returned from the US. As it stands, he’ll have 5 quarters of year 1 (kindergarten) and start year 2 (1st grade) when he’s almost 7. Sounds like the makings of a great educational foundation if you ask me.

I’m in full on cultural translation mode when it comes to about everything else at school as well. Take these examples:

  1. Stationary can be purchased through the school. It is generally the same price as the stationary at the store.

I think: That’s nice. They must be encouraging the practice of formal letter writing by selling fun stationary. Or maybe it’s a fundraiser? Great idea, either way. Maybe Q can use it to write a letter to some friends in America.

What it means: Stationary = school supplies. You can purchase your school supplies, which consist primarily of various notebooks (see picture), through the school so you don’t have to hunt for them at the store. Supplies like scissors, pencils, crayons, etc. are all purchased through the additional school fees and shared. This is a socialist education system, after all. 

School stationary

  1. The notice in the school newsletter said, “Please make sure your child has suitable shoes and clothing for wearing on the field and/or courts for PE, as well as every other day.”

I think: Make sure your child is wearing tennis shoes (not the kind that will mark up the gym floor) and play clothes on PE days.

What it means: No shoes are necessary. Don’t bother sending your child to school with shoes. They just take them off anyway. Kids must wear shorts (not pants) on the field. The rule is “shorts for sports” (Comfort? Mobility? Holes in skin repair more easily than holes in pants?) and they must wear a hat for sun protection. Sunglasses are o.k. too as they protect the eyes.

  1. Another notice in the newsletter said, “Whanau Hui Agenda as Follows: Karakia, Mihi, Whakawhiriwhiri, Karakia, Kai.”

I think: I would definitely benefit from Maori language school.

What it means: The Maori Curriculum Team held a meeting for families at the school. Family meeting Agenda as Follows: Opening prayer, Introductions, Discussions, Closing Prayer, Food.

The outtakes. Always so much silliness with this kid.

 

All in all, we’re adjusting. There have been relatively minimal tears. And, in case you’re wondering, I didn’t even cry on the first day. In fact, I was feeling quite proud of myself until an older lady in the line behind me at the post office said, “Look at this perfect card I found for my son. It says, ‘I was proud of you the day you were born and I’ve been proud of you every day since. You are a treasure.’ My son is turning 50, and this card says it all!”  I smiled and nodded and tried to swallow the sudden lump in my throat and hurried to the counter for my turn. Sheesh. But truly, we are so proud and so grateful that our little guy is becoming a strong, healthy big guy and navigating this new “school days” phase of his third culture kid life so seamlessly.  

 

Parting Shot

When we were at the New Mexico District Family Camp in August, the kids made Koru necklaces out of clay. Q loves wearing his. These Koru (the brown swirly things), which symbolize new life, will eventually unfurl into more fern fronds.

We’re Back! Picture It #4

By Elizabeth

We’re back! Finally. It has taken us a long time to get here. A month to be precise. Well, actually, it only took us one extra day to get home, thanks to this fuel crisis, but it has taken us a month to work our way back into some sort of normal. However, the world of our little family is changing drastically again this week as Q starts school at our neighborhood school. He’s going to love spending so much time with his neighborhood friends and some friends from church too.

Since pictures say it best, every now and then we sum up our day-to-day life during this season in five pictures and five pictures only. Right now, it looks something like this. You can see our previous picture summaries herehere, and here.

 

Home Assignment: Wrapping Up

By Elizabeth

We’re wrapping up–Home Assignment, that is. I was prepared to write a Home Assignment update post last week, but in the face of massive fires in the Western US, hurricane recovery in Texas, hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, and a massive earthquake in Mexico, I felt like there were more important things in people’s news feeds. All this, plus equally difficult climate and political situations across the globe certainly puts many things into perspective.

So, this Home Assignment update comes with a sense of immense gratitude. Life is good. Our loved ones are safe and dry and warm and calm. In just a week, we’ll be en-route to New Zealand, so we’re soaking up the last few days of State-side adventures and sunshine. Can you believe it? There’s a certain slow-fastness, or perhaps a speedy-length, to a season when you’re totally out of your normal routine. Our lives have been so full in some of the best possible ways—full of story-telling and neck-hugging and grandparent-spoiling and friend-making and road-tripping and blessing-celebrating.

