New Zealand Treasures, Take Aways and 2 Cooking Tips Worth Saving

This is Beverly Shoaf – Missionary in New Zealand. And her daughter, Sarah Shoaf.

Sarah will soon be getting married this Summer to a handsome little brown dude she met in Bible college. From the time Sarah was little she said she would be marrying a brown boy. And sure enough she met a fellow from Mexico.

Beverly and Sarah are culinary ninja’s. In the pictures above they are making homemade chocolate cake with homemade whip cream and homemade frosting……for 105 people. When we realized there was no mixer that would work for the whipped cream they didn’t panic. They just went to hand whipping with a whisk.

Homemade lasagna for over 100 people. We got on site of the Teen Camp around 4:00pm and dinner was at 6:00pm. They whipped this meal out in two hours. I made the salad in the amount of time they made the lasagna’s! I’m not even kidding. I so wish I was.

I learned the coolest trick ever with cooking ground beef.

You can boil ground beef. I never knew this. We were running short on time for a lunch meal (homemade nacho’s) and Beverly casually says, “Oh you know what, instead of browning up that meat in large skillets let’s just boil it.” So you just boil your water and put the beef in and it cooks really super fast and it’s very fine. You work with it a little bit to break some of the chunks apart. We found it to taste the same and it does a better job of getting rid of the grease as well. We’ve done this twice since returning from New Zealand.

The other cooking tip I learned had to do with boiling eggs. Beverly was making a chicken pie for dinner and I noticed she had eggs in the stock pan along with the chicken cooking. I asked her about it and she said, “Oh yeah, I learned this from another missionary years ago. You can add your eggs on top and cook them while you’re cooking your chicken. Saves using another pan and you’re cooking two things at once.” She made deviled eggs to add to the meal. And no – the chicken had no egg flavor at all. Another great cooking tip from the culinary ninja.

Not only is Beverly a great cook but she’s an investor in souls. The souls of her own children and the souls of her children’s’ friends”’. (I don’t know where all he comma’s go people – just pretend they’re in their right places. I find that adding more ‘ is more fun).

This young woman is a friend of Sarah’s. For several years she’s been attending church, spending the night at the Shoaf’s house occasionally, listening to God stuff but resisting the commitment to make Him her own personal Savior. After two years of being a part of things in body but not in spirit this sweet girl accepted Christ with Sarah and another friend leading her to Him. I just loved that this happened while we were there although we weren’t a part of her coming to Him. I suppose you could say we were through prayer for their church and ministry but we just got to witness the culmination of lots of time and investment and the Holy Spirit working inside her. What a treasure.

And speaking of new sister’s in Christ – this young lady above accepted Christ as her Savior at Teen Camp. She has such a sweet spirit. She will need prayer as she went back to an unbelieving home and a school with many unbelievers.

This sweet couple grabbed our hearts along with another young couple in the Shoaf’s church. I only have one picture to share here but this couple is the kind of couple every church needs. They love Jesus and His people. Kind hearted. They are hard working and generous. And they love their church with their time and effort. Such a blessing to see them bless their church.

When I concluded speaking at the women’s conference on Saturday the ladies presented me with these beautiful earrings made of bone and representative of New Zealand along with a book they all signed. Such a beautiful gift to me. When I wear the earrings I think of these ladies and how warm and welcoming they were to us.

One of the greatest treasures while in New Zealand was getting to spend time on our Anniversary in the town of Napier. The church celebrated our Anniversary with cake after church and gave us a two night stay in a hotel. We were so stinking excited we could hardly stand it. It was such a generous gift and blessing to us. A friend of mine who had been praying for our trip ahead of time asked me if we’d be doing any sightseeing. I told her I had no idea and didn’t expect to have much time to do that. She was praying we’d have some cool opportunities to see great things and sure enough God blessed us in that way and even beyond what we could imagine with time alone for those two days. Thankful for a praying friend when I hardly gave it a thought and tossed it aside. This was a refreshing gift to us that was treasured more then they’ll ever know.

Many more take aways from New Zealand but these are just a few random snippets.

 

 

What New Zealand Taught Me

Randy and I just got back from a trip of a life time to Napier, New Zealand. Napier is a small little town on the North Island that is charming, quaint and nothing short of splendipitous. I think that means very very spectacular.

We stayed with missionaries who pastor a church in Napier and who work a lot with youth/teens. Our nearly two weeks in New Zealand was spent speaking in a variety of platforms. Randy preached at church twice and spoke to a group of teens for a three day retreat. I spoke with the teen girls and led Umbrella Prayers at a women’s conference. And we had a lot of table time discussing missions, culture, God and lots of other stuff.

