Friday, December 12, 2008

The Flipside: Bouncing Back

I think people get uneasy when they hear me express problems or negative emotions because i naturally a more positive person. The last few posts have been more emotionally driven and i hope people realize that. In the world around me there is so much more going on:

I have friends and a community at cession|community that i know support me and have my back. That has been really nice to know. Even last night i just came from a BBQ at the Jones' new place. (this is an old picture, since i don't have my camera, but a few of us in this picture were there.)
-Although i do not accept everything since i want people to give generously but rationally, it has been encouraging to have had more than enough offers of people wanting to help in whatever way possible in trying to replace items including teens wanting to put money together for an ipod and share their unused PlayStation 2, to Paul buying me the backpack, to a friend offering to help with a camera, to family offering to help with the computer, etc.
-It is not about money or even replacing everything i had, but the generosity and support has been amazing.

-I have also had a lot of people asking if i am okay. When you get comments like this you hope it is not because your face is so forlorn or because you look terrible, but it is good to know so many people are concerned and praying.

This week has also been very positive. People have been very understanding in giving me my space and allowing me to work and put things back into place. There will always be new problems, but i do feel back in step with life. It has also been interesting that i have been studying and prepping for a message on joy this Sunday!

Three things that have come out of this:
1. Insight: Talking to Rod Mackay last night, he made two insightful comments into my life. He asked, "When Satan attacks, you seem to be brought down quickly so what is your backup plan for these times?" He also said, "I have this vision of you starting fires. You are a fire starter." Very interesting and good insight.
I also got switched phones a few days prior and randomly decided to write:
"God is My Help"

on the background of my screen. It is amazing how God can lead our thoughts and hands even without us knowing it.


2. Schedule: I have been praying for a more steady schedule and although the robbery set me back initially, it has also allowed me to get a lot more into place in my life as a whole.

3. Scripture: God usually speaks in times like this:
John 16:33 has been close to my heart
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

A friend just shared with me: 1 Timothy 6:17
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Also Psalm 3 has meant a lot to me.

Thanks for your prayers and concern.
God has been good in this time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Answer to Prayer



If you get a chance check out this video. It is shaky, it is not a high quality video, and nothing special, but it was a critical moment. I was at a low point here in New Zealand. During my last trip to New Zealand there was a time where everything went wrong. I was worn out to the point of wanting to quit, when i attended church at Shoregrace that Sunday night and received the encouragement and reaffirmation from my family in Christ. God was faithful.

This video above was last Saturday, after a week of being mentally and physically exhausted after trying to get things back into place after the robbery. I was exhausted after a full day of activities and planned to go home and crash Saturday night. For some reason i was prompted to invite Heidi, Rachel, and the teens over to the place. In a moment when i couldn't take much more for the week, the family of Christ pulled through again. We turned on Christmas music, decorated a little bit, ate snacks, and just hung out, much like my family Christmases back home. It was just what i needed and had been praying for, so i picked up Heidi's camera and recorded this! God is still faithful

One Cultural Observations: Eye Contact

I naturally tend to want to acknowledge the presence of anyone around me guy or girl , so if i ever pass someone walking in the mall or drive up next to them at a light, i will usally look over and do a small "whatsup" nod and smile if we make eye contact. People don't like that here in general!
I don't think you are expected to make eye contact with strangers.
When i usally look around in my car when i come to a red light, most people here seem to just look forward.

When i do acknowledge strangers here, people's body language or response usually says:
"What do you want?"
"What are you looking at?" or
"Who do you think you are?" lol

When i was in the US it seemed accepted as more normal or just being cordial, but here i have cars trying to race me, guys staring me down, and girls thinking i am a creep!

I need to work on that.

