Sorry, Jennifer, but it's not about you.

I'm quickly finding out that blogging stresses me out to some degree. I never really feel as though I have the words to fully explain what is happening in my life, the emotions that I feel. I guess that is how every person who is going though a life-altering experience (and trying to write about it) feels.

A lot had happened since I wrote last, but for right now, all I really want to do is tell about the transformations that God is doing inside of my heart. Guys, He is moving in ways I never thought of and, to be honest, ways that I never really wanted in the first place. But I'm finding that sometimes, God puts people through their own personalized desert of sorts, a time that He breaks us down in order to then rebuild us.

This was a journal entry from October 8th, 2010:

It just so happens that I am right smack dab in the middle of the greatest journey of self-discovery I have ever been on. I am watching this trip unfold before my eyes, and what is unveiling is starting to look like the best and most difficult influx of lessons I have learned yet. It feels as though God is breaking everything apart inside of me, only to rebuild. The walls are coming down, slowly. The bricks of complacency are dislodging. I'm beginning to realize the fix that my circumstances, my upbringing, my actions and way of thinking have all put me in. I'm beginning to observe the expectations I've set for myself and the guilt produced from feeling as though I've failed, the unhealthy pressures I've been influenced by, the trash that blocks my character from fully developing into its purest form. I'm beginning to understand the depths of my selfishness, I see how much I've been consumed with myself! No wonder I've felt so miserable in the past. This existence I'm living... It's almost astounding to me that I've never quite understood this before... this life, it's absolutely NOT ABOUT ME. Here I was, going along thinking that my life, as well as everyone else's, would crash and burn if I didn't say or act the right way, appear perfectly put-together, make some super-human impact on the world. The truth is, I'm just not that important. This life is about BRINGING GLORY TO THE FATHER.
That is the ENTIRE point.
Knowing this, how can I go on living as though I'm the center of the world? Even if I stayed locked away in a hole for the rest of my days, God's plan will still fall into place. He will still save the world, WITHOUT my help. Now that I see how God doesn't need me even close to how I need Him, how much more wonderful is it that my God loves me enough to die for ME?
God has broken through an unbelievably stubborn barrier. So I find myself standing in the dust of this broken wall, with the bricks GUILT and PRIDE and LUKEWARM scattered around me... and I feel a freedom incomparable. And God leads me away to a quiet place where I finally see what my heart has been craving for so long: to come into His presence completely stripped bare of all that separates my heart from my Father.
And now, I feel more whole than ever.


How we got here.

Day 30 of our approximately 273-day adventure. After being here in Auckland, New Zealand for one full month, I realize that I probably need to explain exactly how Logan and I got here.

A long time ago, before Logan and I were ever married, I remember wanting to move to New Zealand someday with my husband. I have no idea why I had this desire…maybe I watched Lord of the Rings too many times. (I could to Arwen, he could be Aragorn... I know I’m lame!) Then, after we’d been a married for a few months, we began to talk about doing mission work. We felt so strongly about the influence that Jesus’ saving grace and love has had in our lives that we wanted others to share in it as well. So we started praying for an opportunity…

Christmas 2009, my uncle reveals to me that he works for Mission Resource Network (MRN), a non-profit organization that plants mission teams in Australia and New Zealand. First of all, I had NO IDEA that this was what my uncle did for a living. Also, he explained that New Zealand was in need of people passionate about Jesus. Needless to say, this was exactly the opportunity Logan and I were praying for! He could get us in touch with some folks who might be able to help us get to where we wanted to be. He had us send him an email explaining our desires, mission experience and characteristics that would be useful in the mission field. He then forwarded that to his NZ contacts. Well, those contacts sent our email to other contacts, and by the end of that week, we had 3 OFFERS from 3 different churches. We were shocked! I remember opening up the first email that said someone wanted our help, and I immediately became an explosion of tears.

After much prayer and talking it over, we decided that we felt God was calling us to work with the team in Auckland. The ministry sounded like it would fit us as a couple beautifully.

