Sunday, December 31, 2006

First Day in New Zealand

Pictures above: group pics of me, dan, Geoff, and teens [downtown aucklund in background]
below: road going to Bethel beach

It is very green here! All of the roads, especially out of the city have all kinds of palm trees, yuccas, bushes, and ferns along the road... beautiful!

Below if my crazy schedule the first two days. tomorrow or the next day i will post a lot about what i have learned in New Zealand about the culture, people, and language

First day Schedule:
6:30am Arrived in Auckland, NZ
7:30am got picked up after going through customs
7:30-8:30 Met with Mike Yates(Pastor at Shoregrace the church we will serve at) and dan for breakfast in downtown auckland and walked around for a few minutes
8:30-12 napped
1:00PM Went to rollerblading Youth event
2-4:00 rollerbladed with Dan, Geoff Davies(NZ Wesleyan youth coordinator), and teens down walkway
4-4:30 Sight seeing
5-7 Dressed up and went to dinner with teens at Valentines (dinner buffet)
7-9PM Drove 40minutes to westcoast with teens to watch sunset over Bethel beach and the waves

9PM saw green glowwarms in a cave at the beach
11PM returned home
11pm-1am talked to family
1am-11am slept

11am-1pm read and talked to dan
1pm- went for run with dan
3pm mowed the families yard with riding lawn mower
5pm played croquet with the three boys at the house
7-11pm new year's eve party at the house
11:30-1am went and watched fireworks shoot off skytower in downtown auckland

Pictures Below: Me and tom(Mike Yates(13) son) in glow worm cave
The mackays are the host family Dan and i are staying with
Rod and Jan have 3 boys: james(15), rick(13), sam(11)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Plane Trip

I Made It!!! There is way too much to write in a little time so i am going to gradually post this week. I arrived yesterday i arrived but too many things happened in that one day and the plane trip to go through it all. This will describe my plane trip, later i will post all that happened in my first day, and tomorrow or the next day i will post a lot of the main differences between NZ and US.
Flight 1

On my first flight, i sat down nervous little to expect Professor Russ Gunsulas would walk by me on my flight to Charlotte, NC. It was such an encouragement to see a familiar face to talk to though. I also had a good conversation with a man in his 50's named jack who had just been informed that he had cancer and was given under a year to live. He was going to visit his family. I wanted to pray with him on the plane, but by the time i had a chance the plane was on the ground and it would've been awkward.

Flight 2

On my second flight that was 4 hours, from NC to LA, CA Nick Lachey sat in first class. you can see the back of his head with the hat on. I didn't want to bother him otherwise since he seemed to be hiding. I also watched the Illusionist which i thought was an extremely good movie.

Flight 3

On my third flight that was 12 hours from LA to Auckland, NZ i sat next to Zoe and Lexi who lived in Christchurch, NZ but now lived in Melbourne, Australia. They were so much fun to talk to as they informed me of all the things to do and say while in New Zealand. They made the trip seem to go a lot quicker. I got off went through customs.. and i will have to finish the rest of the story later.

right now it is 6:30PM New Years Eve which is 12:30am Sunday US Eastern time and 9:30PM Saturday Pacific time. But i have to go because the host family we have is getting ready to have guests come over in the next 10 minutes. I will post the very eventful day later. Thanks for the prayers and for everyone that is following me thus far. It has been amazing, smooth, and very encouraging thus far!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Flight Schedule

So I leave for New Zealand today!!! Here is my schedule.
drive to Indy Thursday 9:30-11:30
Indianapolis 2PM to Charlotte, NC 3PM
Charlotte 4PM to Los Angeles 7PM
LA 9PM to Auckland, NZ 12:45am(US)Saturday and 6:45am New Zealand time
Craziness! I will be getting a lot of sleep and reading in!!!

It was great being able to spend Christmas with the family before i left for New Zealand. This was the first Christmas with Brenton as a brother-in-law, this will be the last Christmas before Jennifer will have a child running around, and it was just good to spend time with my parents. Everyone came in Christmas day and we all leave on the 28th to go elsewhere.

I had to wake up at 5:30am Christmas day to pick Jen and Brandon up at the Chicago airport. I told my parents the only way i would do was if they would by me a Santa suit. so they did! Santa suit, sign and all i greeted them with a "ho ho, merry Christmas!" Everyone was staring... i don't know why!?!

