Just As I Am

I’ve been able to sleep in a little this week and take some more naps. Even though I’m over jet lag, I’m still in the exhausted phase of transition, and there are lots of overwhelming details to sort through. There is a lot I can’t change about the circumstances in early transition and my life in general, so here I am in the middle of the mess.

This week I went to the IRD office (akin to the US IRS) to get an IRD number, and they told me I needed a NZ bank account, but when I did the online process to set up my NZ bank account they asked for my IRD number… Bureaucracy is a nightmare. I wasn’t able to start either of these processes without having a New Zealand address, and I started them both simultaneously the day after I signed my tenancy agreement to live with these women who are generously letting me rent a room and also eat their food as part of the agreement. They also agreed to not serve me any food that would kill me which I consider a great bonus.

Tonight I got to hear a little of the story of how these two women were adopted from Thailand by their parents who are a Welsh/Kiwi couple who have an incredible story of ministry. I had this beautiful moment after dinner where the dad was letting out all these sweet stories of his adopted daughters and his birth daughters, and we talked a little about my family as well. We ended the brief conversation reflecting on the dance performance the family invited me to this afternoon. I was nearly moved to tears as I watched two hours of diverse dance pieces done by a troupe composed of individuals with a range of physical and developmental disabilities. The image of God was on display so beautifully as each of these dancers moved across the performance space.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with students ages ago about whether there would be disability in heaven. Andy and I were reflecting tonight on how God is so clearly glorified in these bodies now, and we included my disability in that. We both had stories of people misspeaking of how a disabled person wasn’t a whole person in some way, and I told him about my initial prayer that God is glorified when I was in the hospital. Of course I’m still hoping for a story that glorifies God with me miraculously walking, but I know that God is being glorified with my story this week.

Friday night I was on a panel of women talking about living a holy life for our boys/girls youth group split. While my disability didn’t come up in any of those answers, I can never unknown the reason I first got connected with RCC was that nowhere else in the world would take me for my sabbatical five years ago because of my disability. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that I’d sit in a house in Christchurch, New Zealand and introduce myself saying, “I’m Laura, I’m the youth pastor, and I’ve never had sex,” and receive a round of applause from a room full of Kiwi teenagers. I promise it fit the set up the previous panel member gave me. We’d selected female leaders with different relationship statuses and experiences, and I loved listening to the godly wisdom these other women shared with our girls. It encouraged me that I’m right where I should be serving God alongside these incredible committed Jesus followers.

Honestly, there have been so many confirmation details of God making a path on the way to getting me here and upon arrival that I can’t begin to list them all. Even this round about housing journey is one of the ways I’ve seen God show up. As much as I’d like to have a house of my own in Riccarton, I’m loving the chance to see God meet my needs through the network of believers in and out of my own church gathering. My friend Kari literally just texted me, “I think transition makes us more observant of how God shows up,” and she’s spot on. There have been some obvious moments as I prepared to leave and then showed up here.

There’s also that gaping difference of not having a permanent place yet, and I’d like to include one final reflection on that because I’ve had a couple versions of the question, “Why didn’t the church just find you a place before you got here?” The short answer is, I didn’t ask them to, and in fact, asked for the hotel at the start to be able to commit to something once I was on the ground. When I was in the hospital, a decision was made for me based on limited options, and in so many ways it was incredible. And then there was my bathroom. Since I was mostly in Germany on a year to year basis and did have so many perks in my location, I never looked for something else. Moving to Christchurch, my plan is to put down roots, and I don’t want to have decisions made for me that are less than ideal or to settle for something that isn’t going to work long term. This current solution provides fantastic breathing space to be a little picky as I pray for God to open up a forever home in Riccarton that is accessible and affordable.

Oh, and it would be nice if I could walk again.

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