At the age of 18, the 2012 Haerenga Internship was an incredible journey in my character. It was also a chance to discover God’s love for me and for the world. With an invitation to “grow in my faith” after Confirmation, Bible College was the last thing on my mind. Why not join an overseas mission trip and sunbathe on the beach!? I pursued this idea and received far more than a crisp tan… Haerenga was an experience that nurtured my faith and challenged me to share it with others. My eyes were opened to a calling that desires more than just Sunday mornings, and my insecurity was transformed as I discovered a voice and the truth of the Gospel. God revealed himself, not as boring and distant, but as exciting, real and relational – a God of power and love. It was a huge encouragement to grow with other young Christians on Haerenga, and we realised that Christ’s Body is alive and active all over the world.
This exciting new journey never finished as Haerenga 2012 came to an end. Since returning to NZ, God has used my new joy for him and the skills I learnt to further his Kingdom. In 2013 I took hold of a wonderful opportunity to work as the South Canterbury Evangelism and Under 40s Enabler. God’s Kingdom continues to grow in my own life as well, and studying at Laidlaw Bible College has become a great reality. Jesus’ words in John 10:10 took on flesh during the internship. His promise of life “to the full” will remain true for the years to come, and for the many others who decide to step out on Haerenga.
If you or someone you know might be interested in the Haerenga Mission Internship 2015, check out www.nzcms.org.nz/haerenga
I have now officially been a Waidradra villager for one week! First impressions… Hmmm. There’s so much life! Kids running around, dogs in various states, puppies and chickens popping up in bedrooms, roosters crowing at all hours off the day and night! I love the communitiness (I have a feeling that I just made a new word!) of the place. We all eat sitting around the tablecloth which is spread on the floor. Whenever anyone comes past you call “Mai, gugu tea” (come have breakfast)! Everyone is related in someway or another and I now have many ma’s, pa’s, momo’s (uncles). We’ve been taught how to plant cassava at the farm (normally a male job but I managed to tag along!). Other new experiences include my first bush bash in a sulu, tasting a jack fruit (a big, ugly spiky thing that tastes like a strange mix of banana and pineapple), cooking everyday over a fire, oh and 5am morning prayer! I get jolted out of bed every morning by the banging of the lali, signalling the beginning of the rhythms of daily prayer which shape many of the villagers’ lives. There’s something rather cool about the first croaky words escaping from my mouth each morning being ones of praise to God.
Something that I discovered very quickly is what a luxury privacy and space is and how much I take it for granted. I’ve been really blessed to discover the beautiful beach which is within running distance of the village. It’s become my place of retreat in the morning before facing the hubbub of village life.
The interesting thing about being close to such beautiful sandy beaches is that the village is right near some rather fancy resorts. I think the mere proximity of the two makes the contrast between village living and resort life very stark. Two worlds in tension and I feel like we are hanging somewhere in between – not a particularly comfortable place to be! We’ve already been offered horse rides and boat rides to nearby islands which many locals haven’t had the chance to experience.
This first week has been the hardest yet in Fiji, though I’m not too sure why. Perhaps it’s a bit to do with what I mentioned above – language barriers and a general dip in excitement making me question why I’m here and whether we have anything to offer. Somehow though, a couple of days within the mayhem of our after school program (our main task while in the village) and I’m feeling much more alive and excited to be involved. God is good! Please pray for inspiration in how to teach the kids – that we would be able to be creative and have fun while still learning about God and their place in his plans.
We’ve all been having a go at learning Fijian with varying degrees of success! The locals are so excited to teach us which is lovely and I’ve been really enjoying connecting with people. I’ve even ended up getting ukelele lessons! My hope is that in these conversations there will be opportunities to encourage people in their faith, to share and pray. Please pray for boldness in taking these openings, for discernment and the right words (especially where English is not well understood).
Thank you for your prayers and support. May you be comforted and hopeful knowing that in God we find shelter, refuge and strength.