NZCMS

A Successful Year According to Jesus

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Dr. Omar Djoeandy is the SIM Australian Missions Engagement Consultant. He has recently published a book titled “Redefining Success According to Jesus.” In this article, he gives an intro to the book below. If you would like to buy it, you can order it here. What makes a successful year? 2020 has come and gone. Possibly it was a good year for you, but many might have thought, “Good riddance to the year of the COVID pandemic, deaths, disruptions, recession, cancelled plans and failures.”I struggled with feeling like a failure because I didn’t meet some major goals. I was anxious and afraid when our income and savings declined, partly caused by cancelled speaking engagements.At the start of 2021, there was hope that we turned the corner. Surely it could only get better. Within weeks, we discovered that 2021 might be similar to 2020. Most people are still living under some form of lockdown, and life cannot return to the pre-COVID ‘normal’, even with the vaccine.Was 2020 a failed year? Will 2021 be a failure too?Most people suffer from harmful definitions of success, but they might not be aware. Just as we define a successful life, we often measure a successful year according to more possessions, achievements, external gains, and the fulfilment of our dreams and plans. We often expect that each year will bring more money, new purchases, unique experiences, opportunities to climb the ladder of success, and so on.When so much of 2020 was disrupted and cancelled, we are tempted to consider it a loss and failure. We are anxious and afraid that 2021 may be more of the same.Would Jesus consider 2020 a loss and a failure? What if we could see 2020, even with the losses and cancellations, with a different perspective? What if the pandemic – though tragic and terrible – could contribute to us being a success according to Jesus? Perhaps you grew closer to God as a result of the pandemic?How might Jesus define a successful year?In Luke 12:13-34, Jesus shocked the crowd when He contradicted the popular definition of success. Even back then, most people succumbed to worldly success that defines your worth according to your possessions, popularity, power, achievements, appearance and other external signs.Jesus warned against all kinds of greed – the desire to acquire and wanting more. Measuring ourselves and others according to worldly success will only lead to harm. But Jesus doesn’t just oppose worldly success; He teaches us how to be a success in His eyes.He mentions three essentials which you can read in the table below.

Whatever comes in 2021 can become an opportunity for us to identify harmful definitions of success and grow in ‘Redefining Success according to Jesus’.

Meet our New Staff Member!

