King of the Forest

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Recently, I attended a weekend retreat for the internship I took through the Maxim Institute in Auckland New Zealand. Alumni Weekend. A time where interns, past and new get together and laugh about old stories, update each other on what the internship has done for them, eat, drink, and you know…be merry. Obviously it’s so much more than that, but I want to talk about something that greatly touched me over that weekend.

Continue reading “King of the Forest”

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I’m An Extroverted Introvert. Huh? Yep.

Some of you may have seen articles floating around talking about “Signs of an Introvert.” “20 Things Extroverts Do. Introverts, THIS IS FOR YOU!” “ISFP, it’s okay to Party!” If you have a Facebook NewsFeed, then you’ve seen these articles. Most likely when you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, so you skip over the ones that seem formulaic…okay, all of them are like that.

I am an Extroverted Introvert. Party in the Library. A Rave of One. Shots with a Book in my hand. Whatever you want to call it, I do both. Most of my friends who understand Myers Briggs know that this is quite possible. Others may force me to choose a side. How can you be both? That makes no sense at ALL@!!1! How can you love people but also HATE THEM!?!!22!

Continue reading “I’m An Extroverted Introvert. Huh? Yep.”

Allow Me to Pop Your Bubble

In case you were under the impression that I am living the good life over here, sipping cocktails, kicking my feet back in the warm, dwindling rays of the New Zealand sunset every week, allow me to pop your bubble. No I’m not donning a hobbit costume, herding sheep through the exquisite mountainside, going on wine tours, vacationing on the weekends, hitting the beach whenever I can, eating at highly rated establishments, or adopting a general “take it easy” mentality.

Let me take you on an eye opening journey through what my life looks like up here and what the reality of the situation looks like.

I wake up. I figure out how I am going to eat, pay for gas, and where I’m gong to live next week. I worry. Yeah, I worry a lot. I pray for continued reliance on God. I pray for peace amidst the chaos. I hope that tomorrow is the day I can stop worrying about finances. I swallow my pride (admission: this is my newest addition to the “things Eric loathes to do”) and asking for help when I can’t do it. I keep myself busy filling out job applications and watching tv shows, reading books, or writing because if I stop for one second, I will think about my family and how much I miss them. I constantly remind myself why I’m here, my calling, and what I sacrificed to get here.

Sound familiar? NZ is no different than any other part of the world when it comes to daily struggles. Pretty mountainsides and golden sunsets don’t buy you food, close a mortgage, resolve a fight with your spouse, keep kids off the street, end injustice, create equality, or stop a kid from putting a gun in his mouth.

imagescamgs1nzYou want to know the sad thing? I haven’t seen anything yet. I’m still VERY green to this country, and I will be shocked. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. New Zealand is filled with sadness, pain, suffering, damage, grief, and wrongdoing…And if you thought I came here to escape the problems of America to go and live in a paradise…then you are so far outside of reality, that I can’t help you. It doesn’t matter if you live in Fiji, Hawaii, or Jamaica…brokenness will follow you, because there isn’t a place on this Earth that doesn’t have any.

I realize that I have perpetuated this in the past with only showing photos of the good thingsAmnestyInternationalfashion3 TBWA France I’ve been exposed to in this country. I have since stopped doing that on facebook, but the truth is I can’t even properly display in photo, video, or even text…as I am doing now…the true horrors I am exposed to in New Zealand. Nor would you want to hear about them. The truth exposes things and forces you to step out of what is comfortable. We like comfortability. We like it so much that we have fallen in love with “talking” about things that matter, yet rarely do anything of personal sacrifice. Rarely acting towards “otherness”, rarely REALLY believing in what we talk about.

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Still, even someone like myself, who left everything behind to live-out my calling, I found myself asking the important questions, “What am I doing for these people I came here for? How am I living in “otherness?” How am I actually living how Christ called us? Christ became a human being, talked to whores, touched lepers, broke the sabbath and had Sunday lunches with sinners. To live like Christ? This means: Otherness. Pay attention to “others” and love them. Actually DO those things.

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Living in New Zealand is not easy, let me make that very clear, and I hope I have. This was not an easy decision to move here, and life here is not glamorous. Let me also make clear that I do not hate living here. The reason I don’t hate living here is that I truly believe in this country and I believe in making a change here. I have committed to New Zealand, and I’m not giving up on her. And though it’s not comfortable, I will continue to force myself to consider the “other” and to love them in my work. This is seeking the kingdom of God. (Matt 6:33), and if anyone does this, God will take care of the rest.

This I needed you to know.

The Early Leanings of a Traveling Warrior

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In the time that I have spent in the country of New Zealand, a few things have raised to the surface as clear: The driving is not the same, the food is not the same, the humor is not the same, the culture is not the same, and the weather is not the same; The same as my little hometown in Northern Illinois. I knew these to be true before I checked my luggage and boarded the flight into Auckland. What makes them real is having experienced them. Having lived in the shoes, heard the stories, tasted the delicious and not so delicious, talked the local, steered the left, laughed and laughed, and stopped laughing, the picture becomes more clear. Like a photograph out of focus, or staring at a painting with your nose on the canvas, you won’t see the full picture as it is meant to be seen. You need to really take some steps back to bring everything into focus. Then take that leap, with humility, and what is revealed will be beautiful.

I chose to go with the title that I gave my post today because I feel as if I came into this foreign land, to fight a war…in a sense. There are some serious problems in this country that are “too taboo” to talk about. When entering a new country, it is important to be culturally competent. The last thing you want to do is automatically apply everything you learned in the United States to New Zealand. Rookie mistake. One cannot assume that because one method works with one population, it will work with another. This is what Aurora University taught me, and it is a very important lesson. Still, if there are young adults, teenagers, and even younger, who are dealing with suicidal thoughts and don’t know where to turn or who can help them, that is a problem. I feel that there are some things in this country that need to start changing, and if no one will do anything about them, then I need to step up.

I love this country. In my travels, everywhere I have gone, New Zealand is the most beautiful. This land captivates me. There is something that saturates me and doesn’t let go. The people are kind, the food is exceptional, and the sights aren’t bad either. This is a beautiful country. It can be easy to notice the beauty and overlook the hurt. It can become convenient to only notice the working and neglect the broken. I am fortunate to be working in such an incredible country with incredible amounts of freedom (more so than the U.S.), but I follow a Father who realized that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy. It was difficult getting used to this new life, but I am on my way to truly calling this home, and making my home a better place to live for everyone. And I will warrior on until that day comes.

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