It's weird when i believe in who i am, and the pure intent behind my actions
but i have to withhold natural responses at times because they will be accepted differently by a different culture.
It is not a matter of being untrue to myself, but sacrificing for the better good...
Helping people here...
and not getting beat up!!!
haha

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Got Robbed Followup

Details:
The police fingerprint crew came and didn't find anything, so the burglars must've worn gloves
We reported all the details of the stolen items, but the chances are slim that we will see them again.
Graeme and I both were pretty tired at the end of this week, probably because of the robbery among other things.
People have been very generous and supportive in offering temporary solutions: laptops, mp3 players, a playstation 2, etc.
The Negatives
Spacey:
I wouldn't call me spacey normally, but i have left more people hanging, missed people right in front of my face, and forgotten to do things way more than usual. My brain has just been out of it.
Sad Expectation:
Graeme and i both have less than fun feeling that it will happen again. Not realistically, but everytime i walk out to my car or walk up to the house it is almost like i just expect a window to be smashed in.
Mentally tired:
I was just tired, man! I have had people concerned because i have seemd "tired" and wornout the past week. On Saturday i was asked to go two different places for lunch. I was literally so drained i didn't want to have to choose, so i went home and took a nap instead.
Guard Down:
Usually you can process things in perspective, but when you are tired your guards are down and there were a few comments made towards me that i could normally brush off, but just sat longer simply because i didn't have the ability to bounce back.
Low Point:
Exhaustion, strain, stress, responsibilities, guards down, and lack of my calendaring tools in my life accumulated this week and left me pretty low. I finished a youth rally Saturday night ready to go home alone. Instead i felt inclined to invite Heidi, Rachel, & the teens from the last youth group i worked with at Shoregrace over....

The Positives
Family & Christmas:
Inviting the teens over, putting on Christmas music, and just hanging out was so therapeudic for me! It was just what i needed and was the closest i felt to it getting close to Christmas with the ambiance and people i enjoy just hanging out together.

Mom and Jen, I put your gifts to use.... i decided to use the rings as decoration and the calendar as the countdown. Love you family and miss you guys.
The Church Body:
Both this time and when i hit a HUGE low the last time in New Zealand, it has been a group of Christian family that have brought me back up. It was encouraging words at a church service at night the first time and this time it was just having a glimpse of home and family.
A Backpack:
My friend Paul, bought me a nice backpack to replace the one stolen. It may have been a small thing, but it meant a lot and is probably the nicest backpack i have ever had!
Support:
I have to admit i am not good at being helped. I tend to try and fix my own life, so it has been good for me to have people from Cession, GP, and even Shoregrace come beside and ask for ways to help. It is good to not feel alone. Also it is helping me to learn how to let others help instead of trying to fix it on my own which is hard to do at times.

The verse i have been quoting constantly has been John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Did I miss Chatter Rings in the US?

I will update you a little more on the robbery tomorrow, but tonight i was introduced to chatter rings

You spin the small rings and then keep them spinning while doing tricks with the bigger ring.
Here is a Quick Clip on YouTube if you are interested

Apparently it was big here in New Zealand in the 90's. Did this go through the US and i miss it or was it not big there?

Monday, December 01, 2008

My New Zealand Complaints

This blog may make me look like a spoiled American, but
I don't like the telecom vodafone war... and the way they rip you off
I don't like that calling people is not cheaper
I don't like the fact that there you have to pay for internet by the Gig
I don't like the right of way rule when driving.

Those are my complaints. That is what i would change if i could.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Got Robbed!

This my be my last blog for a little while.

So earlier this week my car was broken into and a camera stolen and last night(sat) our flat was broken into and approx. $6000 was taken including Graeme's TV, my laptop(macbook), both our ipods, and a few other things. Talk about a Rough Day. 
I had time to process through this a little this morning and remembered back 3 months into my first trip to NZ when i had experienced another huge crisis with an accident that escalated somewhat out of control. I decided to look back to see what past lessons i learned then that were meant to prepare me for now. This is what I have speculated:

1. God is in Control
With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Jer 27:5 This is what i read first this morning when i opened my Bible.

2. I am not the Mistake
It is easy to want to blame others or to want to assume the responsibility yourself.  You think of all the options of what you could've done to prevent it, but the reality is that Graeme and I were the victims here.  I shouldn't develop of guilty complex over this.

