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.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reward in Moderation & the NZ Herald

A year or so ago i had a conversation with my Friend Levi back in the states who said something insightful to the effect of, "...but there is one thing we haven't grasped as Americans: Moderation."
In prior conversation about fasting he had mentioned his speculation that he wasn't sure we could fully appreciate and be thankful for things, unless we deprive ourselves from things and abstain even from good things for some period of time: hence fasting, stewardship, sex with marriage, appreciating people once you don't have them around, etc.

This is exactly what i heard echoed and agree with in the New Zealand Herald last Friday. The article read:
People are fat 'because they don't enjoy eating' By Steve Connor
"People who have fewer dopamine receptors in their brains are more likely to overeat, a study has found. Photo / The Aucklander
The mystery of why some people stay slim while others get fat may be partly explained by differences between the way individuals' brains measure the pleasure of eating.

Overweight people may actually find fatty or sugary food less satisfying than thin people, which leads them to overeating as a way of compensating for the relative lack of enjoyment."

People usually act one of two ways once they abstain from sugar or fatty foods:
1. Start to dislike the food and even find it too sweet or disgusting
2. Crave and savor the food that much more (i am this one)
I wonder if there are things in my life that i should be abstaining from simply so that i appreciate them that much more when they are around?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Verses this week

i have a verse i write in a pad to memorize every week to two weeks. The two i have been repeatedly reading and pondering right now are:

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NZ Ad 10: Miter 10

This clip is AMAZING! It totally captures these kids holding a conversation that older kiwi men might have about a project and it nails the whole Ingenuity idea of No. 8 wire that is common here in New Zealand as well.

For those Americans like me who may not think they understand everything being said, here is my best take on the words. Feel free to comment and help me revise my script if i missed some words.

Kid 1: What are you doing this weekend?
Kid 2: I’m putting up a retaining wall.
Kid 1: Doin’ it yourself?
Kid 2: Nah, I’m going to get some bloke in.
Kid 1: Ah, Com’n mate do it yourself.
Kid 2: She’s pretty big job…
Kid 1: Ah, you’ll be right.
Kid 2: You reckon?
Kid 1: We could knock it over in half a day.
Kid 2: Yeah?
Kid 1: Get a couple mates around…
Kid 1: Hey jonesy!
Jonesy: Huh? (in an Australian jersey)
Kid 1: Give us a hand with a job Saturday.
Jonesy: Mate…. your dreamin!
Kid 2: Aussies.
Kid 1: eh, No Surprise there.
Tag: DIY its in our DNA

No. 8 wire=kinda like "Duck Tape fixes everything" in the US
Bloke= Slang for a guy
DIY= Do It Yourself

Monday, October 27, 2008

I actually have time to do my job!!!

So this is how it is supposed to be!?!

There is never enough time to do everything i want to in life, but this is the first time i really feel like i have the time and focus to give to ministry. The task still seems insurmountable... a G0d-sized task you could say... but it is so good to be able to know my responsibilities and to commit the time i have to meet with people and plan my work accordingly.

I have usually had multiple and responsibilities or part-time jobs. Although i am still working on my Master's online as well, it is manageable and not dominating, so "Yea for focus!"
This is my work space at the Jones House and Cession office
The verses i just placed over my desk from 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 read:

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Counterintuitive Jesus

Tonight Brett made a statement in the sermon that said:
"The shepherd dying for the sheep is a very counterintuitive idea."
This really made me think...

It's true!  i would be sad if ten sheep were killed in an attempt to save the shepherd, but the human life would easily take priority over the animals' life if i had to choose.  It would be silly for a human to sacrifice his significant life for something so insignificant and less important.

This is exactly what God did, by all purposes, it would be much better for a human to suffer and die than God himself.  It would be silly for a God to sacrifice his significant life and purpose for something so menial and insignificant as a messed up human world(much like sheep), but he DID!!!

The good shepherd truly is a noble man and cause i appreciate dearly!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NZ Ad 9: Always Stealing Our Stuff

Pretty creative. I have picked up a subtle inference at times that New Zealand feels picked on and cheated by the bigger richer bully countries because of its size. Things like:
  • The Swiss taking kiwi sailors on their team in the America's cup
  • NZ Aviator Richard Pearse briefly achieving the first flight in 1902 and 1903 although the record for the first sustained flight was claimed by the American Wright brothers in 1903.
This ad shows a little bit more of this

Friday, October 24, 2008

NZ Ad 8: The Good and the Bad of NZ

THE GOOD: 100% New Zealand
You can't watch this ad and not want to come here! At the same time, you really need a helicopter to get the same view!!!