The sights were amazing. Sheep everywhere and fantail birds were our favorite. We never saw a Kiwi bird and from what we understand you don’t see a lot of them. Magpies were these black and white birds that are beautiful and just when I was getting all excited about them being pretty and having an adorable name I learned that they are mean birds that pluck the eyeballs out of sheep. Yep. So that was disappointing. Somebody needs to tell those birds about Jesus.

Through this trip I learned how much comfort I find in the prayers of believers. I knew traveling to NZ might be hard for me with some of the various health issues I have but after 48 hours of travel/waiting and still not being there I knew we would need the prayers of believers to sustain me/us. So I blew up Facebook with updates and requests for prayer. And so many of you supported us through prayer and God heard you.

God gave me a strength and energy I know I don’t possess to speak on Friday night. We had been traveling since Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta and we finally arrived on Friday afternoon around 3:00pm. I spoke that night at 6:30pm. Our luggage hadn’t arrived and I was wearing the same outfit I had been wearing since Tuesday. Ewwwww. I spoke in the same outfit but thankfully had time to get a quick shower (yay) and put back on the same clothes. I was speaking on very little sleep and major jet lag but God empowered me and I felt confident His Spirit spoke through me that night.  I learned to always, no matter what, pack an extra pair of clothes when you fly out of the country. 

I learned that even though prayer is HUGE it’s not prayer that gives us the strength. It’s our God. And if it was just you and God alone He would be enough. Even without the prayers of others. This might sound confusing with my previous paragraph on the desperate call for prayer from others. But let me explain more…..

It was that first Friday night in NZ  after I had spoken and I was so tired. When I went to sleep I knew I had two more speaking sessions the next morning. I was going to bed with still no luggage therefore my travel outfit, speaking outfit and pajama’s all in one were still clinging to my body begging to be changed. I desperately grabbed my phone to text a prayer request for energy for the next day and luggage to arrive. And that’s when I realized that the time zone was totally off. I’d be texting in the middle of the morning and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. (Randy had gone to bed early while I was at my session and was in a deep sleep or he would’ve been my prayer partner.) It was such a surreal moment for me. I was almost discouraged at the thought of not having anyone to pray for me in that moment and that’s when I felt God putting inside of me the truth that He alone is enough and able to hear. It’s HE who we pray to. It’s HE who hears our every cry. He alone is my Rock. I would even be teaching on these things the very next day and yet here I was about to freak out at the thought that I had nobody to intercede for me when I felt I needed it so badly. I laid my head on that pillow and said, “Lord, it’s just me and you and I know you will be my help in my time of need. Please give me the strength for tomorrow. And clean underwear!!”

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and as I walked down the hall there I saw our luggage lined up against the wall. I went to bed at 10:30pm and our luggage hadn’t arrived. But at 3:00am it was there. The airport had delivered our luggage around 11:00pm that night. Ahhh yes, this is our God. Even cooler than clean underwear arriving is this Facebook message I received Saturday morning from a friend in the States who said this:

Hi Melody! I’m not sure what time you are speaking but I checked the time in NZ and it is 6:45 there so I’m guess you could be speaking now or anytime soon. And I woke up at 2:45 a.m for no apparent reason or maybe for the apparent reason to pray for you. Father, thank you for bringing Melody and Pastor Randy to New Zealand safely. I pray that You would renew Melody’s strength and keep her mind in perfect peace as she speaks this evening. I have no doubt that You have some awesome things planned including lives changed by Your power. Please prepare the hearts of the ladies Melody is speaking to tonight. May their hearts and minds be open and ready to receive what You want to speak to them through Melody tonight. Lord, I give You all the glory for the great things You are going to do. I ask these things according to Your will and in Your name. Amen.
And this is our God.
Her prayers were going on for me while I spoke on Friday night and God in his grace allowed me to read this on Saturday morning as a fresh reminder that yes God is the One who gives the strength but he uses his people to intercede for that strength and to encourage others.
More lessons learned from New Zealand to come because I learned some incredible cooking tips and we all know I need some of those. I can’t wait to share with you how to cook ground beef fast and healthy.

 

New Zealand Update: Teen Camp 2017

Wednesday morning we left this modern yet quaint hotel downtown Napier and headed to Teen Camp.

The area we’re in is on Holiday which means it’s their Winter Break. So a handful of churches from New Zealand, Wellington, Australia and surrounding areas come together for a Teen Camp at Lake Taupo during their break. MiCamp is the camp facilities we’re gathering at for this retreat. Linking to it in case you want to see more about it.

It took us a few hours to get there but it seemed like 30 minutes with the hobbit land-ish scenery.

So these are the teens that were able to come to camp from Bay Baptist. A great group of kids we’re getting to know better.

