Monday, January 23, 2012

NET australia postings from St Thomas More

Christine has been assigned to Melbourne. Katie will be on National Team. Katrina is going to Emerald. Sam is in Sydney and Ursula will go to Townsville. Please pray for them all and for the youth to whom they will minister!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

summer vacation(s)

With just a couple of weeks left before the school term starts again
(along with the full swing of youth ministry)
we decided to take the kids on some little trips. 

First we went tenting up in the Coromandel Peninsula, 
about four hour's drive north 
(such a joy with three little ones in the car!)
But it was worth it. Completely. 
Our site was in the heart of gorgeous farmland, 
surrounded by the pointy green hills I have come to love so much. 
My heart is now forever divided between Pennsylvanian snow
and the awesome hills of New Zealand. 
I'll never be completely happy while either one is absent. 
Maybe heaven has both.

Our tent touched this fence. Cows and sheep roamed the hills all around us. 
(Had I not been sleeping on the hard earth with nary a cushion underneath me, 
I might have mistakenly thought myself in heaven already.)

Not only was our campsite adjacent to farms, but to the sea as well. 
Our tent was a three minute stroll to an amazing beach. 
But I'm not really "into" the beach.  At all.
Even after living in a beach town for almost two years now.
It's a five minute walk to the water and I barely ever go.  
I'm always either way too hot or way too cold near the ocean
and after 20 minutes of laying in sand, I think
Okay, that was nice, but now I really want to get up and do something.
I think I don't know how to relax very well. 
Rich does. He loves the beach. The girls do too.
Bernadette won't swim in it - or even approach the tideline - 
but she will happily and silently dig for hours in the dry sand.  

As I have come to require pointy green hills, 
so Richard has come to require the sea
This trip gave us both just about everything we needed!
I enjoyed watching the sunsets over my beloved hills 
and Richard enjoyed new ocean vistas. 
The girls absolutely loved sleeping in a tent for the first time -
so really Joseph was the only one who found camping to be a bit overrated. 

Rich tries to convince Bernadette for the 73,648,734th time that the ocean is not scary.
I don't think he made any progress. 
We came home from camping,
 had two days here to do laundry, repack
and pop into the hospital for Joseph's monthly doctor appointment.
It was a great appointment.

Joseph Pio has completely normal liver functions this month
for the first time in eight months
We have not had this positive a doctor's visit
 in his whole ten months, 
and certainly not since all the drama began when he was six weeks old. 
Thanks be to God. 

Then we set off two hours south for Taupo. 
Friends of friends have a vacation home there 
which overlooks the largest lake in the southern hemisphere.
The photos below are from Taupo. 

The lake is adorned with walking path upon which I enjoyed 
watching the sun rise during my new 6am walks. 
Rich loved taking both our girls out on a rowboat
and we all put on swimsuits and splashed in the water, 
which was this clear!

Maria and I found a secluded little cove
where flowers grew higher than our heads
 and we brought the whole family back to enjoy it.

I like lakes. Way better than oceans.
And I like ducks better than seagulls.
I always see fuzzy ducklings at lakes, but has anyone ever seen a baby seagull?  
Lakes are sweeter than oceans. Different kind of beauty altogether.
They lap rather than crash
They taste better if you accidentally swallow them. 
I've no terrifying memories of being knocked over by a lake 
and not knowing which way was up and oxygen.
In a lake I can see that my submerged feet are safe from sharks and jellyfish and crabs.
Also those things don't live there. 

I'm in awe of the ocean. 
She's omnipotent and dangerous. She possesses the rhythm of eternity. 
She makes me small and filled with wonder.
She's evocative of everything that taught me fear of the Lord.
But the lake -
the gentle, peaceful lake - 
humble even in her vastness and depth -
her beauty taught me to love Him. 

Bernadette swam here. With no coaxing. She actually rolled in the shallow water. 

It was a good and busy week -
and now we're glad to be home again. 

In the coming days, Rich and I will sit down together 
to begin hardcore planning for Term One, 
which starts a week from today.

