Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Maria's Reflections on the Big Move

Praise God for approved visas this week and no more major hurdles between the Sealy family and New Zealand! Oh, except for massive amounts of packing and a painfully long journey. Anyway, as we get closer and closer to our departure date, we are stepping up our efforts to prepare Maria for this enormous change in her little life. Her third birthday will be just a few days before we leave, and these are her thoughts, in her own words, about the move. 

Q: Maria, are you excited about going to New Zealand? 
A: Yeah. Yes I am. 

Q: So what about going to New Zealand makes you most excited?
A: I want to bring my dollhouse and pack it up.
(A non-sequitur, and sadly, not an option.)

Q: Is there anything about going to New Zealand that you do not like?
A: No. I like New Zealand. I like it a lot. 

Q: What do you think it will be like there? 
A: I think there will be trains and pools and rivers and dolphins and trains and hippopotamuses. 

Q: What kind of food do you most hope they will have there? 
A: I hope they have Macaroni and Cheese!
(A food she has actually only had a few times and never showed a preference for.....)

Q: What do you think New Zealand will look like?
A: It will look like beautiful. 

Q: What do you think Bernadette will like about New Zealand?
A: I think Bernadette will like that there will be lots and lots of butterflies in New Zealand - she will maybe try to chase them around. Yeah, I think she will. 

Q: And lastly Maria, what do you think is the most important theological truth about Christ's love that the people of New Zealand need to know?
A: (scowls) I don't want to! (very long pause) Tell me. Tell me about the people in New Zealand.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

We've Moved!

No, we have not left the States yet. But before we've even arrived in New Zealand, we've moved! Originally we were to live in an unused rectory (presbytery) in Te Puke, a small agricultural town with a population 8,000. Te Puke is the biggest source of kiwifruit in the world and we had been looking forward to the annual crowning of the kiwifruit queen.

Last week Fr. Mike offered us an exciting change. He currently lives at the main church in Mt. Maunganui, but prayerfully decided that it would be best to "switch homes" with us. So now we will be moving, not to Te Puke, but to Mt. Maunganui. This change is extremely favorable to us for many reasons! First, we will now be living right on the premises of the parish where all our ministry will take place. The more complete immersion in parish life is very appealing to us and will free Kelly to be much more involved than the previous arrangement would have permitted. We will have more opportunities to do ministry together as a couple and we'll even be able to host some parish events right in our home.

Our family will have only one car in NZ (not a change from our current situation!) so living and working on the same property is quite convenient and will benefit our private family life as well. The girls will get to see much more of their papa, who will be working long hours - he will be able to eat lunch with them and we'll be able to continue to attend daily Mass as a family. Kelly now will have a car available during the day, so she and the girls can get out and enjoy all the natural beauty and pleasant weather of NZ (particularly appealing after this housebound snowy winter). Furthermore, Mt. Maunganui is a much bigger town - population around 40,000 (or was it 60,000?). It's a popular tourist destination, boasts two beaches (one ocean beach and one harbor beach) and will offer more of a cultural experience for Maria and Bernadette.  Needless to say, we are even more excited now - and we were already as excited as we thought we could be! The map below shows only the north island of New Zealand (there's also a south island) - it should help give an idea of where we'll be located - on the right, about half way down, near Tauranga.

On a more solemn note, Maria has been sick with a "normal" seasonal virus, but was feeling so ill that she stopped drinking and eating. She made herself so dehydrated that she had to spend a night in the hospital getting some IV fluids. While this was a very difficult experience for her - and us - we are just so grateful that it was nothing more serious. We are truly and more deeply aware of the blessing that health is and grateful for having access to good medical care and medicine - and insurance to pay for it. During this experience with Maria we became more sensitive to the fact that these are tremendous blessings that are not enjoyed by everyone. We saw some very sad examples of that sad truth while on the pediatric floor. It was hard to watch Maria cry as the nurses inserted her IV catheter, but we had the comfort of knowing that she would soon be well. Not every parent can cling to that reassurance and our hearts are very much with them this week.

Friday, March 5, 2010

3 Months to Go...

Logistically, we are at a bit of a lull - our visa is complete and just waiting to be re-submitted. Fundraising has slowed to a trickle, and while we are not yet near our estimated need, we feel very peaceful and completely surrendered to God's providence in that area. Packing has not yet started..... So our focus right now is two pronged: intense spiritual preparation and turning our minds towards our future ministries.

We kicked off Lent by reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love together. It was a good spiritual kick in the pants for each of us, really speaking to our hearts.  Richard is feeling the Lord calling him to try to control less and surrender more. To grow in trust - to relinquish his grasp on the parts of his life that he clings to as "his". Kelly has been trying to enter more deeply into the mystery of Love. To love the Lord better, more maturely - and by extension, to show charity, to be patient, to have her will thwarted gracefully.

On a practical level, Rich has been spending time with youth ministers, attending their events and trying to pick up some valuable pointers. He actually was asked to pose as an atheist on two 8th grade confirmation retreats this week!  (The DRE was trying to help the students grow in their ability to articulate the faith to non-believers). Kelly has been using Maria as a guinea pig to practice some new catechetical techniques; last week we created 41 Biblical "characters" out of clothespins and scraps of old clothes. We've been using them to act out the Gospel after dinner each night and it's been a huge hit. Maria truly looks forward to nightly Scripture (she clamors for the "sticks"- the name she has given the clothespin people), and Bernadette belly-crawls determinedly to grab whichever stick person is closest to her invariably stick-y little fingers. If only all our ideas could turn out to be half as popular!