Kia Manawanui

I love my church family so much.

Earlier this week, my American pastor’s wife sent me an email to ask how she can pray for me. First off, what a blessing to know my American church family is praying for me, but even more so, what an encouragement Zaneta is to me. She’s one of those people who has had brief but significant moments in my life where I’m motivated to live out my calling to the best of my ability. In her reply to my prayer requests, Zaneta wrote about my reflections on my upcoming traumaversary that she would pray for me to remember “pain and difficulty that you experienced because those low points are the reason that you can shout HALLELUJAH about from where God has brought you, allowed you to serve, given you more than you would have otherwise had and grown you over the past decade.” Wow. The beauty of those words.

When I first read them, I just sat with that gift for a few minutes, and I’ve kept them in my inbox this week leading up to Thursday and opening up my memoir draft from five years ago. I really can shout hallelujah because of all that God has done in, through, because of the pain and difficulty. I had another encouraging email from a different ECBC member praying for me this week, and I really treasure the ways my birth continent has a home church for me in a city where I’ve never been a resident. I miss people there as much as any place I’ve lived.

Speaking of places I’ve lived, my friend Carrie texted me from Germany this week to pass on greetings from my Kandern choir friends. She began her message saying she missed me, and I reciprocated the sentiment in my reply. “Yes – the missing never seems to end in this life we live,” she responded with the experience of decades overseas in multiple countries.

As I sat in the worship service in my third country home this morning, I noticed how the team on stage had two former youth group leaders, a youth group graduate, a current youth leader, and a current youth group member involved in leading worship. I have various touch points with a lot of people in this church, and I’m slowly building my long term community here. At the end of the service, I chatted with a few friends, and Jenny kept our conversation going with a cup of coffee instead of us heading home. Once I did get back to my house, I read a message from Helen in Germany commenting on how I would be building community differently here. “You will be experiencing making relationships at the ‘normal’ speed rather than the SuperCharged one at BFA,” she insightfully wrote. TCKs are notorious for going deep fast in friendships, and the staff who come teach them for short or indefinite bursts of time take on that characteristic.

That was a really valuable encouragement to me that my friendships here will grow over time, but it also made me smile to know I already have friends like Jenny who loves to chat with me after church or invite me on adventures, Hannah who will laugh at my silly stories while sharing wild antics of her own, Haley or Emma who will go out for coffee with me on a whim, and honestly plenty of others who I could already name who are interested in being my friend.

It just takes a little patience.

Remember that time I wrote about when Nick told me he felt God telling him to pray for me to have patience (and perseverance)? That punk.

Zaneta’s email about praying for me on my traumaversary also very special phrasing of how my life was “transformed” ten years ago. Yeah, that’s how I think of it too, because some people might think my life was destroyed, but they would be completely wrong. I’ve seen good fruit in my life directly related to this transformation like patience and perseverance.

With some bumps along the way. So here I am this morning sitting in church as we sing “King of My Heart,” and I wonder about the truth of the lines, “You’re never gonna let / never gonna let me down.” Didn’t God let me down by not healing me yet? But that’s not the end of my story, you see. My story is one of patience and perseverance. I sang out those lines at the end of the song because I believe them to be true. Then we started singing “Kia Kaha” which has some powerful opening lines, but the chorus broke deep into my heart after my previous reflections as the congregation sang, “Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui / Be strong, be steadfast, be willing.”

This is where languages get fun. If you put “manawanui” into Google translate, it comes out “patience.” If you actually look it up in an online Maori dictionary, you get this:

1. (verb) to be steadfast, stout-hearted, tolerant, patient, unwavering, resolute, persistent, committed, dedicated, unswerving, staunch, dogged, tolerant.
2. (noun) perseverance, determination, persistence, dedication.

Cool, right? God brought me across an ocean to sing in community a charge to be patient, to persevere, and he gave me people on multiple continents to celebrate my growth along the way.

We’re not done yet.

I’ll schedule Thursday’s post and then skip next Sunday, but be back to my normal writing routine by the 28th. I promise you my life will be full and rich as I shout praise for the hallelujah moments, but please remember it does come with the pain and difficulty. As always, the texts and messages of encouragement really brighten my days when they come through in this season from my traumaversary to birthday. I don’t know what comes in the next chapter of my life, but Aslan is on the move, and he is not a tame lion. I’m still asking for everything. Kia kaha; kia māia; kia manawanui.

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