The End Of The Beginning!

Hello all!

I am in my last week as a marketing intern with Off The GRID, where I assisted Norm & Christy with further aligning the OTG brand with what participants experience. I also helped Norm start a social media presence for Off The GRID through Instagram and Facebook.  This final week, I have been helping brainstorm a visually appealing layout for the Off The GRID website.

This time away has been filled with so many new experiences, relationships, challenges, and opportunities, and it is sad my time here is coming to an end.  During the internship, I have learned so much more than just what to do to market a business; God has truly blessed my time here by providing little things (like going on a three-day solo tramp, mountain biking great trails, and summitting Mt. Arthur) that I never could have planned for.

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God has been teaching me since the program finished that I put too much stock in what I do, and not enough in who I am in Christ.  I am a perfectionist, and my best is never enough because there is always someone better than me.  Also, He challenged me to surrender all I have to Him.  While being on Off The GRID for 40 days without any media, I had no way to communicate to my girlfriend, family, and friends. To be honest, I felt very alone at first because I was in a different country with people I didn’t know at all, and I had no way to talk to those I loved and knew.  It was tough, but during those first weeks, God was teaching me all I need is Jesus.  I was very dependent on God during those weeks, and it got me thinking; God calls us out of our comfort zones because its in those times when we are most dependent on Him.  And when we are most dependent on Him, we are most used by Him.  But, because God loves us, He gives us the choice to either follow where He calls (no matter how hard it seems), or to stay comfortable where we are. I would strongly encourage stepping out of your comfort zone and follow the Lord, whatever that looks like for you.

That being said, don’t read this and think I have “self actualized” and will never struggle with fear or sin after being on OTG and interning with them.  In fact, all this summer has shown me is I am not half as strong as I thought I was, and that is why I need a Savior. God calls me to do my personal best in all I do, trusting that He is “filling in” the inevitable cracks left after I try.

One key truth I have been learning is that God, through my relationship with Jesus, promises to always be with me at all times, no matter what. Not only that, but He loves me no matter what. This has changed the way I live in so many ways.  Rather than doing good things because God might be angry or leave me if I don’t, I see He is there regardless.  My heart behind living a moral life is not to get on God’s good side, but to be with Him.  If sin hurts my relationship with God by distancing me from Him, then I want to do my best to draw closer to Him by living according to His rules.  Like any good father, God has rules to protect His children from harm.  As a child of God, I want to do my best to obey because I know God loves me, and out of that love are guidelines to protect me.  It is similar to the moment you realize, as you look back on your family (if you grew up in a Christ-centered family), that all the rules you hated saved you from so much unnecessary hardship.  All of a sudden, you experience immeasurable gratitude toward your parents.  This is the same in our relation to God.

Anyway, there are so many things I have been learning in my time here, and I am extremely grateful to all who partnered with me or supported me in any way.  I look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Thank you!

Written by Aaron (USA), Off The GRID Intern

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The One At The End

Hello everyone!

All eight of us sat around the kitchen table yesterday at basecamp contemplating what the past six weeks have brought us.  Today we finished our 40 day Off The GRID programme, and we have a lot to tell you!

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Before we get into that here’s what we did in Week 6:

We enjoyed our last Sunday at Hope Community Church and on the way home picked up two hitch-hikers who we had over for lunch. In the beginning, although we didn’t know them, we were able to have a wonderful dialogue about food, travels and faith. Please be praying that seeds were planted and that God continues to place believers in their paths that make them ponder who He is and His affect on their lives. 

Although we weren’t able to start our final tramp on Sunday afternoon as planned due to weather, on Monday morning we headed off into the rain and into Kahurangi National Park. Fun fact – Kahurangi has very large, carnivorous snails! That evening, the rain turned over to snow and Michelle saw snow for the first time! In the morning, we woke up with snow on the ground, the Weka birds shrieking and the feeling of Christmas morning. Then obvious next step was to sled down the hill.

