Hey Everyone, just thought I would update you on what has been happening both here in New Zealand and in my own life over the past few months and what is to come in the next few!
I think unexpected is a word that has new meaning to it for the world today. We all looked forward to the year 2020. What will it hold? What will we do? Who will we meet? The places we find ourselves in now are not what we expected. I know for many this time has been devastating, lost loved ones, lost business’s, families strung across nations; for others this time has meant that Mum and Dad are both home, that they have time to do all the little things that bring them joy, but usually can’t do, that they have more time to spend with their loved one. Wherever this pandemic has put you, I am thankful to have confidence that we serve a God who never experiences unexpected, a God who is never out of control or surprised. A God who takes what the Devil meant for evil and uses it for good. I am thankful to find comfort and peace in the truth that God knows far more than I do.
Just over a month ago New Zealand announced that we as a nation will go into complete lockdown for 4 weeks, with this information and the uncertainty of borders closing and reopening for both NZ and the home nations of our students, the school decided to cancel the remainder of the semester and move to online classes. Over at 72 hour period before lockdown was enforced we attempted to get all of our students on planes back to their home countries. This was a time of confusion and chaos for most of our students and myself. There was a lot of questioning why God would allow everyone to get here, get settled and then just like that have to go home; why would God strip away those relationships and friendships that had just begun to blossom; why would God take away all the amazing opportunities and plans we had for semester, after all they were to serve Him. In all honesty, I had some of these questions and some of them I still don’t know the answer. I am thankful that in times of unknown and unexpected we can trust that Lord knows better and is in control. I am so thankful for the semester that was had and what the Lord did in and through the students that were able to be here. His timing is perfect and we can rest and trust that He is in control always. I have seen glimpses of His hand through the change in plans, I was blessed to see students take the concepts of God’s comfort, control and guidance that they had been so faithfully studying suddenly become a lifeline, something they had to put into practice and experience in their own lives. Not only did I get to witness this in the students lives, but I had to take on all the things that I have been learning and encouraging the students to learn and practice them myself. I had to once again put my trust and faith in the Lord and allow Him to be my strength so that I could be a strength and positive outlet for the students. We refer to this week, as the “week from hell”, but thankfully we did not stay in that week. As time continued throughout this week big bills were paid for not so great flights, many tears were shed, ample face masks were worn, various students stranded in various airports and early morning airport runs were endless, despite all that stood in the way, we serve a God of impossibilities and majority of our students made it home, safe and healthy.
The moment the last few students got on planes I felt like I could breath again. They were going home and they were safe. In the chaos of this week I didn’t have much time to think how much this all affected me. Suddenly, New Zealand went into complete lockdown. No unnecessary travel was permitted, those who were left on campus had to break up into small groups and keep our distance from the other people on campus. I was separated from my family, Joe and my friends around the country. Myself and 3 remaining student and staff girls became a “bubble”. Even in this the Lord had a purpose and plan. The past 6 weeks of isolation have been some of the most testing I have experienced. Being the way I am; extroverted, a busybody and loud, this time has been the complete opposite of everything I love. Lots of time, with not a lot to do, very quiet and I found myself surrounded by people very different to me in every way. But, God knew what He was doing, as usual! The Lord has taught me many things in this time, one being that I have been blessed beyond words by the people in my life, my family, friends and Joe! Even from a distance they bring me encouragement, love and joy, daily. God showed me one specific thing the first week of isolation, He showed me that in my busyness and desire to help others I neglect my own needs, which in some ways is a blessing. I can survive with very little and I expect little from people, but the Lord showed me that this neglect of my own needs had creeped into a neglect of my own personal relationship with Him. With this realisation, He has been teaching me what it is to truly abide in Him, to see what that means and how that practically looks. I have learned so much about having a fruitful relationship with Him and what it is to know Him and hear His voice daily. This has been lifeline for surviving through this isolation and maintaining a joyful attitude throughout this confusing and lonely time. I have learned to be content and thankful for this time!
Some of the best moments from Semester
So what is next? At the beginning of 2020 the Lord confirmed to me that February 2020 would be my last semester working on Staff at CCBI and that He was directing me towards a new adventure. The initial plan was to finish out semester and move to Tauranga in June to begin working and serving alongside Shoreline Calvary and to be in a position to establish a home and life with Joe. Due to the drastic changes because of the Pandemic, I have had to restructure accomodation and timing, but the skeleton of the next steps are the same. God has been so faithful and good to continue to guide my steps and show me how to take steps in the craziness of today. So, when New Zealand loosens its restrictions I will be moving to Tauranga and begin working part time and getting more involved in Shoreline Calvary. I will continue to be involved in the youth, children’s and women ministry. I have a heart to serve and reach out to the community and people in Tauranga. I am excited to see what the Lord will do and I am so thankful that I am able to move to a place that has a community and church that I love. The Lord has been teaching me and restructuring my views on what it is to do ministry and what it looks like to serve Him in all areas of life. Please be praying as I continue to move forward in preparations for the move, there are many things that are still unresolved and prayerfully will fall into place.
One last thing that is to come, Cultivate Winter Retreat. Thankfully, because New Zealand appears to be coming to the end of lockdown we are hoping to continue with Cultivate Winter Retreat in July. This is a 4 day retreat that is aimed to bring the youth from our Summer Programme back together to continue to catch up, establish and encourage them in their walks with Jesus. Please be praying that the Lord would provide financially for the students to attend, and that the Lord would open all the necessary doors for the Winter Retreat to go forward.
If you are interested in the ministry at Shoreline Calvary, CCBI or Cultivate Discipleship Programme please feel free to ask or send an email.
Please be Praying:
- The Lord continued guidance and provision for the practicalities of moving
- Cultivate Winter Retreat – July 10th-13th
- Wisdom for churches and ministries around New Zealand with regards to functioning under Covid-19 restrictions
- New Zealand’s, and the rest of the Worlds, continued fight against Covid-19
- Upcoming August 2020 CCBI Semester