Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Year Update

Some exciting news to share….at the start of the holidays Karmen Abraham became my “significant other”, so my holiday took on an unexpected very pleasant extra turn!   Now, things have progressed fairly quickly. Karmen lives about 20 mins away from me in LA and goes to Grace Community Church. 

My study load reduced this semester by 4 credits to 12.5 Credits, so that is already helping with channelling some time to growing our relationship. Speaking of studies, Karmen has nearly finished her BA with a major in Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College (part time) and works as a professional disabled child trainer. Naturally Karmen is a delight herself, a bright witnesser for our Lord Jesus Christ and wants to be a pastor’s wife and serve in that role while continuing to work part time.
Karmen became a Christian 11 years ago, and her husband, hating Christianity, eventually abandoned her and served the divorce papers; the rest is history. Nina is Karmen’s 14 year old daughter who lives at home and attends Grace Church School. Her son Remy lives with his Father and attends a different school.

Whilst we were engaged to be married late January, we waited till the Master's Seminary Banquet (last night) to generate a good opportunity.   How about this one with AirForce One in the background!

With John MacArthur and Reuben and Verity Pickering.....

A couple with Nina and Jillian....

And at a New dinner, Jillian, Reuben and Verity, Nina and Remy.....

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Update

·         As of Saturday night at 9:30pm,  all my papers and exams for this 15 week Semester 1 have were completed!....not to mention the readings; Wow! That was quite a mountain to climb. Sunday saw the completion of the various church ministry Christmas functions, culminating in the most fantastic paean of praise in concert I have ever witnessed. Some of the lyrics and music were actually composed for the Boston Pops Orchestra.  I went on the last night of 5, which saw about 4-5000 inch their way in.

·         Monday was the day to  tidy up, emailing, mowing lawns and cleaning a pool – a special deal I have with the gracious APMT owners Bob and Teri White, where I now live - 8830 Newcastle Ave, Northridge, CA 91325 USA; which is about 15 mins from church and seminary.

·         Whilst the work has been voluminous and tough, it demands a very high quality, as are the professors, who do their job as of a single accord. Basically if you get behind you cannot catch up. One saviour for us was the week break for Thanks Giving from 23rdNovember, the end of which marks the beginning of the Christmas Period.

·         I have had the privilege of being one of five who served as Interns at the Grace Life Fellowship, which meets on Sunday mornings at 8:30am in the Gymnasium, and various fortnightly home Bible Study and Prayer and Praise Groups.

·         There are 500 students, so this makes for a full chapel twice a week, where we get tear both faculty and visitors speak, indispersed by a couple of seasoned Q & A’s with our President, John MacArthur. There are 3 class days and excepting Sundays, another 3 days of homework . All good stuff.

·         Next semester starts 9th Jan with a special week on Christian Ethics by Dr John Feinberg, a visiting lecturer. I will try not to do a repeat performance of “The Tie” in the picture, which was the product of good Kiwi Ingenuity. Yes I had forgotten to wear my tie (running late), so could not turn up twice without it, so unhooked the computer case strap, and Bob’s Your Uncle, there it was.  To avoid the gang member approach I simply tucked the metal clip ends under a short button…no one would ever know, so I thought. I think by now it has gone around the globe, to say nothing of the Kiwi reputation!

·         Apart from the odd reverberating head from doing unfamiliar memorisation, a couple of crowns (before their spiritual, or was that physical time) the body is going well; being acceptive of a generous helping Vitamin C and similar. Ouch, that was a bit expensive. Really, secular Masters Degrees do not quite cut this standard.

·         Social Scene:  13 Kiwis and others (note the Kiwis outnumber the Aussies on a number of count s as per normal) made a pilgrimage one Thanksgiving night to the Staples Centre, where Professional Ice Hockey was turned on for 2.5 hours. This was not just sport, this was a event with not one spare moment. Unfortunately the LA Kings lost 2:1 to the Chicago Black Hawks.  On Friday night the seminary hosted a special Christmas time for the international students and wives – rather nice, but we did miss our Christmas Cake and mince tarts! They do make great egg nog and cinnamon and apple cider here though!

·         I am on the way north to Verity’s folks for Christmas in Vernon, BC, Canada, then over to the Halcyon Hot Springs at the western foot of the Canadian Rockies for a couple of days.  Reuben and Verity + the bonus of Jillian joining us for some 2 weeks from Auckland!  This will be my first white Christmas…..after singing all the songs of Winter Wonderland etc for years, then going to the beach at home!

·         Winter has hit LA, with temperatures cooler at night than Auckland – more like the Waikato or Hawks Bay in winter. Yes it does rain in Southern California, but when it does, it doesn’t really pour as the song says; just a good wetting rain. And yet their drivers can’t handle it and people stay away from work / functions because ”it is forecast to rain today”!

