Friday, 23 March 2012

Afternoon Tea With His Excellency

As you know, this past Tuesday, we were invited to Government House to have afternoon tea with the Governor General - Lieutenant General, The Right Honorable Sir Jerry Mataparae.  The tea was in honor of those who had donated a kidney in the last 5 years or so - there were 25 of us donors there that afternoon, some coming from as far as 2 hours drive from Welly.  All the live donors were personally thanked by the Governor General and presented with a certificate - pretty formal stuff.  Coming from America, we're not used to the ceremony and pomp and all that!  But we had a great time - after we relaxed and weren't so panicked at meeting the Queen of New Zealand's Representative - and a knight at that!

In fact, His Excellency has a great sense of humor, but I was so nervous that I didn't quite catch on at first.  We were chatting during the tea and I can't remember how we got on this topic but His Excellency commented that he knew we were Americans by our shoes.  Both Becks and I quickly glanced down at our shoes in horror, thinking that perhaps we had our jandals/sandals on, before realizing that His Excellency was joking.  Whew!  I think I was too busy trying to think of something witty and insightful to say that his comment caught me off guard!

After the tea, we were allowed to walk around the Government House and have a look at the rooms and artifacts (this would be akin to walking around the White House, but without all the security and Secret Service glaring at you behind their sunnies!).  That was fun!  We got to see the Throne Room - where His and Her Excellencies have their 'thrones'.  Well, actually it's called the Ballroom officially, but I like to call it the Throne Room!  ;-)  And I really wanted to sit on one of the thrones and have a photo taken, but alas, we had to make do with a photo of us in front of the thrones.  Anyways, here are a few more photos of the event...


[caption id="attachment_1652" align="aligncenter" width="462" caption="Governor General presenting certificate"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1654" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="The Live Kidney Donors, the Governor General (front center) and Drs."][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1656" align="aligncenter" width="522" caption="Governor General, Missus and Me, Head of the Renal Services (dr. in chage of my case)"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1657" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Becks next to photo of Queen Elizabeth II, about as close as we're ever going to get to royalty!"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1658" align="aligncenter" width="461" caption="In front of the 'Thrones' - I wanted a photo of me sitting in one so badly!"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1661" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="Norrie State Dining Room - where visiting Heads of State dine"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1664" align="aligncenter" width="645" caption="Government House from outside"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1663" align="aligncenter" width="645" caption="Bird's Eye view of Government House"][/caption]

Monday, 19 March 2012

En Garde!

Jesaiah had his first fencing competition today and actually did very well.  Especially having only started fencing lessons about a month ago.  He came in 4th in his age bracket, just one place out of earning a medal.  But he did get a medal for the top beginner!  Cool!

But boy was he exhausted - the competition lasted over 5 hours!  Obviously, he wasn't fencing the whole time, but still, it's almost a whole day of fencing!  Anyways, here are a few photos.  Enjoy...



Sunday, 18 March 2012

Are We Ready To Forgive? (by Becky)

“For You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive,
and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”
Psalm 86:5

We have been going through a few Psalms on Tuesday nights in the women’s Bible study.  This last week we were in Psalm 86.  This Psalm is listed as a ‘Prayer of David”.  We don’t know what the circumstances were when David wrote this Psalm, but it would seem that he was in some sort of trouble.  This Psalm is David crying out to God to save him.  David seems pretty confident that God will do just that.

David says for “you are good and ready to forgive”.  David knew first-hand the goodness of God – and His ability to forgive.  That phrase “ready to forgive” makes me think of an expectant waiting.  God is just waiting for us to ask so that He can forgive us!  That is a hard thing for us, as humans, to get our head, or heart, around, because we so often aren’t “ready to forgive”.  It can sometimes take a while for our hearts to soften to be able to forgive someone, and we think it must be the same with God toward us.  I like what one commentator says, “Many wait to repent and ask forgiveness because they think that time might make God more forgiving.  That isn’t possible.  He is ready to forgive now” (D. Guzik).

God is ready to forgive, right now!  It doesn’t matter how we’ve sinned or how many times we’ve sinned, He is ready to forgive, and not only that it also says He is “abundant in mercy to all those who call upon” Him.

How about me?  Am I ready to forgive?  It isn’t always easy, and seems harder, to me at least, to forgive those closest to me.  There are times that I don’t want to let go of the hurt, I want to punish them for hurting me, by not forgiving.  But if I do that, then bitterness will take root and it will be even harder to let go and forgive.  I pray that God will not only teach me how to be ready to forgive, but also that He will remind me that He is there ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy, when I ask.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1John 19

by Becky Pham

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Are We Pilgrims Or Nomads (by Becky)

Last weekend at the women’s conference Pam Markey taught on pilgrimage using Psalm 84:5 as reference, which says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You. Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”

What is a pilgrimage? The dictionary defines it as “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.” I know that when I think of a pilgrim I envision someone who has packed up a few precious possessions – only what they can carry – and left their native home in search of a better life somewhere else. They know there will be difficulties, but they are willing to face the challenges, looking to the end, their new home.

