A good friend from Colorado came to visit us a few days ago! Arriving at the airport coming in from the south island, Jamie Welch went with us to get an authentic lunch from New Zealand: meat pies. Another friend, Hayden (we met after night church a few days prior) was our driver and tour guide. He took the three of us, and Jamie, around Auckland to see all the beautiful sights of the city. He also gave really well-detailed information on New Zealand for us tourists.
The five of us set out to do a trek through one of the North Islands most beautiful areas. This started at a black sand beach that we later found out was a hot spot for surfers, but we weren't between the red flags meaning we were in shark area! Escaping the sharks, we body surfed and then made our way further up the trail. We hiked along beautiful mountains and up a really cool river. On the river we got the opportunity climb some rocks and jump in it! During the few days of Hayden, and all of hanging out together, we went to a local bible study group of about 20 called "block party." Here we planned to give a huge speech and testimony... but it ended really short and the night was spent with us just talking in small groups ( very laid back ) about what God was doing in our lives and funny stuff on the trip. Here we really felt God take conversations out of our control. We sat in a group and the Holy Spirit took our words from us!
We also had a "Gathering" meeting and another teen bible study. On Wednesday night we split. I am very passionate about the Gathering and felt led to go there. The rest hung out with the group that meets here in the PACT building. At the Gathering, it was not as rowdy as usual, and the lady that was pacing, cursing, distracting and yelling the whole time didn't make as much of a scene. As we prayed beforehand that there wouldn't be any distractions, we say God answer our prayer this time as it was radically different. Just being amidst the homeless and drug addicts, it came obvious to me that although Ben's message was very clear and powerful, it would take the Holy Spirit, God Himself to lure them in -- to overcome the lies of failure and rebellion. Please be praying for the people at the Gathering. This was a successful night.
Coming back after the Gathering, I joined the group a bit late to join in a conversation involving how many chickens the "take away" place across the street sold per week. Very excited to try to win the bet, I jumped up and ran over to the fast food joint in the dark alley and straight up asked him. Surprisingly, and totally out of my hands, this led to an amazing conversation. I ended up sharing my faith and we talked about the miracles that God does. I plan to go get some fish and chips again and continue our conversation.
Debbie has been doing much better. THERE IS VICTORY!!! Turns out that night she went to night church, she had been planning to take her own life. SOMETHING made her go with her mom where God spoke to her and gave her a hunger to push on. Debbie's dreams have subsided, a few nights she hasn't had the same haunting dream. She has been getting a better nights sleep, and God is giving this to her. she understands that the hardships she is going through are because of the enemy. During this time we are giving her encouragement as we see the enemy drift as Gods power and love for Debbie conquers all evil. One more story, that Debbie's car was towed while she was in south auckland with her niece. In this scary part of town, Debbie prayed that God would protect her. Shortly after, God provided her with a member of the church to come and give her a ride. God is on the move in Debbies life, and our prayers are being heard.
- On Tuesday evenings (although it is Wednesday here, New Zealand is a day ahead... so yes, Tuesday evenings!) for Ben at the gathering. This is a HUGE responsibility for Ben, as there are rowdy and aggressive men that are involved in gangs that come, and it is in a bad part of town late at night. Pray for Ben to have wisdom, courage and patient endurance as he plants seeds in a difficult crowd.
- For Debbie, that God would overtake this darkness in her life. Pray that Gods love would grow so deep and alive in Debbie that would transform her. That God would give her strength each day to wake up and move forward. Pray that God would protect her. ALSO, please pray for her loneliness. As she is separated from an abusive husband, pray that God would fill up her heart and life with inner strength and joy.
- Pray for this final week, that we would have remembering minds and would be able to process this trip well; we would have a smooth transfer into the states standing on a new foot and a firm foundation.