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We are very excited to announce that NZCMS has employed a new staff member! Anna Smart will be our new Promotions Officer, working part-time with our Mobilising team to promote Better World gap year. In this article, she shares the incredible way God has led her into this role. Ko Te Tiriti o Waitangi tōku kawenataI tipu ake ahau i raro i te maru o ngā Remutaka maunga ki te taha o Te AwakairangiKo Te Ati-Awa te mana whenuaKei Te Whanganui-a-Tara ahau e noho anaKo hāhi mihinare te whare karakiaKo New Zealand Church Missionary Society te rōpuKo Ngāti Pākehā te iwiKo Anna Smart tōku ingoaKia ora tātou, say hello to the new kid on the block! I am delighted to have just accepted a role with NZCMS as a Promotions Officer! But before telling you more about this role, I wanted to share some of my personal history and story first.  Involvement with CMS is a family tradition, it seems, with my maternal grandparents, Ross and Pauline Elliott, paving the way for me with their years of mission abroad. My mother and her siblings grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, which has not only shaped them profoundly but also blessed me with a deep sense of connection with such a rich and beautiful nation. I have memories of praying for my grandparents as a child while they were living in Uganda, reading books that they sent back to us about life in East Africa, and mum cooking us her favourite dishes she learned from her childhood in Kenya. I’ve been undeniably shaped by the ways my parents and grandparents have chosen to partner with God in their context, and what a joy it is to recognise and draw strength from that.In 2019 I ditched university and took a gap year with NZCMS, Better World’s pilot year. So many things were learnt, new experiences had, and friends made, all of which I will be writing and speaking about over the coming months. During this time, I realised how little opportunity most young people get to engage with the world’s brokenness in helpful forums. There are not many safe spaces for our rangatahi/youth to wrestle with that brokenness, engage with truthful historical narratives, and practice participating with God in bringing his Kingdom to earth. Better World is one of the few. Sadly, the global pandemic has thwarted a lot of plans and elicited logistical gymnastics the NZCMS Mobilising team never knew they could accomplish. But God has been present in all of that. There is something peculiarly special about Better World, and I am convinced that it is here to stay.So, cut to 2021, and I’m sitting in a café with our director Rosie Fyfe and suggesting to her, with all the zest you can possibly imagine, that if ever there was an opportunity to work with the Mobilising team, I would be extremely keen. And folks, a few months later, here we are.So what does my role as Promotions Officer for NZCMS look like? I will predominately be promoting the Better World gap year to schools and youth groups across the mōtu/country. It is my privilege to be involved in the mobilisation of future change-makers, knowing that there have been some phenomenal mentors in my own journey who have helped me recognise my own giftings and strengths that I have to offer the Kingdom. Special thanks and acknowledgement of those people. You know who you are.I am full of hope for the ways in which young people can be drawn to connect with the heart of NZCMS, and Im hopeful for the future of Better World. Ultimately, it is my hope that people, young and old alike, come to see the hand of God in their neighbourhoods, whether that be in Aotearoa or abroad. And upon noticing that presence, having the passion and the tools to work alongside our good God to see justice, healing and restoration come.I’ve recently been thinking a lot about spiritual ancestry and the ways in which we are connected to the spirituality of those who have gone before us. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it does not escape me that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, especially those in my own whānau.  It is an immense privilege to be invited to work with NZCMS and to be part of the story that my whānau was writing long before I arrived. Who we are really matters because we are each created for different purposes, are shaped differently by our contexts and families, and have different gifts to bring to the table. Who I am and the people I come from has led me here, and I am excited for the journey ahead. To quote one of my favourite characters, Rafiki from The Lion King, “The question is: who are you?” We all know (and if not, watch The Lion King, you will not regret it) how much the answer to this question phenomenally changes Simba’s life. I wonder how much more it might change ours?

Anna Smart, Promotions Officer

Reaching the Nations from our Doorstep

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After lockdown last year and as I went through my week of debriefing with NZCMS, I found myself asking “What could I, a retired missionary and rather weird senior citizen, do?”The debriefing showed me how I was going in adjusting to New Zealand life, where I’ve come and how I can go forward.I’m an encourager and I have a real love for people. When St. Paul’s Symonds St, my home church, reopened after the first lockdown in 2020, I discovered they had an international ministry for students. So I asked if I could help. I joined them on their Wednesday “Free lunch and English conversation” sessions they had. St. Pauls is right between Auckland University and the University of Technology so there are heaps of people walking past! People from Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria – you name it!  I learned that Auckland City is amongst the top five most cosmopolitan cities in the world! For many of these people who attend, it’s the first time they’ve ever been in a church. We have about 20 people who volunteer, from many nations and backgrounds. And each and every one of them serves so that they can eventually help those who attend come to Jesus.  The leader is Jeremy – a Korean man who has just the right laidback leadership style for this. Some of those who attend are lonely, dispirited, financially struggling and/or poor in English. But most are also willing for prayer. One time a very troubled young woman came in for the lunch. She was from Sri Langka. As one friend of mine Grace and I chatted and prayed for her, it surfaced that she was a Buddhist. I thought “Oh I’m out of my depth here.” But Grace told her of her Buddhist background and how she came to Christ. And the woman responded! It’s so encouraging to see some come to Christ and grow in Him. After attending the lunch they’re then invited to join a Thursday night Worship and Bible study or the Friday English lessons that the church runs. When their time in NZ is finished, some of the people have gone back to their countries of origin and started Bible studies and even churches!More recently, I’ve joined the Church prayer team. One day as I made my way to the front to stand with the other prayer team members during a response time – and telling myself that I am a very inadequate prayer team member – a young Indonesian Muslim woman came up to me with a cry in her heart to get closer to God! I was able to lead her to Jesus and after just one week she is looking so much happier and has also found an Indonesian woman in her office who is also a Christian. Isn’t that incredible! Who knows what else God has in store for her. Recently my beloved sister died in November. Her sickness was one of my main reasons for returning. I still don’t have a place to live yet. But I have found ministry and I am believing in God for more. If you would like to know more about how you can learn to engage with the nations on your doorstep see our events here.

