Time has been flying by here in Opotiki…we are still waiting for ‘winter’ to hit and are rather enjoying the warmer temperatures in comparison to the Waikato!
For those following our blog since the beginning you’ll remember our recent round-the-world adventure (which seems like it was a lifetime ago!) really allowed as to take a step back from our lives and think about the next chapter. We pondered a lot about where to live, where to work, and where to worship as we sensed what our lives looked like before we went overseas would be somewhat different on our return. When we didn’t get any clear answers we wondered if perhaps we were asking the wrong questions. So we started asking God slightly different questions: How do you want us to live? How do you want us to work? How do you want us to worship? He certainly answered our prayers, giving us very clear visions for how He wanted us to live, work and worship. The only questions left unanswered were where and what?
It seems, He has now answered those where and what questions, at least for this season!
As of Friday, we’ve been blessed with this beautiful home on the outskirts of Opotiki. We know that this house is not just for us (although, it does tick all of our personal wants and needs!) and has been given to us for the purpose of sharing. We’re not 100% what that looks like, but our door is open. The renovations have already begun, but after that hopefully short season we are open for visitors from far and wide and just down the road =)
As we drove out to the property last week on the day it (finally!) went unconditional, there were several rainbows hanging around which were a reminder of God’s promises to us*. This property was not an easy purchase and there were many hurdles at every step that had to be overcome. Knowing that it was the one we had been praying for we persisted and God answered! *After the flood in the days of Noah, God promised never to flood the entire earth and the rainbow was the sign He chose to use to remind His people of this promise.
Jared has now finished his role with Toi Ohomai as a Level 3 Construction and Allied Trades tutor. This playground was one of the projects the class completed and no doubt will be a hit this coming Summer! He has since been offered 3 different tutoring roles and has had offers of work as a builder…watch this space!
My role has had its highs and lows and I have learnt to celebrate the small successes! Some of the highs include taking young people on site tours of local industries and seeing their faces light up as they realise how many different opportunities there are on our back door step, helping a young person get a job on a local farm and one young person getting their Learner’s Licence. The lows include seeing young people with no hope or motivation, one young person being sent off to prison and losing one of our beautiful young women in a domestic homicide. Its a hard road to walk but I consider it a privilege to be working in this community, igniting our young people and giving them hope.
The family gathered for the annual Weir Family Mid-Winter Christmas (Jared’s Mum’s family) and it was a good opportunity to snap a photo of us all in one place. The boys seem to have a beard comp going on this year!
We enjoyed several weekends in Cambridge and one in Ohope as a family before this little guy took off to live in Zimbabwe. In 2017, Will and Narelle, like us, sensed a few changes about to take place and have ended up managing a resort in Will’s homeland of Zimbabwe. We miss our nephew a lot (and his parents!) but know that they are exactly where they are meant to be for this season! We hope to visit someday, and the travel blog will return, but meantime we will have to suffice with weekly WhatsApp calls! If you know Will & Narelle and want to follow their blog you can find it here: narellehenson.com
We’ve had a few visitors from Germany of late. Cornelia and her sister Laura came for a weekend in July…
…and so did Mona a couple weeks after! If you’ve been following our blog from the beginning you will remember we visited them both in their home country in January!
My first published work was launched at 24-7 YouthWork National Hui in Waitangi… based on the concept of ‘one starfish at a time’ (see next photo) IMPACT is an effective tool to engage young people in activities and discussions about the environment, sustainability, global and local issues, and their unique purpose. I dedicated this to my late Uncle Grant, who was deeply concerned with his IMPACT on the world and the IMPACT the world had on him. IMPACT can be ordered @ http://www.24-7youthwork.org.nz/publications
There was a hive of activity around our house a few months back. When Mum & Dad’s kiwifruit orchards were ready for harvest there were bins, tractors, forklifts, trucks and pickers from many nations everywhere. I enjoy going to the supermarket in picking season because you can hear the vast range of languages being spoken in our small wee town!
We’ve been on a few 4×4 adventures on ‘free’ weekends when we are actually in Opotiki. Our favourite is Tutaetoko where you can drive up the river for about 45 min. Recent floods and slips have changed the landscape a lot so its always different up there…which meant that we had our first ‘woopsie’ a few weeks ago when Jared’s parents came to visit. There was a rock, a big rock, that was hidden under the water (deep enough not to show any ripples!) and we launched straight into it as Jared put his foot down a little harder to get through the deep water. The old girl is still to be fixed for future adventures but shes still driveable on normal roads!
Before we moved and began the renovation, Jared spent a lot of time cutting down trees on my parents property and split around 12m3 by hand…we thought we’d put him out of his misery and hire a splitter for the ‘big ones’!!!
I named this blog ‘God’s Not Dead’* simply because we believe He is living and active and we can see His fingerprints everywhere. This sunset at Hukuwai Beach was a great reminder that God is the master painter and creator! If you are the praying kind please pray with us… We’d appreciate your ongoing prayer as we settle in to our new community and put down our roots here. Pray that God would use us in the places and spaces we walk to draw people to Himself. We are thankful that all the what and where questions have been answered for now! *God’s Not Dead is a great song and movie if you are interested! Find it on Netflix or YouTube!