Wow! Last Sunday at church was amazing. On Saturday my husband had invited two adult men, a teenage boy, and an 8 year old boy to come to church on the bus. On Sunday morning we were all pleasantly surprised when they got on the bus. The teenage boy got saved during Sunday school. The two adult men came forward during the invitation and both got saved. The little boy got saved in Junior Church along with 6 other children. My husband said both of the men came down the aisle as fast as they could at the invitation. What an awesome God we serve! Please pray for these men that they will continue to come to church and grow spiritually. The adults' names are Huri and B.J. The teenage boy is named Arvill, and the young boy is named Brendon.
Also on Sunday morning we went to pick up one of our most faithful bus riders, a young girl named Summer. When we arrived at her house she was waiting outside with one of her friends who was going to come to church with her. Summer decided at the last minute that she didn't want to come to church and ran away down the street. Her friend decided that she was going to come to church anyway. As the bus was pulling away from the house, we turned around and saw Summer running after the bus. She changed her mind and decided that she was going to come! We gladly stopped the bus and let her get on. Please pray for Summer that she will stay faithful to church.
One of my responsibilities on Sunday mornings is to teach the teenage girls' Sunday school class. This Sunday there were 5 girls in my class (all a bunch of chatter boxes!) I was a bit concerned that they weren't going to stop talking long enough to let me teach the lesson! They did stop and we had a wonderful class together. Please pray for these girls. They all are 12 and 13 years old and all except one of the girls come to church without their parents. From previous experience this is the age when many of them drift out of church. This particular group of girls seem so interested in church. We need to win their hearts.
Has it really been 3 months since I last posted? Wow, so much for getting better at this blogging. :) Well, I suppose I'd better catch everyone up with what's been going on around here.
At the end of July to the beginning of August my husband got to go to a preaching conference in Australia. He had an amazing time and came back refreshed and ready to move the church forward.
After he got back, we had a surprise Birthday party for him at the church. I won't tell you how old he is, but look at the candles on his cake.
On the 19th of August my husband and I celebrated 6 years of marriage. We were blessed to be able to get away for a day.
At the end of August we moved house, again. This is our 7th move in 6 years of marriage. We had no intentions of moving this time. Our landlord's house had sold quicker than he thought it would and so his family had to move into the house we were renting until they could move into their new home. Below is a photo of the front of our new home. The rent for this house was out of our price range, but this was by far the best house and area we had looked at. After praying about it, my husband talked to the landlords and they were willing to put the rent down to a price we could afford. Isn't God good! Hopefully we will be here for a few years.
About two days after moving into this house we started Abby out on a new diet. She had been having some stomach problems. We had already eliminated dairy products and bananas from her diet because of eczema, so we took the plunge and eliminated more things to see if we could help her out. Right now she is on a dairy free, egg free, gluten free, citrus free, and corn free diet. She is doing really well on this and her stomach problems seem to be going away. It is quite hard to find recipes though! :)
The first Sunday in September was Father's Day. Abby was so happy to spoil her Daddy on this day. I had every intention of taking a photo of the two of them on Father's Day, but it didn't actually happen.
Nick and I also got to watch the Cold War. Let me explain. The Rugby World Cup is being held in New Zealand this year. We went to watch the USA play Russia. The media had been calling it the Cold War. I'm pleased to say, the USA won. What! You didn't know the USA had a rugby team?
Also in September, our car was sent to the garage for its 6 month warrant. Every 6 months you have to take your car into a certified mechanic and make sure it's safe to use on the roads. We knew our car would have to have some work done, but weren't prepared when the mechanic told us it need $1,000 worth of repairs done. He advised us not to put that much money into our car because, in all honesty, it's not worth much more than that! My husband asked for a couple of days to think and pray about it. Three or four days later he called the mechanic back and told him we would just like to get rid of the car. The mechanic (who is saved, and a friend of my husband) apologized and said he was sorry for going ahead without my husband giving the word, but he and some of the men in his shop had done the labour after hours and had found some really good second hand parts and had finished the job already for $350. Praise the Lord! Another blessing about our car was that my big brother heard about our problem and gave us $500 to help with repairs or getting a new car. Do you think he wants change back?
God has been so good to us always. It is a blessing to serve Him.
I know for all of you who live in the States you think Chicago is the "Windy City." Well, here in New Zealand we have the real windy city - Wellington. Last week we got the opportunity to spend a few days in Wellington for a preaching conference. The messages were so encouraging and what a blessing it was to spend time with fellow believers. Here are some photos from our trip.
The host Pastor (Bro. Ariel Castro) leading the singing. The singing at conferences like this is amazing.
The special music was also a blessing. Each night this choir sang a different song. They had been practicing for months.
Our group after the last service on Friday night (minus children)
Abby and her new friend (Nathaniel-Pastor Castro's youngest son). Normally Abby is not shy at all, but she picked this week to go through a clingy stage. All week the only people she wanted to be around were her Dad and Mum. If we both tried to leave the room she would burst into tears. By the end of the week she seemed to have gotten used to all the new people and she finally let Nathaniel hold her. He had been trying all week!
