Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Month: June 2016

Sneaky Shock

By Elizabeth

We took advantage of warm weather and sunshine and took a family field trip to the nearby Pukemokemoke Reserve on Monday.

We took advantage of warm weather and sunshine and took a family field trip to the nearby Pukemokemoke Reserve on Monday.

Caleb, the winter intern

Caleb, the winter intern

Lemons in winter... it's a thing.

Lemons in winter… it’s a thing.

Winter garden

Winter garden

Watching all of our guests lately has me thinking about culture shock. In the case of moving to New Zealand, culture shock is sometimes so subtle you have to look carefully to identify it. We’ve become better about naming it at our house, but it still sneaks in and catches us off guard from time to time.

Obviously, we live in a highly developed, westernized country. It’s not a country or a culture where everything is drastically different from our birth country. Instead, we make our home in a place that, in so many ways, allows us to rock along like we have our whole lives… until it doesn’t. It’s that whole similar… but different thing we talk about so often.

So many things seem the same, but it would be ignorant to assume that this is business as usual and that we know exactly what to expect in any given situation. And we’ve found it takes a lot of energy at some of the most surprising times. It’s an input thing.

Most of us function as full participants in most situations in our daily lives, meaning we’re in our jam, naturally tuning out all of the details that are irrelevant at a given moment. It’s what we do instinctively to avoid going into input overload. However, when we choose to intentionally engage in a new culture or situation, we become participant observers.  James Spradley talks about this in much of his writing including, Participant Observation. As participant observers, all of a sudden, we’re having to pay attention to everything. Those words, that voice inflection (Did I miss a joke?), those signs, this traffic pattern, these daily routines… and the list goes on. We are part of the scene and observing every detail of the situation at the same time. It’s input to the max.

Take Caleb our winter intern, for example. One afternoon last week, he wandered into the kitchen and said, “I’m totally beat, and I can’t figure out why. I haven’t done that much.”

Right. Except that he had gotten dumped out of the car (by me) downtown in a city he was completely unfamiliar with, hunted for a seemingly obscure coffee shop he had not been to, had coffee with someone he had never met before, navigated conversation with someone from a culture he is brand new to, and ridden his bike back across that brand new city on his own (on the left side of the road no less).

Then there was the day this week that Caleb set out on the simple mission of finding a coffee shop nearby to work from. He expected to type “coffee shop” into Google Maps, hop on his bike, and find a hip little joint with Wi-Fi and a plethora of electrical outlets and hot beverages to choose from. Everything he saw around him, his access to technology, and the prior experience he brought with him told his brain that’s what should happen. What he found instead was super outdated geo caching that led him from one mistaken location to another (some closed, others without coffee, and still others without outlets) until he was many kilometers down the river. When he returned home a few hours later, he ravenously consumed six meatballs and a load of pasta and then retired to “Mabel” (his camper/caravan/refuge) at promptly 7:32 p.m., not to emerge for a solid 12 hours. True story!

It’s culture shock making its appearance in the sneakiest and most subtle of ways.  We can totally relate. Research says there are other symptoms besides fatigue (our primary symptom), such as family conflict, frequent illness, sadness, mental fogginess, etc.

This isn’t a bad thing. It’s normal. And it’s important to name it. As things have become more familiar over the past seven months, we’ve experienced input overload less and less, but it still happens and will as long as we make it a point to be participant observers of the culture in which we live.

It’s a cycle that kind of goes like this over and over again:

Honeymoon (This is the best place in the world!)

Confusion (I totally don’t get this! What was I thinking?!)

Disillusionment (This is the worst place in the world!)

Determination (I can and will do this!)

Success (I am totally rocking this!)

At any point it can start all over again, marked by those sneaky symptoms that creep in when we least expect it.

So when Caleb described his time at a prayer group he really enjoyed yesterday morning with this little tidbit, “I was talking to people and feeling pretty good about understanding what they were saying, and then someone else would say a complete sentence, and I would just think, “I have absolutely no idea what you just said!” I wasn’t the least bit surprised that he followed up by saying, “I took a power nap when I got home” … at 8:30 a.m.!

 

Parting Shot

The view from the top of the Pukemokemoke Reserve

The view from the top of the Pukemokemoke Reserve

Once Upon a Time…

By Elizabeth

 

Madi & Tyler... got into things at playgroup...

Madi & Tyler… got into things at playgroup…

Paddy is such a great cook, host, and cultural guide! She expresses love through food (and sharing her wardrobe)!

Paddy is such a great cook, host, and cultural guide! She expresses love through food (and sharing her wardrobe)!

Ready to go caving!

Ready to go caving!

Waitomo, NZ

Waitomo, NZ by Brianne Morrow

Slime and "big friends" at playgroup = entertainment for hours.

Slime and “big friends” at playgroup = entertainment for hours.

A surf lesson in Raglan. What could possibly be more kiwi?

A surf lesson in Raglan. What could possibly be more kiwi?

Sari selfie!

Sari selfie!

Our monthly Telugu (an Indian language) service took place last Saturday.

Our monthly Telugu (an Indian language) service took place last Saturday.