We got to spend a lot of time together. The boys played basketball, the kids played Dr. Mario, we went and say Rocky Balboa(it was good),and we played Balderdash and boggle at night. It was a fun few days

Here is the crew: Brenton & Kelly Benware, Brandon & Jen Bruce, and ME!!!

Friday, December 22, 2006


This is what i have felt as of late.

I was just reminiscing over leaving San Diego while finishing Christmas shopping and spending some quality time with my parents.

This is when we were the only ones in the theater for awhile at a showing of Happy Feet.

I was prayed over by multiple people and i have felt so blessed and commissioned to go!

As i was leaving Canyon Hills where i served as the Jr. High youth pastor, i was able to have the new jr. high pastor and his wife, some of the volunteers and dave mason my supervisor lay hands on me and pray for me at during a night gathering.

I had a time where my friend corey from APU who traveled to Australia for a year and his friend dave laid hands on me and prayed for me and this trip.

At the end of one of my Azusa Pacific Classes, the whole class of future (if not already active)ministers gathered around me, laid hands on me, and prayed for me! I can't express the peace and sending out i felt at that moment.

My friends were so good to me at Indiana Wesleyan when i visited and
my family is always so loving and supportive.

This is not being said to brag or make anyone else feel like they don't have support, but be encouraged to know that God knows, blesses, and takes cares of your needs when you openly leave them in his hands! thats all for now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wise Words From Doctor Seuss

My Friend Tiffany Tomlin just emailed me this story! I LOVE it when thinking about the adventure i am embarking on in New Zealand. Thanks for your prayers. I copied a few sections from the poem. Enjoy!!!

Oh, the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss
Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care. About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there." With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street. And you may not find any you'll want to go down. In that case, of course, you'll head straight out of town. It's opener there in the wide open air. Out there
things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew. Just go right along. You'll start happening too. OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
The Waiting Place... ...for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting. NO! That's not for you! Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you'll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you're that kind of a guy! Oh, the places you'll go!... There is fun to be done! There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won't want to go on. But on you will go though the weather be foul On you will go though your enemies prowl On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike and I know you'll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are. You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that
Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holiday Thoughts

I love the idea of exploring ways to help us remember the meaning of the holidays we celebrate. Here are a few thoughts and i would love to hear your suggestions. These are not musts, but just things i am considering.

A speaker last year challenge the IWU student body to ask their family to give up one present and give it to a charity instead for Christmas.

I was wondering about possibly trying to make it a tradition in the future to try and go somewhere and give a present away on Christmas day, if not the week of Christmas.

What i was thinking would be REALLY AWESOME...
but really intense and hard, to actually choose one of your presents still wrapped under the tree and to give it away to a charity freely. That wuold be hard because it would be so tempting to want that gift or to want to go and buy another one or to even be possessive a gift that you gave away. As humans, me especially, i feel like we are so attached to stuff when it comes down to it. Could you imagine each year, maybe not with kids but as you go older, each year, being able to come to a point where you give away one of the gifts intended for you to someone else with no strings attached and no remorse knowing that it was an offering going to a greater cause and probably a gift that no matter how bad you wanted it, you most likely didn't NEED it. Just some food for thought.
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Last, someone just posted the idea of a family that kept a bag for each family member with rocks in it for Thanksgiving. Every year they would each write on a rock something God had done for them that they were thankful for that year, and every year they would take out one rock and remember that thing. I like the idea A LOT!

Just some thoughts

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Days for NZ are nearing!

My Cousin, Becca Gray, is going to Valporaiso and got to visit me and my parents at Plymouth Wesleyans Christmas program last night. It was so good to see her and to catch up. She has an awesome heart for missions and was actually able to talk to a visitor from Romania in Romanian for a little bit. Awesome!

This is my shoutout to the awesome Spring Break group that i got to meet up with at Indiana Wesleyan while i visited. We went to Arkansas and rock climbed, quoted brian reagan, and laughed for a solid week straight. Good times

I was an Resident's Assistant in Hodson Hall at IWU. THis was the staff this year that i got to spend time with while i visited the school. I love these guys

Before leaving San Diego, i was also able to visit El Cajon Wesleyan, my home church where i grew up for 13 years. This is Chad, heather, and Dave who were all friends from the youth group.

This is my shout out to the indoor soccer team i got to be a part of while i was out in Cali. You guys were awesome and i will say hi to All Blacks for you!

Dan Eggenschwiler's blog

This is one of Dan's pictures from where he is staying
He was a photography major so he will have good pictures compared to my point and shoot if you are wanting some good background pics for your computer!