3. God can and does work in miraculous Ways
In the midst of the chaos during the first trip, we thought Dan's expensive camera lens that fell out the moving van window was collateral damage.  After prayer, a three hour return drive, and a 30 minute search we miraculously stumbled on his relatively unscathed camera lens.  It was a small find for the amount of total damage over the month, but it was an irreplaceable bright spot and testimony to God's faithfulness overall.

4. Life is about people not Objects
I am frustrated.  I feel dooped!  It is a weird feeling, but I am not crushed.  Neither Graeme's nor my life center around objects.  We will miss our hard earned indulgences, but our purpose in God and our support through relationships allow us to be frustrated, but relatively untouched in terms of our overall outlook towards life.

5. If you haven't gotten insurance for something you were meaning to, Do It!!!
Dan and i were discussing the need for car insurance during the drive we got into our wreck.
Graeme was meaning to get content insurance for the house, but hadn't gotten around to it.
In both cases we have paid the price.

Hopefully you can learn and be encouraged by my experiences.
I appreciate your prayers and support.

Be encouraged.  I don't welcome problems... but i fully acknowledge that when you are trying to serve the Lord, "accidents & problems" often mean that you are threatening enough to Satan and his kingdom to cause concern and retaliation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mudslide @ Amp'd 09

I helped out with Heidi & the ShoreGrace teens as we went Dune Sledding tonight and this video was one of the many outcomes of a great night.

It is the second promo clip for Amp'd 09 and the mudslide on the grounds at the Ignite Wesleyan Youth Camp. (www.ignite.wesleyan.org.nz)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Different Places Different Cultures: Hair

The mohawk/ rat tail
US- associated with Red necks in the US and Joe Dirt
NZ- associated with tougher rugby players

Ignite Camp- Amp'd 09

Camp is coming up in just over a month so we are making a few last videos to get teens psyched. Here is the first of the series. I hope you enjoy and pass it on! It is all about spreading the word. Good times and life change will happen January 9-12 at Ignite!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: Delicious or Disgusting?

I used Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for my sermon illustration this last Sunday and left one pack on every table. It was my way of giving the Kiwi's a cultural taste of American candy. The only problem was i had a different reaction than expected. About half loved it, and half disliked it! For Being one of the most sold candy's during American holidays, i expected more of an addictive response than different people explaining it as having almost a salty taste or too much peanut butter or that our chocolate is just a little more potent/bitter. Oh well...

...the way i see it, that leaves more of the still limited supply of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in New Zealand for me!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mystery Night

This last Friday night i was able to be a part of East City Wesleyan's youth group who had a mystery night. I was the deceased and the detective who set up the scene. The teens then went around interviewing each of the suspects with "Yes" and "No" questions and tried to figure out just how I was killed earlier that night. The teens loved it and i think all the leaders below who helped put it together did an amazing job. Especially Dusty the safari man, you can't help but smile with that pic!



This Friday




Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You never know the perpetual impact of your actions

I keep shaking my head when i hear the song on the radio right now by T.I. and Rihanna called "Live Your Life" and think about how it evolved.

It all started with a Modovan band named O-zone that i have never heard who wrote a song called "Numa Numa"

Then a guy named Gary Brolsma posts a youtube video dancing to this song and it is watched (2 million times in less than 3 months... HILARIOUS... if you have never watched it, please do.

It goes viral and everyone is making a spoof of it online and playing it because it is so popular...

Then you take the pop song, add a little ghetto, and you have an instant hit called "Live your life" that tops the charts, all the teens know, & it just makes me smile.

I have a huge rubberband ball that reminds me of the same thing:

All it is, is a lot of small rubberbands put together. I often relate this to prayer and the impact individual prayers can have overtime. It started with one rubberband, and overtime as more and more rubberbands were added, you have the bouncy ball you now see. It just takes time and effort.

It will be interesting to see what small things i accomplish or morals that i implement into my life that others will grab onto and bring to a whole new level. It could be a huge support or detriment against the kingdom of God depending on what rubs of.

If only that whole process could be seen as easily as the "numa numa" song's evolution...

I think we would be a lot more apt to focus our energy on our lives reflecting the life and truth of God.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our Choices Can Force us from the Lord's Presence

As i was reading yesterday, i noticed this concept in Genesis and in the gospels. It is nothing new, but maybe a new way to look at it.

