Last week had the fun and exciting news about camp, and this week my life is still full on as I've moved and settled into my new home.
By the grace of God, I found a fantastic place to live that goes above and beyond what I'd been praying for. As an added bonus, God gave me a housemate who was willing to oversee all the shifting of my furniture and boxes from storage at the church into the house while I was at camp. Since I got back on Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed one last evening with the family who I'd been living with. They knew last week was American Thanksgiving, and they had offered to do an American Thanksgiving style goodbye meal for me. Sonja apologised that she didn't have time to make a pumpkin pie, but I said the only real requirement was that we each said something for which we're thankful at the meal.
I'm certainly thankful for this family that opened their home to let me live with them and have a safe landing place for a couple of months until I found this house where I am now. Before I get any further in describing this beautiful place, I have to apologise that the hosting company for my website has stopped me from uploading further photos because I only pay for the lowest category of website. However, I will be upgrading when I switch to have Nick run my website. Give us time on that, the dude just moved from Guatemala to the US with a six month old baby. For now, I'll do my best to use my descriptive skills honed over the years.
I have a red front door.
It's great, actually. My housemate Alicia (she wants you to think Alice before you pronounce her name so you get it right - A-liss-ia) even decided on that being the feature name for our wi-fi. It's such a cute door, and the house gets better once you're inside. My donated dining table is right inside the door, and I cannot wait to host Sunday afternoon lunches like Laurie and Dottie did for me for so many years in Basel. I also discovered my new-to-me couch, bed, side table, and all of Alicia's great furniture in place as well.
On Monday afternoon, I finished packing up my suitcase and items in Halswell before my friend Christy arrived to load me up in her van and take me to my house. Unbelievably, she was willing to unload and even help me start unpacking some items. She arranged my bed and helped me put the sheets on and even took me to a homegoods store to get a few more last minute items to make my life liveable and comfortable. Guys, I have a dinosaur duvet and zero regrets. Over the next couple of days I had lots more help unpacking boxes and discovering old treasures - plus a ratty t-shirt the NZ border control left in the repacking of one of my boxes, so thanks to my inventory estimates I have no clue if anything of mine might have slipped out... but the most important items made it safely: my map signed by all my students and my cardboard cutout of Daveed Diggs.
I am clearly in the right line of work, and I can't wait to have my second map start to fill up with Kiwi kids. I showed it to two of my year 12 girls on Friday as they helped put some items in my office after youth group this week. We were cleaning up after an activity my friend Hannah masterminded to help students think about the 400 years of silence between the prophecies of the Messiah and advent of Jesus. We did five different stations for students to walk through, and one of them involved glueing down a tile on a large frame and writing a word of hope or restoration on the top after reflections related to what was needed to restore our broken world. The frame we ended up sourcing had a black background and a giant gold map of New Zealand. I expected the students to glue tiles around the land, but was surprised to see all the gold covered up with the tiles in an undefined blob surrounded by black at the end of the night.
Hannah said it was a great expression of when our expectations differ from reality. They didn't do anything wrong, and it still made for a beautiful mosaic of hope filled words and prayers. A lot of my expectations have been met with different reality over the past few months... or years. I loved the twist, and I hope to hang the frame in my office to have a daily reminder of the hope these young people bring as they walk through a broken world in need of a Messiah. I want to be someone who is eyes open in expectation of God at work whether or not it's how I would plan it out.
I'm not sure how all of next week will play out, but I do know some bookshelves are going to show up at my house and the rest of my boxes should be unpacked very soon. I also know that my fresh map will have a couple signatures, and I'll learn a lot more of how to do my job well. The first tasks on my list are booking a marquee and bus for Easter Camp 24. Somewhere shortly after is booking the mobility scooter to make sure I can navigate and survive Easter Camp.
My life is a wild adventure, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Before we get to Easter Camp, though, I am going to take a breathe and spend some time reflecting on the first advent candle of hope. Those words of hope my young people wrote down included peace, unity, kindness, love, truth, equality, God's forgiveness, and healing.
Yeah, I'm still praying for healing too. We light our first advent candle and reflect on the hope the prophets gave us that a Messiah would come. I wait with eager expectation in hope that the Healer will soon move in my body.