Despite the sandflies I'm really looking forward to the weekend: we're working our way through Hebrews in 4 talks - a challenging and incredibly important book. Pray that I'll teach it well.
Family wise we're doing OK. The new car is running well, the kids are still enjoying school if facing up to the challenges of building friendships. We're settling into church and Ines and I have both started going to different small groups this week.
Job wise things are good as well as challenging. On Monday Nigel, James and Val were all in Auckland and we spent some time thinking about mission in a NZ context. Part of the day was spent with Paul Windsor, Principle of Carey Bible College here in Auckland. One of the things that Paul shared with us was an article from the NZ Herald which outlines the 5 cultural characteristics of Kiwis and their positve and negative implications. This excellent article is not online but the 6 cultural characteristics are:
- Modesty - "proud is something you're supposed to whisper"
- Restraint - "Tall poppies get mowed"
- Fairness - "Fair to a fault"
- Ingenuity - "Anything can be fixed with Number 8 [sic: fencing] wire
- Informality - "Jack's as good as his master"
- Earthy - "Get stuck in, give it a go"
This gives form and expression to much of what I've seen and thought over the last 6 months. The thing I'm trying to get my head around at the moment is that just because things look familiar does not make them the same and this requires more than intellectual assent; this is the heart of cultural aclimatisation here in NZ. The work, the culture, the country all seem familiar but NZ is not Britain transplanted 12,000 miles - there are fundamental differences that require adjustment and re-0rientation.
I'm realising that we're just at the beginning of our time here; the changes and the challenges mean that right now I feel deskilled and disempowered in ministry, in church and in life in general. Some days that's hard, some days it's just a fact of life. But the more defining fact of life is that God reigns and loves and sends and equips and empowers and takes the glory.
"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain" (Phil 1.21) Words I first read and learned on a team to Soweto, South Africa in Dec 1991. Words I'm now beginning to understand: praise God!