Dianne Bayley, Former Mission Partner

Mission Partners Miraculous Arrival to Papua New Guinea

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Recently, the Wheelers wrote an update on their arrival to Kapuna which you can read below. If you’d like to receive more of these updates, contact office@nzcms.org.nz.Hello everyone! We are excited to say that we have safely arrived in Kapuna, Papua New Guinea.  We’re currently quarantining in the home that has been built for us by the team here. We are incredibly aware of all the things that lined up perfectly for us to get here.  We managed to slip through into Brisbane on a quarantine free flight during a two-day window when the borders were open. That meant we were free to go out to the shops as well, buy a few more supplies and play at a new playground near our hotel. We felt hugely blessed to have all our luggage with us, as a large number of bags had to be left in Auckland as the plane was full.  Once we’d made it to Port Moresby, our transfer to the hotel went smoothly and quarantine began. Fortunately, we only had two nights before travelling to Kapuna because one hotel room felt very small for a family of five! The kids were a bit challenged by the food we were given too – Rice and beef for breakfast, rice and fish for lunch and rice and chicken for dinner! But we are fortunate to have food. Cross-cultural learning has started!  God blessed us again with our travel from Port Moresby to Kapuna. The forecast was for lightning and storms which would make the small plane ride dangerous and the long dingy ride very uncomfortable but the sun shone the whole way and we enjoyed a seamless transfer. The river ride was lovely and kept the kids entertained as they watched for crocodiles the whole way.  We have had an amazing welcome to Kapuna. We are required to stay in the house for the remainder of our 14 days isolation, so fresh fruit, (pineapples, pawpaw and coconut) have been brought to us as well as a few meals and lots of socially distanced chatter and coconut husking demonstrations.  We’ve inherited a kitten called Hobbs from a kiwi couple who left just before we arrived. He is very sweet and a huge source of joy for the kids. I was hoping he’d be a spider and rat catcher for us but he’s not showing signs of being a hunter just yet!  On that note, I’m not feeling brave enough yet to talk about the insect situation. The saucer-sized spider I came across in the bathroom in the middle of the night and who reappeared in our bedroom a day later has my heart racing even while writing this! I’ve been told it may be a Huntsman. All in all, we’re so grateful for the many many blessings along the journey to get us from Wellington to Kapuna. There were so many opportunities for things to go wrong and nothing did. Travelling to this isolated place is tricky at the best of times but in these times of Covid-19, there are so many more rules and socially distanced queues. And oh the paperwork! We thank God for his facilitation of all this. We’re humbled to be quarantined in a beautiful, tropical, super hot home.  The internet is currently very intermittent and only accessible when leaning, arm extended, over the balcony. Hopefully, that will get better once they can install a repeater but we’re not sure when that’ll be.  We’ll be in touch once we have finished isolating and are able to look around, be introduced with handshakes rather than waves from afar and put to work!Appreciate your prayers for health over this time. We’ve had two minor tummy bugs in two different people as our guts adjust. We have twice daily check-ins to the PNG Covid Controller on our tracking device app and also daily temperature checks. So far so good!Thank you for your prayers and support all.  Blessings to you , Nikki and Scott, Isaac, Abby and Levi from Kapuna, PNG  

