Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Tag: Home Assignment

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.

 

 

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.

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