Watch this space on my return from Canada for an update on  what’s happening in Semester 2. Meantime, I extend a very warm and blessed Christmas to you all.



Monday, November 7, 2011

Update from California

·         Just a brief note to keep you folks in the loop on my comings and goings.

·         I have just relocated from my temporary apartment with Mark and Lisa Tatlock in Santa Clarita, to my permanent digs at 8830 Newcastle Ave, Northridge, CA 91325. It is about 15 minutes away from the TMS campus and Grace Church.

·         I am really enjoying being my having been selected as a Ministry Intern with the GraceLife Fellowship Group. About 450 go there and I am one of five interns, who have participation with the leadership and mid-week Bible studies; mine is the Glendale study. Each group has two shepherds and an intern. The process also has me checking out many of the other ministries on campus over the semester.  

·         TMS is going well - really busy work load, with lots of assignments and exams, tests, quizzes, reading, research etc. Suffice to say I am really learning lots and growing much.  Classes are over Tuesday to Thursday, with the associated study hours being many more than one would imagine. However, a continuing wonderful experience!

·         My zippy little car is a royal blue Kia Spectra 5 (for those interested it is a 2,000 cc stick shift job). It gets me to TMS in 15 minutes – now there is no freeway needed, contrary to when I was in Santa Clarita.

·         I am joining with the Tatlocks for my first Thanksgiving Dinner; something I am looking forward to.

·        We celebrated Reuben’s birthday on the 1st November with dinner at Burbank, which was rather good!

·         The weather was over 107'F and like a hot blanket when I arrived, but now a bit more like NZ, at 65-70'F.

·         God has been very good and keeping me well!

·         I have a key exam tomorrow – this is a prayer item. Had one last weekend too. They tend to consume 6-7 hours in extra study. One has to get 91+ to get into the A Category.

·         My interview session with my advisor regarding Semester Two is in three days’ time. Thought I would give a better update after the exam and my Historical Theology 20 page project is done next weekend.

·         Missing you all back in NZ very much but hardly have time to catch my breath.

·         Jillian is coming over for her first white Christmas and New Year. She will join Reuben, Verity and I on our road trip up to Verity’s folks in Vernon, BC (Canada) for the big day….and a few more.

·         Chow for now and may God bless you in your service for our Lord and Saviour!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Highlights from Victoria Falls to Johanessburg

Hi all,
As you can imagine, there have been many adventures on my travels so far – too many to recount them all now, so I’ll give you some of the main highlights.  I’ve had a few challenges with health (bad chesty cough, and a recent stomach bug) but have recovered mostly now. 

Tuesday, 2 August
After leaving Victoria Falls, we changed trucks and travelled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, population 1.1 million.  It has big, wide streets, quiet and calm atmosphere.  Visited Cecil Rhode’s grave, and what may be the largest museum in Africa.  We enjoyed really nice, upgraded accommodation with a Muzungo couple... including a hot shower!

Here, we went to Matopos National Park to chase the white rhino, some 60 kms from Bulawayo.  Saw two rising adult rhinos at about 1300 kgs, after tracking them for a few hours.  We got within 30 metres of them - simply awesome! Just as we were about to take a picture of a nice sunset, another on the tour saw a big grey “rock” move.  It turned out to be the largest male rhino in the park, weighing in at over 3000 kgs.  We got to within 20 metres of him before he started walking towards us. He is Swaziland 4 and at 48, is very old; the oldest known in the park.  This was one of our best days on tour.  We also saw native bush people’s rock paintings in a high cave and then climbed up on top of it for a great 360º view.  We saw Steinbox, Warthog, Baboon, Impala and much more today.

Wednesday, 3 August
The next day, we travelled to Antelope Park, Gweru.  This must be the best camping resort in Africa, with dining, fires, court yards, pick your meat kitchen, lakes, 94 lions in a multiplication programme, elephant and other animals.  We all upgraded to a homestead with a nice fire place.  I did a lion walk that afternoon with lions eight and ten months old. Got to stroke them and walk with them – I have photos J

Friday, 5 August
We continued our travels, heading to Lake Chicamba, Zimbabwe and the Vilanculos Coast, Mozambique, via Christmas Pass, dropping down into Mutare, Zimbabwe's third largest city.  We really enjoyed stopping for lunch just over Christmas Pass by some awesome red and orange flower bushes/trees.  Great market here.

Sunday, 7 August
At Larium today, at the Vilanculos Coast.  We took a “Dhow Safari” (boat ride in a traditional skiff) to Bazarulo Island for snorkelling on its reef, hiking around it and a great lunch. Set sail at about 9 am, returning under motor at 5 pm after really enjoyable day out.