Lastly, this is a really big week for Rich in his pursuit of an "American" job, 
& we ask extra prayers in this vein! 
We are completely confident that the Lord, 
who has provided for us abundantly at every step
 in this mission to which He called us, 
is not going to abandon us now, saying,
"Thanks kids - but you're on your own from here out!"
Still. we need to discern what to pursue 
and what to accept, 
so we're praying for peaceful surrender to God's Providence 
and for the graces of prudence, wisdom and patience. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the King of bling

It would be impossible to be more of a girl than Maria. Beauty in every form enchants her feminine heart. She loves silk and velvet, jewels and ribbons, glitterings and sparklings. Whatever is delicate and floral, whatever is lovely and dainty, she thinks upon these things. All that said, she will take momentary pleasure in "twaddle" - garish items so tastelessly lurid that only a child would ever be asked to love them. Nevertheless, she has a keen eye for quality and an inherent understanding that twaddle is twaddle and that what she most desires is what is real. In other words, I believe that the concept of the true, the good, the beautiful is already written (and legibly so) on her heart. And this leads to her most pressing desire du jour, the desire for a real ring.

you're never fully dressed without a crown -
and a picnic is no exception
I'm not into bling like Maria. I'm so much more....pragmatic. My most pressing desire of late is for so much less bickering in the house. Less snatching of toys out of hands, less tattling, less squabbling, fewer angry wails rising up from the depths of Bernadette's very existence. I would treasure that kind of quiet more than all the diamonds and pearls in creation. So I began wondering if my desire could somehow unite with Maria's and obtain treasures for us both. The result has been a fascinating lesson for me in grace, virtue and the fatherhood of God.

It began in a little silver shop last week. There was a sale on all rings - including beautiful rings in extra-tiny sizes, small enough for the diminutive hands of the little fairy princess who dwells in my home. The dazzling selection overwhelmed me. Six years ago, I picked out my wedding band in under five minutes and have never selected any other piece of jewelry in my life before or since. Finally - it took almost twenty minutes to pick out this ring - I decided on one I knew Maria would love. The saleslady dropped it in a tiny bag made of rich satiny fabric and nestled the exquisite bag in its beautifully coordinating box. I paid and rushed home, giddy with anticipation.

What comes next may sound cruel. Or like horrible parenting. Or worse. But it is the way that the Lord parents me, so I believe it must be ok to imitate - even with an almost-five year old. I took Maria off by herself and knelt down face to face with her. I put my arms around her and told her that I had something gorgeous for her. I described the treasure in minute detail. I dramatically unveiled it and placed it in her wondering hands. I allowed joy and awe and longing to deeply impress themselves on her heart. And then I took the ring away. I didn't even let her try it on.

I told her that it was a "big girl ring" - not a toy ring, but something really special - only for big girls. It's real. It's valuable. (Actually, after the sale it was $15 and the stone is not objectively precious, but some things are relative). I promised her that the beautiful ring was truly hers, that I was going to keep it in a safe place for her, and that she would be entrusted with it as soon as she showed me that she was capable of acting like a real big girl.  More narrowly, that meant only that she had to resolve conflict with Bernadette in a consistently mature fashion for a specified amount of time. She handled the entire experience gracefully and joyfully. There were no tears. She didn't whine or mope or beg or fall apart. To the contrary, her eyes glowed with excitement and determination.

not only does she wear bracelets camping,
 but sleeps in them lest they go missing in the tent

It's been a week and she still has not won the unfading crown of glory - nor has she gotten the ring - but man, is she motivated. She is trying so hard to be more aware of her behavior, to "catch herself" earlier before the argument gets out of control, to speak more gently to her sister and to fetch me calmly when she cannot resolve the conflict by herself.  She's doing great. I'm so proud of her. Heck, I'm inspired by her. And in the process, I'm learning so much - about her growth in maturity and mine. Because really, I want to give her the ring so bad. Now. I can hardly wait to put it on her little finger and let her have the full joy of possessing something so good. But there's something more valuable I want her to acquire as well. Lasting joy will be the fruit of her cultivation of these new habits, these virtues, that are only attained over the course of time with practice and effort and lots and lots and lots of grace. 

What I'm learning most about is the grace. I understand now so much more deeply that God's grace comes all the time and in many forms because in this isolated experiment I am giving grace all the time and in many forms. I've explicitly detailed the behavior I expect, joyfully coached her on how to meet the standard, lovingly encouraged her when she's succeeded and when she's failed, gently reminded her when she's forgotten  - and prayerfully interceded for her each day as well. I've asked her to do the impossible, really; what I've required is far out of the scope of abilities of an intensely choleric four year old. She would be certain to fail without this free gift of help. But with this abundant help - help with which she chooses to cooperate - she's doing it. Beautifully.