Next step… how do we raise the money to get there? That began a journey that was very un-fun at times. But God kept showing up in miraculous ways financially, it was crazy. After sending out countless letters to family and friends and asking many churches for help (which was to no avail, but God makes other ways), we raised enough money to sustain us for our length of stay. Just when I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of doubt, he came through (for example) with a whopping check from someone who wanted to be part of the Lord’s work. (And may I take a moment to SINCERELY thank everyone who helped us get here, we are forever grateful.)

So now, we are here, working with the team in Auckland. We help with “The Icebox”, an after-school program that gives kids a place to hang out after school instead of getting into trouble. There is also a bible study that meets of Tuesdays with those kids and it has been an amazing way to share the message of Christ with them. We also attend the church here that meets at the community house on Sundays and Logan is leading singing. We’ve made some good friends here already and tonight, we have our first Sunday BBQ. The team also hosts a Parent’s Night Out on certain Friday nights that gives parents a chance to enjoy the night while their kids hang out with us for a few hours. In efforts to get more involved in the community, Logan has joined a pick-up soccer league on Monday nights, I’ve joined an organic garden committee at the community house.

And we are happy. Today is a rest day or sorts, and we decided to enjoy lunch on the pier in the city. However, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what God wants from us while we’re here. It’s a slower process than expected, but we are willing to be his servants, and I think that all God wants from us. To be willing to be used by Him, to let Him flow through me.


Pronto prayer.

"So, church, anymore prayer requests?"

"Ah, yes, can you please pray that we find
a house? There's this one that we really want and would be
great but the landlord is hesitant because we'll only be here
9 months...but we're getting a little desperate."

(the next morning)

"Jennifer, I think we just got a text message
from that landlord lady... read it!"

(Opens text message) "Have discussed rental with hubby
and, given your offer and that u seem really nice... I will take you as tenants."

PRAISE THE LORD!! Thank you God for answering that one pronto!

It will be cheap, has a lovely view, is within walking distance to shops and the motorway, and is super close to the community center!



I drove on the opposite side of the road for the first time! Everything is opposite, the blinker, the gear shifter, everything. I felt like I was at the mercy of the other drivers, but Logan was right there telling me “Get over, Get over!”, so I survived just fine.

The past several days have consisted of lots of “discovering Auckland”. We/I have…walked the city, met lots of interesting people, been to many nice restaurants and markets, explored the beach, danced the night away at a hip-hop dance class with Morgan and our new German friend Melanie, had an awesome bible study with some teens from the Icebox, and looked for houses to live in, etc. I’m having a positively lovely time.

However, so far, it’s harder than we expected to find a place to live. Furnished homes don’t aren’t frequently available within our price range, one of the places we looked at has no water pressure while another doesn’t have an oven. What to do?There is something really nice about keeping my life simple, only living out of 2 suitcases for the next several months. It frees me, creates a lightening of the spirit. And it has made me realized how much crap I own back in the States. It’s kind of ridiculous. When I get back, I hope to commence a cleansing of my possessions that are deemed unnecessary.

Today, we are off to the grocery store and also place membership at this really neat gym that comes equipped with these massive hot tubs and every kind of workout machine imaginable. This is all in an effort to create a schedule for ourselves… because sometimes, in mission work, you must create your OWN schedule, and give yourself a sense of daily purpose in doing so.


Arrival in Auckland

So we made it to Auckland!

We’ve been settling in quite nicely so far. This is a really fantastic city- can’t believe I get to live here for the next several months.

The flight from L.A. to Auckland was… grueling. I had a weird reaction to a sleeping pill that made me NOT sleep. But the personal TV and movies helped bide the time.

Once we got to Auckland at 5:30am, Skylar Ely picked us up from the airport. Skylar is one of the team members that we’ll be working with. He and his wife Morgan are super great people who’ve been so hospitable. On the way to their house (while driving on the opposite side of the road mind you) we saw the most gorgeous sunrise. Perfect Welcome-to-Auckland from God J We moved into Skylar’s basement- they have a little room with a big comfy bed, and though it is small, we've made it our own. The houses in NZ don't have central heating because the weather is so mild, and this wouldn’t be a problem…except it is super cold right now compared to Oklahoma 105* summers. It’s NZ winter the moment. It'll get in the 50's in the bathroom when you're trying to take a shower that barely produces any hot water.

