Bonus Family

One of the first words I learned when I arrived in New Zealand on sabbatical was whānau which basically means extended family. It’s the word in te reo Māori that captures what a lot of English speakers mean when they say “my people” to indicate closeness. I’m really, really blessed to have a family in America and whānau that extends around the world.

When I first moved to Germany, the family that was assigned as my “host family” through BFA ended up adopting me over the next decade and have become incredibly close to me. My parents have met them in their visits to Germany, and they know how much Rich and Carol Bonham and their kids mean to me. That’s why when I was texting with my mom earlier this week and sent a picture with Ellie Bonham while my mom was in the hospital with my dad, she said, “It eases my heart to know you’re with family.” She gets it.

I also have had Kiwi whānau checking in this week as I let a few people know when my dad was in the ER, and I had this moment of realisation when the third person here followed up with me today of how incredibly loved I am. My dad had people around the world praying for him during this short hospital stay – and for the record, my mom did message me today to say my dad was doing great.

This week has been a blur as I’m getting into the thick of Easter Camp prep and learning some new details for my TeachBeyond regional role. I so love how I’ve seen God show up in that though. Despite the busy timing for the Bonham visit, I got to have a couple quality meals, and some really good one on one time with Ellie who has grown from a delightful student in my class to a cherished bonus sister. I’ll get a few more hours with the whole Bonham family at the end of next week, and then I’ll get another bonus when my mentor and her husband show up for a couple of days to hug me and help me set up Easter Camp before I head off to the wild and amazing week of worshipping Jesus with 3,000 Kiwi teenagers.

I never want to take for granted what a gift this wonderful life I have is. I was struck by that in the middle of the chaos that is a Friday night where as much as I plan, it seems like there is always something unexpected that happens. As our youth band led the group in worship, I was moved to tears knowing that even though my dad was in the hospital at that moment there was no where else on earth I would rather be – because I’m the Jesus follower my dad raised me to be. Judi’s message was on how God is a good Father, and I have always been grateful for the fact that my dad loves Jesus and showed that to me as a child. He’s not perfect, and I certainly don’t love the scares his regular hospitalisations give our family, but he loves Jesus and wants me to love Jesus too.

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