Friday, October 29, 2010


these pink-leaved trees are as ubiquitous as red maples are back home

The final term of the school year is well underway and Richard and I are stunned to find ourselves already almost a quarter of the way through our mission period. Realizing how fast our time here is passing helps redouble our desire to make every day count. As it has been almost a month since posting last, I'll just try to summarize what exactly has been keeping us too busy to blog!

We've had a fantastic start to the term. Our theme for Lighthouse and Tahu has been "Temptation". Over the course of the term we'll be presenting on some areas of temptation that sometimes are overlooked in youth ministry, such as subtle forms of lying and stealing that are quite commonplace in "normal" high school settings. Richard dressed up as a cranky demon to share some insights into resisting temptation, a la CS Lewis' wonderful Screwtape Letters. We've been blessed with some excellent volunteer guest speakers this term and we'll be welcoming a new partner into our ministry later next month. We've also been pleased to be able to pay back our debt, in a sense, as we are asked to be guest speakers at events. This month I gave a talk on Christian Marriage at the local Catholic high school's Pure Love Club. Rich and I were also invited to speak at New Zealand's national CUF conference, although we had to decline as it involved some travel and fell just three weeks before my due date.

Rich is leading A Few Good Men in a book study of Wild at Heart. This popular handbook on Christian masculinity examines a man's desire for adventure, mission and danger, guiding young men to put these impulses in the service of God and others. In Girls and God, we're discussing a series of topics all pertaining somehow to the theme of human dignity. In addition to this larger girls' group, I  also offer a smaller and much more intense girls' discipleship group called Handmaids, the aim of which is to push its 5 members as far as they are capable of going in the area of Christian leadership - and then just a hair further. This term's focus is "testimony", and each girl gave her very first witness last week. We plan to just keep assigning new topics and practicing all term, ultimately moving into on-the-spot witnessing, so as to be always prepared to give a reason for our hope!

Other areas keeping us busy: Rich and I have put a lot of time into redecorating the youth room for the new term. He's added significantly to the number of young men that he mentors one-on-one, and finds doing so very fulfilling. Fr. Michael asked me to begin a parish ministry to mothers of newborns (St. Thomas More had a bit of a baby boom this spring and we now have 5 new parishioners under the age of 12 weeks!) It's a huge change of pace from youth ministry, but I love it. In addition to all this exciting ministry busy-ness, we have also made a firm resolution to get outdoors and explore with as many family day trips as possible.  These spring excursions have done much to refresh and energize us each week. They've also worked wonders on the overall "crank" level of the shorter Sealys.

some of the best-attired Tahooligans at our costume party in 
honor of All Saints' Day

Rich pretending to be St. Francis

Richard truly living the life of St. Francis

Bernadette, honey, could you just pretend to be excited 
that mama's holding a real live bird?

Maria jumped right on board with October's Franciscan theme; 
she volunteered to babysit her preschool's pet bunny for the weekend

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

dubious pro-life news

Amazingly enough, abortion is making huge waves in New Zealand right now. Suddenly, there are large segments of the population who are really upset - outraged - over the senseless termination of vulnerable young lives and they are getting vocal about it!  Last week a single man was responsible for over 200 abortions and it made the news in a big way.  Richard and I had hoped to see this kind of fervor and passion catch spark in the pro-life movement here, but we never dreamed of who might be the particular victims at the heart of the issue.

Calves. The abortion of unborn dairy cows is the issue here. Abortion (of human babies - in other words, unborn dairy cow farmers or unborn babies of any career potential) is legal and common in New Zealand - and considered too private to talk about. But the farmer who prematurely induced 200 of his pregnant dairy cows last week caused a big stir. Our deacon, a former dairy farmer, explained to me yesterday that if a dairy cow gets pregnant out of the correct calving season, the farmer will either send the mother cow off to the "works" (the cat food company) or he will induce the calf and send IT off to the works.  Even if the farmer permits a cow to give birth to her calf on its true due date, he still sends most of the calves off to the works on the 4th day of life...unless one looks like it would be a good beef cow. The farmer's concern is to keep his herd producing milk and a calf conceived at the "wrong" time is doomed no matter what - and sometimes the mother cow is doomed along with it.