THE BAD: It's not the drinking, its how we drink
CAUTION: Pretty Intense! Don't come into these videos thinking they are supposed to be funny! They come from a NZ campaign slogan, trying to convince people of the danger of binge drinking.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NZ Ad 7: The Haka

These are not actually NZ ads... Sorry, false advertisement... but they are about the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team doing the haka

All Blacks/Maori warrior chanting the haka

FUNNY! Scotland vs. Another team doing the haka!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NZ Ad 6: L & P

STUBBIES! Gotta love the Short shorts!

HILARIOUS- CLICK HERE to see this video below on youtube.
I couldn't get it to load on the blog, but it is worth watching!
HILARIOUS- CLICK HERE to see this video above on youtube

NZ Ad 5: Nappies

Nappies are Diapers in the US.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

NZ ad 3: Pineapple Lumps

I Have been looking for this ad since i first heard about it when i came to New Zealand two years ago and I just found it! This is the story of how God gave New Zealand Pineapple lumps (For Americans: this is a bite size pineapple candy coated in chocolate and "sweet as" just means "sweet" in NZ).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NZ Ad 2: Pinkbatts Insulation

I have deemed it, New Zealand commercials week! I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

NZ Ad 1: Togs vs. Undies

Bringing back an oldie but a goodie! if you haven't seen this commercial yet, please do! it will make for a good smile and a little kiwi humor. ("togs" being swimsuit for the American audience.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Being Famous

I have joked at times about being famous enough to have my birthday show up automatically on google search when you type in the search "Brent Dongell's Birthday."
If you type in "Brad Pitt birthday" or "George Bush birthday" or something like that, the date just comes up like it is assumed who you are talking about even though there may be hundreds of other people named Brad Pitt or George Bush.

Anyway on to the reason i wrote this. I think it would be weird to be famous. I just did a study on Charles Spurgeon and there are a number of biographies written on him, some of which are over 500 pages.
Could you imagine people dedicating their lives in study of your every move and motive? Reading everything you ever wrote and backtracking every move you made and place you visited? Spending a good portion of their life's work in understanding you. If someone asked to do that of my life, i couldn't help but chuckle. Just a random thought.

And i could only hope that they would walk away inspired in their walk with the Lord, the way i recently was in seeing Spurgeon's heart for the Lord.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Most Famous People I Know Personally

(The people below are all very humble. It is not about numbers or popularity for them. I am just having fun acknowledging those friends of mine who have blessed and appropriately glorified God through their success.)

Most Famous Athletes:

Jay Schroeder

He was my high school football coach.

Played in the NFL for the Raiders, Redskins, etc.
He is even on my TecmoBowl Nintendo game!

He is the only person i know who passes the google birthday test*
*if you google search someone's name like "Jay Schroeder birthday" and the birthday comes up instantly, you know the person is famous! :)*

Bay Forrest

I attended his basketball camp and he spoke at my youth group.

Played in the NBA for the SuperSonics, Suns, etc.
Kingdom Building Ministry Speaker

He speaks around the US and world.

Most Famous Facebook Friends
Codey Holliday
(over 1000 friends)

met at Indiana Wesleyan University

Just a friendly guy who gets a long with everybody
What is not to like about him?

Nate Kingsbury
(almost 1500 friends)

Friends through IWU, friends, and the Wesleyan church.

Great youth minister whose fun enthusiastic personality is loved by all and has influenced many to accept Christ.

Most Famous Bloggers
Frank Ritchie

I work at Cession Community in NZ with him

He is a radio host for LifeFm and has a lot of influence here.

I struggle to get a 1 or two comments on a blog...
one of his recently posts had 52 comments!

Brandon Bruce

My Brother-in-law

He is a connections fiend and has been apart of multiple churches and youth groups that want to keep up with his exciting life.

I have 30 or 40 people check my blog consistently while he has
150 to 200 views daily!!!

Most Famous Ministers:
Paul Hontz

Pastor and friend from Central Wesleyan Church

Pastors a church of at least 3,000

My Dad

I am constantly amazed at how many people know my dad in all the places i have traveled. He is a well-known and respected pastor in different parts of the US.

Pastors a church of around 900

Joe Dongell

My Dad's cousin

He is a professor at Asbury Seminary and has written multiple books in the scholarly realm including "Why i am not a Calvinist" and a commentary on the book of John

Every IWU Religion Professor!
Includes: Keith Drury, Jim Lo, Charlie Alcock, Dave Smith, Wilbur WIlliams, Christ Bounds, Ken Schenk, etc.