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Next, we tossed around in the snow at the top of Gordon’s Pyramid! The snow at the hut was beautiful, but the snow at the top of the mountain was even more so. Looking and praying over New Zealand, we were able to praise God for his awesome creativity as well as pray into the 60% of people in region that claim to be non-religious. We want to challenge you to pray for the people in your area each time you experience God’s wonderful creation. We were then able to bask in the pure joy of childishness while diving into deep, fluffy snow and rolling down the hill.

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Can you spot the team on the side of Gordon’s Pyramid below? You might need to zoom in on the snowy area!

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The next day we marched into the icy mud for our last day in the bush as a team. While hiking out, Norm and two of the guys sumitted the Lodestone and met us at Shadowfax (the van). The weather was beautiful and so were the traditional post-tramp tacos.

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Looking back on the past six weeks, we have learnt so much, been challenged by God on many occasions, and built unique friendships. Here is a little summary from each one of us on what that entails:

The past six weeks have been filled with adventure, challenges, and fun!  God has been teaching much about who I am, and who He says I am.  Thank you for your prayers and support!  – Aaron (USA)

When you surrender yourself to God, God will change your life through ways you can never imagine! Thank you all for your prayers and I know God will continue to work through our lives! – Michelle (Hong Kong)

You guys! Thank you so much for your prayers. I am so thankful for my time here. I had the opportunity to ask all the questions I had and build meaningful friendships. God exchanged doubt with curiosity, showed me that there is so much to discover and how great His plans are for each one of us – all of that in one of the prettiest countries ever!  – Anna (Switzerland)

What an amazing experience this was! To live together as a team, building friendships and having lots of fun together. The most important thing, I learnt a lot about God and His plans. And I put my trust in Him for the next season!   Hilline (The Netherlands)

Hi ! This forty days are indescriptable for me : it was a step of faith for me to quit my job and go to the other side of the world with people that I don’t know at all… but at the end, it was really good. Be sure that you can find friends in any country around the world and if you’re somewhere where God wants you… you just can enjoy it! So far from home but so close to God! – Sylvain (France)

In the past six weeks, I’ve learned so much, from Norm and Christy, from nature and most importantly from God. What He’s been doing in my life, in these past six weeks, is incredible, and I know that it’s not gonna stop here. So thank you for your prayers! – Frida (Denmark)

Wow! Who knew that six weeks could turn a city girl like me into someone who loves the outdoors? I have had the opportunity to thrive these past 40 days, building heartfelt friendships with my teammates and learning more about who God is and how he has and will revolutionize who I am and how I can show more of him through myself. – Micah (Canada/Malaysia)

Is tramping in the countryside of New Zealand through nature amazing or is it amazing?! Its Wow! Now I have some great Memories to take home. But what is much more important: God changed the way I am, how I live and how I refer to myself. Thanks to all the people who prayed for us! – Jonathan (Switzerland)

Thank you for praying for us!

God bless,

Written by the entire Off The GRID 02/2018 Team

The One With Shadowfax

Hello Everyone,

Long time no see! Lot’s has happened since we last talked to y’all, and we don’t even know where to begin. 

In the beginning of the fourth week, we spent a lovely afternoon at the home of a pastor & his wife from the local church we attend, with him walking us through the Old Testament using the floor as his “map”. We were all amazed by how knowledgeable he is and how he could deliver everything in such a fun way. 

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A few days later, we started another adventure with Uncle Greig. The tramp started at the base of Richmond Range. As we tramped, we learned to say “WOW” everytime we saw a beautiful view, learned that it was okay to have two lunchbreaks and the greatest thing we learned was “what doesn’t hurt you kills you.” Wise words from Greig! He also made a promise to us on our last tramp that he would bring scones, so what did he bring? Ingredients to make scones, and oh my, they were delicious! 