There was so much going on all week. I kept forgetting to get the camera out of the nappy bag to take photos. We were blessed so much to be able to be there.
Hope you all have a wonderful day with your family and friends! It's already the 5th of July here, so here are some photos of our celebrations last night. Keep in mind it's winter here! It feels like I should be putting the Christmas tree up, not celebrating the 4th of July! Then when it is Christmas time I feel like we should be getting ready for the 4th of July! Will I ever get used to this? :)
Last night we had some friends over to help us celebrate. There were 11 of us in total. We had so much fun. What is the 4th of July without food? My husband braved the cold and grilled out for us. Thanks, honey!
Abby and Gracie at their special table!
After dinner we had s'mores. We can't get graham crackers here, but there is another kind of biscuit that you can buy that is similar and it already has chocolate on one side. Toast a marshmallow, put it in between two biscuits and you're good to go. Not quite the same, but still good.
Do you lightly toast the marshmallow or burn it to a crisp?
No, Abby! It's mine!
After we gorged ourselves on s'mores we went out to the deck to do sparklers. The only time you can buy sparklers here is in November and then they only sell them for 3 days. We've been saving these!
Abby's first sparkler. She was so excited. I was trying to catch her facial expressions, but in between the dark and almost getting burned with Gracie's sparkler, I never did get a great shot.
You can't see it in this photo, but at the end of the deck is the cow paddock (pasture). The cows all came up to see what was going on. We couldn't hear them coming, but when they got close and saw the fire they started to moo. We all about jumped out of our skins! I don't think the cows like the fire though, because they all ran away! We definately heard that!
After freezing outside with the sparklers, we came back in to warm up and play some games. The little girls got the box of dress-up clothes out and proceeded to give everyone a hat to wear. Here is Crystal, we were the only two Americans last night.
Dani and I
Ashley and his little girl, Amber
Gracie - don't you just love the chocolate on her chin :)
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." -Mathew 6:25-34
I have always loved these verses. This month I quoted them to myself a lot! At the beginning of the month, we had no idea how we would have enough money for food, rent, bills, etc. Now that it's the end of the month I look back and can't believe how much God has provided for us. We haven't starved, our bills are paid, and we actually are better off now then we were at the beginning of the month!
He even provided some "wants." Ever since Abby was born we have been using an old bookcase to keep her clothes in. We didn't have a dresser and could never seem to find one that fit in our budget. At the beginning of the month a lady from the church told us she wanted to buy Abby a dresser. Last week she arrived at our house and dropped this off. Isn't God amazing!
Abby has almost grown out of her church shoes and she needed some gumboots for outside during the winter. Yesterday I went to a friend's house and just mentioned that I needed to go and look for some shoes for Abby. She went into her daughter's room and came back with all these shoes that her daughter has outgrown!
Another want for my husband and I was to be able to go to a preaching conference at the beginning of July in Wellington (3 hours from here). Last Sunday night someone came to my husband and offered to pay for the petrol for us to go! The pastor of the church in Wellington has even offered to let us stay in their spare bedroom. We are both looking forward to this little break and to hear some great preaching by Bro. Doug Fisher (from California) and Bro. Robert Bakss (from Australia).
God has been so faithful to provide for us. We are truly blessed.
Abby's first Birthday cake (while we were in America)
Who doesn't like to eat cake? Who isn't interested in saving money? Over the last couple of months our incoming finances have severely lessened. We still have enough to live on, we haven't gone hungry or anything, but I've had to find some creative ways to use what we have. Now I know cake is definately something that is not on the have list, but it's nice to have a treat once and awhile and my husband does like to have baking to take his for lunch. Here are some cake and cake-related recipes I've found lately. Eggs are quite expensive here ($3.00 for a dozen small eggs) so I'm always on the lookout for recipes for baked goods that have no eggs in them. Neither of these cakes call for eggs.
White Cake (used for Silvana's Birthday cake and Bus Ministry Birthday cake)
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sour milk
3/4 cup margarine, butter, or shortening (I use margarine)
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Put all ingredients into a bowl in order. Mix by hand with a wooden spoon for 2 - 3 minutes. Pour into greased 9x13 cake tin. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes at 350.
Chocolate Cake (this is the cake pictured above)
1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar (brown or granulated)
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar (I used cider vinegar and that worked fine too)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (if I'm out of vanilla I just omit this and the cake still tastes delicious)
Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with fork in ungreased square pan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bake 35 - 40 minutes at 350.
*If you want to make a cake to tip out of the pan and decorate, just mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the wet ingredients. Then pour batter into a greased and floured cake pan.
This next recipe was an exciting find. My husband loves carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Cream cheese can cost anywhere from $3 - $5 for a block so we rarely buy it. While looking on-line one day I found this recipe for Mock Cream Cheese Icing. I was a bit skeptical, but I had all the ingredients on hand and gave it a go. We were so shocked with the results. It actually taste like cream cheese icing! As a bonus, it is also dairy free.
Mock Cream Cheese Icing
1/4 cup margarine
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon white vinegar (again I used cider vinegar)
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
Combine all ingredients. Mix until smooth.