Update From Mission Partner to Spain

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There’s been quite a quiet spell recently as I work with NZCMS on what this year will look like. It’s good to be able to share with you now about what has been decided. Thank you for all your prayers!After a lot of prayer, thought and discussion, NZCMS and I think it is best for me to remain in New Zealand for this year. It has been a tough season in Spain and we both see that what I need is some quality down-time in NZ to recover and refresh before looking at the next season. We agreed that as of April I’ll be on an extended Leave of Absence until November 2021, when we will seek to jointly discern God’s leading around a possible return to Spain.I’ve chosen to begin a wee part-time job at a Farmers branch in Christchurch to have some finances coming in and some routine. The job is three days a week so there is time still time to rest and as energy permits, be involved in other things that I enjoy and where I can use my giftings.Thanks, friends, for all your continued prayers. I feel a bit anxious but also curiously expectant about what this year and beyond holds for me. It has been incredible to see God’s hand at work and he keeps bringing me back to that simple yet profound truth of trusting in Him. Please keep praying with me for my Church in Gijón, Spain and also for the ministry of the Shop. My church still only meets online but thankfully the Shop has been able to remain open and continues to be a beacon of Jesus’ light in the community.During this year I’ll still send out updates on the ministry in Gijón, Spain and also how things are going here.In Christ,Katie.

Mission Partner to Priest

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Robyn Appleby served as an NZCMS mission partner at Msalato Theological College in Tanzania for six years and now serves as a priest with All Saints’ in Palmerston North. Robyn first heard the call to ordination in Tanzania. Recently priested in the Wellington Diocese, she reflects on the journey from first acknowledging the call to ordination, to fulfilling it.“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”I liken my journey toward priesthoodto God leading the Hebrews through the wilderness before the time was right for the next step of His plan. They had lots to learn.Like the Hebrews, I wondered what it was all about and if the wandering would ever end. They complained, were impatient and wanted fulfilment of the promise “Right now!”. Being the ”Doubting Thomas” that I am at times, it was easy to think that I’d been mistaken in the call to ordination. But it is God’s faithfulness and love that patiently leads, and He provides and teaches us through the challenges as well as the celebrations. I needed to learn the grace of walking into the darkness and trusting that God was leading the way.Like Abraham’s wife Sarah, I laughed when some of my students at Msalato said I should be a priest. ’Yeah right!’ I said.  I thought they were just being nice and honouring me as their teacher. But when it came up more than once in different contexts I realised it was time to talk to God about it. Unlike Sarah, it wasn’t the promise of a baby in my later years but it sure was a kind of rebirthing and definitely the start of a new life. For a while, I felt guilty about doubting and questioning but I eventually realised it was okay. Even the ‘greats’ like Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen asked questions about what God was leading them into and whose desires were driving the thinking.I imagine it was similar for Sarah when that little butterfly-like stirring happened within and the realization of something growing within her. Could this really be true?” She may have asked herself. “Is there really a promise growing and taking shape in me?’Over time and through conversations with trusted praying friends, my wondering turned into amazement then denial, then dread but finally excitement. “Wow!” I said. “This is amazing and wonderful. Yes Lord, here I am!”Fortunately, the 10-year journey hasn’t been as long as the Hebrews’ 40 years or as traumatic as having a baby in old age but I’m truly thankful for the way I‘ve been guided along through this journey.. In my 6th and final year at Msalato, I sensed a withdrawing in my spirit that troubled me until I realised this to be ‘Godly discontent’ and preparation for time to move on. This made me sad, as I love Tanzania and the people and the teaching, but the energy and passion had left me. I felt a failure and guilty, but to stay meant I needed to recommit another three years and that just didn’t fit comfortably.‘Hope deferred …’My first big test came when back in NZ, the diocese discernment team closed the door and said no to ordaining me! If there was ever an opportunity to give up, this was it. The temptation was great to give up and to take myself out of this sense of rejection and of not being good enough. But, like Peter, I had nowhere else to go! I believed in the priesthood of believers and I knew I had to keep going in faith. By grace, I was given a pastoral role in the church and I perceived this to be the call of God. was serving God’s people and building the church.However this was to be the continuation of my training. I needed to get over my sense of rejection and learn to engage with the New Zealand church and community. I only knew my passion for the church and I thought this to be the same in New Zealand as it was in Tanzania. But no, this is of course a different culture. Same God but different needs.I often reflect on the words of the “Hound of Heaven”/ All that I have taken from thee is not for thy harms, but that you would find it in my arms.  There were deep valleys in my wilderness – re-entry, culture adjustment, finding a home. And these were just small things compared to some major health and financial crises. But the deepest valley was the death of my youngest son with cancer in June 2019. All these are the prisms of God’s loving refining work. But even in the midst of all this came the invitation to reconsider and re-apply for ordination discernment again! I’m very thankful that it didn’t take another ten years in the desert, even though the repeat process was more intense than the first.Now I feel deeply centred, and I no longer wonder about God’s Call.Like the Hebrews who sang their way into freedom and the new life, I can sing a new song of “Goodbye” and “Hello” with the melodies that continue to grow within me.“Somewhere within my yearning has been metThe God of graciousness has gracedThe God of tenderness has blessed.”                         -Joyce Rupp

