Saturday, April 30, 2011

nowhere man

One common point of interest these days for friends in both America and New Zealand concerns Joseph's citizenship. Is Joseph a New Zealand citizen? Does he have dual citizenship? Will we try to attain dual citizenship for him? (etc.... )No. no. and no (etc....) Oh, so he's just an American citizen?

Since 2006, babies born in New Zealand to non-Kiwi parents are not automatically granted NZ citizenship. It would actually be easier for Richard to attain residence or dual citizenship than it would be for Joseph to do so at this stage in his life. But right now the little man has no official status or papers at all. I've finished filling out his applications for an American passport, a Social Security Card and the equivalent of a birth certificate. We'll have to drive to Auckland (3 hours away) and present the applications and applicant in person before these documents will be issued. In other words, Joseph is not an American until he appears in the flesh at the American embassy. We can't make that trip until his New Zealand birth certificate arrives in the mail. Five weeks have not witnessed that event. So at present, he's an "international free agent". His feelings on this matter are clear in the photos below.



Friday, April 22, 2011

solemn and silly

Good Friday
parishioners approach the crucifix to venerate the Cross
following Fr. Michael's homily inviting all present to courageously 
embrace our own crosses & our call to be a Simon of Cyrene

Holy Saturday
Kiwis do not traditionally dye eggs
so we used a "homemade" dye
with food coloring for the first time.
also the first time dying brown eggs since I could't buy white ones.
I love how rich and intense the colors came out!

everyone loving the eggs!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the nuns

There were two beautiful Dominican Sisters of Nashville who attended the SetFree conference. Both are Americans temporarily living in Australia as their order expands Down Under. (One, Sr. Mary Rachael, is originally from Pittsburgh PA, and appreciated the tiny Steelers hat that Grandma and Grandpa sent Joseph last week.) 

After mingling with 200 youth at the conference this weekend, the sisters had a few speaking engagements in our parish. After morning Mass today they had morning tea with a small group of young women, most of whom are members of our girls group. Conversation centered on the topic of discernment, or how to practice hearing the voice of God. Sister Mary Rachael spoke about being attentive to God's will in everyday decisions and thus learning to recognize how God's voice 'sounds' in the heart of the individual. She shared her own habit of prayerfully placing a decision before the Lord and then quietly considering if God is saying "no" (and paying attention to the movements of her heart in response) and then considering if the Lord is saying "yes" (and again paying attention to the heart).

Sr. Mary Rachael touched also upon the importance of living a balanced life, of cultivating a grateful heart, of service and of personal maturity. She shared her own fascinating discernment story. Both she and Sr. Cecilia Joseph had such joy and peace. More than any words they spoke, this demeanor witnessed powerfully to the possibility of profound happiness in religious life. They credited their personal fulfillment to two elements of their vocation: a rich experience of community within their order and the contentment that any woman would possess if she had a Spouse who was both unfailingly loving and omnipotent. 

the sisters take a photo with their admiring audience

the handmaids take a photo with the beloved sisters

pine sunday

in my palm, one of the "palms" 
distributed for Palm Sunday Mass this week -
trying to wave it about only produced
a waft of Christmas scent

I could have plucked one of the palm fronds
off of this tree in our courtyard.....

except it had been loaded onto Glen's truck
on Friday and driven to the SetFree conference
as a symbol of the weekend's theme -
"rooted in Christ"

it came home Sunday night looking a bit shattered
(compare the geraniums at the base before and after, 
note also that 2 of the 4 main branches are now gone)
The youth who attended the conference
fared much better than the tree...

We have asked a few youth participants to "guest blog" for us and share their experience of the SetFree weekend. By all accounts the conference was a smashing success for Jesus.
 Hopefully more details to follow soon! 

Monday, April 4, 2011


he doesn't really have the hang of "being awake" yet....

It's hard to know where to start. My brain feels as blurry as my eyes do. It's also hard to clearly remember anything specific that has happened here in the last few weeks besides the arrival of an infant/departure of sleep, but I am going to try.