I feel patient and tender during her daily falls because I see them now as part of the process, and as learning moments, and as an inevitable part of growing in a virtue. At first I was thinking "Wow - this is very much how the Lord deals with me!" He promises me a beautiful treasure, sets it aside just for me and fills my heart with longing for it. I do not possess it yet - at least not fully - and I do often get distracted or sidetracked by short-lived twaddle as I pursue my own impossible task- but He wants to give me that lasting treasure so badly that He lavishly gives grace and timely aid. He clearly defines His expectations in Scripture and Tradition, and then coaches, encourages, inspires, strengthens and reminds me through sermons and good books, through my conscience and prayer, through Sacraments and friends, reflection and experience. He understands that my falls are inevitable and maybe He's not as angry with me as I've always imagined. 

Then I realized that it's not almost like I'm mediating grace to Maria in my efforts to help her develop a new virtue. I think I am mediating grace to her. For real. Just as others mediate God's grace to me with their encouragement and instruction, the Lord uses me to mediate grace to others - often without me having the foggiest clue that He is doing so. I get to mediate God's grace  - and to my own children as well! I don't do a very good job of it, but that's the whole point I think. It takes time to get good at it. Lots of time. And even more grace. And after a near-century of constant grace, maybe then I'll start to have firm habits of gentleness and humility and charity - and Maria and I hope then to possess crowns in lieu of rings. Hers will be platinum of course, heavily adorned with flawless diamonds the size of grapes. Mine will be silver - more tiara than crown - with a sparse sprinkling of pave diamonds (and diamonds only because, well, the Lord insisted). But you know.... we'll both be so thrilled.

She even unwraps presents lady-like on Christmas morning

Saturday, January 14, 2012

the parish

We're living in a foreign culture perhaps, but St. Thomas More parish is a culture within a culture. That's an awesome thing about the universality of the "catholic" Church. Rich and I have both come to truly love and appreciate this little parish community, this tiny culture of familiarity that has offered us so much stability in the great sea of the unfamiliar culture upon which we've embarked. I've belonged to many different parishes in my life, each with its unique strengths. Tonight I'd like to share some of the most beautiful things about the little parish in which (and at which) we currently live.

1. The parish library has been one of the most fruitful pieces of the whole New Zealand experience for me. I've never belonged to a church with an established library before, although our home parish in Pennsylvania was just organizing one as we left (hooray!). I have read my way through this vast collection of books with delight. The parish puts aside one thousand dollars annually for the thoughtful purchase new books, ensuring at all times a wide selection of trustworthy spiritual classics in clean, appealing bindings and contemporary Christian authors speaking right to the heart of today's culture. A knowledgeable parishioner collaborates with Fr. Michael to ensure that the money is spent on worthy volumes that will have wide appeal (and that well-intentioned donations of used books are weeded out if inappropriate). All parishioners are free to make suggestions and requests of the designated librarian. At our predecessor's suggestion, Rich and I arrived here with $500 worth of brand new Christian books written for teens, thereby establishing the youth branch of the parish library. Both collections are very well used, in no small part because Fr. Michael reminds the congregation regularly to read. He frequently insists from the pulpit that every Christian ought to have a spiritual book at home from which he is reading at least a few paragraphs nightly. "No one has any excuse, " he insists, "when we spend a thousand dollars every year making fresh titles available to you at all times." (And it's true that a brand new book - a bright, clean reprint - is so much more enticing than a tired, faded edition with a dated cover). These timely reminders to read have served me well when my bedside table is empty and I'm sure I'm in good company.

2. The feeling of community is so very strong in this little church. There are probably many contributing factors, but I'm sure that there is something to be said for the fact that there is one Mass on Sunday. Just one. Which means we all see each other every week. Plus, to leave the church, one must pass through the large foyer, which is packed full after Mass with parishioners sipping coffee and munching little treats. There is no possibility of a quick exit anyway, so we all stand around getting to know each other or catching up on each other's weeks. I like that when I look around that foyer, I recognize nearly every face. I like that new faces stick out so much and introductions are made and new friends are discovered. There is a true feeling of being one family in this parish and the only downside to that is that it's going to make it that much harder to leave in May.