Robyn Appleby

Academy Opens in Cambodia

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It was with joy and excitement that The Handa Academy (T.H.A.) here in Battambang, Cambodia was able to open again on Monday the January 18.  School had been closed for the last 10 months due to Covid-19.  The Cambodian government set in place “Three Phases” for opening schools depending on how well the phase before did.  Because T.H.A. is a private NGO school we could open in the third phase. Originally the new school year should have started in November but because of a community outbreak it was postponed yet again until January of this year. It’s been a long wait!

From January 11 – 15  the T.H.A. staff spent time cleaning and preparing the classrooms, the hall, and the grounds. Alongside my work at the T.H.A. as the crafts teacher and helping with the English classes, I also coordinate the Learning Centre. I have 16 years experience in teaching Early Childhood and had some free time so I volunteered to take on a coordinators role to develop this program. It was started sometime in July 2019 by a visiting American team. I had lots of ideas and researched a lot more. I was told it would be for ‘Educational games and books’.

During our week of cleaning and preparation I spent time preparing the Learning Centre. I wanted it to be just right for when our students came back. I’d already purchased the furniture and the resources that we needed and had been storing them in my spare bedroom. I had shelves, boxes of activities, a basket of soft toys, mats, cushions and encouraging posters that I’d made and prepared while school had been shut. We’ve also had all sorts of books and activities donated to us from New Zealand and I’ve also been able to bring resources from various Expats leaving the country which has been a huge blessing. Previous NZCMS Mission Partner, Anne McCormick has been especially instrumental, donating her educational games, puzzles and the Khmer books from the activities program she ran at the hospital she worked at. It is a delight to see the students spending time in the Learning Centre, playing and exploring with the activities and learning as they go. It’s great to see their creativity coming out while using the open ended play resources, such as the blocks and construction straws. I’m spending some time with the teachers to help them understand the benefits and purposes of the Learning Centre so that it will continue in the years ahead.

