Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Month: January 2016

Kiwi Camp (by Jaron)

Several Australians, a few Americans, and a bunch of Kiwis sat bleary eyed in in an early morning meeting. No this is not a joke…it was the last day of youth camp and the counselors’ meeting was justifiably quiet. Throughout the week, we had spent our days with somewhere around 100 youth between the ages of 11 and 17. We had worshiped together, gotten to know one another, stared at the picturesque scenery, jumped off of a wharf into the bay, kayaked in the ocean, and sent teens barreling down the hill on a 100 meter (about 100 yard) water slide, and stayed up way too late. In short, it had been awesome!

Even better: this camp, located along the beautiful beaches of Parua Bay near Whangarei, was completely free to our campers.

As the week went on our District Superintendent told me the story of how we gained access to this wonderful place, a story that begins with heart-breaking tragedy. Several years ago a young teenager from one of our churches decided to take her own life. As she lay in a coma in the hospital, the hearts of the New Zealand Nazarenes were broken. Dozens of visitors made their way to the hospital to pray and give support. Sadly, the girl never recovered.

Meanwhile, one of the local doctors overheard some of those who had come to visit talking about teenagers in the church of the Nazarene. That particular doctor happened to be affiliated with a local Christian campground that had recently closed down. In an attempt to save the campground, the owners had worked out a deal with the NZ government that would ensure funding for the camp. Basically, the camp would provide week-long holidays for at risk students in New Zealand and the government would foot the bill.

It happens that many of the youth in our Nazarene churches fall within the NZ government definition of “at risk,” so the doctor connected our district to the campground. The relationship is mutually beneficial. We provide a free camp for our teenagers. In turn, the campground is able to boost their summer numbers due to the size of our group which pretty much maxes out the capacity of the campground. It’s a win-win.

For the fourth year in a row Nazarene youth from across the District have gathered to play and to worship and to come to know Jesus. Our prayer is that from among these young people some will be pastors, some will be teachers, and all will be bearers of the gospel in a broken world. We hope and anticipate that the Holy Spirit will move among these youth and begin to change the very fabric or our society. We pray that when teens are hopeless they will be strengthened by Christ—that none of them will feel so lost and alone that suicide seems to be the only answer.

Let me be clear. God did not cause a young girl to commit suicide so that God could bring us a camp. That’s not how it works. I believe God’s heart breaks every time one of God’s children dies, for death is not what God intended.

I do believe however that even in the darkest of days God is still at work. Even when we find ourselves under the shadow of tragedy, Christ has still risen, and the Holy Spirit is still moving among us.

Whether we are bleary eyed at the end of a long week, or sitting in a hospital grieving and asking why death comes, may we remember who it is we serve.

“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.” –Edward Mote

 

Parting Shot

The Auckland skyline (taken out of the car window while sitting in rush hour traffic on the way home from camp).

The Auckland skyline (taken out of the car window while sitting in rush hour traffic on the way home from camp).

 

Do You Understand the Words that are Coming Out of My Mouth?

We find the elements of culture—language being one of them—so fascinating. This post could be titled something like Similar…But Different Part 2: language. However, I think the movie reference title is particularly fitting. I have caught myself thinking more than once, “I am certain I know the words coming out of your mouth, but I have no idea what they mean in this context.” While language school isn’t needed, we’re getting schooled in a different use of language in our regular conversations. We find ourselves asking for a translation more often than you might imagine. It pops up in simple situations like when a lady at church said, “John looks so sharp with his new braces on.” John is an older gentleman, not likely to have braces in his teeth. The lady was commenting on John’s new suspenders.

In addition, there are two national languages in New Zealand: English and Maori. A few decades ago, Maori, the language of the indigenous Maori people, was nearly extinct. However, since it became recognized as one of the national languages of New Zealand in 1987, the use of the language has experienced a huge resurgence. Both Maori words and cultural elements are required in every school receiving government funding and have become integrated into much of everyday life for Kiwi natives and immigrants alike.

When I was a kid, I loved taking the Word Power quizzes in my parents’ Reader’s Digest magazines. (This is most definitely Elizabeth writing, not Jaron. ;)) Nerdy, I know, but it served me well. P.S. Did you know they have an app for that now? I thought it would be fun to put together a little Kiwi version for your quizzing pleasure. Some of these words are English, others are Maori. All of these words are words we’ve encountered in our normal day-to-day activities and conversations. We can’t wait to find out how Kiwi your vocabulary is! You’ll find the answers below a few of the pictures from this week.

Word Power: How Kiwi is Your Vocabulary?