God is omnipresent, but that doesn't mean we always experience the fullness of his presence. I was reading and saw that as Adam disobeyed, he was forced out of the Lord's presence in the garden, and that as Cain disobeyed he left the Lord's presence, and that as the rich man was given the standard of following Jesus, that he also walked away.

Genesis 3
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man ou
Genesis 4
So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, [f] east of Eden
Matthew 19
21...go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

It seems that our sin and our choices play a significant role in how far we move into or away from God's presence.

I don't know exactly what the application of this observation is, all i know is that if taking me away from the Lord's presence is what sin and disobedience does, i definitely desire to avoid that at all costs more than ever.

Lord teach me how choose obedience in my desire to dive deeper into your presence and to see your kingdom prevail in my life and the people around me. Amen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Surfing and the best Compliment i have ever received!!!

So I went Surfing today and caught one amazing wave. I was riding a long board so the wave looked and felt a lot like this video without someone else on the wave! Sorry it says "evaluation copy" but i had to use a converter to clip the video.
video
Some of you don't read the comments below my posts, but yesterday i think i received one of the best compliments i have ever received in response to my video. It was from Rhett Snell:
"Dude, is it freaky that I live 5 minutes from you and see you a bunch of times each week and I still miss your face?
I want a Brent bobble-head.
I want a t-shirt with a screen print of your face.
I want a life-sized Brent cut out that I put put in the lounge and talk to while I eat breakfast... get my day off to a good start, you know?
You know... just normal, friend stuff."

Just tell me that doesn't make your day!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bored with Endless Entertainment?

Isn't it funny how we can have more people than any other time in history trying to entertain us...

...and yet we can still come out bored and have those moments where we sit in front of our computer, not knowing what to do.
(Do you like my bored face?)
We have more people on earth, more games, more movies, more toys, more people we can contact, more of everything, yet we still find ourselves wanting.


My verse for the week says: "What a man desires is unfailing love..." Proverbs 19:22

One Thing I have discovered is this: We will have moments of boredom, we will have moments where we don't know what to do, but what we do with them is key. If i can harness those moments and think of a way to learn how to love God or others better, my wasted time will diminish increasingly.

Secondly, the computer is a blessing and a trap. It causes us to learn, but it also causes us to hide... to take the world in our own time... at our own pace... to deal with what we want to.... when we want to... that is not real life. Too much time in front of the computer can cause us to lose the reality of people and can become selfish.
Yes there are exceptions and yes i am condemning myself as i type, but hopefully this will urge me and others to reconsider those fork in the road moments in front of our computer where we can check out of everything or check into someone else's life.

Junk Mail Galore!!!

One of my friends that lived here picked up all the junk mail he got one day and said in a jokingly half frustrated tone, "For as earth friendly and green conscious as we are as a country we sure kill a lot of trees on junk mail!"
This is about the daily amount of junk mail and catalogs we receive.
Now i am not making a judgment call, just an observational question, but "Is all of this junk mail really necessary?!?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Last week in Pictures

My friends got me into a few talks on politics so i really didn't to give an update on life this last week, so for those of you who just want fun pictures, here you go.

"You Look Smart Today"
I wore this outfit to church today and got comments like "you look smart today" at least three times. I feel bad for Nicola who was the first person to tell me this at church. I looked at her completely confused because i thought she was being sarcastic and saying that i was being coy in something i had said or done, when in fact it is just a way of saying you look dressed up or sophisticated today.
So here are two of my "smart" poses in the outfit. :)

New Zealand Elections:
Were this Saturday in New Zealand. After the big hype of the US elections, (even here in New Zealand), the NZ elections seemed relatively small and undiscussed.
There are a bunch of different parties, but the two main parties over here are Labour and National. Labor has been in office for the last nine years with Helen Clark as Prime Minister.
National won this year and John Key will now become the main face of politics over here in NZ.