Listening at Waitangi

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Ko Te Tiriti o Waitangi tōku kawenata I tipu ake ahau i raro i te maru o ngā Remutaka maunga ki te taha o Te Awakairangi Ko Te Ati-Awa te mana whenua Kei Te Whanganui-a-Tara ahau e noho ana Ko hāhi mihinare te whare karakia  Ko New Zealand Church Missionary Society te rōpu Ko Ngāti Pākehā te iwi Ko Anna Smart tōku ingoa The Treaty of Waitangi is my covenant  I grew up under the shadow of the Remutaka mountains beside the Awakairangi river Te Ati-Awa are the people with authority over the land I live in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington)  The Anglican Church is the church I belong to  I am part of the New Zealand Church Missionary Society I am Pākehā  My name is Anna Smart This Waitangi Day in 2021 I found myself curling my toes in the grass of the whenua at Waitangi, washing dishes in the wharekai, and swimming in the beautiful moana at Paihia beach. Unlike most other Waitangi days in my lifetime, I spent this February 6 immersed in the story of our nation, and what a privilege that was.  Listening and Serving  Our history as the New Zealand Church Missionary Society is deeply entwined with the history of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and so our identity as an organisation is shaped by the events at Waitangi, both past and present. For this reason, NZCMS sent a small group of staff and friends of NZCMS to join the Karuwhā Trust in their Hīkoi ki Waitangi 2021, to learn more about our collective history. Ngā mihi nui Karuwhā Trust for your mahi. For myself and many others, the central objective of this hīkoi was to go to Waitangi to listen and serve.  The weekend was spent visiting significant historical locations related to Te Tiriti o Waitangi  – alongside tangata whenua and assisted by qualified historical narrators -, serving with hau kainga at Te Tii marae, swimming in warm Northland waters, observing public commemorations, asking plenty of hard questions and learning new things.  In my reflections of the weekend, I am reminded of Mary and Martha’s story in Luke 10:38-42.  Like Mary’s part in the story, this week was about listening. In this particular story, Jesus emphasises Mary’s choice to sit at his feet and listen, and I’d like to think that when Martha was called out of her work to listen to Jesus, after some time they’d all get up and start working together. Much like this story, it is essential that we in Aotearoa take the time to listen to our partners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi so that we might be able to work together well.  In this beautiful nation of Aotearoa, we have a complex history that colours our landscape and shapes the people that have walked, currently walk, and will walk in this land. For so long, this story has predominately been told through a Pākehā perspective, in a way that dodges the uncomfortable parts, the gruesome parts, and some of the really profound parts. In this moment of information accessibility, the ability to borrow books and use Google, we must extend our horizons of learning. Especially for those of us who identify as Pākehā, we must learn how to listen. As we have conversations in the church in Aotearoa about local mission and the decolonisation of mission, we must place Te Tiriti o Waitanig, te kawenata tapu – the sacred covenant – at the centre of these discussions.  Choosing Powerlessness I’d like to speak directly to my Pākehā readers now Something I have been reflecting on while I’ve been in Northland is the importance of choosing powerlessness as a wāhine Pākehā. As a Pākehā living in a Pākehā dominated society, I, by virtue of my skin colour and my whakapapa, have more privileges and power than my Māori friends. When I enter a te ao Māori context, it is essential that I put down that power, choose the place of powerlessness and of humble learning and service. This choosing of powerlessness and of choosing interdependence with others is the way of Jesus.  By placing myself into this place of powerlessness and interdependence I can begin to put my worldview aside and try and step into that of another. I begin to see things I wouldn’t otherwise. I certainly don’t get it right all the time. I choose self-preservation over vulnerability, and there is grace for that. It is, after all, a process of learning. But to walk towards reconciliation, us Pākehā need to learn to put down our power and pick up a spirit of repentance, of humility. I’ve learned these things while ironing tablecloths with hau kainga. While watching the sunrise above the flagstaff on the Treaty Grounds. While eating watermelon under the Northland sun.  From this stance of listening and serving, we are able to enter friendship. When we have a foundation of relationship, we can walk towards honouring Te Tiriti, towards reconciliation, towards partnership with each other. When we dance this delicate dance of friendship, not shying away from that which renders us vulnerable or afraid, we journey closer to one another. Brené Brown, an American professor, said “…it is hard to hate anyone close up”, and to that I say, lean in.  Our time with the Karuwhā Trust, being so generously hosted by Te Tii marae, and serving alongside hau kainga, was the utmost privilege. For me, it felt like a look into the possibility of being reconciled to one another. I have been left with more questions than I have answers, and that is okay. There are many things I am reflecting on and will be writing about in coming weeks, but for now, I leave you with the challenge of deep listening. As Te Rautini sing in their song Te Ao Marama; “Listen to the land, listen to the spirit, listen to the breath, listen to the life we share.”  Anna writes regularly in her blog which you can check out here.