My traveling partner Dan has already been through Fiji and just arrived in New Zealand. He has pictures and his thoughts up on his blog if you get the chance and want to follow the two of us together. I head out December 28... less than 2 weeks away!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Driving Across Country and BIG news!

I am currently in Rapid City, South Dakota right now. I watched the San Diego sunset, said goobye to the house, family, and friends and hit the road Wednesday at 7:00PM, drove through the night with a 45 mintue power nap, and arrived in Rapid City about 7PM.

This is the Lickness Family that adopted me as their kid the last 3 months. Thank you guys so much!

I am spending time with Jennifer and Brandon in Rapid City Friday and driving the rest of the way to Indiana Friday night and Saturday morning to see friends at IWU and end up at home for the holidays.

BIG NEWS: check out jen and brandon's blog: News line reads that brent is going to be an uncle... ok more importantly the headline reads Jen & Brandon are GOING TO HAVE A BABY!!!

I had a great time thinking and praying in the car about New Zealand. I will post some thoughts below on another post.

Lord, there is always more to do.

I like to consider myself an optimist but this seems to be one topic that I always end up on the wrong side of. I get excited about all the things I could be, but often get more frustrated then excited about how much there is still left to do in a day when it comes to relationships, work, money, and accomplishments I desire to achieve. In all reality, whether I am really busy or not, I seem to get about the same amount of tasking things done in the day. It is just the quality may suffer when I am busy and I may not get as many little things I would like to get done, done. So the problem may not even necessarily be that I am too busy to get things done because I always seem to come back to getting done what absolutely needs to be done. Yet I constantly find myself crying out in the back of my mind, “Please just let me have a blank slate! …Let me not have to answer to anyone and I will be fine. Then I can do what I want when I want to and everything that I do will be considered thoughtful and meaningful because it was something I didn’t have to do... (cont.)

So what would your answer be to this? priorities and focus were the answers the journal basically ended up coming to, but i am still figuring this one out so your wisdom is appreciated!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Weekend with Dan

Dan Came in this weekend to San Diego! I just sent him off in the LA airport to Fiji where he will spend four days and continue to New Zealand 3 weeks before me. We got to spend some time in prayer and talking about the trip. I had a get together Saturday night and said bye to some friends. Then headed up to LA and played and prepared before sending dan off.
Time is flying. I am driving up to Indiana tomorrow(Wednesday) I am planning on stopping in South Dakota for a day to visit Jen and Brandon on my way out.

Then i will stop by Indiana Wesleyan University to visit some friends before school gets out. This is the year where the majority of my friends are still there and not going off different ways after they graduate yet so i am excited to see them.

The time with Dan was very encouraging. We are both nervously excited about what is to come. Shoregrace is excited about us getting involved at their church and it looks like a great fit. The more Dan and i talk about God, lives, and our future, i can tell that this will be a very fruitful time and yet i can tell this will be a big time of growing up and learning to.

I will have pictures being posted soon. I will get my camera when i get back to Indiana.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Posting Again! Little More Info. How to GIve.

From here on out i will start posting regularly if you want to follow my trip. So what am i actually doing and what is the need? For those of you who didn't get to read my letter everything leading up to this trip is covered in the post below. As for the need now here is what is happening. I have been in close contact with two churches that i will possibly be serving at in or near Aucklund. One is cession|community ( THis is a younger more emergent church that is growing and is seeing how me and Dan's gifts will fit into their mission. Shoregrace is a 3 year church plant that just lost a few families and outside of volunteer help is being run (from what i know) solely by the senior pastor( Dan and i will have a chance to possibly help lead worship, help with background/group work, and possibly friendship evangelism with a lot of younger potential in the area with tourists, universities, etc. We will be figuring out details in the next few weeks leading up to and when we get over there.
I would love for you to help support me and everything that is contributed to this trip will be used by every means necessary only for ministry opportunities such as housing over there and ways to reach those hearts in New Zealand. More, WAY more than money, i need your prayers for growth, protection, and guidance as God is really shaping where i will serve in the future through this trip. But just to be clear if you would like to support me:

Please Send Money To:
Brent Dongell
Plymouth Wesleyan Church
11203 South Michigan
Plymouth, IN 46563

Monday, November 27, 2006

Details with the New Zealand Trip

This is basically the prayer letter i sent to my close friends and family. i will leave it up as the top post for a week or so then i will go back to the regular postings of my pictures, updates, and thoughts. If you have the time, please read through this. I so desire to stay close to all of you around me that i consider friends and family so please email me or keep in contact!

