Haerenga means journey. I don’t think there could be a more suitable name for the last four months we spent in Christchurch. It all began in February when I arrived at the airport late, excited and sleep deprived to see Kirstin, Natalie and Warena waiting for me. Quick introduction were made, and once I’d passed the initial shock of finding out I’d be sharing a room (plus discovering Warena’s strange obsession with people’s heights), Haerenga had begun for me.
During our time in Christchurch we studied at Laidlaw, attended training workshops, had volunteer mission placements, and unearthed the realities of living in community. I’ve found living in community to be an interesting challenge – forming solid community rhythms sounds all good and well, but a big flat of busy people make it hard to find time to sit and be a family together. And then when tension inevitably arises it can be tough to deal with. Thankfully I’ve had wonderful people around me who offered support in any way I needed it – whether it was someone providing me with my own space for a bit or a confidential ear to talk to when I just had to vent. These people really showed me what it was to feel God’s love in everything that was happening.
Our Laidlaw study and training workshops were both rewarding and challenging. Through them the three of us were really woven together as a team. We shared the stress of trying to finish assignments. We reflected and wrestled together in our beliefs, actions and attitudes when faced with something different, new or thought provoking.
One of the most valued parts of our time in Christchurch for me was my volunteer placements. I was working with the Shirley Community Trust in their community cafe and with their fortnightly dinner. This time changed my perspectives on some ideals I held dear and gave me endless opportunities to connect with people and hear their stories.
I’m so glad to have had the other two interns journeying with me as we finished our time in Christchurch and prepared ourselves for Fiji. In these four months of Haerenga my faith has been more developed, stretched and strengthened than in any other time of my life.
We are presently recruiting Haerenga Interns for 2015. If you are interested or know someone who might be please contact Kirstin@NZCMS.org.nz for further details or visit www.NZCMS.org.nz/Haerenga
This was originally published in Intermission (July-August 2014)
I’ve been in Fiji for three weeks now and it already feels like way longer. The amount that has happened is unbelievable we’ve stayed at three different places and met so many amazing people! We spent a couple of weeks at St John’s, and were made a part of the family there. Over that time we had four short term mission teams that we spent some time with, two from Sydney diocese in Australia, an International team with Evangelism Explosion and a NZ team from Shirley, Christchurch. It was great to have these teams around and one of the Australian teams ran an EE workshop that we found really interesting and helpful. However, after spending time with the different teams, I was challenged in thinking through the purpose of short term mission, or even mission as a whole. The places we visited often had very little and gave us more than they could provide, and that was the Fijian way to do things. It went as far as a whole fishing village having a public holiday just for our visit.
It’s easy to feel like I’m coming in to show people how things are done. This made me ask: what does it mean to be a Learner and a Servant when we have the privilege to visit these places? Being a Learner-Servant is a key model that we interns have looked at, recognising we do not have more knowledge or skills to give, rather have more to learn and receive when we are welcomed to another’s home. Would we spend more than we could afford when a guest visits our home? How do we appreciate such amazing hospitality and serve those who want to honour us – their guests.
I finally lost it with myself when we at a village we were visiting and meant to be helping we got very publicly referred to as tourists. I realised that’s pretty much what we were, and it left me wondering how we were to do anything here in Fiji if that how we’re always seen. I spent a few days pretty unsure of things and trying to figure out why Im in Fiji, when one of the St John’s staff started giving me jobs to do and joking with me. It gave me a realisation that I was becoming a part of the family there, and to them I was no longer a guest at St John’s, I figured that if I belonged there, then I could get to a point where I belonged in Fiji and was no longer a stumbling tourist. As to where short term mission fits in, I had my big uh ha moment when the NZ team were doing their debrief and almost all of them talked about how they could be more missional at home. I figure if a few weeks experiencing another culture on a short term mission trip can change how someone responds to being missional at home then it’s pretty worth it.