I Started Teaching
An opportunity has come up to possibly give English and guitar lessons. This last Thursday i sat down and gave English lessons to our Korean Neighbors: Eurie, Julie, & Max. My flatmate Graeme is here helping them lighting their fireworks on the night before Guy Hawkes.

Guy Fawkes Day
Basically you can only shoot fireworks for about four days in celebration of this holiday on November 5. My friend Heidi wrote about it if you want to know more of its history.

Trying to Fit in with my Hair
I was getting a haircut but before i had Mrs. Snell cut it completely short i had her give me one of the haircuts i see here a lot. It would never be a longterm haircut, but i might try it out sometime. For those back in the states, i did end up cutting it completely short this time.

The Coupon Book
So i bought one of these coupon books and it has been my inspiration to try out new places and things (not that i have really ever had trouble with that)
Me and a friend tried out this place called "Revive" downtown that i found. It definitely had a lot of variety and healthy options and it was a fun place to try out. It was really my first time eating downtown.

I Found Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in New Zealand!!!
I went in to pay for my petrol/gas the other day and there they were... Reese's Peanut Butter Cups just sitting for sale on the counter! So i bought two and ate them both in a matter of minutes. Peanut Butter Cups are in New Zealand but they are nearly impossible to come by and this is the first time they have been easily accessible to me. Praise The Lord! My chocolate fixes will be completely satisfied once again!

Looking for a place to hang
I am on a search to find the best coffee shop to hangout. I found a place downtown open twenty four hours and went and did some homework there, but i am still looking for something closer to home.

I Wrote a Song:
I don't claim to be a great artist. Music is a way for me to pray and communicate with God. On Saturday, music was a way for me to express my yearning heart for evangelism. I have such a burning to see people come to in contact with Christ and the church, yet the relationship building and seed planting process here can feel like slow and like it quiets me down at times, when i just want to tell everyone. This is somewhat perception, somewhat discernment, etc.

I just left you with the end since it is the better portion of the song.

just press play on the video player.
video

Friday, November 07, 2008

Single for the rest of my life?

So i took an online spiritual gifts test this week and guess what one of my top five spiritual gifts was...CELIBACY!!!!  

haha, this is definitely not my life's desire to be permanently single unless directly told by God, because i do think women are one of God's most amazing creations, ...definitely one of his most complicated, but still amazing.

And i am speaking lightly on the issue, but not trying to belittle that call, because i highly admire those who can live to such a life where the grace and comfort of their relationship with God and friendships fill the natural need for companionship.  It is just that i had never heard the idea being described as a spiritual gift, let alone described as one of my top five possible spiritual gifts, that took me by surprise!
(my possible future life watching movies at home) :)

This made me curious whether "celibacy" could ever be defined as someone who chooses to be single for a certain period of life or whether a call to celibacy always was in reference to a lifelong commitment of never marrying someone.  It is probably more permanent, but i wasn't sure.
(Could God really have made a face this attractive just to keep only for himself?)

I definitely could see how God has placed a continual peace about my place of being single in this season of life, so i wouldn't be surprised if that were partly by God's doing for the time being and i definitely have prayed multiple times throughout my life, "that if God so chooses to keep me single to serve him for the rest of my life, that i am willing," but who knows.

Either way, i think anyone who knows me would agree that it is pretty obvious that i need a woman's help!!! haha
I did look up "celibacy" in my trusty Wikipedia and i found one especially interesting fact:

"...A few Christian sects even advocated celibacy as a better way of life for everyone. These groups included the following: The Shakers, The Harmony Society, and The Ephrata Cloister. These groups no longer exist."

Huh? it is funny how that works!  :) haha  

Pastor Brett, you seem to enjoy explaining or commenting on subjects like this. Can you please explain why those groups don't exist any longer?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

God in the voting

And this will end my political posts for awhile! :)
It was a historic day. I definitely have my questions and concerns about where America might head from here, but there was still definitely something special about the triumph of our first African American president. Whether you agree with him or not, there was a feeling of a new era coming to pass.
God be with the us and continue to watch over us..

