It was 4:40pm on Sunday and Max and I had just gotten back to Christchurch after an exhausting weekend in central south island for IES orientation. I was exhausted and I wanted to sleep – but Max pressured me to go to church with him. The church service was at 5pm and gathered in “The Foundry” a bar near campus. After a few minutes of persuasion I sleepily agreed to go with him. It turns out that was one of the best decisions I have made here in New Zealand.
When it comes to joining a church the best piece of advice I can give sounds incredibly basic – attend. It is so easy to get wrapped up in work or be “too tired” but making the weekly commitment to relationships is more than worth it. That first week that I went with Max we were immediately taken in by a group of other students who went there and were invited to join Uni-Connect, a group of students that gathers on Tuesday nights for dinner and bible study. The group of students is about 40 strong and then breaks out into individual groups of 6-10 people each. Within a week of classes of beginning, Max and I were fully active members in Campus Church and Uni-Connect.
All things take time. Yes conversations were awkward at first. It felt uncomfortable going places where I did not know anyone. But that changed. Max and I were invited to go hiking with Nav and Courtney, a couple students at church. We jumped at the chance. Getting back from the hike we were all best friends. Soon we became closer with their entire circle of friends, and now I am blessed to have a group of Kiwi students that I can call good friends. They have been such an immense blessing. We have had collective dinners, movie nights, gone to events together, and celebrated each – others’ birthdays. It is amazing that in such a short amount of time I have been so embraced and brought into an amazing friend group. I am incredibly blessed for each of these people and the friendships that I have with them. New Zealand has been amazing so far, but the relationships have been the best part of it by a landslide. It’s a good reminder of what is truly important in life!