And this was a taste of the ride to Lake Taupo.

None of my pictures with sheep walking the ridge of the mountains turned out good but it was breath taking. I felt like I was standing in the middle of Psalm 23.

So this is Mi-Camp in Lake Taupo……

And these are the Missionaries we’re visiting with, Joel and Beverly Shoaf. They’ve been here for 25 years and both are from North Carolina originally. Our church has supported them for a long time and Randy and I have gotten to know them over their last two furloughs. So when they invited us out to speak at their church, women’s event, teen camp we were thrilled. And humbled that their church and our church would make it possible for us to get there. Such a huge blessing and provision of our God.

Beverly is insane in the kitchen. I mean that in a 110% good way. She loves to cook and won’t consider anything less than fresh and homemade. She cooks for up to 150 people and it’s all homemade. Her daughter Sarah is following in her steps and is a great cook as well. So far she has made lasagna, chocolate cake with homemade cream and ice cream and homemade icing. Nacho’s. Breakfast casserole and has browns. And she has more good stuff planned.

And she’s really chill in the kitchen. Completely laid back but super organized and knows what she’s doing. There were a few hiccups with oven temps and lack of mixers, etc but she just rolled with it every single time even making time for teens that would come in to say memory verses or talk. We even sat down for a cuppa. A “cuppa” is a cup of tea or coffee. And why yes I am saying that with an accent.

The teens are very respectful and seem to be engaged. Randy has done a great job speaking in both sessions so far and he has one more. They do a morning chapel time and games and free time. An afternoon session and then a movie at night. A great program. Joel does all the planning and delegating of the camp and he’s done a really great job. They are both in their element for sure.

 

This afternoon I did an Umbrella Prayers session with the girls and we had a good time together. Precious to hear God’s girls suggesting we pray for their unsaved friends. We talked about how Sophie is clinging to the fact that God is Omnipresent. God is with us in New Zealand and He’s with her in Georgia and if and when she gets a little homesick I pray she’ll remember our God is right there with her as he is with us. That’s comforting.

Well, that’s all for today. If you think of it please pray for us and these teens. That if there are any here without Christ that they’ll go home with Him.

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand Update: Anniversary out on the town!

I shared earlier that the church we have come to visit sent us out on the town for two days for our Anniversary.

Best day everrrrrrr!!!!!!

I’ll try to document as best I can in pictures but pictures don’t even do it justice. Napier is a beautiful little town on the North Island of New Zealand.

After a wonderful breakfast at a cafe in town we headed to the Pier to catch these sights……

Randy always puts his feet in the ocean no matter how cold or what season it is outside. If he’s walking distance to the ocean his feet will meet the water. He said it was freeeeezing cold. Even though he rolled his jeans up he got soaking wet. Still he said it was totally worth it. I was the “designated photographer.” No way was I going out there!

Then we went and toured an Anglican church that has some incredible history. There was a horrendous earthquake in 1931 in New Zealand and this church was in the middle of morning communion when it hit. Quite a few of their parishioners passed a way during the earthquake. Everything was demolished in the church except for the stone cross standing just outside the church. You will notice it in the pictures below.

Next we popped in the shops of Napier. Cobblestone small streets with people coming and going at quite busy pace. And then at 5:00pm sharp the town shuts down and becomes eerily still.

I think we must have said at least twenty times to each other, “I can’t believe we’re here and getting to see this town together in this way.” It really has been such a treat for us.

Don’t ask.

Tomorrow morning we will drive a few hours to a camp with our Missionary Host family where Randy will speak at a Teen retreat. This is their Winter Holiday so teens will be traveling from Australia, Aukland and other places to come to this retreat. Randy will speak three session and I’ll have a session with the girls where I’ll be teaching Umbrella Prayers. We would so appreciate your prayers for this retreat. There seems to be a lot of sickness around this area right now. Would you pray for healthy kids/staff. For a great time of strengthening friendships and building up each other in the faith. We have been blessed with great sleep so far and would ask that you continue to pray we sleep well so we can serve with energy and vitality.

Beverly, the Missionary’s wife, is an amazing cook. We’ve been the recipient of her incredible meals already. Think homemade mac and cheese, butter biscuits, chicken pie, etc.  Beverly does all the camp cooking during the retreat. And everything she makes is homemade. So I’ll be helping her in the kitchen. Stop laughing! those who know my track record in the kitchen. I’ve already warned her that I’m not nearly as “natural” as she is in the kitchen. But I hope to be the best help I can be to her without doing something utterly stupid. So yeah you could pray I don’t burn the kitchen down or cut my hands off while working.

I’m pretty sure we won’t have any wifi during teen camp but Saturday we come back into Napier and Randy will preach again on Sunday at Bay Baptist. Your prayers are carrying us and we appreciate it so much.