I really appreciated this email i received from a friend on election day in the States:
"One thing that did just really put me at ease today is that I voted in a church! ...I thought it was awesome that a lot of voting is still done in church sanctuaries. Not only that, but in the church I voted in this morning, there was a huge banner with Jesus spreading out his arms hanging in the voting area and it just reminded me that God is over all this. How cool is that? It was definitely my God sighting for the day."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What the US stands for:

First off, i am not a politician at heart, but due to my friend Frank's intrigue and election time, here you go.If you find things in here contradictory or offensive, feel free to correct, but please don't expect deep reasoning or a well supported & analyzed defenses for everything i say. I see this more as giving a good ol' American perspective to a Kiwi friend. These are just my opinions.
I BELIEVE THE US STANDS FOR A LOT:

A Christian Nation:
This is debatable as i hear almost everyone claim the forefathers standing for whatever benefits them: theism, deism, religious freedom of all religions.
but I do believe the US is blessed because it based its roots on the Bible's commandments

I have heard it said that if someone who didn't even believe in Jesus or God attempted to follow the commands and tips of the Bible for his life, that he would come out benefiting with a more healthy life. i believe that.

I am not going to debate the depth of our Christian roots, but i believe the majority of the American people and leader's attempts to include God in our lives and politics have been blessed financially and spiritually because of this.
(this does not excuse the possibility of abusing this power or blessing.)
A Democratic Nation:
America tries to give everyone a voice. This has its problems and benefits as every political system does, but there a desire and belief rooted in most Americans that says everyone should have a voice. Because of this, there is also a desire to see this come to pass around the world.

Conservative Practice:
We have the Amish! I say it jokingly, but the Amish are a good example of the extreme conservatism that American Christianity has produced over the years. I hear from some Americans how deprived we are, but the more i visit the other parts of the world, i realize how much MORE the US still sensors the radios, movies, and things of the sort. From a world standpoint: It may not be this way, but sometimes i feel like the a lot of the world and some of their more liberal standpoints try to peer pressure the US. Almost like a 10 year old boy who is standing for something he believes in, but since the other 9 friends are making fun of him or don't understand him, their is this pressure to cave in on something he stands for, even though he may be the one who is right... (he may just be stubborn).
This raises the question: is the American system or beliefs more "Christian" in practice? i don't know if this is a fair or good question, it just came to mind.

Power:
The US has increasingly become a main World Power. Ever since the two atomic bombings of WWII i feel like the USA made a world stance that we are not a force to be messed with. Someone tonight said that, "i think the US just attacked the middle east for their oil." i am not arguing the legitimacy of that, but if that is all you think it was, then you don't understand Americans. The World Trade Center bombing was a lot of things, but it was definitely an attack on a respect and power that America has gained over the years. I think people are sometimes so blinded by the effects of the war, that they don't see how devastating "inaction" after 911 would have been for the safety, morale, and "power" of the US.
A Jefferson quote on a WWII memorial reads
"DECEMBER 7, 1941, A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY…NO
MATTER HOW LONG IT MAY TAKE US TO OVERCOME THIS
PREMEDITATED INVASION, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, IN THEIR
RIGHTEOUS MIGHT, WILL WIN THROUGH TO ABSOLUTE VICTORY."

Moving the World Forward:
For a long time and especially since the Industrial Revolution, the competition, money, and US market have become a driving force for the world. The US' demand for "new" has continued to encourage the world to "move forward" in technology. We are not the only country, obviously, but the amount of media, technology, and resources that are produced from the US and used universally are really an indispensable contribution to the progressive history of the world.


THE NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES THAT COME WITH THESE ASPECTS OF THE US:
-The US stick their noses in other people's business too much
Maybe, maybe not.. probably depends on whether your the side that has benefited from the US or not or whether you tend towards pacifism or not.

-The US has too much
(Root for the underdogs instead)
Sometimes people just root against the US like any sport team that they think is too good or too powerful. In the states this would be the Yankees baseball team. Either you love their legacy or you think they have too much power, and money and you just hope they lose just because. I think people around the world sometimes fall into a similar trap in their opinion of the US.

