My family and I (Aaron (me) Audra, Caedmon, Josiah, Abbiel and our unborn child) decided to pack up and move to New Zealand to fulfill a need in the Reformed Churches of New Zealand.
When moving to another country, the first thing a person might notice is the differences. We have even been asked “how do you find it here?” meaning “in comparison to where you once were on the opposite pole how do you like it?” I thought then it would be appropriate to notice the differences between what is like in America compared to New Zealand.
A phrase New Zealanders say”Americans like it big.” From what I can see this is true. Americans would never find use for a glass that contains only two swallows of liquid. Other things that are small to us Americans are the refrigerators, washing machines, vehicles, and roads.
I now understand why the rest of the world sees us as over top and larger than life. We have things that are way larger than we need such as SUVS to bring one person to work and back each day.
The next major thing we noticed the first night here is, the lack of central heat and insulation in the houses. To go use the toilet(I know this may sound a little crass, but Kiwi’s call it a toilet not a restroom or a bathroom) in the middle of night is a difficult task. As soon as you pull back the covers and the cold air hits you the urge is increased. So you run to the toilet and then return to your heated bed. If you are the unlucky one to have to go, your spouse is not without consequence. For as you now place your recently iced toes back into your bed, it is just about impossible not to use that warm body next to you to help increase the temperature of your outer extremities.
Another difference is the amount of immigrants that are in the church. This makes me take special care to listen. I don’t have to just understand one accent but many types. We all speak English but at times we need the help of one another and the Spirit to understand one another. Yet this means that many of us are away from family and understand the difficulties of coming to a new country. In our marriage we have not lived consistently in one place for longer than 2 years. This being said, we have begun to understand what Peter means when he calls Christians sojourners.
Even with all these differences, there is that one great similarity. We continue to be a part of a christian family who worships the true God. Therefore, even though I am in New Zealand and away from many of my family, friends and even away from the church family I grew up with, I know I am among fellow believers and therefore brothers and sisters in Christ. “So then you are no longer strangers aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22) We truly feel this unity when we worship recognizing that even though I am in a completely different time zone we worship the true God in the same way, in Spirit and in truth.
I also have found the generosity to be the same in both Christian communities. In Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, many churches and people sacrificed enormous amounts of time and money to help me accomplish my task of training for the ministry. For that I could never repay, and we continue to thank God for your support and continued prayers. Here as well in New Zealand we have found the generosity of the people to be just as overwhelming. From the moment we stepped off the plane, we have been so well provided for that there was not a need to ask for anything. We were brought to a home fully furnished and ready to sleep in. We were provided a car. Welcomed with a meal. And generosity is continually given to me as I seek to remember, and properly pronounce peoples names.
Even though there are physical differences, The spiritual similarities make us as a family feel right at home. We look forward to how God will use us.