While we thought we hadn't heard of Tauranga till recently, we came across an email exchange between the two of us back in 2008 barely a week after we first started dating. It was written in the context of trying to find places to volunteer in New Zealand on organic farms.
|'Farmer Chris' on a dairy farm in Levin back in 2008|
On Jun 4, 2008, Chris McClimans wrote:
Tauranga is northern... therefore warmer than the southern areas. Has a dryer climate and nice weather (seems similar to Boulder). Has nice beaches and tramping (hiking). The agriculture in the area includes tangelos, avocados, and kiwi fruit. I think there are vineyards as well. It might be a good place to search for outlying agricultural areas that would allow for reasonable excursions into a decent sized, but not over powering city.
On Jun 5, 2008, Shalom Ford wrote:
Looks good to me! :-)
|Wedding in Nelson 2008|
What have we been doing all this time? Well I'm glad you asked! When we first arrived in January we had no clue what we would be doing, we just knew God had put it on our hearts to come. We contacted several ministries in the area, letting them know we wanted to connect. One of the guys from Marine Reach offered to pick us up from the bus station and gave us a room to stay in for the first few nights.
Marine Reach is a branch of Youth With A Mission that focuses on providing medical services in the Pacific Island nations. We immediately felt a strong connection with the people from this ministry. We began to volunteer at the Marine Reach office as we looked into the best path to long-term residency here in New Zealand. Shalom is in the HR department, helping medical professionals get registered in the countries where they are holding medical clinics. These include doctors, nurses, optometrists, ophthalmologists, dentists, and midwives. This year there are a total of 8 medical clinics going on in Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
Chris has been reaching out to the business community here in the city as well as youth interested in technology. He is volunteering with a local IT company and is building relationships, being a light in the workplace. He's also looking into various ways to enable kids to learn to use technology to make a difference in the world.
|Apply one interested kid to the right terminals in the circuit and the light goes on!|
|The 'office' view when working from our trailer house near a Kiwifruit orchard|
We are also both involved with Te Rourou. It is a new effort to encourage communities to come together and experience generosity and it's impact. In the current pioneering stage we collect donations from partners and farmers in the community each week and use those funds to bulk purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. We turn around and give each partner two or more baskets, one to keep and the rest to give away. This gives people an avenue to be generous and to encourage more relationships within the community. The idea stems from a Maori proverb that roughly translated means "With my basket and your basket, the people will live" There have already been amazing stories resulting from people's generous spirits. Including one woman who actually purchased a home from a large family so that they could move closer to work and be able to support themselves. That same home was refurbished and rented out at an affordable price for another low income family to move in!
|Chris picking up the produce|
|Just before packing|
|Shalom at the end of a busy morning packing backets|
|Entrance to FoodMachine at University of the Nations in Kona Hawaii|
|View from the Hydroponic Lettuce to the Tilapia Tanks|
|The reverse view of the partially closed loop system. (Hi Shalom)|
We really feel like God has called us to Tauranga long term and so we are starting to put our roots down and discover what it means to be "settled" A new concept for us! God has provided a job for Chris where he will be able to work from home with a company in Christchurch. He will be able to start as soon as we get our work visas. We sent off our application yesterday and it generally takes about 3 months to process. In the mean time, we will continue volunteering and settling in to our new life here. Up until now we have been able to live off of the money we made from selling our car and some computer equipment, as well as doing a few short projects for Chris's company in the States. We've tried to live frugally, just renting out a small trailer and driving an old '92 Honda Civic, but even so, money only stretches so far. We need about $1,000 a month for rent, food and fuel for the car for the next 3 months or until we get our work visas and Chris can start making an income. If any of you want to partner with us through this short stretch, just reach out to us!
Please continue to keep us in your prayers that God would continue to reveal His plans for us here and also for a quick processing of our visas!
Chris and Shalom