In the midst of all of that, we’re hoping our kiwi people and our dog haven’t forgotten us. We know their lives have been just as full as ours (dog included)—just in the completely different ways of the normal life of the end of winter on the Southern Hemisphere. On the other hand, we’re positive it has only been a minute since we said, “See ya later.”

This past week, we got to spend some of the sweetest moments with my home church, Shawnee Church of the Nazarene. It’s the church responsible for my formation as a baby, child, teenager, and young adult. It’s also just the kind of church that understands the importance of engaging intentionally in the global mission of the church. It’s really beautiful to be a part of a body—even if you’ve been serving elsewhere for many years— and to feel sent and affirmed and supported and loved and championed by that body. Together, we got to celebrate a long history and a beautiful future of supporting, nurturing, shaping, and engaging in the work of missionaries from around the world. Indeed, we are a blessed people to be a part of something so much bigger than any one church, one culture, or one country.

We’ll get to hang out with one last super-awesome church this coming weekend. In the meantime, the pictures are worth 1,000 words.

 

The end of Home Assignment stats look at bit like this:

On the Odometer:  5,095 miles (8,200 km)

Note: This already includes the 13 hour drive from Kansas City to New Mexico that we’re anticipating on Monday, but HOLY MOLY… We will have accumulated over 5,000 miles, folks! It’s the length of New Zealand about four times over. 

On the Road: 75 hours

On our Plates: More Mexican food, and we’re anticipating Kansas City BBQ tomorrow night!! Hooray!! In our bowls: Blue Bunny Ice Cream (it’s simply the best) with chocolate chips sprinkled on top.

On our Minds: New Zealand, you’re on our minds! We’ll see you very soon.

 

Home Assignment, Weeks 3 & 4

By Elizabeth

We have a system in our family. Jaron drives. I ride. We’re both happy this way. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had lots of time in this mode. We spend our hours cruising down the highways in a truck (ute) switching between the radio and podcasts like Revisionist History, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, and Planet Money, among others. We listen until a conversation spontaneously erupts, pause momentarily, then hit play again. It’s a great way to pass the hours driving across big states with wide open spaces.

Along the way, we’ve been with old churches and young churches, churches that meet in strip malls; cinder block buildings, and stately brick structures; churches under construction and churches with 80-year-old construction. They’re all delightfully fantastic in their own way, made so by the people who gather there.

During week three, we got to hang out with our LovingtonNaz Church family and with friends in Carlsbad. Then, Jaron and I took an overnight trip across the state of New Mexico to Las Cruces. Jaron’s childhood friend and college roomie is a pastor there. He’s the chill to Jaron’s spazzy-ness, so it’s always fun for them to be together. Someone brought homemade tostados that were to die for to the dinner at that church. Plus, the drive to Las Cruces via Cloudcroft is beautiful.

Then, we made our way north over the course of Sunday—from Pueblo West where we got to watch a baptism in the Arkansas River after the morning service to Canon City where we got to hang out with the sweetest octogenarians.

 

From there, we drove up, up, up to Breckenridge, a mountain town known for its world-class skiing, but it’s also wildly popular with summer vacationers because of the fantastic hiking, biking, outdoor adventuring and general holidaying. Jaron’s cousin’s family so generously offered to let us use their Breckenridge condo as a home base for the week. What a gift!

We scheduled in a couple of days of Sabbath, which for us, looks like reading, hiking, napping, exploring, and catching up on the newer episodes of Fixer Upper and Food Network. It has truly been glorious! We’re feeling so renewed and invigorated. Hooray!

Midweek, we took a trip to Loveland, Colorado where Pastor Robin and the Hope Springs church family were delightful. Now, back at our Breckenridge home base, we’re putting in some “office hours” over the next couple of days as we mark the halfway point of our time in the US.

Meanwhile, Q has been enjoying “spoil days” with his Graham grandparents. With more “spoil days” to come with the Dagley grandparents, we may or may not want him back. Just kidding! He’s having the time of his life and making great memories. We’ll be ready for a giant family hug when we meet up with him on Monday.