-Cocky

You know what, i probably wouldn't say we are cocky, but probably a little more egocentric. it might be because we are bigger and have so much going on in the states, but it does seem that it is more common in other countries for the average native to know more about what is going on in the world than the average US citizen, but that is merely a subjective speculation on my part.

-Selfish

Much like "having too much" as mentioned before and the classic dilemma and debate of the Responsibility of Power mentioned below, the US can often be seen as doing everything for their own benefit. There is a healthy aspect to this much like a father prioritizing the health of his family before others, but i feel like America's motivation is constantly questioned. Should we be given the benefit of the doubt more often or is their really legit reasons for all the questioning? i don't have the answer for this one. I am just not as quick to take mixed motives as "wrong" motive.

-Stuck up
This is the idea that Americans think they are always right. The culture is all about "Be who you want to be" and "The world is your limit," so there is a sense of empowerment in the US generations. Being the center of a lot of attention by the rest of the world and being a major world power doesn't help to eliminate the temptation to think, "we must be doing something right to be where we are at today."

DEEP ROOTED ISSUES/QUESTIONS THAT ACCOMPANY ANY SCRUTINY:
-Why them and not me?
Being blessed or attributing success to God vs. those who pray and don't see the same results.
Is the US blessed as Christian nation? i say yes, but i am aware that this creates a dilemma. i had a friend whose mom died of cancer. Her pastor's wife recovered from cancer and kept praising God for the answer to prayer from the pulpit. This made my friend struggle with questions like, "Had she not pray enough?" or "Did she miss the magical prayer formula the pastor had?" Was the pastor wrong in praising God for the healing? maybe, not necessarily. Was the girl wrong in her interpretation? maybe, but not necessarily.
-The value of an individuals life vs. war
It seems inevitable that anytime there is a fight, that the pacifists, the fighters, and everyone in between is bound to come out and state their case.
I see a God in the Bible who commanded war at times and a God in the Bible at other times who condemned violence. I don't know where i stand on this one. I just know you are always going to have the people who see war heroes and truth stances as necessary and other people who are going to see soldier's lives that didn't need to be lost.

-Forward progress vs. frugality Hanna Montana concert tickets sell in the US for $1000. that is insane to me. When is too much too much? I like to spend, but live frugally. Spending a million dollars on creating a movie sounds ridiculous when i am thinking of how many people's lives that million dollars could be used to help or change, yet that is how our society works. And that million dollars spent on a movie entertains many, employs many, influences people around the world, and continues to encourage our story telling to reach new heights in the media every time a film is made. I am no expert on economics or spending money, but i see another double edged sword here. People don't like that the US has so much money to spend and they may not agree with how it is spent, but they don't seem to mind accepting the benefits.

-Abuse of power vs. Doing their best.
(Responsibility)
One power can't solve the world's problems. One president is supposed to know what to do with multiple countries and their government systems. One president is supposed to make the rest of the world like him. One president is supposed to solve its economic problem, stay popular, and solve every problem that comes his way. Sure the president has a lot of responsibility that he should be kept accountable for by his people, like the US being kept accountable by the rest of the world, but how much of the pressures are unrealistic and unfair expectations put on them simply because of their power and influence. The roles and responsibilities of the US will always differ in opinion depending on who you are talking to, and their may be a lot of controversy and corruption in American politics that i don't understand, but i tend to try and give the government the benefit of the doubt that they do not take their power lightly and that they do consider what is best for me as a citizen as well is what is best in making a difference in the rest of the world.

The end... i think i am done now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Confessions 2: No Empathy

I found out over the past year that empathy is not one of my top strengths. I make up for it in understanding and relating my personal experiences to others, but i don't just naturally get excited in everyone else's excitements and feel their emotions in their disappointments.

I have awesome friends. Every once in awhile i will have a friend who tells me how God has pieced all these things together for them in their life. Sometimes i feel bad that i am not more excited and less skeptical, but unless i am there experiencing it their with them, i can't help but have trouble fully grasping and analyzing there over excitement for what God has done. That is cool that that really worked out, but how much of that was really God? I can tell you are excited and i am excited for you... but i guess i just don't fully grasp the magnitude of what just happened because you are way more excited than me!

