Huka Falls in Taupo
Although it may sound a little disconcerting to all you frozen and snowy Americans, Rich and I have just begun our summer holidays this week! (I'm not gloating, I honestly do miss the snow like crazy). The final term of the school year was incredibly busy and blessed. This post is a hurried attempt to hit upon some (possible) points of interest.
You may recall that our theme was "Temptation". Many of our weekly meetings focused on issues related to stealing, lying, cheating and gossip - in all the subtle and not-so-subtle forms that these sins can take. Tahu (the junior youth group) had their turn at an overnight retreat this term, the theme of which was purity. It was a fabulous and FUN weekend - deep, well-received, beautiful....and bursting with silliness as well.
one retreat game involved being fed chocolate pudding
through some pantyhouse as fast as possible
another contest involved crafting an elaborate hairstyle
using only clothespins (aka "pegs")
there was also a competition regarding how many pegs could be
affixed to the face of a willing participant.....
Tahu also benefitted immensely from a guest appearance by Deacon Henk (recently dubbed "Deak-y" by Bernadette). Our parish deacon is Fr. Michael's "real life" dad, a charismatic and holy man with a heart for service. He has been assisting with Lighthouse this term, but made a special visit to Tahu for Advent. He led the junior group in a guided meditation on the Nativity, teaching them how to use their imaginations to enter more deeply into prayer. They really enjoyed the experience and were very grateful to the Deacon for the time and love he put into his visit with them.
Lighthouse enjoyed a mini-golf outing with ice cream sundaes for winners and losers alike. Towards the end of the evening, one of the young men boasted that he could get a hole-in-one on ANY of the 18 holes. Naturally, I was a bit dubious. He and his friends assured me that he could and asked me to select any hole on course. I picked. He plunked down a ball. He positioned his club carefully, checked and rechecked the lie of the green and then swung. Immediately, his three friends sprang into action, scooping up the ball, tossing it down the green, one to another, until the man closest to the hole threw it squarely into the cup. Hole in one! This is what we LOVE about Lighthouse!
Lighthouse youth are not ALWAYS joking around -
they can be as fervent as they are fun
We're thrilled to welcome Glen Brennan as a new partner in our ministry. Glen is one of the amazing Lighthouse "graduates" I mentioned meeting shortly after our arrival in New Zealand. He's been doing youth ministry with NET in Australia for the past year, returning only late last month. Since then he's been helping out with everything we have done, including assisting Richard with the men's group. Glen is a deeply prayerful and astonishingly humble man. He is a fabulous role model of authentic and strong masculinity for our young men. We cannot state enthusiastically enough how excited we are that he's back and that he is so willing to be a huge part of this ministry.
We really need a picture of Glen's WHOLE face,
but for now, this is the most complete portrait we have.
He's the one not giving a thumbs-up.
We've also been really gratified to see a deepening appreciation of the sacrament of Confession among the youth this term. It has never been a struggle to entice these youth to go to Confession, thanks to the grace of God and the groundwork laid by our capable forerunners. However, we have been filled with joy to see that the youth are going more frequently, preparing more deeply, reaping more graces, truly loving the Sacrament more fervently. Fr. Michael has told us that he knows the ministry is bearing fruit based solely on how seriously the youth are taking Confession. Naturally, he says no more than that vague statement, but it is more than enough to confirm what we too are noticing.
Christmas party for both youth groups and parents -
hot dogs at our house and a trip to the beach afterwards
(there were a lot more partygoers than this photo shows!)
So, it's summer break for us now. We'll be sightseeing, planning for next term, attending Parachute with youth (a huge nation-wide Christian music festival), and - who knows! But I do think that first on the agenda will be coming up with some kind of special Christmas post for our blog next week....