Friends of my Dad who know i exist, but i personally don't know well
Jim Garlow, John Maxwell

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Mornings Prayer

God be with me, direct me, help me to be led by your spirit, help me to be bold when needed, help me to understand the gospel, help me to be a fighter for you, help me to be a care-r for you, Please bring the right people to support me and your ministry so that I do not give a poor testimony of you in the areas I fall short and help me to be constant in my praise of you and you working through others. Give me the zeal of Spurgeon, the fight of David, the boldness of Paul, the wisdom and heart of Jesus, and the dedication of Wesley to be a man sold out for you.

Please relinquish my fears and hold ups, please bring understanding and trust to relinquish my desires that are sinful about girls, dancing, jealousy, or whatever needs to be addressed. I need you and your help. Please give me a better vision of what you see among this world and people, I have walked around unaware and inattentive long enough. Please show me how people need help, how Christians can make a difference through your power, what is of you and what is not, what stances need to be made, when I am people pleasing and not following you, when I am just pleasing my self and my own ego and not truly caring for others, when I am blind to my own faults, when I can be confidently right in my doings, humble enough to accept criticism and to leave it their with you at the cross. The world is looking for perfect heroes they cannot find, but I desire to be a humble hero who they can count on instead of expecting perfection.

Be my sword, my strength, my shelter, my guide, my comfort, my purpose, my dreams, my excitement, my joy, my hope, my love, my sacrifice, my life, my everything, my riches, my treasure, my security, my desire, my beauty, my sense of accomplishment, my self-worth, who I boast in, my example and model, my food and dependency, my ultimate sense of authority, my consistency, my trust, my heart, my source, my final destination, my explanation, my reason for living, my help in the hopeless moments, my vision where the world can’t see, my mediator where I cannot change hearts, my power where I cannot change the physical, my wisdom when I don’t have the rationale to explain, my words when I don’t have the ability to speak, my authority when I doubt or fear what needs to be said, my master when I fear to acknowledge you, my motivation in how I spend my time, my Savior when I feel useless, my redeemer when I am mess things up, my Spirit when I desire things that are harmful, my courage when I am hiding from something, my father when I need someone to put me in my place, my shepherd when I need someone’s voice to follow, my warrior in the battles I can’t seem to win, my strength when I fail trying to do it on my own, my peacemaker, my presence when I need to feel your touch, my provider when fears and worries begin to make me question my security in you, my changer where I have become complacent, my hero where I need someone to imitate, my air when life doesn’t seem worth living for, my forgiveness when I feel unworthy, my humility when I think I am too worthy, my entertainment when I become restless in this world,

my reason for being, my reward I run for, my love for people, my level for truth, my living God, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, my Teacher, my Prophet, my Apostle, my Truth, my Love, my Hope, my Creator, my Purpose, my Provider, my Security, my Strength, my Hero, my Friend, my Beauty, my Grunt, my Spirit, my Presence, my Being, my Selflessness, my Sacrifice, my Forgiveness. I love you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


If you are interested in what I have dedicated the last few days of my life to... Read on!

It is 8am Sunday morning, i am off to church, and i just unglued myself from this seat because i finished two gargantuous papers for my Liberty courses off no sleep last night! Good luck on the preacher keeping me awake today!

Not the ideal situation, but it is important for you to know since these papers were the last big hurdle keeping me from being able to fully concentrate on this next season of "Moving Forward" in New Zealand.
CLICK on the links below if you want to read the full papers posted online:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spurgeon's Passion!

I am still writing my forever long 20 page Charles Spurgeon paper, but i wanted to share one of his writings that is so powerful to me... so inspiring. You can here the fervor and passion even in his writing.

It hits home personally, because i have sensed and longed for the same passion Spurgeon describes, but failed to follow through with such zeal so far in life.
"In that day when I surrendered myself to my Saviour, I gave Him my body, my soul, my spirit; I gave him all I had, and all I shall have for time and eternity. I gave him all my talents, my powers, my faculties, my eyes, my ears, my limbs, my emotions, my judgement, my whole manhood, and all that came of it, whatever fresh capacity or new capability I might be endowed with.
The very first service which my youthful heart rendered to Christ was the placing of tracts in envelopes, and then sealing them up, that I might send them. . . . I might have done nothing for Christ if I had not been encouraged by finding myself able to do a little. Then I sought to do something more, and from that something more, and I do not doubt that many servants of God have been led on to higher and nobler labours for their Lord, because they began to serve Him in the right spirit and manner. . . . I used to write texts on little scraps of paper, and drop them anywhere, that some poor creatures might pick them up, and receive them as messages of mercy to their souls. I could scarcely content myself even for five minutes without trying to do something for Christ. If I walked along the street, I must have a few tracts with me; if I went into a railway carriage, I must drop a tract out of the window[!]; if I had a moment's leisure, I must be upon my knees or at my Bible; if I were in company, I must turn the subject of conversation to Christ, that I might serve my Master. It may be that, in the young dawn of my Christian life, I did imprudent things in order to serve the cause of Christ, but I Still say, give me back that time again, with all its imprudence and with all its hastiness, if I may but have the same love to my Master, the same overwhelming influence in my spirit, making me obey my Lord's commands because it was a pleasure to me to do anything to serve my God."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The New Zealand Needs and Statistics