  1. Bench
    1. Something you sit on
    2. A counter
    3. Designated place for keeping shoes
  2. Jandal
    1. Door knob, handle
    2. Idea
    3. Flip-flop
  3. Sleep out
    1. Outdoor room
    2. A tent
    3. A sleepover
  4. Ute
    1. Cooler
    2. Pickup truck
    3. Deer-like animal
  5. Togs
    1. Gumboots
    2. Rain clothes
    3. Swimsuit
  6. Entrée
    1. the main dish
    2. food served prior to the main dish
    3. to enter
  7. Full on
    1. Fully dressed
    2. Active, busy
    3. Completely set
  8. Dummy
    1. Fake person
    2. Item on store display
    3. Baby’s pacifier
  9. Ice block
    1. Freezer
    2. Large brick of ice
    3. Ice cream bar on a stick
  10. Kumara
    1. Sweet potato
    2. Jeep
    3. Fizzy drink
  11. Capsicum
    1. Poisonous mushroom
    2. Bell pepper
    3. Native tree
  12. Hui
    1. To gather, meet
    2. Hut
    3. Fruit stand
  13. Bach
    1. Beach
    2. Musician
    3. Vacation home
  14. Pakeha
    1. Sachel, carrying pack
    2. Person of European descent
    3. Pastor
  15. Wahine
    1. Wife, woman
    2. Home
    3. Whiner, complainer
  16. Kia ora
    1. Be well, heathy
    2. Speak life
    3. Love
  17. Karakia
    1. Prayer, chant
    2. Special baked good
    3. Coming of age party
  18. Dairy
    1. Place where cows are milked
    2. Corner convenience store
    3. Cheese factory
  19. Nappy
    1. Napkin
    2. Diaper
    3. Cranky child
  20. Sweet as
    1. Physically attractive
    2. Cool, awesome
    3. Sugary treat
The boys took a much-needed trip to the barber this week.

The boys took a much-needed trip to the barber this week.

Q and his sweet friend O.

Q and his sweet friend O.

We ate delicious Turkish food in celebration of a friend's birthday.

We ate delicious Turkish food in celebration of a friend’s birthday.

Q had his first English-style horse riding experience.

Q had his first English-style horse riding experience.

 

Answers:

  1. Bench
    1. Something you sit on
    2. A counter
    3. Designated place for keeping shoes

When you are finished eating, please place your plate on the bench.

  1. Jandal
    1. Door knobs, handle
    2. Idea
    3. Flip-flop

Please put your other jandal on your foot so we can go to the park.

  1. Sleep out
    1. Outdoor room
    2. A tent
    3. A sleepover

It was so hot in the house last night, we slept in the sleep out because it gets a little better air flow.

  1. Ute
    1. Cooler
    2. Pickup truck
    3. Deer-like animal

I thought I would need a ute to pull a trailer, but then I noticed all of the neighbors have tow bars (trailer hitches) on their cars.

  1. Togs
    1. Gum boots
    2. Rain clothes
    3. Swimsuit

Don’t forget to pack your togs for camp so you can go swimming in the bay.

  1. Entrée
    1. the main dish
    2. food served prior to the main dish
    3. to enter

I had barely finished my shrimp entrée at the Turkish restaurant when they brought the biggest kebab I have ever seen as my main dish.

  1. Full on
    1. Fully dressed
    2. Active, busy
    3. Completely set

That little girl is full on; she never stops running around!

Sorry I didn’t get to call you; my week was full on!

  1. Dummy
    1. Fake person
    2. Item on store display
    3. Baby’s pacifier

Will you put that dummy back in her mouth so she’ll stop crying?

Also heard: That little boy spit the dummy (threw a fit) when I told him he couldn’t have any more candy.

  1. Ice block
    1. Freezer
    2. Large brick of ice
    3. Ice cream bar on a stick

Would you like a chocolate or a vanilla ice block for dessert?

  1. Kumara
    1. Sweet potato
    2. Jeep
    3. Fizzy drink

We love to eat kumaras stuffed, baked, or sliced into chips.

  1. Capsicum
    1. Poisonous mushroom
    2. Bell pepper
    3. Native tree

Capsicums come in red, yellow, orange, and green, but I like the orange ones best.

  1. Hui
    1. To gather, meet
    2. Hut
    3. Fruit stand

At our school, our hui time takes place on the rug at 9:00 each morning.

  1. Bach
    1. Beach
    2. Musician
    3. Vacation home

                    Pronounced batch. We stayed at a batch in Napier for two weeks of our holiday so we could enjoy the sunshine and white sand beaches.

  1. Pakeha
    1. Sachel, carrying pack
    2. Person of European descent
    3. Pastor

Hamilton, the city in which we live, is predominantly Pakeha, although there are many other ethnic groups as well.

  1. Wahine
    1. Wife, woman
    2. Home
    3. Whiner, complainer

Elizabeth is Jaron’s wahine.

  1. Kia ora
    1. Be well, heathy
    2. Speak life
    3. Love

                    Commonly used as both a greeting or a farewell.