3. Daily Adoration. Ah, how I have savored this luxury. Every morning the Eucharist is exposed for the hour prior to Mass. My heroic husband permanently volunteers to fill tiny tummies and brush tiny teeth so that I can slip next door into the church and fill myself with as much peace as I think I might need to survive the next fourteen hours of marriage, motherhood and ministry. There is truly no peace in the world so profound as that of being in the physical presence of the humble and silent Prince of Peace.

4. Fr. Michael's thematic preaching is next on my list. There are certain topics to which he turns his attention so regularly that one can almost predict if one of these areas are "due" to be discussed in a homily soon. Most of us do not find this redundant or tiresome - usually these are timely reminders that are completely befitting to the liturgical season or to genuine pastoral needs. Some of the subjects which Fr. Michael regularly spotlights include the importance of family prayer and of the Sacrament of Confession, also how to make time for daily prayer and Scripture, as well as please take a book out of the parish library - today. He often preaches about the need for priests and the need to turn off our TVs & computers. He gives practical instruction on meditation. Another major area upon which he sheds fantastic and frequent light - the importance of having an authentic personal relationship with Jesus Christ - (plus how to go about pursuing that most worthy goal)

5. Lastly (although there is much more), the parish has a really impressive range of ministries and ways to plug in. There are ministries tailored to every age group and interest one could imagine. I've tried to list them in age order, just to give a sense of how there is something for everyone. I'm sure I'm missing a few.
Mothers of Newborns
Playgroup for Toddlers & Mums
Children's Liturgy (ages 3 & up)
Tahu Youth Group (ages 12-14)
Lighthouse Youth Group (ages 15-18)
Girls Group/Boys Group (ages 15-18)
Frassati Young Adults
Prayer Group (a weekly charismatic gathering for adults of singing, teaching & prayer)
Mother's Prayer Circle (lifting up children & grandchildren)
St Vincent de Paul
Catholic Women's League
Alpha (10 week nondenominational crash course in basic Christianity)
Alpha Marriage (8 week marriage building course)
Monthly Pro-Life Prayer Vigil
Praise & Worship Band
plus regular speakers, parish missions, day trips for seniors & special events

Joseph's happy to be part of such a rich parish!

but trying to keep up with all that activity gets frazzling! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

humbling the tongue

Joseph bites, Bernadette cries incessantly and Maria talks back. I think we're doing ok by Fang and Puddles, but I confess that I'm stumped by Maria's mouth. I read in one parenting book that the "proper" response is to say calmly, "That is backtalk and it is not allowed." While I was turning that simple tactic over in my head, I tried to figure out what was provoking Maria to talk back so frequently. It didn't take long to nail it: brilliance. It's her oversized intellect. Our instructions and decisions don't always make sense to her lively mind. With not a shred of humility to soften her, she just thinks that she knows better (and, as Richard wryly points out, she is often right....truly.) I further realized that I'm not bothered by her desire to see the order, reason and goodness behind authority. To the contrary. And if she lacks the maturity or the tools to express herself properly, well, isn't it my job to correct that?

So I've attempted to phrase a question that she can use without giving offense. I wanted words that a nearly-five year old could grasp - and a depth that would last for life. Finally I settled on "Will you help me understand why?" My hope is that the spirit of this question may spare her from being sent to her room, disliked, expelled, fired, divorced and/or excommunicated. Of course, as I also wish to spare her from being struck by a car, burned or impaled, I still have to figure out how to set boundaries for when immediate compliance is required with absolutely no questions asked. As we are still hard at work establishing in her mind that the time to comply is the first time a parent gives directions, maybe the simplest solution is found along the lines of shoot first, ask questions later.

Perhaps this business of "wanting to let her ask why" is "soft parenting" but there's so much of Maria in me at thirty-three that sometimes I can't help but empathize with the drama of being four and a half. When I was twenty and formulating my intellectual backtalk against God the Father (and the maternal Church), I think I felt all the same things Maria feels when her will and opinions are thwarted by her earthly parents. I simply thought I knew better. I was blessed to stumble upon professors who gave me the benefit of the doubt enough to presume that perhaps what I really was asking was, "Will you help me understand why?"  And they did. Because they helped me to understand the goodness and wisdom and order behind divine & church authority, I grew to such absolute trust in these that I can now submit peacefully even when I don't fully "see". 