Fourth week Home Assignment stats look at bit like this:

On the Odometer:  2,232 miles (3,592 kilometers)

On the Road: 32 hours

On our Plates: Watermelon lime sorbet, green chili chicken soup, a giant omelet, and Blue Bunny Ice Cream (Are you noticing a trend with watermelon and green chilis here? We just can’t get enough!)

On our Minds: So many big, big mountains! We love the Rocky Mountains!

 

It was extra special to get to celebrate my birthday with our family and friends in the States. This watermelon lime sorbet as a birthday dessert was delish!

Home Assignment, Week 2

By Elizabeth

My favorite cowboy! <3

We’ve wrapped up our second week of Home Assignment—a six-ish week period that we’re spending with family and friends (old and new) in the US. You can check out the first week’s reflection here. Home Assignment is an important part of the rhythm of our life for practical reasons like sharing the story of what God is doing in New Zealand and on the Asia-Pacific Region, getting finger-printed for an updated FBI background check, and reconnecting with people we love.

We spent last Sunday, August 6 with two awesome churches. One of the churches has been a part of the work God has called us to in New Zealand from the very beginning. The other church was brand new to us. While they were only a 30-minute drive apart, they had very different but equally wonderful flavors. It’s so fun for us to see how God works through different groups of people in different contexts.

Our days during this past week have been spent with extended family and at the 82nd Lea County Fair and Rodeo in Lovington, NM. The Lea County Fair and Rodeo is a big, week-long event that is quintessentially small town America and a significant part of Jaron’s heritage. In many ways, it’s a throw back to days gone by when America was primarily populated by farmers and ranchers. Jaron grew up raising animals (chickens, sheep, and steers) to show and sell. He also grew up eating all the fair food (caramel apples and funnel cakes), riding the rides, cheering on the bona fide cowboys and cowgirls at the rodeo, and listening to the late-night concerts.

Q has been captivated by the rodeo since he was a tiny boy (he attended his first rodeo at 3 months old) watching riders get bucked and steers get roped. Decked out in his hat, pearl snap shirt, jeans, and boots, he stays up late, enthralled by the music, the clowns, and the horses, and the carnival rides. It was extra-fun for him to get to share the joy with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family.

The view on the way home from Denver City, TX last Sunday.

 

At the end of the second week, our Home Assignment stats look at bit like this:

On the Odometer: 436 miles (702 km)

The running total on the odometer only crept up this week. It was pretty nice to stay put, especially since we have some long drives in store for the weeks to come.

On the Road: 8 hours

(Kiwi friends–check out a map of the US. You’ll notice that the states we’re visiting all boarder each other, but they’re also really big. We’ll end up driving the equivalent of Auckland to Invercargill several times over by the time we get on the plane to return to NZ.)

On our Plates: Juicy red watermelon, green chilis, & ice cream sandwiches (Thanks to our brother-in-law turning 30 and my mom’s excellent ice cream sandwich skills! YUM!)

On our Minds: All the Fair and Rodeo must-dos—the extreme bull riding show, see all the show animals, ride all the rides, watch all the rodeo.

 

 

Home Assignment, Week 1

By Elizabeth

 

“Welcome back, Qoo Qoo!”

We’re switching things up for seven weeks! We’re writing from the US where we are on Home Assignment. Home assignment can be a confusing concept. Is it work? Is it holiday?

In fact, when one of our friends in New Zealand asked that very question (as many have), Q quickly piped up, “I’ll be holiday-ing. My parents will be working.” In reality, it’s some of both. This is a great time for us to see our families and friends in the States. We are looking forward to lots of grandparent cuddles, cousin play, and family fun.

However, we’re also looking forward to getting to make new friends and rekindle relationships with old ones as we visit churches in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Their love, support, and participation in what God is doing make our time in New Zealand possible. We’ll get to share lots of stories about what God is doing in New Zealand and across the Asia-Pacific region.

For people like us who live and serve in a place that is not our country of origin, it’s an important part of the rhythm of our ministry that allows us to serve elsewhere in the world, in our case, New Zealand.

