Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Tag: Kids’ Club

Marshmallows and Ministry

By Elizabeth

We have a tradition around here. We kick off the new year at Kids’ Club (our twice-monthly activity for kids and their families) with s’mores. The gooey, marshmallow-y, chocolatey treat that’s a staple of campfires and autumn gatherings all across the United States is the center of attention.  It’s a tradition three years in the running, so you know it’s a real tradition. At first, no one knew how to make s’mores. Most of our participants hadn’t roasted a marshmallow before. But three years in, we have developed some pretty marvelous expertise.

One of the really cool things about cross-cultural ministry is sharing cultures—language, music, clothing, and food, of course. Our friends feed us curries and pavlovas and savory pies and gelatin desserts made from seaweed. We feed them tacos and chili and… s’mores.  It’s great fun to share food and in so doing, share bits and pieces of ourselves.

When we gather each year for S’more S’mores, we’re bringing with us all the nostalgia of marshmallows roasted around a campfire, chocolatey Hershey’s bars, crisp autumn evenings, and warm apple cider, and we’re allowing it to be shaped and given significance among a different body of people. It becomes for us a symbol of shared experience, of an intentional willingness to do life together, despite our vast differences.

While any grocery or convenience store in the US can fulfill your s’more ingredient needs, our ingredients are imported to New Zealand. Kiwi marshmallows just don’t get that essential toasted on the outside, gooey in the middle combination when you roast them. Meanwhile, Hershey’s bars and Graham crackers flat out aren’t a thing here. We’ve done the importing ourselves in the past, but we relied on an American imports store in Auckland this year. Luckily, they had *just* enough chocolate.

This year, it was unseasonably warm on the afternoon of our marshmallow roasting a few weeks ago. We may have stood as far away from the hot fire as we could, but that didn’t deter us. We gathered, we roasted, we ate, we licked our lips and our fingertips, and we looked forward to the great year ahead. In the process, we were formed a little bit more into a community, a little bit more into the body of Christ that chooses to be united by Him and allows our food to help us along the journey. It’s marshmallows and ministry. Food and faith. Cuisine and community. The bread and the cup.

In the same way that we offer hospitality when we share our food with others, we reciprocate that hospitality when we eat the varied foods of those we do life with. We create space in our lives and in our palates for others. In some small way, gathering around the fire pit (or brazier, as kiwis call it) is like the disciples gathering around a fire to cook their morning catch for breakfast. Really, there’s only one thing that brings this odd bunch together—Jesus. In him, we find that we have a place of community and belonging. It may even involve marshmallows.

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.

Picture It

By Elizabeth

 

Sometimes pictures say it best. If we had to sum up our day-to-day life during this season in five pictures and five pictures only, they would look something like this:

1.   Fall leaves. The weather is definitely getting cooler. Leaves are starting to change colors. This morning it was about 15 degrees Celsius (59 F) in the house. Chilly. But the days are still warm, the sun is shining, and our lemon tree and grapefruit tree are loaded with newly ripening fruit.

KInd of makes me think of Moses and the burning bush...

Kind of makes me think of Moses and the burning bush…

2.   Who doesn’t love a little fixer upper project?! This was our best yet… way more attainable that an entire house! 😉 (Been there. Done that. A couple of times.) We bought this gem of a play house off of the infamous kiwi Trade Me, though it was looking a little worse for wear at the time. For a mere $26.00…  plus gas to and from Auckland, McDonalds dinner for the bunch of Samoan teenagers it took to get it out of the original backyard, Bengay for some 30-year-old guys’ backs, wood for the deck, paint, elbow grease, and some flowers, it has become the pride of the backyard, the attraction of the neighborhood, and Q’s happy place. But “We got that for $26.00” sounds so much more dramatic.

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3. Hey neighbor! We have a lot of neighborhood kids. And I do mean a lot. Maybe 30, give or take a few? We love that the little ones and big ones alike stop by to play (and quiz us on American stuff). We’ve had many games of tag and hide and seek around the house and through the yard lately. On Good Friday, we had barely pulled into the driveway from a service in Auckland when these guys rode up on their scooters. They noticed the Resurrection Eggs we put together at Kids’ Club the previous Sunday. Easter eggs are such a novelty that they immediately began opening them, and thus began an impromptu conversation about Jesus, death, and resurrection. Only one of our four visitors that day had heard the Hope of Easter before.

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4. Speaking of Kids’ Club… We have a small but growing number of families that join us twice a month for wild games, engaging Bible stories, songs, prayer and evening tea. It’s the church. With tons of energy.

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5. So you want to be a pilot? Q’s kindy (preschool) took a field trip to the tiny Hamilton airport this week. Jaron tagged along. They needed a bunch of parents and I was committed to leading Mainly Music at the time. Jaron and Q gladly used the opportunity to fantasize about their shared dreams of becoming pilots <insert terrified mom face emoji here>. In fact, Jaron was in a three hour seminar on how NZ health and safety regulations affect churches following the field trip, when he sent me this text message: “By the way… just googled the cost of getting a pilot’s license in NZ. Gonna start saving my blow money.” Oh brother.

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Parting Shot

We attended a tenebrae service with friends of varied denominations on Thursday and then had the privilege of participating in the Auckland Telugu service on Good Friday.

We attended a tenebrae service with friends of varied denominations on Thursday and then had the privilege of participating in the Auckland Telugu service on Good Friday.

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