Kia ora! I am so glad you’ve made it to our house without getting lost!

  1. Karakia
    1. Prayer
    2. Special baked good
    3. Coming of age party

At school, we will say a karakia together before lunch.

  1. Dairy
    1. Place where cows are milked
    2. Corner convenience store
    3. Cheese factory

Could you go down to the dairy and buy a newspaper, a gallon of milk, and a bag of crisps (chips)?

  1. Nappy
    1. Napkin
    2. Diaper
    3. Cranky child

I am going to have to change his soiled nappy before we get in the car to go to the zoo.

  1. Sweet as
    1. Physically attractive
    2. Cool, awesome
    3. Sugary treat

Derived from the phrase sweet as pie. Also heard in variations such as fresh as.

                    Sweet as! I love your new car, Mate!

 

Parting Shot

The bush--dense areas of forest--still grows readily all over New Zealand. It is protected in many areas, including the private property pictured here.

The bush–dense areas of forest–still grows readily all over New Zealand. It is protected in many areas, including the private property pictured here.

 

 

Sometimes I Dislike Sundays

The walk to church.

The walk to church.

I am a pastor and a pastor’s wife. Sundays are the one day everyone knows I work, even when they aren’t sure what I do every other day. Sunday is an important day in our week. Sometimes I seriously dislike Sundays. On Sundays my husband hurries out the door extra early while I prod a little guy to eat his breakfast a little faster and simultaneously chop carrots for the lunch that’s going in the crockpot before we leave for church. Sundays are the day I attempt to wrangle little boy cowlicks into place and actually use a hairdryer and a straighter on my own hair. They’re the one day the ironing board is used and the table is set before we leave the house.

I am convinced Sundays are also the day a child is most likely to puke on a dry clean only dress and a toddler is most likely to have a meltdown and there’s never enough time in the morning, no matter how early I set my alarm. “Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go. We’re going to be late. No, you can’t wear your Captain America shirt for the third day this week. No, you may not take your obnoxiously loud Black and Decker toy nail gun to play with during the service. No, you may not watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before we go. It’s time to leave.”

This past Sunday was no different. I was walking down the sidewalk with a massive tote bag full of snacks and children’s ministry supplies trying to cajole the little boy trailing behind who was more preoccupied with flying his paper towel roll rocket than with putting one foot in front of the other when my neighbor, dressed in his quintessentially Kiwi shorts, t-shirt, and bare feet piped in in his accent, “Good morning!”

“Ack! Where did you come from?” I thought. But my next thought startled me more. “How must this look and sound to him?” A frazzled mom, arms full, hair blowing wildly, nagging a dawdling three-year-old. And all for what?

For what?

For worship. For worship the God of the universe, the King of Kings, the Savior of my Soul.

I know as well as the next person that the ironed clothes and slicked down cowlicks don’t really matter. But if the truth were told, I make a practice of dressing nicely for other celebrations. Why wouldn’t I for this one?

And that meal I rushed to prep? The table I hurriedly set? What is that about? I’m not blindly following some unwritten law of pastoral families. Rather, I am making space to gather at the table, to break bread and share fellowship with brothers and sisters whose worlds wouldn’t collide with mine if it weren’t for the common place we call our church home.

As I prompted the little tyke further down the sidewalk on our 1 km (.62 mi) walk to church, I was suddenly captured by the image of another mother who walked to worship long ago… A mother who had a much further walk from mine as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem…. A mother whose boy, a few years older than mine, may have been equally distracted by rocks and leaves… A mother who had to prepare several days’ worth of food (not just a meal)… A mother whose feet were likely dusty…. A mother whose hair may have been a sweaty under the head covering she wore as she traversed the rocky path from her village to worship in the temple.

That mother knew the importance of worship. It was important enough to travel 103 km (63 miles)—100 times as far as my walk—with her boy in tow. It was important enough to go through all of the necessary preparations that entailed because she was going to worship the God of the Universe, the very God who called her, had chosen to use her, and had spoken her child’s very life into her womb.

Maybe some of the preparations were rushed. Maybe some of the food was wrapped up in the last minute. Maybe she had forgotten something. Maybe she had to remind a child or two not to run too far ahead or lag too far behind. Maybe she felt a little tired from all the getting ready. I’m betting that she didn’t forget why.

I am guessing that her neighbors knew what she was up to. I have a feeling that as they watched her leave her house, they saw a woman who lived with intention and purpose and peace, a woman who patterned her life around the worship of Jehovah. Truthfully, I hope that’s what my neighbor saw on Sunday morning. You see, the reason I dislike Sundays really has nothing to do with the day itself. It has a whole lot to do with my tendency to forget why I do what I do. Too often I forget what a privilege it is to get my household ready to celebrate and to worship and to fellowship. I have a tendency to forget what we’re getting ready for in the first place. Instead, I fall prey to the temptation to be rushed and flustered and aggravated at the morning’s demands or that my little person isn’t moving quickly enough.