Anna Smart, NZCMS Short Term Intern

Imminent Departure to Papua New Guinea

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Booking flights is the season of Covid-19 and uncertainty is our current challenge.We were so relieved to receive our Visa’s just before Christmas but unfortunately, our travel path may involve a two week quarantine period in Brisbane rather than the usual four hour transit period. We would appreciate prayer for the situation as we would really like to avoid quarantining in both Brisbane as well as Port Moresby! The NZCMS travel agent is working amazingly hard for us exploring all options, so please pray for her as she supports us and also our safety from the virus while we travel. We trust that God has this journey all mapped out for us, so we are just taking it day by day, decision by decision as we have been to date. At the moment all of our actions are pushing us towards a departure date of February 23. We have seen God’s hand in the acquisition of our vaccines. Some of the less common vaccines we require aren’t usually kept in New Zealand and need to be ordered from Australia. They’re not easy to come by at the moment with limited international movement and this has been a tricky area to navigate. Despite this, our travel Dr. has managed to get hold of everything we need and we had our first round of vaccinations last week!We are looking forward to finally getting to Kapuna where we will be serving. The community has been patiently awaiting our arrival. We received a lovely email saying they have planted some plants near our house in anticipation of our arrival! Please join us as we pray for safe travel and transit and quarantine.Go here if you’d like to support the Wheeler’s.

Grateful for My 2020 Life

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Many of you had little to be grateful for last year – my heart goes out to you. To those who lost loved ones, your jobs, or even your motivation to keep going, I pray that this 2021 brings renewal and joy. We mourn and laugh together.I was fortunate enough to have much to be grateful for despite the challenges. I express this gratefulness with some trepidation. Not out of pride or competition, but perhaps to spark a little joy and hope for the year ahead. I am grateful for so many things in 2020. Here are seven.Grateful for our home. Simple by New Zealand standards, while opulent in the eyes of many Ugandans. Just being at home can fill our cup. “For the homeless and the cosseted, may your home be simple, warm and welcoming.”Grateful that coronavirus largely spared the poorest region on earth. Here in sub-saharan Africa (besides South Africa), coronavirus hasn’t wreaked havoc. It’s rare to have a global tragedy where the poorest suffer less than the rich, but the respite is welcome.Grateful that we launched 11 OneDay Health Centers this year, and extend healthcare to tens of thousands of people in remote places. I’m Especially grateful for Emma in Gulu, Josephine in Kitgum and Innocent in Lira who overcame dead months and transport challenges to achieve remarkable things.Grateful for my inspirational wife, who will again tomorrow bike 100km on dirt roads to help remote communities both keep their only home and aspire towards an unlikely but beautiful peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”Grateful for the overflowing generosity of people who thought beyond themselves during a crisis to give even more than we needed to live here this year, and to support launching health centers, building health centers, peacemaking and co-vid relief. You know who you are.Grateful for our nurses Elec And Acire, who overcame enormous odds to work with the community and build a beautiful new 4 room health center in Pwunu Dyang. The community now boasts the most remote health center in the Gulu sub-region, more than 4 hours travel from town.Grateful for one of the best holidays I’ve had in years, with a bunch of fine people who both think and care deeply about the people around them.Grateful for discovering John Mark Comer, a spiritual teacher who has sparked new insights into our world, our culture and the sorry state of my own heart. I’ve realized more than ever the need to work first on myself before I leap too fast to judge others.“…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Nick Laing, Mission Partner to Uganda