The awesome thing about our ministry programs here is that for the most part, our youth are effectively saying Will you help us understand why? We don't deal with too much surly attitude. Even when we come up against absolute dissent, there is no question too scathing when the attitude behind it is please help me understand. That's true for youth and adults, for friends and family, for questions of faith and politics and all matters pertaining to the proper method of squeezing a tube of toothpaste.

But precious few adults approach conflict with that disarming attitude. Last week I was on a Catholic website. The topic was the upcoming US election. The scathing aggression, put downs, and twisted retorts (from the Catholic writer and Catholic readers) were no different than one would find on a secular blog. Nobody was actually hearing anyone else out. Sarcasm and rudeness prevailed. Anyone who dared suggest that Christian respect might be more appropriate was pounced upon and visciously denounced for sanctimoniousness. (Trying to be holy! On a Christian website! How disgusting!I thought: If I wanted to listen to this sort of immature bickering, I'd get off the computer and tune back into my daughters. At least my girls' bickering isn't mean-spirited. It's not some lofty Christian ideal that adults ought to be able to disagree and debate in a mutually respectful manner. It's simple maturity. I'm not sure that we live in a culture of maturity anymore.

The experience helped me to realize that many adults need help in curbing their own backtalk - starting with this adult right here. I'm determined to grow in this skill right alongside Maria. I'm making a commitment to grow in having an attitude of will you help me understand why? I find so often that I'm wrong. Or that I'm right, but that the other guy had perfectly legitimate (if imperfect) reasons for his own opinions or actions.  I'd also like to start remembering, when faced with the maddeningly irrational behavior of others, that maybe what they really mean - deep down - is will you help me understand why? In fact, I think that may have been what Richard was trying to ask last night when he "brought attention to" my maddeningly irrational habit of leaving half-finished glasses of water all over the house every day. (Obviously this is actually a perfectly normal, healthy and rational habit of mine, and I simply need to bring light to his poor clouded little mind.) But anyway, love, you don't really need to have any clean water glasses available, since you usually drink right out of the kitchen faucet. Between the two of us, we're using just the right number of glasses each day.

the new evangelization - almost

I just read today that Julian Fellowes, creator, producer and writer of Downton Abbey, has been made vice-president of the Catholic Association of Performing Arts (the British Catholic Stage Guild). He stated in a recent interview that Season Three of his popular series will feature an explicitly Catholic storyline. My jaw dropped and my heart jumped and they crashed into each other somewhere in the middle. Until now I've been content to be gratified by the implicit Catholicism of a show that has affirmed that unborn babies are persons worthy of reverence, that every form of impure behavior outside of marriage is gravely wrong and carries serious and lasting consequences, and that the individual does not know oneself nor find real joy until making a sincere gift of self in service to others. But next season Catholicism is going stride openly onto the exquisitely beautiful sets of Downton Abbey. Wow.

I've enjoyed speculating with Richard about how Fellowes might pull it off. A devout new servant? A "scandalous" conversion among one of the aristocratic family? It will be fascinating, however he does it. At present, most of the characters are very good people. None are saints. None are even really devout, though a few are growing in that direction. They all wrestle with real temptation - and sometimes they fall. But where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more and the characters who have well-formed consciences tend to be greatly humbled and converted by their mistakes, especially the huge ones. I like that. A lot. The viewer is never drawn into the sin but is always invited to cheer for virtue, moral conversion and restitution. The circumstances surrounding each fall are sympathetically portrayed (so that we can judge the sin, not the sinner) and serve as an effective reminder that no temptation hath taken you but such that is common to man. 

In addition to portraying numerous forms that the struggle for purity may take, the show has touched repeatedly on a number of "life" issues including the value of the unborn child, the plight of the unwed mother, the desperate horror of suicide (twice) and the tragic drama of capital punishment (also twice). I think it's awesome that a mainstream and popular show is addressing these common dramatic themes and gently suggesting the Catholic response. It's not a squeaky clean "Catholic series" or a "Christian program" that's simply a vehicle for a particular message - it does not feature saints engaging in saintly behaviour  (nor, to my understanding, is it produced by a saint - which makes me realize the need for a passing prayer about this new direction for the show!) It's just a normal TV show with broad appeal, but it consistently reinforces a very "abnormal" code of morality (an unapologetically Christian one) to a wide and varied audience. If I might quote modest Lady Sybil (who informed her new fiance, "You may kiss me, but nothing further.")  Bully for that!

