The eagle has landed! Well, actually, it is a giant rental van carrying four adults, seven kids, and 600 pounds of luggage. But, we have made it to our first destination: The Tandem Ministry
national staff conference in Wellington, New Zealand. Tandem is Cru’s name in New Zealand, and it has been such a highlight to meet our brothers and sisters in ministry across the Pacific. I will tell you all about our experience with Tandem in our next blog.
Actually, there have been so many highlights to this trip so far. Thanks, no doubt, to the prayers of many, God has been a most gracious host as He has shown us around His creation. After sixteen hours in the plane we arrived in Fiji at 7 a.m. for a 15-hour layover. Anticipating this, we packed our bathing suits in our carry-ons and hired a van to take us to the beach. Osea, our bus driver, “happened to be” a pastor at one of the local churches. He took us to Viseisei, the oldest village in Fiji. We saw the chief’s house and prayed with Joe, one of the villagers, who is a young Fijian missionary with YWAM home on furlough.
Fiji has a vibrant Christian community. Cru staff members working there report that one in two students who hear the gospel message receives Christ. The people we met there as a whole are some of the most joyful we’ve seen. Maybe it has something to do with the weather… what a paradise!
After another night on a plane we made it to Aukland, NZ, finding a motel at 4 a.m. to collapse in for a few hours. God then blessed us with a van that both of our families could fit in for the two-day trip down here to Wellington. Because of this crash course in friendship, our four little Litchfields and the three Lovejoy boys have bonded and quickly become inseparable. In fact, here at the staff conference they have taken to calling themselves “the Lovefields.” Having five boys constantly bouncing around them has also been a great motivator for our two daughters to initiate friendships with the girls here at the conference! 🙂
New Zealand’s countryside is void of houses but filled with herds of sheep and dairy cows. Barren fields on steeply rolling hills are divided by stretches of lush, semi-tropical “bush”—the Kiwi name for woodlands. The days have been cool and cloudy, but the sight of green grass has awoken spring fever in us all. We can hardly get the kids to come inside.
Now we are four days into the conference and are settling in to the New Zealand culture. Aliza, my youngest, has already begun speaking with a Kiwi accent. We have learned about “jandles” (flip-flops) and “stubbies” (short shorts), and when to say “cheers” (thank you) and “no worries” (you’re welcome). And we are excited to report that we have purchased a mini van, although I may never get used to the steering wheel being on the right. Even now the Lovejoys are out hopefully purchasing a car of their own. God is truly providing!