I am not sure all of these stats are current and completely accurate, but either way, this is an eye opening video if you are interested in the knowing the needs of New Zealand. (Courtesy of Rachel Nigro's blog.)

I would say it is a must watch.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Do i have an "ASK ME FOR HELP" sign on my back?!?

An odd number of people have been around and sought me out for help over the past two weeks.

Vietnamese Woman:
Two weeks ago I was walking through a parking lot and a 60 year old Vietnamese woman poked me on the shoulder and asked for help. She had replaced her car battery a day earlier so I tried to jump it, while another Vietnamese man came and helped us figure out it wasn’t the battery, but something to do with the starter and he took care of the lady from there. They were very thankful.
Chinese Teacher:
Walking through that same parking lot in a different area, another Chinese man in his thirties approached me and asked me for directions to the main motorway. I helped and we got in to a short discussion about where he taught English just down the road before we went our separate ways.
Seeing White Rabbits?!?
I was coming home from work and all the sudden I see this clean white rabbit sitting peacefully half way down my driveway. Now I am no expert on wildlife, but it was just a wild guess that this wasn’t a pure white wild rabbit, native to the bush of NZ just staring at me! ☺ So I asked the Chinese neighbor who didn’t understand much English if it was hers and she didn’t know, but the three kids at her house were delighted to help me on the fifteen minute rabbit chase before we cornered it in a bush and put it in a cardboard box. I left it with that family and they returned it to the searching neighbor later the next day.
Wrong Way "Coincidence"!
I was driving home from downtown Auckland late one night and I went into cruise mode and defaulted to going North on the motorway in the direction of where I lived in NZ two years ago. The only problem is once you are on the motorway north where I entered you have to go ALL the way over the bridge and two exits down before you can find an exit to turn around and back track back over the bridge. In this moment of sheer stupidity and sheepish entertainment I saw a car with his hazards flashing on the side of the bridge right after where the shoulder began and so I pulled over to see if I could help. The man said the car wouldn’t start, so I suggested to pump the pedal while he was revving the engine and he got the car started so I followed him until he got to the exit and was able to continue driving to wherever he needed to go.

Broken Lock:
I was unlocking my car parked on a back road and a lady standing in front of her work at “Tile Market” asked me to come over and help her. So I walked over and for some reason the key wouldn’t turn the lock on the door so she couldn’t leave. After fidgeting around for five minutes or so we figured it out and went our separate ways.

None of these encounters have led to spiritual conversations, but I love helping people and it has just been bizarre how many people God has sent in my path to help and I am just not sure why yet. I am not sure if it is just to love them by helping or whether these are chances he is providing for me to take a more bold step in proclaiming his love and/or providing an invitation to something.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Officially Live in New Zealand When...

  1. I have an EFTPOS card (a NZ/Australian debit card)
  2. I have a New Zealand Driver's License
  3. I have a One Card (the shopping discount card)
  4. I have an Absentee Ballot for the American Elections!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Three and a half weeks in