Friday, January 6, 2012

south island

No, Richard has not finally buckled down and written his post, 
but it's time to unveil these images nevertheless. 
 I've picked my favorites of the photos he took. 
Two sure things: 
1. Rich may not be much of a blogger, but he's one heck of a photographer. 
2. The South Island is kind of pretty. 

mt cook in the distance, lake pukaki in the foreground
sunset over the southern alps

mt cook
"pancake rocks" - a phenomenon no one can explain

crown peak falls

lake coleridge

sunset over fox glacier

mount aspiring

franz josef glacier

closeup of the edge of the glacier

devil's punchbowl 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

the summer that couldn't

Today we put little Christine on an airplane for Australia. Actually, the parish sends six missionaries to NET this week, (including our friends Santa and the Cowardly Lion from "How Not To Fool A Teenager"). They'll have six weeks of training before they embark upon their ministry and I hope to write a few updates on their experiences in the months ahead. The farewells were sad - the beginning of the many goodbyes ahead for Richard and I. And I do need to assure the six NETers that the goodbyes were in fact sad. I'm not so great at communicating that in person. One valuable thing about this practice run was that it helped me realize how "not good" I am at saying goodbye. The more solemn the farewells, the sillier I started to feel. Faced with tear-stained faces and emotional outbursts of affirming words, I couldn't wipe the asinine smile off my face. Sorry guys. (Christine, I assure you there was no trace of idiot grin left on my dopey face when I realized I had to do the dishes myself tonight.)

Otherwise, summer is chugging along. Or trying to. It's been raining since December 10th with nary a glimpse of sunshine or warmth until today. We keep trying to fight back and reclaim the season - but we're losing. On Tuesday we boldly attended a BBQ - but it was forced to morph into an indoor BBQ due to the cold drizzle that took over the afternoon.  The next day we ventured off to a lakeside picnic during a break in the storms - and were forced to retreat to our car after only thirty minutes, soaked the very bone. The ducks were thrilled with the loaf of bread we surrendered - and the kids were thrilled by the joy of the ducks - so it wasn't a total defeat. But Rich had slathered so much sunscreen on the kids prior to departure that it was like trying to race to the car with greased watermelons in our arms. Good for laughs.

We're very informally batting around ideas for next term, but that feels so far away that mostly we're just trying to focus on doing a few fun family outings if this egregious rain would ever ever ever stop. Thus, before I could even start to panic about what's going to happen to girls group next term? the Lord showed up in a big way. My two regular helpers are both gone now - and I know that I can't and shouldn't try to tackle girls group on my own. So here's what Jesus has done for His girls: last term I asked two extremely faithful young women in our parish to give a talk at one of the meetings. They couldn't. Instead, the following week, they surprised me and began attending the remaining meetings of the school year - and asked if I would mind if they stayed involved next term!  Then another amazing woman from church contacted me recently to say that she's been feeling called to get involved with the youth groups and was there any way she could be of help in the ministry next term? This woman is like my dream girls group leader! Shelley is a radiantly beautiful woman of unshakeable faith and hope. She's lively and warm and in awe of Jesus. She also carries the cross like a professional - and she's intimately acquainted with the cross. The Lord seems to love to entrust her with cross after cross after cross. Some of her crosses are so exquisitely beautiful, so special and precious, that you could almost forget how heavy they might feel sometimes. But you've never seen a more beautiful smile or more utterly feminine strength. People truly have conversions just from being around her- without any conscious effort on her part to evangelize them at all. The girls will be so blessed to get to know her and the Lord has amazed me once more with His unfathomable providence. Praise the Lord! It looks like girls group will be well cared for next term. That will be the last full school term that Rich and I are here. My hope - and prayer - is that one of these women will be able to fully take up the reins the following term and carry the group through the rest of the 2012 school year.

Tahu, Lighthouse and boys group are already all set. Glen heads off to seminary in Auckland next month and will not be assisting with the ministries anymore, but James will be picking up right where Glen left off. James has just completed two years in Australia with NET and is a fantastic sequel to Glen! We'll introduce James via blog once the school year starts up. After my Richie gets around to writing his South Island post. Don't anyone hold your breath.