Happy new year everyone!
Haerenga 2012 is now well and truly over and we are all on track to settling back into our families and environments. It has been a strange new adventure to re-adjust to life back home, noticing the things that have changed in my worldview, and in the world around me. No amount of re-entry preparation can truly prepare you for what it is like to go back after such a journey, but at the same time no new challenge or trial can take from you the things that you learnt along the way, the changes, the growth, and the amazing memories.
It has nearly been a month since we left Fiji and there are a couple of things that have made a distinct impact on me, that I continue to observe and hold onto.
1: Prayer Rhythms – after months of morning & evening prayers at set times each day I have found huge benefit in the discipline of prayer and bible study each day. Throughout our time in Fiji I often struggled through these prayer times. I dragged myself along sometimes desperately tired, but God continually satisfied me. I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t go, but I would never regret it if I went. Another thing that became so clear to me as we ventured the roads of ministry is that even when you’re spending a lot of your time in a church, with christian people, or doing ministry, you need to make time to spend with God. In fact, ministry only increases your need to hide yourself away in him. Ministry, no matter how busy, can never replace personal times of prayer with your best friend.
2: Sabbath – In Fiji nothing is open on a sunday. No one works (except the odd taxi or bus driver), and church and fellowship are the most important thing. I loved sundays, especially in the villages, because you go to church with the people that you live in close proximity with, and for the rest of the day you can just hang out with each other with no agenda. This kind of church does not directly translate to NZ, and in fact NZ church is very different to the way we experienced NZ church. In spite of this, the sanctity of Sabbath has very much stayed with me, and I know it is something that I will be journeying in discovery with in coming times.
4: Friendships – Kind of going with the theme of sabbath, learning to simply enjoy one another’s company was something else that I learnt a lot about in Fiji. Although we were often very busy, sometimes on quiet days there actually wasn’t that much to do. This isn’t too different from boring days in NZ, except that there you don’t have gadgets to consume you or the money to go and do something. We learnt just to hang out with each other, with whoever was around. Through this (and much more!), God taught me to be present with the people that I’m with. There’s so much more to conversation than words, and there’s so much more to relationships than just doing things together.
5: Faith & Future – I hardly even know where to start on this one because it has been such a huge theme for me throughout this whole year. It’s been a journey of learning to trust God with what he has put in front of you (whether you can see it or not), and to move forward with the gifts he has given you into the immediate and future plans for your life. It is hard to have faith when you can’t really see how something is possible, but as you venture into it in faith you discover how much God always comes through and responds to you. God has grown my faith so much and this is one thing that always comes with me wherever I am. and as I am preparing for university next year and I feel a bit like I did at the same time last year, God just keeps reminding me to have faith in him – I saw him come through for me in every way in 2012, and he will still be there for me and working in and through me in 2013, and beyond!
It’s a whole new journey to undertake, but I have full confidence that God has great plans for each one of us for this coming year, and we are excited to get into our next step. It is great to be handing over the baton as the 2013 Haerenga interns step up – I know that for them as well Haerenga will be a life-changing experience, a 10-month God encounter! Thank you again to all our faithful supporters and prayer warriors – it was great to meet some of you as we returned to the country, and your prayers for us over the year was a huge encouragement.
Vinaka sara vaka levu, and all the best for 2013!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.