That is what our lives as Christians are like. When we give our heart to the Lord, He sets our sights on heaven as our new home. This world becomes our ‘native home’ and we set off on our pilgrimage to heaven. We will face many challenges along the way but, OH our new home, what a reward!

There is a danger though of being nomads instead of pilgrims. A nomad is someone who wanders somewhat aimlessly. They don’t have a permanent home and they don’t have a goal where they are going. They simply wander from place to place seeking the best they can get in each place before moving on.

We as Christians shouldn’t be nomads, we know where we are going and we can be confident that we will arrive there someday. Jesus said “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Not only do we have a destination, it has been prepared for us by Jesus Himself!

So let’s travel our pilgrimage with purpose, and encourage one another along the way, especially when the road is not so smooth.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

                                                                                                   Philippians 3:20-21

Becky Pham

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Running, Donation And Jesus (but not necessarily in that order)

So what do those three things / person have in common, you might ask?  Perhaps nothing?  But for little ole me, they are three of my many passions.  And this week, I had the privilege of sharing them with others.  But I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to share these 3 things with so many people!

For World Kidney Day (8.March.2012), I was interviewed by the regional newspaper because I had donated a kidney 3 months ago (read the article here).  My first thought was, ok, cool, but I am sure they'll bury the article on some back page between the obituaries and the rental ads.  But lo and behold, they stuck the article on the front page!  Not just on the digital version of the paper, but also on the front page of the print edition!  And not only on the front page, but above the fold, in the middle!  With a huge photo even!  Must have been a really slow news day for them!  But, hey, WOW!  God is good!  I didn't know about the print edition until some moms from the kids' school met Becky at the classroom door, holding the paper up for her to see.

We were flabbergasted, so we had to go out and buy up all the copies in our valley.  Ok, maybe it was just a few copies.  Maybe I can autograph them and sell them on TradeMe or eBay!  ;-)  Yeah, right...

But seriously, for me, it was truly an honor to be able to speak for Jesus, my Savior, my All in All.  And also to be able to promote and raise awareness for organ donation and specifically kidney transplantation (have you considered it?).  And thirdly, of course, my new-found (well, of 2 years now) passion, running (did you notice the plug for the local half-marathon event in the article ;-) ).  And all in one shot!  And to so many people - I didn't realize how widely read this regional paper is!  Woohoo!  So I guess that is my 5 minutes of fame.  Or as they say here in Kiwi-land, 'today's news, tomorrow's fish & chips wrapping paper'!  How true!  That is exactly what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4.16 (NLT) - 'Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.'

Anyways, here is a quote from the website of Fairfax Media, who I think is the parent company of the Dom Post.  It details the readership of the paper.  Wow.  Praise the Lord!

"Wellington is more than New Zealand's capital city. It is a vibrant and dynamic economic, cultural and social community. This energy is reflected in The Dominion Post, Wellington's daily newspaper with 132,000 Wellingtonians aged 15+ reading The Dominion Post each day. A total of 232,000 people from across central New Zealand and Wellington turn to The Dominion Post....[which] covers the second largest metropolitan urban area in New Zealand."

Sunday, 4 March 2012


According to the Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a height of 100 feet [30.5m] is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets.’   - Source Unknown -

I read this somewhere but can’t seem to be able to substantiate it 100%.  I have read elsewhere that one cubic mile (1.6 cubic km) of fog contains only about 2-4 liters of water!  Isn’t that amazing!  So little water can totally obscure our view of our surroundings.

I remember driving in the mountains once in fog so thick and dense that I had to slow down to about 5 kph and follow the painted center-line just to stay on the road!  And this with the mountain face on one side of the road and a drop-off of about 100 meters on the other!  I literally couldn’t seem more than a meter in front of the car

Isn’t that the same in our lives at times? Isn’t it so easy to let little things in our lives, those miniscule droplets of trials and hardships to completely cover us like a wet, depressing blanket?!  Even though it’s a small, insignificant thing, we allow it to grow into something enormous that obscures our view.  And this blanket of depression puts out the flame of faith, love, passion and service in our hearts and lives.  Amazing that such a small thing can do this!

Perhaps this speaks to you - have you let something small grow out of proportion?  Maybe it’s something someone said or didn’t say?  Or a co-worker who did something that offended you?  Or worry, anxiety, fear.  Or maybe it’s shame and humiliation over something small?  Or maybe it's a little seed of doubt, bitterness, unforgiveness, unrepentance that grow into huge vines that choke out joyful life.  Maybe it started out as molehills, but now are mountains.  Don’t let those little things turn into mountains - take heart…

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.