haven't taken any cow photos yet, but this yak is a distant cousin

For starters, I'm glad not to have a cat anymore. But beyond that, it is mind-boggling that the untimely death of fetal cows could stir up the kind of compassion that the needless deaths of tiny humans does not. I'm not insensitive to the tragedy of the way that animals are used and misused for human profit, but there is a larger tragedy unfolding daily that neither makes the news nor breaks a proportionate number of hearts. Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and my prayer is that the irony of this controversy might impress itself upon the minds and hearts of our youth and the population in general here. It almost seems impossible that it would not.

Monday, October 4, 2010

guest bloggers!

the term, in his own words.....

Andrew enjoys classic American beverages at the bowling alley

This term I have been able to be more involved in the Youth group, Being able to attend the boys group more (Basketball games are on the same night as boys group.) I have found boys group and youth group great as always. Been challenged in many ways to step it up. Even being made to do a blind folded walk in a pin path listening to the guidance of one person and ignoring the other voices around me. Was a very intresting way to give a good message.
Other things this term The tasting of Twinkies! I had never tasted these before and to be honest they werent all they were made out to be!
Also other American food such as Pop tarts which are heaven. Ive had these before due to my american heritage with my late father being brought up in the Bronx. Its funny to talk to Rich and Kelly about the american stereotypes that are shown in the movies all the time. I am majorly jealous about the truth about the high school basketball scene being a big thing in America. Basketball over here isn't that big with little to no crowds.
This term has also been filled with a lot of fun filled events. With activities like Paintball, Laser Tag, concerts and the wrap up of A few good men for the term. Which finished with a night of playing Xbox and watching Band of Brothers. The Highlight of this overnighter being Beating Rich at Nfl Football [Madden] much to his distress. Beating him with a touch down in the final seconds! All in All its been a very good term and looking forward to what the final term brings.

giving the Lighthouse mascot a little cuddle after paintball

the term, in her own words....

Katrina (center) having some fun on the Lighthouse retreat

To know where to start would be great, Rich and Kelly have already brought so much to us. It’s truly amazing to watch everyone grow closer to God and together. Girl’s Group with Kelly is awesome, learning about different women in the bible is great. As a group we decided to go against the boy’s group in a game of laser tag…inevitably the girls lost. Well, we won the last game which was the team that died the most. Unfortunately I missed the Girl’s Group where they tried the twinkies, everyone had to try them though because they’re nearly on every American Movie and we wanted to know what they were like. Lighthouse this term, we’ve been looking into God the Father. We ended the term with a bang as we went to Rotorua for a weekend retreat, we looked deeply into the Our Father. The retreat included awesome activities, including Get the Flag in the dark. We also, it was a bit naughty, got the large oven trays from the kitchen and went grass sliding down the hill in the paddocks. The kitchen trays are little bit worse for wear now, opps. I’m truly looking forward to what Rich and Kelly have in store for us next term. Thank you to everyone in America for letting them come to NZ and we keep you all in our prayers. 
God Bless, Katrina

Thank you both SO MUCH, Andrew and Katrina! 
Rich & Kelly

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the state of the union

I was just trying to order some lunchmeat at the deli counter.  "Could I please have about 6 slices of the roast beef?" (I know - I should have said, "MAY I").

The cocky young deli guy smiled and asked if I was uncomfortable ordering in the metric system.  Feeling a tiny bit patronized and equally flustered, I quickly tried to remember how I would have ordered at home - would I have ordered by the fraction of a pound or by the slice?

Before I could work out an answer, he asked me where I was from. I said, "The States". Again, his "bantering" response had that slightly patronizing edge - "Yeah - which one? There are 52, you know."

So Americans, unless there has been some major news that we've missed while living abroad, I think I actually got the last laugh this time.