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I've been called many things in my day, but a few titles or labels stick out to me, in positive affirming ways.

The first time I was announced or called a 'missionary' was astounding to me. Many of those I looked up to most were missionaries. To be counted amongst them, even as a fledgling, was amazing to me, humbling and overwhelming.

In Zimbabwe, the first time I was called 'vatete,' aunty, a familial title, a white woman being adopted by an African.... everything got blurry there for a few moments.

The times some of you have introduced me as 'friend;' not by the title of my usefulness or ministry role, but giving me that relational status that is more meaningful to me than the designers at Facebook could ever grasp.... wow.

I feel similarly about those who call me sister, or daughter.

And here, in Aotearoa, a couple of years ago, I was called 'kuia' by a stranger in a Wairarapa campground after a conversation where the Holy Spirit obviously was involved. Kuia means wise woman elder in te reo Māori. It's not a title anyone claims for themselves; it is given by others who see it in the person.

And today, I was called 'kaiwhakarite.' It means a practitioner, someone trusted with ritual, with community cohesion, with meaning; someone in whose hands people are safe. It was given to me by a Māori Anglican priest after a presentation I made.

I am exhausted, and I am blessed. This journey to serving with wisdom, honoring the mana, the dignity in each individual, requires much of me, and I wouldn't want to serve any other way. I think of it as incarnational ministry, which is, by its very nature, costly.

Praise be to God, to His Son and to the Spirit.

We, as a church here in Auckland, have not been able to meet together for months now... and when we are able to again, some of our people will be absent.

Laws and guidelines, fears and choices will mean we will have lost connection, lost cohesion, lost community. That's a lot of loss.

This is not about vaccinations or mandates.

It's a plea for you to pray for the unity of the Church.

Years ago, I was charged by a dear saint, Rachel Howard, to protect the unity of the Church.

I range from angry to sad in my thoughts and emotions around this issue. Angry because Satan is going to win some battles. Sad because dear people, friendships of decades, will be hurt by developments around all of this. Sad because I am hurting ....

Mission to diaspora people.

Mission through diaspora people.

Notes from an Intercultural Studies class I'm helping to facilitate through Laidlaw College and Shore Community Church, all online since lockdown:

Sharing the good news with people who have arrived in our lands is an enabling of mission that allows the Church to reach unreached people groups without the Church having to move geographically, but moving emotionally and with vision to embrace people who are 'other'.

Mission through diaspora people is reaching out to international students, migrant workers, exchange students, colleagues, transitory people who, after we have discipled them, will take the gospel elsewhere in their journeys.

Either way, the gospel effectively spreads, with the potential for it to take root and to thrive in its new environment. This results in contextual theology that will express the best of God in relationship with people but in ways we wouldn't have thought of in the comfort of our own culture or neighborhood. How cool is that!?!?!?

It's so great to think through these things and be reminded of how God is at work in many quiet ways I know nothing of.

You may not have heard that my big brother, Jeff, died September 30th. He was 62 and had struggled with a number of health challenges for the last few years. He was a good man. Please pray for my dad, my brother's immediate family and dear friends and for me as we continue to count the loss of not having him in our days to come except by way of the stories we tell and the times we wish we could call him, hear his voice or feel the touch of his hand.

Thank you for your prayers, cards, kindness. Thank you to Bethany Christian Church for caring for my family, and live streaming Jeff's Celebration of Life Service so my dad & Roxie could join in from Florida and so I could 'be there' from here in Auckland. International travel is complicated by pandemic management strategies, so I was not able to be in the US in 2021 as I'd originally planned. 

Aroha nui in te reo Māori is often used to say 'big love'. It actually means big emotion, more than just love. 

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