There you go, now you can save money and eat your cake while doing it!
This past Sunday was our annual Big Bus Blowout.What is that?I’m glad you asked!This is the anniversary of our church’s bus ministry.We always have a Birthday party at church this day and try to get as many children to church on the buses as we can.We do something different each year, but here is what we did this year.
We started out the day with donuts and juice for breakfast on the bus.
Here are some of the children waiting for church to start.
During the main church service we had a choir made up of all the 5 – 7 year old boys and girls.They sang the books of the New Testament.They all did so well.Their Sunday School teachers have been working very hard with them on this and all that work paid off.
One of the highlights of the year is the awards.Each year we choose a child who has been faithful to church and has a good attitude while they are in church.Here is this year’s winner.
After church the bus that had the most children won a Birthday cake.Our bus won!The cake was YUMMY!
On the way home we sang songs and played games.
This year the children were so well behaved.Sure they weren’t perfect, but they impressed me.
On Saturday I had the privilege of visiting with two of the teen girls from church.At one of the houses we went to we started to talk to a young girl and her brother that usually come.They were starting to get really excited about coming.While we were talking their Mum walked around the corner of the house.“Oh,” she said, “I think we are all coming tomorrow.”On Sunday morning we took the bus around and sure enough, Mum, Dad, and all 5 children were ready to hop on the bus to come to church!
Saturday afternoon we went door-knocking to see if we could find any new children to come with us.We went to one house and met a Dad and his son.We asked if the young boy would like to come and he hesitantly said yes.On Sunday morning we went around and he was ready and waiting for us!
We ran two buses on Sunday.A bus (our bus) had 66 riders and B bus had 48 riders!
My husband is planning on going to visit the family that came as well as the parents of some of the new riders.Please pray that he’ll have a chance to witness to them.
Last night I had the privilege of hosting a baby shower/Birthday party for my friend, Silvana. We had so much fun.
First, some things about Silvana. Silvana is my scrapbooking buddy. We get together once a month and work on our scrapbooks. She's finished 2 (almost 3) so far and I'm still on my first!
Silvana has twin boys that are almost 3 years old. She is expecting another boy at the end of July. She is also an awesome cook (we were all talking about that last night) and so much fun to be around.
Silvana and her husband are from Brazil. They were both saved there and after they got married they came to live in New Zealand. There are actually quite a few Brazilians in New Zealand. Silvana and her husband get together with a large group of Brazilians each Friday evening and have a Bible study.
Alright, now it's time for photos.
Some of the decorations
The Birthday girl!
We had a jungle theme because that is how they've decorated the new baby's bedroom. Here are the games we played: (I'm always looking for ideas so maybe these will help someone else)
1. Name the baby
I had a list of animals and you had to write down what the babies are called. For instance . . .
Cat . . . kitten
Pig . . . piglet
frog . . . tadpole (get the idea?)
2. What's in the bag
I put 11 baby items into a bag. Each lady had 15 seconds to put their hand in and feel around in the bag (no peeking). They then had to list on paper what they thought the items were. The winner got 6 right. It's actually harder than you think!
We had so much yummy food and great fellowship together! Happy Birthday, Silvana! I hope this new baby arrives soon!
Thank you to those of you who prayed for our friends. We found out this morning that their power came back on last night. It was a relief to know that they had heat!
Last night was our monthly ladies' prayer meeting. We had a good time of fellowship and prayer. We've also started secret sisters. Can't wait to get going on that!
Today, Abby had her 15 month check-up. All is well with her. She weighs 11.4 kilos and is 78 centimeters long. After her appointment Daddy took us to the park! She had so much fun walking around and looking at the flowers and ducks. After a long walk we went to let her play on the playground. It's so cute to watch her walking everywhere and climbing on the playground toys. Here are some photos from today.
Please be in prayer for our friends the Quilty family. This is a family that used to attend our church. They recently moved away to Christchurch. There was a major earthquake there a few months ago and they moved down to help with the recovery and rebuilding of the city. Well, today there were many aftershocks in Christchurch and two quite severe earthquakes. One was 5.5 and the other was 6.0. We have been in contact with them and they are all safe. Praise the Lord! Most of the city is without power and water. We are in the middle of winter here and tonight the temperature is supposed to be down to freezing. Please realize that without power there is no heating. Most of the homes that had fireplaces can't use them because they have been damaged in the earthquakes.
About two weeks ago we were helping some friends pack up as they were moving. I was in one room helping and Sarah (the oldest daughter of the friends we were helping) came rushing in all excited that Abby had taken a few steps. I was excited and put Abby down to try again. She took 2 steps that I saw and that was it for about 5 days. She then took a couple more steps in creche (nursery) on Wednesday night. That was it again for almost a week. Last Tuesday I was out for the afternoon and my husband was watching Abby. I called to ask him a question and while we were on the phone she started walking (this was the first time he had seen her). When I got home later she was still taking a few steps. Each day she has been walking more and more. She looks like she's concentrating so hard when she's walking. It's so cute. Here she is today taking a few steps. She gets so excited with herself (and so do Daddy and Mummy)!