So I have a half an hour to sit down and just journal so here I go. It has been pretty crazy here so far. It is amazing how much you always seem to pack into the first month whenever you visit or move somewhere new.
So far I have had a weekend getaway at a lake batch, been able to visit and talk for a few minutes on a radio station, help with the underprivileged teens movie program going on this week, prepare to a sermon for this Sunday, go to team football practice and do hitting drills, have a great group night out bowling and eating with other friends my age, meet up with different families, have a number of meetings for the staff and teams that I will be working with at cession, find a prayer partner that I am stoked about, catch up with close past NZ acquaintances including the Mackays and Yates, go to a couple of movies and write a website review for Eagle Eye(click to read), play a few hours of tackle rugby with the guys in the rain,
play the bass at church, visit two youth groups, make a few nonChristian acquaintances who I plan on contacting to hangout with, do some of my initial shopping, setup the house including phone and internet, go to a professional Breakers basketball game, clean out the current car I am using (including the smell), and pick a couple of people up at the airport and show them around the Auckland area. Somewhere in there I have also managed to do a little school work online, watch a little of the British Office, find a Jacuzzi that I can relax in, and it has just been good. I have had so many encouraging conversations about God and what it means to live for him in community. I have already made so many relationships that have been so encouraging and good to be around. It is so nice to know that I have friends all over that would enjoy spending as much time with me as I would want to spend with them. It is also exciting to know that there is still so much to explore: evangelism opportunities, how I can support and help cession|community reach its full potential through God’s empowerment, where and when I will get to travel, when and where I can pursue other fun dreams & hobbies such as half-marathons, surfing, ping pong tournaments, a hip hop dance class, getting my diving license, etc. There are also big questions of how in the world can I best connect and develop the meaningful and effective relationships that I need to here? How can I best help the people of cession|community, Auckland, and New Zealand as a whole? How can I mature and grow as a human being to better my future and relationships? I could go on and on. Basically, it has been pretty full on and I have enjoyed it and continued to be excited although I know there is much tough work ahead of me… much like the feeling of finishing off your first month at a new university. I am just doing it in the business world this time! ☺ I have not had much down time… this means the amount of reading I have done has dramatically decreased compared to the last nine months in the US and I have not been as good at keeping up with people in the US due to time and accessibility. And although I have been getting my eight hours which is the most consistent sleep that I have gotten in my life since I was probably 12 years old, I still find myself tired at times from a lack of contemplative time and personal space. Yet, I am also constantly reminded of how this “alone time” will continue to decrease with a new family in the future as i work in the office at the Jones’ house. It is amazing to watch such a great family live out marriage and parenting and still keep up with their jobs, but it also makes me sit back sometimes and just say “thank you God” for this season in life, because another time like this season of life will probably never come again without a lot more intentionality and fighting to find the free time to give to others, use how i want, or just enjoy sitting down for a half an hour like this to journal.

How is this time different than the last I lived in New Zealand?
Not much except I have come back to a bigger support group(community) of people my age, but I am also missing the close traveling companion like Dan, that I did everything with.
I also have come in more focused with a job description, direction, and purpose in mind, where as the last time it much centered around finding all of those things, discovering myself, and having a good time. Having a bigger, more “official” support and prayer team has also made a big difference. It has helped me be more excited to collect and share the stories I am learning, keep me focused on the task at hand, and realize that although there are difficulties, God’s hand is definitely on my efforts and the inevitable successes because of the my willingness, but more importantly because of the prayer cloud covering this time and area in New Zealand. The rest is still yet to be determined…

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Getting to be on the Radio

Frank from our church (cession community) talks on Life Fm Radio here in Aucklland in the afternoons and on Sunday Nights for a 2 hour open discussion format called the Greenroom.
I was asking him a lot of questions about recording, music, and how it actually runs so he said, "Why don't you just come in and see." So for the last two Sundays i have been able to sit in on his show after church and watch him at work, which has been Awesome!
Frank actually put me on the radio to ask me a couple of questions, but mainly because i took this picture above and made him lose his train of thought in the middle of a good point in his conversation! i don't think he is use to the fame yet :)
He has a lot of influence: The radio station has roughly 10,000 listeners at any given time and he deals with a range of serious issues from questions about the reality of God, to questions about relationships, to questions about suicide and other intense issues. What an awesome ministry. Just to give you a tidbit, i was on the air for a few minutes...
and i already had a friend Rhett say he heard me the next day and George (the guy taking the phones below) say, "oh yeah, your the brent from being on the air last week." so people are listening.
A phone guy across the glass (George) takes the phone calls, sends notes about the callers to frank and assists the chat room as needed. Frank watches the texts that comes in, takes the calls, puts on the back ground music, controls random sound effects, chooses the topic of conversation, and puts in the transitions where needed. He definitely can multi-task beyond my ability!
It was amazing being able to see how the radio works
It was fun to see how frank did his job
It was fun to actually hear my voice on the radio
It was also fun beating frank at foosball! :)
Frank is a foosball fiend! Actually that was the most fun i have had playing foosball in awhile. There was a lot of screaming and trash talk involved. Good times. and thanks frank.

The Internet and phone are working!

The Day has arrived!!! On Tuesday a guy came and connected the internet and phone which has literally been a three week process of frustration :) that now is a major relief!