Once upon a time, Jaron and I were college students with stars in our eyes, dreams in our hearts, and a vast future full of possibilities ahead of us…

In those days, Jaron and a group of fellow students spent time working in Spain and led groups of high school students to serve the homeless populations in Toronto. I traveled with my family to work in Buenos Aires and cuddled babies with HIV in South Africa. In each of the places we traveled, we were welcomed and guided by people like Ronald and Shelly who eagerly shared the culture in which they lived and served. They helped open our eyes to the wide world beyond our familiar boarders and facilitated opportunities for us to hear God’s voice in fresh, new and challenging ways. We journeyed with peers like Gavin and Jill who became great friends (and matchmakers) and partners in ministry across the globe. We both found that our time spent in cross-cultural experiences across the globe was significant and formational, and would have been even if we’d never hopped the pond.

There is something rich and challenging and growing about stepping outside of our own normal to give of ourselves, and to learn from a different culture and context. Its’ the kind of experience that shapes ones worldview in tangible and intangible ways.

So when we were asked to host a group of students from Jaron’s Alma Mater, we jumped at the chance, although we were most certainly confused about how we could possibly be old enough to sit in the host/mentor seat. Once upon a time wasn’t actually that long ago, was it? We’ll chalk it up to being mature for our age. 😉 We believe in the value of cross-cultural experiences, particularly for young adults. We couldn’t wait to be a part of investing in a group of students.

Turns out, we got the awesome end of that bargain. The mums and caregivers at our music group for little ones agree. They are wondering when the next team is coming! As we put our team back on the plane on Monday, it was with hearts full of gratitude for six 20-somethings who for two weeks willingly served, explored, surfed, played, worked, prayed, and celebrated God’s good work alongside us. They ate all the food (no matter how spicy). They asked all the good questions and listened attentively. They articulated the ways they see God at work in profound ways.

One of our students wrote this in reflection:

“A few months ago, I would of never thought I would be serving God in such a beautiful country. No words can describe the beauty of God’s creation and what I saw while being on the trip. Saying this, my word for the trip was fearless. I was trusting God with all my heart with my unknown destination and there were many moments on the trip where I had to tell myself to trust God and be fearless in the conversations I had with others. One of my takeaways was just being able to see and experience a little glimpse of Heaven while being at Crossroads Church. The diversity of the Church and being able to come together and worship God from all different backgrounds and nationalities was truly remarkable. There were many times during the pop up events that I had to remind myself that we were planting seeds for God’s Kingdom, and even though we may not see the end result it is still very important. Every person has a name and every name has a story, it’s our job as Christians to know those names and find out their story. Thank you for allowing us to come and experience God in a new, awesome, and powerful way.”

In a week punctuated by horrific news in the media, these six were a source of joy, optimism and hope. Indeed a future filled with the faith, commitment, and love that these six live out daily is a very hope-filled future indeed.

 

Parting Shot

Madi, Bri, Bethany, Caity, Riley & Tyler's parting shot from Hamilton.

Madi, Bri, Bethany, Caity, Riley & Tyler’s parting shot from Hamilton.

Through Their Eyes

By Elizabeth

It has been a whirlwind week around our house. 21 meals shared + 4 rounds of team building games with primary school classes + 47 puris eaten + 35 cups of tea + 3 mums groups + 2 neighborhood events + 2 caves explored through thigh-high water and thick mud + 1 Kids’ Club + 1 church service + 1 prayer meeting +1 intense mountain hike = tons of relational ministry. Our college students from Southern Nazarene University are still in the thick of it, with 4 more rounds of team-building games, 1 more event, two more church services, and plenty of Indian food left to eat over the next 4 days. I let them off the hook with writing today’s blog post, but I did borrow their team camera to give you a small snapshot of our week through their eyes.

Surprise! You’re going to New Zealand!

By Elizabeth

 

They six were just crazy enough to sign up for a huge surprise!

These six were just crazy enough to sign up for a huge surprise!

Surprise! You’ve won an all-expense paid trip to New Zealand! That would be amazing, wouldn’t it?! This isn’t that.

However, we have been keeping a secret. It’s the kind of secret that you plan for and you pray about. We definitely couldn’t talk about it. It most definitely didn’t involve a baby.

Last fall 21 teams of students from Jaron’s Alma Mater, Southern Nazarene University, signed up to go on short term mission trips throughout the summer. One of those teams was chosen to participate in a mystery trip to a mystery destination. They would find out their destination as they prepared to leave for the airport, bags fully packed, passports in hand. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we were plotting and planning and praying for their arrival.

On Monday, those six (4 students + two graduates) found out they would be flying from Oklahoma City to Dallas to Sydney to Auckland! Surprise! You’re going to New Zealand! A little over 24 hours later, we met them at their destination. Everything but one lowly suitcase made it. We offered its owner a toothbrush.

The next two weeks will be busy ones for them (and us). We have a lot on the agenda that will provide opportunities for getting to know kids and families all around our community. They are going to work hard. They are also going to play hard. We are on a mission to feed them as many different foods, introduce them to as many different cultures, and show them as many enticingly beautiful places as we can in just 13 days. We’re off to a great start.

Check back next week for the team’s perspectives and lots of photos. For now, we’ll let them rest. It’s 8:30 p.m. and I hear a lot of…. Silence. No surprise there!

 

Parting Shot

On the way home from the airport, we stopped in the small town of Pokeno, where two ice cream shops next door to each other compete for the best ice cream at the best price. Little boy heaven.

On the way home from the airport, we stopped in the small town of Pokeno, where two ice cream shops next door to each other compete for the best ice cream at the best price. Little boy heaven.

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