I am making a commitment, however. I am committing to remember that any opportunity I have for corporate worship and table fellowship are incredible gifts. They are occasions worth more preparation than I would give to a birthday party. They are blessed privileges I am given every single week. That makes it more than worth all of the early alarm clocks and ironing and cowlick taming in the world.

 

Parting Shot

Lily pads at Hamilton Gardens.

Lily pads at Hamilton Gardens.

Dog Days of Summer

This boy. He loves animals and asking questions. And, apparently, embarrassing his mother.

This boy. He loves animals and asking questions. And, apparently, embarrassing his mother.

These have been the dog days of summer. Literally.

It began with a simple question.

“Mommy, when is Bailey going to come visit us?”

We’ve talked about it dozens of times, and will probably discuss it dozens more. That’s part of it.

The reality is that one of the hardest parts of leaving the United States was saying goodbye to our big, furry dog-child, Bailey. Bailey, who was once a roly-poly puppy with soft wrinkly fur and velvety ears. Bailey, the reason we bought our first house with an extra-big yard instead of living in a townhouse. Bailey, the gentle giant with a tail like a whip that whacks the back of your legs repeatedly. Bailey, Quentin’s first playmate, pretend horse, cuddle buddy, and backyard companion.

Bailey is a member of our family. However, when it came time for us to move to New Zealand, bringing her along proved to be nearly impossible. You may have heard this story of Johnny Depp’s wife getting caught smuggling their dogs into Australia this past spring. There was a big to do about it being a potential bio security issue. New Zealand operates in a similar fashion. Even if we found a company that could transport Bailey to NZ (we truly tried), and even if we paid them multiple thousands of dollars, she would have to be in a 10-day quarantine and could possibly be denied entry into NZ once she was on the island. Those are hurdles that seem a little high even for our girl who can scale nearly any fence.

My parents graciously offered to take Bailey to live with them where she gets daily walks, constant tennis balls thrown her direction, and grandparent-ly attention. She’s as happy as a clam.

My dad sent us this picture after Bailey played in the snow this past week.

My dad sent us this picture after Bailey played in the snow this past week.

But four weeks in to our time in New Zealand, this question came up.

The adult conversation that followed after bedtime went something like this:

“Just look at these dogs waiting to be adopted.” –J

“No way. We are in no place to get another dog.” –E

“He needs some company.”–J

“How about fostering a dog?” –E

“You never know what you’re getting or how long it’s going to be. Some of those dogs may have been abused.”–J

“O.k. How about dog-sitting?” –E

“How are we going to dog-sit when we don’t know anyone?” –J

Within moments we were signed up as official dog sitters through and online dog-sitting service. We figured it would be really nice to get to know a few families, build some relationships, and have a dog around periodically. It would be all of the fun and none of the commitment. In a matter of two days, we had three dogs scheduled for a total of two solid weeks back to back. And so began the dog days of summer.

Teddy--such a loveable pup.

Teddy–such a loveable pup.

First, there was Teddy, a large 8-month-old boy who joined us for Christmas. He sometimes had to be coaxed into going for a walk rather than getting a belly rub. We thoroughly enjoyed him.

Macey--Isn't she cute?

Macey–Isn’t she cute?

Our next week-long companion was Macey, an adorable schnauzer with a sweet personality who would sneak onto Q’s bed during naptime. We sent daily pictures to her owners. At the end of our week with Macey, her owners invited us out to their farm for evening tea. It was a slice of Heaven.

Macey's house is this 100-year-old home that used to be located somewhere near our house, but was moved (in 6 parts) to its current location by previous owners when the city started encroaching.

Macey’s house is this 100-year-old home that used to be located somewhere near our house, but was moved (in 6 parts) to its current location by previous owners when the city started encroaching.

The view from Macey's house.

The view from Macey’s house.

However, it hasn’t all been roses. In between Teddy and Macey, Cody spent one day with us. He was small, with long silky hair and a shrill bark that made Q cry. He didn’t come to his name and tried marking his territory all over our house. When his owner came to pick him up at 7 p.m., I couldn’t have been happier.

“How was our boy?” the owner asked.

“He was just fine—“ I started.

Then, the cute little blond boy standing next to me on the front porch blurted loudly–

“Next time we’re not keeping that dog!”

I still wish there had been a trap door in the front porch for me to fall through at that moment.

Dog days of summer, indeed! 😉

 

Parting Shot

We spent New Year's Day at Hamilton Gardens. Entrance is free, and every single garden is absolutely stunning.

We spent New Year’s Day at Hamilton Gardens. Entrance is free, and every single garden is absolutely stunning.

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