Tuesday, 9 August
We drive south on the coast 260 kms to Inhambane and Tofu Beach. We stayed in Fiji-like chalets at Barra Lodge Resort for two nights - the best spot all holiday!  Palm beaches, quad bikes, swimming, whale-shark and dolphin watching and snorkelling.  This is Mozambique at its best.

The plan for the next few days is:

Thursday, 11 August
Drive 540 kms to Mozambique's capital, Maputo, to stay overnight.

Friday, 12 August
Cross the border into South Africa early and drive to Kruger National Park for an afternoon and evening game drive.
Saturday, 13 August
At Kruger National Park in South Africa for last game drive before heading to Jo'burg.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Zanzibar

Tried to hook up at Arusha - Snake Park - but the power went out all afternon- that's Africa for you though!

Spent 15 hours on the road yesterday - I'd rather forget about it. Traffic jam for 2.5 hrs.....went nowhere.

Hit Stone Town an hour ago and visited the church that was built on the site of the old slave market centre, that Dr David Livingstone had abolished in 1873.  Also caught the ferry and did a spot of shopping here too.

I am now in Zanzibar on the beach and logged in to the email. One word...awesome. Beach is like Raro.....just great! Off for a swim now.  A couple got engaged on the tour so we are celebrating tonight over a meal.

Going snorkeling and will get into some Hebrew tomorrow!

Monday, July 11, 2011

News From Africa

After some logistical nightmares that began in Perth and resulted in changes to my itinerary, I made it to Africa.  Toilets are something to behold up here... or lack thereof.  Our tour is advocating "going bush" instead of using the toilets!  Of course, they are not toilet pans like we have... just holes in the ground anyway, with all of the "mis-fires", etc!   As for the Kili climb, I made it to the summit!  We were unable to complete the last 1,000 due to extreme weather conditions like you wouldn't believe!  I was still a bit sick, but was able to help some others in the group.  I got the summit completion certificate and am back on track now that all of the itinerary dramas have died down (I have caught up to my original tour group and travel plans - should all be tickityboo from here on).

Just finished the Massai Village and Great African Rift, seeing all of the Big 12 in plenty of numbers as the annual migration is just starting.  Looking at some five million animals so far, all gathering for and starting the migration north for more food.  Lion and cheetah within three meters of us.  Our group numbers about 15 at present.

Apart from the main highway, the roads are mainly atrocious and it takes hours to negotiate the pot holes and wash boards of various descriptions.

Weather is fine.  I am 98% better now... praise God!

We are all going out for tea tonight in Nairobi, a game meat extravaganza!

Off to the Serengetti tomorrow back in Tanzania, so it's border crossing time again.

Huge contrast between the extremely poor and "fifth world", and the most modern technology.  Locals are very keen on using internet banking via their mobile phones and everybody does it! 

Unfortunately, there will be no pictures until I get back, due to limited technology access, but they will be well worth the wait!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Journeying to The Master's Seminary

The next step to fulfilling a 17 year personal dream to be trained for and enter the full-time ministry of our great Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is now just inside three months away. That would be to enter at arguably the best expository preaching training facility in the world – The Master’s Seminary (TMS).
You can take a good look at what makes TMS distinct from other facilities at and click on "TMS Distinctives".  Check out "Why TMS?" for two personal testimonies, or you can join me for a short presentation follwed by lunch, after the service on Sunday, 19 June at Auckland Bible Church’s café (approximately 12 noon).
It is a great privilege to have unqualified support and commendation which has come from Auckland Bible Church, The Shepherd’s Bible College and others. I leave Auckland at 2:30pm on 26 August and the first class starts four days later, after having sat three entrance tests.
The first semester landscape includes Hermeneutics, OT Studies, Hebrew Grammar, Historical Theology, Preaching Intro and Church Ministries.
The best way to keep in touch while I'm at TMS is through my email, Initial digs are at 21613 Placerita Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91326 (opposite from The Masters College) and phone, c/o Drs Mark & Lisa Tatlock: (818) 799-2842 (my next post will see this changed).
Check this out: I'll be only a five minute drive from Six Flags Magic Mountain, but 25 minutes from TMS!
Meantime the friendly doc, dentist, eye specialist, insurance man, employer and rest-home manager have all given their big tick; of course after taking their slice of the pie first :)  
You can contact my daughter Jillian Vivian at / 021 329 755 for NZ info updates. I will still have a footprint in NZ to return to, annually in July. 
In the Lord's perfect timing, my son Reuben is also being led to full-time pastoral ministry, and undertaking the program at TMS at the same time as me.  What a provision from God to have he and Verity close by in LA.  The three of us were amazed late last year, that while in the spa having a catch up, we soon discovered that we both had the exact same news to share with eachother: applying to study at TMS!