That first night (Friday) we went to the PNO (Parent's Night Out), this event they’ve created for the locals to bring in their kids for a few hours while the team provides activities and snacks. We got to meet heaps (a words they use all the time) of kids. And I can’t get enough of their accents.

The next morning we went to a wonderful farmer's market, a place set right next to a vineyard that had little booths set up where different people sold fresh vegetables, fruits, sausage, salmon, hand-made chocolates, fudge, peanut butter, eggs, olive oil and many other things. It was picturesque! And the people were so kind and welcoming, what a great first interaction with the natives!

That night, I fell asleep around 7:45 and slept for another almost 13 hours… jet lag will take you out! And lucky Logan- he's having a better time with it while I’m always feeling so disoriented!

Sunday, we had our first church experience. It was pretty basic: a few songs and then a lesson of sorts. Elijah Peters spoke about how though we fail in life, God redeems us from all of our messes. Got to meet some really sweet Kiwis. Only a few Kiwis have started coming, and Logan and I are finding out just how difficult of a culture this has been to reach for Christ. After talking to the team, they have found that though they’ve tried almost everything when it comes to mission tactics, building relationships is the only way to make a lasting impression for Christ in this culture.

Monday, we went to the city centre. Oh my, it is fabulous. I have always wanted to live in a big city. Now the decision is, do we live in Massey, the suburb where the team lives, or smack dab in the middle of the city? We shall see what God thinks!


layover L.A. style.

I can't even explain how wonderful this day was. But I will try to in 6 sections.

1) After a tearful goodbye with all of our sweet family, we hopped on a plane and headed to Los Angeles. Because we have a 10 HOUR LAYOVER before our flight to NZ, we decided to take full advantage of the day. My cousin Jill lives here, so she picked us up and took us to lunch at this extraordinary little burger place called The Counter, one of those restaurants where you build and create your own burger til its a mile high.. oh yes.

2) Once lunch was over, we went to Best Buy where we bought an amazing Nikon camera.

3) Jill had to leave, so she dropped us off at Manhattan Beach. We spent hours on the beach and pier, soaking in the Cali sun, watching the the most interesting people as they enjoyed just another day where they live. I am so jealous of these people ("What do you want to do today?" "Oh, I don't know, maybe go to the beach and spend all day on the pier and love our amazing lives or something..."). The weather was perfect. warm with a cool breeze. We sat and enjoyed root beer on the pier. And I don't know if you ever feel this way... but i felt like i was more for a little while. Like i was happy in a way that only happens to a person something like 2 times a year or so. I was so perfectly peaceful and content, with nothing but my Logan and God and the ocean to enjoy.

4) Around 5:30pm, it was time to have some dinner. And since we were only here for a day, we wanted to go to a restaurant native to only L.A. We went to "Rock n' Fish", a fancy little fresh seafood place right up the street from the pier, where we split a huge helping of King Crab legs. We couldn't help ourselves!! Maybe it was the blissful experience of the day nudging my taste buds, but I have NEVER had crab legs that delicious.

5) We then took a cab back to the airport... L.A. traffic is one thing that will make you not want to live here.

6) Now we're back at the airport and I've had time to kill. We will be boarding pretty soon- I am excited! I think my Europe travel experience made me enjoy long flights- so I'm not annoyed that we will be on this plane for 12 hours at all. I feel like thats when you get to really think.

7) One thing I learned today: God is seriously everywhere if you open your eyes to Him. We talked to lots of people today and noticed how kind people can be, even in a big, busy, noisy city or airport.

That's all for now, off to Auckland!


Here we go.

SO... here we go. Logan and I leave for New Zealand in the morning. We leave at 10:30am on the 18th of August... but due to some serious time travel (cool name for time zone changes), we won't get into Auckland until 5:30am August 20th even though we are only traveling for a day and a night. August 19th won't even EXIST!

Okay, am I ready to go and really do this move, to move to this completely unfamiliar place and live a life totally based on faith? Absolutely. SO READY.

Nobody has probably started reading this blog yet, but if you do- please pray that we have safe travels and that God would move through us for His kingdom in extraordinary ways.