We have now been in New Zealand for ten years—an entire decade. Ten years tomorrow, we landed in Christchurch with six young children. We were met at the airport by friends who had come ahead of us, with whom we hoped to work and form a home church. They were the only people we knew in the entire country.
Today, we know people from end to end of this country. God has given us more friends than we could have imagined. We are now part of a growing little house church on the opposite side of the island from where we started out. The business we were planning to start with our friends never even began; instead of building and running a sawmill, Gayle found a job at a meatworks, which got us our first visa.
We arrived here with six children, ages nine weeks to eleven years. Over the course of these ten years, one of them died and we lost two unborn babies—but we have also been blessed with another son and two daughters. Now, we have eight living children, ranging from three months to twenty-one years! Also, during these ten years, four of our children have received water baptism as a symbol of their new life after receiving Jesus as their Saviour.
We have experienced great joy—and immense grief while living here in New Zealand. These years have been hard—but good. We love living here and are thankful for so many things. God has been very good to us through everything.
This photo was taken the morning we left the States. A friend advised us to dress the four boys in matching shirts so it would be easy to find them in crowds. They loved those shirts and wore them until they were tattered!
This was taken a week or two after we landed here, when we visited Hagley Park in Christchurch for the first time.
One more photo from that first few weeks! We lived in a rental house near Christchurch for three weeks, and then had to get out. We had no house to go to, so we ended up camping for a couple of nights with some friends near Cheviot. Someone loaned us a horse truck and a house bus to sleep in. I’ve always thought our camp looked pretty funny!