LOCATION: living in/near Aucklund
TIME PERIOD: Dec 28 '06-June 18 '07 (possibly extended through November)
ORGANIZATION: Going as traveler, but working with the Wesleyan church
GROUP: Traveling with Dan Eggenschwiler (friend from college)
PURPOSE FOR GOING: Mainly to see why God has called me there... for present ministry, for future work, or both? Secondly to live in another culture, travel, enjoy the island(surf, hike,etc.), and to explore how i can best proclaim truth and Christ to others.
PURPOSE FOR THIS POST: So that you can keep up with me. Keeping in contact with you throughout life is most important to me.
FINANCIAL NEED: Feel no obligation to give but i still need a little under $2,000 to ensure first month expenses of getting settled.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Send to: Brent Dongell in care of Plymouth Wesleyan Church 11203 South Michigan, Plymouth, IN 46563

This is my traveling friend Dan Eggenscwhiler and his friend julie collins

So here it is. The moment of truth as I head off to Aucklund, New Zealand in less than two months. It has been a long journey coming, but in early July I stepped out and told another potential job opportunity and blessing that once again it wasn’t my time. God had placed a yearning in my heart for the country of New Zealand and I knew it was time to step out and follow his leading. It did not sound like the ideal plan to success after graduating. I have chances for solid job opportunities, to get ahead financially, to invest in the current relationships in my life, and to continue on to graduate school. There have been multiple times that I have literally gone to my knees and cried out to God “Are you sure?!?” Sure New Zealand sounds great, but now? I am still figuring out how to best minister and proclaim truth to the world in my own life!…. God are you sure?!?

…Yet God has continually confirmed that this is what I am supposed to do. Countless encounters, timely conversations, and encouragement from God through the body of Christ have brought me to this place of peace about going. All of the worry, anxiety, and questioning seemed to stop one morning during my quiet time: I was staring off deep in thought when my body stiffened and my head turned as I distinctly heard in my head the words, “Do you trust me?” There was no one else in the house, and there was no questioning this sacred moment that the Lord chose to speak directly to my thoughts and reaffirm my ever so willing, yet feeble attempts at faith. Is God sending me to New Zealand to shape me in this time? Am I supposed to be there in the future? Big questions that I am continuing to trust God with as I go!

Dan and I will be living in Auckland, NZ which is on the North Island. We have been closely communicating with the Wesleyan/Methodist church plants down there. God is moving in exciting ways, but the Wesleyan churches are relatively young. We will be working with Annie Wright, a Gospel Partners Missionary who is helping us get settled and placed into the right church. We have also been taling to Jeff Fussner and Richard Waugh who oversea the churches in this area of the world. There are multiple opportunities as to where we could serve. Sharing Christ, helping form ministries, leading worship, and supporting the church pastors as needed during these beginning stages will be our main focus.

the Hearts of those in New Zealand
that God will continue to move
encouragement to the Body overseas
Dan and I’s brotherhood on this trip
Guidance as to where my future ministry lies
Community as I leave everything familiar

The Point of this is not to ask for money. I would much rather your support, love, and prayers on this journey and step of faith. The point of this letter is to inform those who are dear to me what the next leg in my journey withholds. I will be working part time to pay for my expenses while overseas. Despite this, some of you have still expressed interest in supporting me in this time. I would be humbled and honored if you chose to support me in this time of vulnerability but please once again, and I sincerely mean this, feel no obligation. You can send money to the address below: For this to be tax deductable please make out checks in order to Plymouth Wesleyan Church For: Brent Dongell

Plymouth Wesleyan:

Send To:
Brent Dongell
Plymouth Wesleyan Church
11203 South Michigan
Plymouth, IN 46563

POPULATION Around: 4,158,657
NEW ZEALAND Is made up of two Islands SouthEast of Australia
LORD OF THE RINGS was filmed in over 150 locations all over New Zealand
A KIWI is a local from New Zealand
RELIGION: over half of the New Zealand population is considered Christian in a 2001 poll, although 4 out of 10 did not specify a religious affiliation
THE CHRISTIAN POPULATION from the 2001 poll was made up of mainly Anglican, the Catholic, then Presbyterian.
SUICIDE RATE among teens is extremely high if not one of the highest.
LANGUAGE: English is by far the dominant language but Maori is the native language of New Zealand

Thanks again for your time and for how each of you have helped shape me into who i am thus far in my life. God bless.