My mind goes all over the place with this one:
  • Sometimes i think back to the excitement when God answered a similar request to my prayers and respond with the same reaction.
  • Sometimes i just question how much God was a part of the whole scenario compared to how much the emotions of that person led their decision to see what they wanted
  • Sometimes i truly naturally celebrate with the person
  • Sometimes i protect myself from being to emotionally driven in decision making
  • Sometimes i just feel like a cynic and with a small small view of God.
Please Understand this isn't all the time. This is me confessing a scenario in my life back in Journal 11/3/08

The US Elections are TOMORROW!

They are getting underway in certain parts of the states in less than 24hours.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I had a friend email from the states today saying:

"Have you been able to follow the elections from New Zealand? It's looking like tomorrows day at the polls is going to be very close, and it may be an election like the last one where we don't know the outcome for another couple months."

That is interesting to hear because the majority of the time hear in New Zealand it sounds like all the stats favor Obama at this point.

I am not that political as most of you might know by my thought today on the two candidates was this:

I have been thinking about the next president based on what the country needs and the current debacle the US is in, but the one other thing to consider is

Who best fits what the US stands for?

This is where i think my political opinions differ from a lot of people because this is usually my driving force where most of the conversations seem to be more focused on fixing the crisis at hand and what the US needs to do to just benefit the one who is stating their opinion.
That is all i got for now.

Happy prayerful voting in the states!!! Please keep me updated.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Inorganics: A New Zealand Yard Sale?

You can learn a lot about people by digging through their trash!

I think it is twice a year that each selected neighborhood in New Zealand puts out their trash that is too big to be recycled or thrown away, and at the end of the week a truck comes by and picks it all up. The rules are basically nothing bigger than what two man can carry and a few other stipulations like no building supplies. (you can read more at the government site if you want more details)So you drive through different neighborhoods and you see streets that look like this. Sometimes there are big mounds with sofas, carpets, & bookshelves and sometimes they are more mediocre baskets and cardboard. You can see at the bottom of the picture above, that Graeme and I put out a microwave that someone took in less than a day, but left the top cover.

For us more resourceful people... or cheap people... It is like shopping heaven! You see people wander and digging through other people's lost treasures or junk only to find just what they need. They see potential and purpose in something that had lost this for someone else. Really interesting.

I found a desk stool that lifts up and down with the lever for my room.(below)
I don't know how correct or unfair it is, but i have been told that one stereotype is that whenever inorganics comes around, you are bound to see islanders in vans and trailers jumping out and picking things up. I am not sure how much i would go with the islander thing, but i did see plenty of full vans and trailers perusing our neighborhood this labor day holiday weekend.
The things i noticed:
  1. Common things thrown out included: Printers, carpet, couches, broken chairs, computer screens, & other misc.
  2. Reactions from Kiwi people varied EXTREMELY from: it's an embarrassment, it's disgusting, it's a disgrace, i hate the utter chaos VS. it is quite good, quite ingenious really, it's fun shopping, and it serves a purpose.
  3. It is amazing what people throw out. Things that could originally cost hundreds of dollars are just chucked outside onto the rainy roadside with little care.
  4. The saying, "one man's junk is another man's treasure" was so true hear!
  5. I am cheap and take no shame in using secondhand possessions that just need a little loving.
Inorganics was one of those things that I got really excited about it coming and everyone native to New Zealand just looked at me weird. good times, good times.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

I heard that they had green pumpkins instead of orange, so i was inspired to make a crazy ridiculous green jack o lantern... turns out they are white
and the skins are like three times as thick so it took forever to carve out!!!We had a fun group. Graeme my flatmate in the top left Daniel Marr, and me and Heidi, Rachel and a new friend from the coffee house, Ylva.

For Ylva from Sweden and the two other kiwis this was their first time carving a pumpkin. The Halloween traditions are relatively small in New Zealand, Sweden, and Fiji from what they tell me.
Here are our mean pumpkins and a heart.Me trying to be mean like my pumpkin
Graeme trying to pull the Michael Jackson Thriller in the back
and some of us trying to be the headless horseman gearing up for our scary Halloween movie.