We’ve been preparing our congregation and district for this for weeks and connecting with churches and family members that we’ll visit for months. In fact, we emailed a relatively complete schedule to our family way back in February!

We want to bring the people we love in New Zealand along with us, so I’m pledging to do my best to see this part of our world through kiwi eyes. While we’re on home assignment, we’re going to track the number of miles we drive, the places we go, and the very un-kiwi things we see.

Currently, we’re at one of our favorite places—Bonita Park Nazarene Camp and Conference Center, located just outside Ruidoso, NM. Located in the Sierra Blanca mountains, Bonita Park is a place near and dear to Jaron’s heart. Like his mom before him, Jaron grew up coming to camp here every year of his life. But it’s also special, sacred space to us as a family. Q made his first trip to Bonita Park at just a couple of months old.

We’re here to participate in the New Mexico District Church of the Nazarene family camp. It’s like a big ol’ family reunion complete with a rock wall, giant slide, zip line, creek, cool kids’ activities, giant cinnamon rolls, plenty of sunshine, an occasional thunderstorm, and really good worship services.

As we near the end of the first week, our Home Assignment stats look at bit like this:

On the Odometer: 372 miles (598 km)

On the Road: 7 hours

(Kiwi friends–check out a map of the US. You’ll notice that the states we’re visiting all boarder each other, but they’re also really big. We’ll end up driving the equivalent of Auckland to Invercargill several times over by the time we get on the plane to return to NZ.)

On our Plates: fresh cherries, salsa, and bacon cheese burgers

On our Minds: Sunscreen! Hello, sunshine! It’s good to see you!

 

Behind the Scenes

By Elizabeth

Last week I got to share a post on the Junia Project blog. It was really fun and a great honor, but I couldn’t help but chuckle as I responded to the various social media threads. My Facebook profile picture gave the illusion that I was picking blueberries with my son on a sunny summer day. Instead, I was up to my elbows in cleaning supplies and paint on a shivery winter day in Christchurch. I responded to various comments in between coats of paint on kitchen cabinets and making decisions about carpet. “This,” I thought, “Is the glamorous behind-the-scenes life of a missionary.”

At one point, it looked a bit like this:

 

 

And this:

 

With a little bit of superhero action like this:

 

But have no fear! The house will be a fresh, clean place for John and Abigail Carr and their boys to call home when they arrive in NZ in a couple of weeks.

We returned home Saturday night, just in time to welcome another pastoral family from Wellington for an overnight visit. They have three kids. Two of their kids are boys who like to wrestle, so Q was in heaven. He shouted, “Come again!” at least 100 times when they were getting ready to go.

 

Jaron Graham, Neville Bartle, Joyce Bartle, Alice Yenas, Regina Kintak, Wallace White Kintak, Elizabeth and Q (in front of Neville) in front of our house in New Zealand. The Bartles served in Papua New Guinea for about 40 years, where Wallace White performed their wedding ceremony and paved the way for Joyce to start a nurses college. Today, Wallace Kintak runs the nurses college.

Then, on Monday, we got to catch a glimpse of the broader Kingdom of God and how our lives in New Zealand are so intertwined with LovingtonNaz in New Mexico and the work of the church in Papua New Guinea. We’re all wrapped up together in the great big story of God. You can read the whole story here. It’s pretty amazing!

The short version is that Wallace White Kintak, is named after Wallace White, who was one of the pioneer missionaries to Papua New Guinea. The original Wallace White and his wife Ramona came to know Jesus through the ministry of Lovington Church of the Nazarene in the little town of Lovington, NM (this is the church Jaron grew up in and the church we pastored for seven years before God’s call led us to New Zealand). They felt called to the mission field and were sent to Papua New Guinea in 1959, just four years after the first Nazarene missionaries arrived.

Wallace White had great vision. It included a vision for a hospital in PNG. Not too long after the dream of a hospital was realized, Joyce Bartle, our current District Superintendent’s wife, moved from Scotland to PNG to serve as a nurse at the hospital. Just a few years later, she started a nurse’s college to train local nurses for the hospital. Today, Wallace Kintak is the principal of that college because a man named Wallace White from Lovington, NM led Kintak’s father to Jesus.

