I was awoken by an air horn screaming across the Hanmer Springs darkness. My first thought – New Zealand is under attack!
I have been in countries with civil defense sirens and I have heard them used. As I shook the cob webs from my head, I thought to myself, “Who would attack New Zealand?” I realized this possibility was highly unlikely. Other options raced through my mind as the siren continued to whine into the night – earthquake (possible); tsunami (I’m in the mountains; impossible); flash flood (more possible). I could hear rain rhythmically tapping on my tent!
I rolled over in my tent and tapped my female-voiced companion. If anyone would know, she would know! “Siri… what is this siren I am hearing in Hamner Springs, New Zealand?” She replied, “I am checking on that… Here is what I have found on the web regarding the siren you are hearing in Hamner Springs, New Zealand.” And my iPad, via Siri, revealed the answer… “Fire House Siren.” My iPad also revealed to me it was 5:37AM. I had hoped to sleep in longer, as I complete my journey today, and ride 83 miles returning to where I began this adventure (Christchurch). I wanted to roll back over and go to back to sleep, but the siren had alerted me that I had to go (to the toilet that is). Bummer! I found the whole thing to be quite alarming!!
With that said, Hamner Springs has been a great place to relax and reflect over my time in New Zealand…
It has also been a great place to meet new friends, to share stories, and to share the miraculous love of God through Jesus Christ. The ale in the picture above was brewed in the same city in Ireland that Mark and Amy live, my new friends and fellow bike tourers. Mark races road bikes and Amy races triathlons back in Ireland. They were a joy to have a few conversations with at the Hanmer geothermal pools. I hope that they can come and visit me and my family, and ride their bikes in Colorado.
I also befriended Faizal, from Malaysia, who is on a two-year tour around-the-world on his BMW F800 GS dual sport adventure motorcycle. He has adventure biked everywhere from the tip of South America all the way up through North America to Alaska, through Mongolia, through Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia (every contininent except Antarctica). And here he is in New Zealand! He is sponsored by BMW, and is 20 months into his 24 month adventure. He has a wife and two teenagers back in Malaysia (with his wife joining him for some of the journey). And he has been to places that even Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, from Long Way Round and Long Way Down, have not been. He has done it without a support crew following him…
Here in Hamner Springs, I have also developed a good friendship with Thilo and Jasmin from Frankfurt, Germany. They are on a one year work visa in New Zealand, and they make the best pancakes (der pfannkuchen) I have ever tasted! We talked for hours yesterday morning as they shared with me their stories and I shared with them mine. They are both sweet and generous people, and I count them as my German friends! They call me by my middle name… Günther!
I also befriended Chris, a fine young man from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Edmonton is a place that is near and dear to my families heart (as we spent part of a vacation there 10 years ago). Chris’s car broke down in Hamner Springs, and so he was stuck in Hamner for the past several days, waiting for the parts to come in from Christchurch. This gave us the opportunity to have a great conversation the day before yesterday, during gale force winds, while it was pouring rain here in Hamner Springs. We enjoyed a lengthy conversation in the kitchen about life, the world, and Jesus.
During that time I was able to hear his story, and he was able to hear mine. He wants to be a firefighter and spend his life helping people. I shared with him the miraculous story of how God saved and healed my wife and triplets from near death. He was very interested in the story of my wife and triplets. He was also interested in the social justice mission trips the Lord has privileged me to have taken, as he has a real desire to spend his life helping people as a firefighter and beyond. I was able to share the gospel of God’s grace with him through Jesus Christ. It genuinely resonated with him. I asked him if he would like to trust Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He said that he really would like to, but he needed more time to process our conversation. And so I prayed for him and for his car.
At the moment we finished our prayer, with the words, “In Jesus name, we pray. Amen”… the rain stopped… the sun came out… and Chris got word that his car repair was finished. It was an answer to prayer. He genuinely thanked me for our talk, and told me that he believes that things happen for a reason. I agreed with him, and shared with him the words of Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. We both agreed that his car broke down so that I could share with him the gospel.
I do believe that Chris will become a Christian and follower of Jesus, as he asked me how he could receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior when he is ready. It was a divine appointment, and it is beautiful how the Holy Spirit worked it all out perfectly. I am thankful for the opportunity to come to New Zealand to be used by God in this way. My greatest joy in life is sharing with others who the God of the gospel truly is, and what He has done on our behalf by his beautiful grace!!
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:26-30 ESV)