Friday, December 23, 2016

Thanksgiving/Christmas Letter 2016

What a year it has been! It's been a while since I have updated you all. If you would like to keep up with the happenings of our family Facebook seems to be the best place, so friend me :). 

The blog has kinda reached its end for me, we've completed the journey we were on and are now entering a whole different journey. From a potential seminary student, to a seminary student, to an intern (vicar/trainee Pastor) to a fully qualified and ordained Pastor! It's been quite the journey, a journey that started in March 2012 and ended in October 2016.

While we have made many sacrifices both in time, earthly possessions, financial security, pets etc we have gained much, new friendships, complete trust in our Provider, learned about God's faithfulness in all areas of life. God does provide our needs and even some of our wants just because God loves His people! 

Here is 2016 in a nutshell:

  • Albert led the evening studies at our denominational family camp. 
  • We drove down to Nelson for a Couperus Family reunion with an additional family joining us, Aaron, Audra and the kids Warner! 
  • Albert starts studying for his first Presbytery exam, you can never start too early right?
  • Albert sat his Presbytery exam and passed after much hard work. We had a great weekend celebrating with our parents! He is now available for call....... of which he got four.
  • Oh and on the minor things, enjoyed watching the hot air balloons floating past our house :)
  • I flew down to Christchurch to meet and help with the latest Warner addition! I also saw my brother for the first time in about four years!
  • We did a whirlwind tour of NZ of four consecutive weekends in late April-May to visit the four vacant churches that called us. We flew down to Christchurch during the school holidays in April for 10 days to visit Rangiora and Omaru. We also caught up with family while we were down there which was fun! The weekend after that we drove down to Foxton where we had a lovely time. We also caught up with my parents while we were down there :). For our last weekend we drove a leisurely 1 1/2hrs to Auckland to visit our final church, Avondale. Again we were well looked after. 
  • Decision time. We took one week of annual leave to process all the calls and spend some family time together. Thanks to the generosity of several families we enjoyed a well needed rest on the beach. Making the final decision on where we believed God called us too was really hard. It was particularly hard on Albert wrestling with the real needs of the vacant churches. Advice was sought and after much discussion, prayer and more prayer we felt that God was leading us to Rangiora. Once we made the decision, we slept on it for a few more nights with plenty more prayer including many of our friends, family praying for God's guidance also. Albert made the three heartbreaking calls on a Saturday night, saving Rangiora for the last phonecall. Its been one of the hardest things he has ever done saying 'no' to three churches.
    (Note: the fact that Albert received four calls, is not necessarily because of his ability, more it is a reflection of the desperate need for Pastors to fill vacant churches. There is a real need for Pastors in NZ!)
  • After sorting, selling, organizing and donating all unwanted stuff we were ready to move to Rangiora! Thankfully we were able to get a moving company in who not only transported our stuff (1 1/2 20ft containers!) but also came and packed it all for us! This was such a huge blessing especially since we have moved so much in the last four years. 
  • Albert took a month off to help me and also to travel down to the South Island and help me at the other end :). 
  • We said our goodbyes at church, school, friends we've made and the city Hamilton and left on a two week family travel holiday to Rangiora. We stayed/caught up with my parents, Albert's brother Josh and family and Albert's parents and sister and family. We also spent one night in Wellington to show the girls a museum exhibition (Gallipoli, created by Weta workshops!) in our national museum Te Papa, visit Weta workshops (think Lord of the Rings) and visited the War Memorial. A great way to learn about NZ history!
  • On the 20th of July 2016 we arrived at our new home! We were spoiled by the church from providing yummy meals, a clean house, filled pantry and a 'palace' to live in for the time being! The house has plenty of space for our trampoline (which is one of the first things that got unpacked and put up!), an ensuite (wow, AMAZING!), a fenced in backyard, plenty of rooms for the girls and guests, heaps of entertaining space and not to forget my much wanted dishwasher!
  • Girls also started at their new school this month. Starting a new school wasn't easy but we all believed that moving to Rangiora was God's will for our lives and so that made the school adjustment much easier :). 
  • Albert started serving Rangiora as minister elect on the 1st of August 2016! WOW a surreal moment!
  • We also saw some snow this month about an hourish drive from us :)

  • Albert sat his final Presbytery exam which he passed with flying colors. It was the end of a long journey. As I posted on FB, the journey wasn't about us, its about Christ! We took the girls to the movies to celebrate! A first for some of the girls!
  • We surprised the girls with a kitten. The girls were speechless! Buttercup has given us all so much joy already!
  • On October 16th 2016 Albert got ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacraments! What a joyous occasion it was! Both our parents and friends came and celebrated with us. Its the start of a new calling!
  • We experienced our first BIG earthquake. Scary!
  • Another much researched and wanted addition joined our family! Wolfgang the Miniature Schnauzer. Wolfie has fitted into our family very well. Albert made me a promise all those years ago when I had to rehome Pesto that he would get me another dog when the time was right! He came through with his promise! Wolf is such a delight to us all! Including Albert :)
  • Since Albert has been ordained he already has done a funeral, an infant baptism, a profession of faith and adult baptism. 
Phew, that was more than a nutshell :). Again lots to be thankful for. 

I look forward to 2017 not because it's going to be about me but because we live for HIM! 

A couple of thank-you's are in order! Thank you to those who walked both physically, financially, materially,  prayerfully and spiritually with us through this journey! Thank you! It has been a very humbling experience especially since we are unable to repay or return many of those blessings! This sounds a bit like the GOSPEL story doesn't it?

A special thank you to those who partnered with us financially, we were unable to go through this journey without your help. I don't know who most of you are or if in fact you read this blog but God knows! I'm reminded in a physically way most days when the girls jump on the trampoline. Someone in Gods kingdom donated money as gifts to the girls (in seminary) and we bought a trampoline with it. I sometimes wish that this person/family could see the joy we have and the joy we can share with other kids thanks to their generosity! 

I'll leave you with these words from Ephesians 3:20-21

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."