Open Invitation!

If any of you were looking for an excuse to go to New Zealand i will be there!
My good friend trace is already talking about the possibility!

The New Zealand seasons are below
Summer: December-February
Autumn: March-May
Winter: June-August
Spring: Sept-November

When things just go wrong

I decided to tryout the day after thanksgiving christmas shopping this year. I really need a digital camera so i decided to go to best buy at 4am to wait in line for an hour before it opened at 5. on my way there at 3:40 i ran out of gas for the first time in my life looking for a gas station on the way. I showed up a half an hour and 400 people late! It was crazy but i got the camera as you can see below. I then proceeded to work off way too little sleep, with my new toy. I took some pictures(as seen below), but leave it up to me... towards the end of the day it slipped out of my hand about 3 feet of the ground. A little plastic piece that held the battery in place fell off.(right now tape is holding it in place). I have a warranty but to ship it in would take awhile and i leave cali soon and want it for friends and then leave for New zealand and want it then to. Oh those icky days.

The beauty of it which i think us Americans as a whole often forget is that our problems are so minute. So often we never truly give thanks for what we have received and move on to something else we "need" or want. It is so easy for me to move past the fact that i have an amazing labtop, an amazing camera, and the fact that i am getting ready to go on an amazing trip and to think that my computer is too slow, that my new camera is a nuissance and ghetto, and that there are still way too many details about new zealand to figure out to really make me feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Sound familiar to you at all?!?

i love the passage below. God has blessed us SO much. I try so hard to focus on what is unseen instead of these small physical problems. These stresses are so temporary and small compared to how God has taken care of us!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Got a New Digital Camera and Last Day at Ralphs

This is my ralphs hero pose. Oh yeah... it's going on the Ralphs calendar next month!

This is sunshine. She is one of the daughters from the family from Canyon Hills community church that i am staying with in Del Mar who is off at college, but was back for thanksgiving

This is gus. He is one of the greatest things at Ralphs in Del Mar. He was a courtesy clerk(bagger) just like me, but he was also a celebrity. Everyone knew Gus. All the kids looked for him when they came in and he always made people laugh. It's amazing how much you can learn by being around people and letting them ruboff on you. This is a constant reminder to choose wisely your close group of friends.

This is Helen. She was one of my favorite cashiers because she was always so positive. It is amazing how gravitating a consistently positive person can be!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New Things i learned this year

3 Ways to turn a shopping cart while feet are up and riding on the back of it(courtesy of pushing carts at Ralphs):
1. Grab front corner with right hand, press down with right foot and balance tension of lean with keeping four wheels on ground.
2. While in classic riding position (both feet and hands on cart in crouched position), take foot and brake on the wheel in the direction you want to turn.
3. Go with with classic scooter technique by putting one foot down and pushing

When going through checkout line with groceries:
try to put heavy stuff first so easier to pack in cart

I am working on my breakdancing skills!
I can do a 35 second handstand
I can hold myself up from the ground balanced on one hand
i can almost put up from laying down on ground position

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Two missed shoutouts in the picture timeline

I was a counselor and taught Bible at the Shadow Mountain Summer Kid's Day Camp (June- Aug)

and i got to spend a lot of good time with my friend Trace

Leaving San Diego

Below is a quick update of my life over the past 6 months
I drive back to Indiana December 7
I will drop off my car and possessions in Indiana, visit friends at IWU, and spend the holidays with my family before I leave

Dan Eggenschwiler will travel with me to New Zealand

Dan Eggenschwiler Flies out December 4
My traveling partner will leave a month earlier to get things settled, enjoy the NZ summer, and save on Christmas traveling expenses

Worked at Ralphs and took APU Graduate Classes

I Worked at Ralphs and Took Graduate Classes (Sept-Nov)
To pay for living expenses I have worked at Ralphs the past 2 months
I am also taking two Graduate classes at Azusa Pacific University, SD

Kelly got married

My Beautiful Sister Kelly Got Married on July 16 and became Kelly Benware
The Family came out to San Diego as Kelly married Brenton Benware

Worked at Canyon Hills with Jr. High

Accepted the Summer Job at Canyon Hills Community Church in San Diego
I led the Jr. High Youth Group and helped form the 20’s small group

This is me and three others from the 20's group that meets every Sunday. We traveled to Julian for a night.