We're almost at the end of the first term of the school year. The theme of the term has been the concept of developing (or deepening) a real and intimate relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. We tried to explore that idea from as many angles as possible. Several guest speakers gave testimony about how they came to have an authentic and deep relationship with Jesus. We gave teachings on coming to know Jesus through prayer, through sacraments and through the events of our lives. There was a Praise night for each group (coming to know Jesus through worship). Tahu entertained the residents of a retirement home with music, skits and games; Lighthouse visited those residents too ill to leave the infirmary wing (coming to know Jesus through service). Both groups were challenged to answer Christ's question, "Who do you say that I am?"

the band for our night of praise and worship

But the best is yet to come. The term concludes in ten days with a weekend-long, nation-wide, second-ever youth conference....Set Free. (Follow the link if the website would be of interest -  SetFree Youth Conference ) Fr. Michael, Richard and many others have been hard at work organizing this conference since our arrival last May, but the past month has been particularly intense. It's truly a huge deal - Emmanuel Worship will be flying in from Australia and Chris Padgett from the States. The youth of our parish have been highly involved in the final tasks this past month - on their shoulders have fallen some of the efforts to interest their peers in attending and to fundraise for the conference. They've been baking, selling raffle tickets and "lollies" (candy), cleaning windows, moving furniture...and doing it all with good cheer.  Because of the birth of the newest Sealy, I'm not sure I will actually be able to experience Set Free 2011 (I think instead I will be experiencing my first weekend alone with three children under the age of 4 - pray for me) but Richard is really looking forward to the entire experience and maybe he will write the blog post on it after the fact.

fun fundraising

Beside all the good things happening with the ministry, it's been a joyful time for our family. Richard and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on March 25. There was another couple at Mass that same morning celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary - it was lovely and inspiring to have our marriages blessed during the same liturgy. That evening my dear friend Anna gave birth to her first baby, Isabella Rose. We found out we were pregnant at nearly the same time, within weeks of first meeting each other. Anna's due date was two weeks before mine, but came and went with no sign of a baby. Minutes after her husband texted us with the news of the birth, it became very clear that we would be heading to the hospital within a few hours ourselves! And so we did. Dicey business, since Anna and I were sharing a midwife. Poor Shirley had just gotten home and gone to bed when my phone call dragged her back to the hospital. Fortunately for her, Joseph was in a big hurry to begin life outside the womb and we didn't detain her for too long.

In New Zealand, the midwife visits mother and baby at home for the first 6 weeks, 
visit includes the well-baby checkups. 
Joseph hasn't been in a "capsule" (car seat) since he came home from the hospital. lovely!

Anna and I recovered in rooms only one door apart and had a wonderful hospital stay visiting with each other. When I left the next afternoon, Anna was happily bathing her baby and preparing to go home as well. We were devastated when she wound up in the ICU the next night gravely ill. There were a few very frightening days that followed, but by the mercy of God Anna is recovering health and strength and she hopes to be sent home ASAP.  We ask prayers for her full and speedy recovery. I include this episode in the category of "a joyful time for our family" because Anna is now stable and seems to be healing well, an immense joy after a time of great fear.
Paul, Fr. Michael (holding niece Isabella), Anna (and Joseph's lower torso)
hours before Anna fell ill

And lastly, the birth of Joseph Pio "Freckle" Sealy has been the cause of much delight. Well, I certainly feel that way. Richard appears to as well. Our girls are having the ambivalent reaction that can only be expected of very young children. (They love the baby...they cry constantly. They obsess about the baby...they fight with each other incessantly.) He's a very sleepy little man, which has helped make the transition a little easier on all of us. Most of the day it still feels like we have only 2 children...two unusually cranky and ill-behaved children. And then it all seems to really fall apart at 4 pm or so each afternoon. So many parishioners have kindly dropped off meals for us that we have not really had to cook dinner in over a week, and that has been our saving grace.

little yoda. 
frowns he in the distance thinking mysterious, wise thoughts.

I'm sure that I'm forgetting things, but a Great Silence has just overtaken the girls' bedroom, which means that they are either finally asleep (and I can finally get to bed) or they are doing something seriously mischievous (in which case my computer time is definitely over). I'm banking on the former and bracing myself for the latter.
Richard visiting the Hobbit movie set this past Monday