Adventure Journal Main Menu: Esper E-letter #2, Nov. 2005

My first 3 weeks here in New Zealand of a primarily solo 9 month
travel and exploration time have been filled with many good memories
and relationships. My best friend and his new wife (Jonathan and Tanya
Nace) have been living here for the past 5 months as Wesleyan Church
interns in Auckland, and I have been spending my time up until now
with them. I have gotten to know members of the local church where
they serve, and have been blessed abundantly with their famous New
Zealand hospitality, with many invitations to tea (supper). While here
in Auckland, I have also volunteered at their recently-founded church
(the Wesleyan Church in New Zealand is only about 4 years old), and
gone on outdoor activities around the area with my friends, such as
abseiling (the NZ word for rappelling), and mountain biking. In fact,
I was able to teach Jonathan and Tanya how to abseil for the first
time. This was especially meaningful for them as Jonathan feels
called into some sort of fulltime outdoor/adventure ministry, but
lacks the equipment and personal experience.

Also, the three of us attended a 3-day church conference in Napier on
the North Island. This conference literally changed my life as during
the closing rally, I felt God confirm in my heart that His will for me
was to go ahead and pursue some sort of outdoor-oriented personal
business, something I had caught the vision for some months earlier
while I was serving the Lord in the Dominican Republic and then in
Haiti, during a Climbing for Christ evangelical mission there. But
that was not all; I also felt God asking me to somehow support
Christian ministry through this business. I felt God ask me if I
would be willing to do anything for Him in this area, and I answered
"yes." Finally, at these same moments, the thought instantaneously
popped into my head that, "Wouldn't it be great if I could somehow
partner with my best friend Jonathan in this future ministry?" I know
this came from God, and not from myself. What is even more
remarkable, however, is that God was speaking to Jonathan at the same
time, reaffirming his calling to outdoor ministry, and assuring him
that it didn't matter what Jonathan felt he could or couldn't do on
his own. Only when we feel we cannot do it on our own can God begin
to use us, the speaker Danny Seaborn (a frequent speaker at
Promisekeepers) said that night. When I spoke with Jonathan that night
about what God had said to me, he told me that he had felt God leading
him for some time to talk with me about some sort of partnership, but
was praying that God would speak to me first. Of course, now, we
still don't have any specific visions, but are seeking the Lord's
direction for our lives, as we continue college education (for
Jonathan) and travel and then graduate school (for me).

Before and after this conference, Jonathan, Tanya, and I traveled
around the North Island by car for about 12 days. One highlight was
tramping (hiking) the Tongariro Crossing, a very popular 17km day or
multiday hike up to the col between the active volcanoes Ngauruhoe and
Tongariro, around several steaming craters, and down the other side.
Another volunteer mission couple from the States joined us for the
day, and we all climbed and summitted Ngauruhoe successfully.
Although there were still large snowfields on the mountain at this
time of year, we did not need special mountaineering equipment. I was
privileged to be a part of this climb, as it was a first of its kind
for Jonathan and Tanya, and the first mountain the other couple had
ever climbed! Jonathan and I also had a special time as we also
summited Tongariro peak that day, and rejoined the others further
along the track (trail).

The Nace's and myself also visited bubbling mud pools, went tramping
and caving at Lake Waikaremoana, visited numerous waterfalls such as
Shine Falls and Damper Falls, visited Wellington, the capital of NZ,
and explored the Taranaki coastal region including the White Cliffs.
We also attempted a 2 day climb of Mount Taranaki, an impressive
volcano on the western side of the North Island. However, steady 40-50
MPH winds and no visibility prevented us from ascending the steep snow
fields leading to the top. The Nace's valued this experience, though,
as their first real backpacking trip.

In all, I really valued my time with my friends and the church, as
solo travel and exploration can bring a sense of freedom that must be
experienced to be understood, but also often feelings of loneliness. I
believe that God made us social creatures, and I know I will miss
their company in my future travels and hikes around New Zealand.

Currently, the Nace's are preparing to fly back to North America, and
I am preparing to fly to Indonesia on a 10 day mission trip. When I
flew here to New Zealand, I had no idea I would be going to Indonesia
- it is amazing how God works. The Pacific Area director of the
Wesleyan Church, a mentor to the Nace's, invited me to join him as he
flew to Indonesia to work with a Bible college there. I felt this was
a great opportunity God had created for me to experience first-hand a
primarily Muslim country, and based on others' strong recommendations
that I should pray about it, decided to go serve at the college also,
teaching English and helping in the library. While these are really
two areas I have no knowledge or experience in, I am trusting God
completely to bring me through.

I will look forward to continuing this story in a few weeks! Until
then, take care mates, and stay in touch!