Hello there, and welcome to our blog! We are the Sonchasers – chasing the Son…get it!? Very cheesy, I know, but it’s true. We are, in any case, going on an adventure in just a few weeks and this is the place to read all about it!
Week Four - Merry Christmas
For most of us this was our first warm Christmas, and our first Christmas away from home, and it sure was strange, but we still loved it! Being away from our families is especially hard around the holidays, but thankfully we have an amazing family right here to lean back on! We spent Christmas Eve at the Wharf Community House’s Christmas Eve potluck with a bunch of other backpackers with nowhere else to go for Christmas. It was an incredible night, filled with awesome people, good food (and lots of it), quizzes and games, interesting conversations and just all around Christmas cheer. Afterwards we topped it all off with a night swim at the dock with some of our new German friends, which was so much fun! On Christmas day itself we had some lovely time with just our team, opening our Secret Santa gifts in the morning and then going to the beach (a kiwi Christmas indeed). In the evening we were invited to Celeste’s parents’ place for another potluck. We truly had an amazing, if very different Christmas, celebrating with each other and our friends the miracle that is God born to the Earth. This kind of Christmas, with these people, is something we will probably never experience again, and so it was all very special to us. A memory for life, that’s for sure.
As the ministries and projects we have been working with for the last few weeks close down one by one for Christmas, we have more and more of what we call “Holy Spirit days”, where we just pray and let the Holy Spirit guide us in what we do that day. This is a great, practical way for us to really be spirit-led, as our team verse says. A few times this week we went out on the streets to pray for people, and though we do face some rejection, we’ve gotten to pray for a good number of people, and it has led to some really great conversations. It’s also good practice for all of us to step out in faith and approach people, which doesn’t always come naturally for all of us.
“One day when we had a free afternoon we decided to go out and pray for people on the street. Someone felt like we should all go to the Mount area, and so we all got into our van Gandalf and dove there. As we were walking down the street, we felt like we should go into this honey shop, since Mirjam had received a word about honey the day before. We struck up a conversation with the shop owner, and it turned out that another group of YWAMers (also all Europeans) had done the exact same thing with her the year before. We all thought it was so crazy that we came there again, and it was just beautiful to see how God is really pursuing her. We also got to pray for her, and Pauline shared a picture she got when Mirjam was praying, of blessing and encouragement. It was amazing how God could use the three of us together to bless this woman!”
– Pauline, Mirjam, Caroline
„On Thursday e had a holy spirit day again and a few of us decided to go on a walk to pray for people. Philip and I already had a few good conversations and afterwards the opportunity to pray for them. While we were looking for the other group I had the feeling to walk up to this African lady to pray for her. Later we found out that she is also Christian. Moreover, she is the pastor of a church in Tauranga. She shared her testimony with us about how God lead her to New Zealand. She told us that God spoke three times within three years verbally to her: ‘Go to New Zealand and teach my children’. On the one hand we go out to pray for others to bless them with his love but on the other hand to step out and to be prepared when God is calling us to follow. So it was really encouraging to see how she listened to God when he was speaking and that she followed afterwards. She also told us about her family and more about her life it was very inspiring for me how she is searching for God every day and how she is putting him over everything else.“
Street Help this week was rather quiet, with not many people coming and a lot of rejection. We still got to have some good conversations with the people we met and pray with some of them, but it was a bit slow. Afterwards we realized that this week maybe was about portraying Christianity in a positive light, which though it may not have felt like much in the moment can be very important. After last week’s chaos this relatively calm night may have been just what we needed, even if it was tough in another way. Through it all we have a faithful God, who uses us in wonderful ways and sees to our every need!
“This week of outreach I got really sick. I had a head cold on top of a killer migraine and a cough. There was one night we were supposed to do street help and I was feeling so discouraged. I didn’t want to stay back and let the team do street help without me so I decided to try and go with the plan of coming back to the hostel if I couldn’t handle it physically. Before we headed out we spent time praying together and asking the Lord about what his plans for the night were. I didn’t realize it until later, but as we were praying my migraine and sickness started fading. The whole night I went feeling completely normal with no pain! I realized about half way through. It was an amazing night of engaging with people and representing Christ! When we started cleaning up, some of my sickness and pain came back, it was like the Lord held back the sickness because of his plan for that night!”
This week was also, sadly, our last week at the Art House hostel. We’ve had such a great time staying here, and it really became a home away from home for the few weeks we were here! We spent our last week here hanging out with and making new friends, staff and backpackers, having a movie night with hostel friends (Mulan this time) and just enjoying this beautiful and creative place! On Friday morning we packed all of our stuff into Gandalf, our van, and headed for Taupo, where we’ll be staying for a few days before moving into our new hostel in Tauranga. It’s a welcome break in our routine, and an amazing opportunity to see some more of New Zealand. We spent our first days there mostly just exploring the beautiful city and going to not one, but two church services on Sunday at the same church, just because we wanted to. At the church we also got to meet one of our speakers from lecture phase, Helen Puente, which was super fun!
All in all we’ve had a really good last week at this hostel, and a great beginning of our short visit in Taupo. We’re very excited heading into the new year, so stay tuned to see how our adventure continues!
Auf wiedersehen und fröliche weihnachten!