 

 

New Zealand: Our God moves Mountains

Our God moves MountainsMany of you have been praying and I want you to know that your prayers have covered us and carried us. From the very beginning we got off to a rough start with us missing the most crucial flight of all – the direct flight from Houston to Aukland. That led to an overnight stay and putting our travels now a full day later. Little did we know that at that time the booking agent with United accidently booked us for our final New Zealand flight based on CA time and not NZ time. So after the 13 hour flight into Aukland we were told they had us down to fly into Napier the day before. Two hours later we were on stand by hoping and praying, along with many of you, that we would make the next flight to Napier.

We listened and waited for our names to be called. Finally they did and Randy went to the desk. I stayed with our stuff. I could tell by the look in his eyes that something was up. He came back and said, “They have room. But only for one of us.” We had already discussed this possibility amongst ourselves and decided we wouldn’t split up. But when we heard that the other two flights going to Napier were also full and we would be on stand by we decided I should go ahead and go. Neither of us loved this idea but that’s what we felt was the best thing to do. We had hit so many obstacles at this point we wanted to push through.

As soon as I got everything rearranged in my carry on (had to pull resources I’d be using for my speaking session that night from one of Randy’s bags into my bag) the flight person dude said, “I feel so bad. I just told you that one of you could go but now there’s no room because of luggage limits.” I’ll be honest. I was a bit relieved I didn’t have to fly without Randy and not knowing if he’d catch a standby flight or not. As soon as I was celebrating this inside my sleep deprived head and Randy and I look at each other with a look of “Can you even believe this?” the flight person dude motions for us to come back to him and says, “I am so sorry but we actually have two tickets for you right now. Hurry and go.” We grabbed those tickets and vanished onto flight 5005 never looking back.

So here we are in midair as I type. Before take off we looked at each other said, “Can you believe this? This is our God.”

And so friends we thank you for persevering in prayer with and for us.

We haven’t changed our clothes since Tuesday. It’s now Friday morning in New Zealand. We gained an entire day. So really it’s only 3 days worth of…….well, you know……and if you don’t know let me explain it this way. Whenever we go somewhere whether car or plane we say, “And we’re off !!!! Like a dirty pair of underwear!” But we can’t even say that because we’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear since Tuesday. And we ain’t taking them off. Sleep deprived TMI story.

The flight attendant just asked me, “I thought you said you wanted coffee.” I said, “I did but I got hot and decided not to.” He said, “You’re quite indecisive today. I wonder why.” I said, “Might have to do with 3 days of travel with not much sleep. And I’m wearing the same clothes.” Randy said to me through clinched teeth and loud whisper, “Lets NOT tell the whole plane that, Melody!” I said, “I know right! This is why I’m scared to speak tonight. I don’t know what will come out of my mouth at this point.” Randy laughed and said, “Yeah, you’ll probably stand up there and do arm farts. “

And this is where the conclusion of our New Zealand Travel Chronicles end for today.

Thanks for praying and reading!

Update: Just landed in Napier and it’s gorgeous here! Thank you God for moving some mountains to get us on those planes and getting us here.

New Zealand Update – Landed in Los Angeles LAX

I’m glad to report that we are now proud owners of a carry on bag. It has been a life saver. So glad we have it. Randy and I spent lunch together in the Houston airport packing our new carry on. We were beaming with hope and joy. Now we are official world travelers.

We arrived in Los Angeles and this airport is awesome! And the people watching has been fantastic. I love diversity. It is such an amazing thing and speaks to such a creative God. Being in Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles and watching people make business deals on their phones while eating lunch and catching their flight is pretty crazy. I’m still in “stay-at-home-mom, pastor’s wife, small town girl” mode so all this has me feeling like I live under a rock. But I’m fascinated by it and I love it.

Our flight to Los Angeles LAX was a good one: movies, reading, studying. Now we’re killing time in the airport until 9pm tonight when we fly to Aukland.

We are sold out for New Zealand these next few weeks but our hearts are still very much with our church back home. VBS is going on this week in the evenings and we are praying for kids to come to know Jesus. Also we have a mission team going to Jacksonville, Fla after that so we have a lot going on that’s close to our heart.

Meanwhile our kids are hanging out and having a blast with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.  It only took 24 hours and my Mom had those kids with her in the world’s largest Ferris Wheel downtown Atlanta. And when it got to the top she remembered she was afraid of heights. This.is.my Mom.

I’m not sure what internet access will be like once we get to New Zealand. We are supposed to arrive there on Friday morning at 9:00am I think. If all goes as planned. Thank you for praying for us. It’s a gift we appreciate more than you know.