In the midst of all of the painting and hosting and celebrating the work of God in the world, we are in the final stages of preparation for Home Assignment. Very shortly, we’ll depart from winter on our lovely island for the last bits of summer in America. There, we’ll spend time with our families and share other stories of the ways we see God at work in the world. We’re excited to hang out with long-time friends and make lots of new ones. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to invite others to join us with the mission of God in the world!  

In the meantime, we’ll get back to the behind-the-scenes preparation that is our To DO list. It is double-sided, 3 columns per page, single spaced, size 11 font.

 

Parting Shot

 

There’s actually a river down there. The notorious Waikato fog was so dense on our evening walk that it felt like snow. Through low visibility and muffled sounds and a world shrouded in white, we walked in our own sort of Winter Wonderland.

Guest Post: The Pure River

We ended our time with our university students a few weeks ago with a few hours at one of our favorite places, Blue Spring Walkway. If you’ve read this blog much at all, you’ve probably seen pictures of Blue Spring. It’s a place that lends itself to getting quiet, making space, and sensing the Holy Spirit. In the words of NT Wright, it’s a place where the veil between heaven and earth is thin. We told our students to spread out, take some time to reflect, and listen to what the Spirit might be saying as they prepared to go home. During that experience, one of our students, Nathan, wrote the following. It was significant for all of us. He kindly agreed to let us share it.

 

The Pure River

By Nathan Cummings

 

 

The water was roaring, because everything else was silent.

 

The delicate green plants swung with rhythm, tugged by the rushing water.

The water is pure, blue and clean. What feeds on The Pure River, also is pure.

The greenest life is closest to the river.

What is the river in my life, if I were a tree. Is that river pure?

Am I a river to other people?

Can I be both a river and a tree?

Without The Pure River, my tree could not survive.

Without the Pure Source, my river is corrupt.

Are the trees on my river feeding on pure water?

The birds have arrived, here to keep my company.

Perhaps I am a bird.

I can fly away, but The Pure River always welcomes me back.

But The Pure River provides all I need.

Why would I fly away?

 

 

About the Author

The author, Nathan Cummings, is a sophomore history major at Southern Nazarene University. He’s into all things marching band. Nathan is a part of the fourth generation in his family to attend SNU. Here, he is pictured at Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan, NZ.

20 Cultures in 20 Days

By Elizabeth

 

Yesterday, we bid Kia Ora (be well) to the six Southern Nazarene University students and two adult sponsors who had spent every waking hour of the past three weeks with us. What adventures we had! Over the past three weeks (technically 19 days on the ground, though 20 makes for a better blog post title 😉 ), our volunteers built intentional relationships with people who represent approximately 20 different cultures. I am not even exaggerating! It was truly an amazing (and sometimes exhausting) feat for them.

Our “uni team,” as we fondly call them, spent their weekdays volunteering at three drastically different primary schools, helping out with our playgroups, and tutoring and playing with refugee children at a couple of area after school programs. They also got to experience the many flavors of the Nazarene church in New Zealand through a culture night complete with a haka and the traditional dances of the Samoan and Cook Islands, as  well a young adult retreat (think touch rugby in the church at 2 am and a full-fledged Samoan lunch). They wrapped up their time in New Zealand by hosting an amazing mid-winter Christmas party for our Kids’ Club. It included all of the traditional American festivities and all of the traditional kiwi foods. There was so much merry making!! In each of these places, the uni team encountered an array of different cultures.

However,  it wouldn’t be a truly kiwi experience if their time with us had been all work and no play. They surfed with our favorite instructor, Surfer Steve (click on the hyper link to see their awesome surfing photos), hiked the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, wandered through the Redwoods, visited Hamilton Gardens, and made space to reflect at the Blue Spring Walkway.  Along the way, a couple of them got special nick names like “Pillows” and “Squash Bug” from Q, dubbed “Wiggle Worm,” and  all of them were loved by the small one who proudly claimed his role as a member of the team and his new nick name.

The entire experience was one that is much better told with pictures and videos than words, and we certainly have lots of them. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Parting Shot

While most of the world is heating up… we’re definitely not. We’ve enjoyed a spectacular autumn!

 

 

 

 

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