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On the next tramping day, a lot of swingbridges were crossed, with many great opportunities to yell out “wow”. We stayed a night at a hut and met a couple from Canterbury, tramping with their dog, and they were all surprised when all of us girls plus Jonathan decided to jump in the Pelorus river.

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After our tramp we stayed at the Capells, a wonderful couple . The house they live in is spectacular, electricity comes from the sun and water comes from the river. During the days we spent there, we learned a lot about ourselves spiritually, about each other and heard the great story of Sharon and Dennis’ life together.  So the days we spent there were packed with a lot of activities, but we all had an amazing time, enjoying the hospitality. 

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We then headed south in Shadowfax (the OTG van) for a short road trip down the West coast and through Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch. We had a night of homestay with friends. What impressed us the was the sharing from two missionaries who served with OM in an unreached area of the world for 25 years. Their life there and their loyalty to the Lord really inspired and touched all of us. We also spent an unforgettable night in the hot pools at Hanmer Springs (a lovely little town). On the last two days of the roadtrip, we also had two short day hikes, which we had some quiet time to focus on our plans to keep growing when we return home.

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A 6 hour road trip is much more enjoyable when we are with our teammates. We got to learn more about each other, and just as Norm said, we will definitely miss the conversations we have in the van after the programme ends. I would say this roadtrip will definitely be one of the best memories of these 40 days as we look back. 

Over the past week, we have been talking in our studies about ‘new beginnings’ after we finish OTG, and how we can incorporate God in it.  We also talked about how to praise God in the midst of our suffering. These are things we are considering as we grow in our faith and step out to our different parts of the world at the end of this coming week.

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It is unbelivable that we only have a week left! Please continue to pray for us for:

  • Health and strength for our final tramp
  • Reflection and consolidation on what we have learnt
  • Launching on Friday and our future plans

Hej til alle de dansktalende derude
Vi er nu på vej ind i vores sidste uge af Off the Grid, og er du gal tiden er gået stærkt! Vi bruger stort set alt vores tid sammen, hvilket betyder at vi på 5 uger er tættere end jeg nogensinde troede man kune blive på så kort tid. Vi nyder hinandens selvskab, og lærer så meget om os selv og om vores relationer til Gud, og hvordan vi kan sprede Guds budskab. Vi kom hjem fra en lille roadtrip rundt på den øverste del af sydøen i fredags, hvor vi både var forbi Christchurch og oplevede op til flere omveje, fordi en storm ramte dele af østkysten, hvor vi havde planlagt at skule forbi. Men det betød stop i en super fin by kaldet Hanmer Springs, hvor vi blev forkælet med en tur i de varme bade. Lige om lidt er turen med Norm og Christy og alle de andre forbi og det bliver svært at sige farvel, men jeg ved at jeg kommer til at se dem igen før jeg ved af det.
Må Gud velsigne jer!
Knus Frida 

謝謝大家的代禱!

我們在過去的兩個禮拜除了更深入認識自己和隊友外,亦開始計畫如何將自己的學習帶回我們的生活中.求主讓我們能把握最後的一個禮拜繼續學習神的話語,彼此建立和造就!

Written by Frida (Denmark) and Michelle (Hong Kong) on behalf of the entire 02/2018 Off The GRID team.

The One With Ups & Downs

Hello Everyone,

Welcome back to Week 3 of Off The GRID 02/2018! Despite we met our teammates just three weeks ago we know each other quite well. And now everyone is working to get to know his proper self.

On Sunday we shared breakfast at church and prayed for the people outside our door. That means our friends, family and colleagues who don’t know Christ. Later on we enjoyed a delicious lunch with kiwi friends at their farm. We had the opportunity to help them with their cows, to bring the cow named Sausage to it’s destiny.

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The next day Mom (Christy) drove us over to the north end of Abel Tasman National Park from where we started a three day tramp with Norm into the wild on the way to Marahau Beach. The terrain changed from uphill to downhill and back again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again… AND AGAIN! Nevertheless we were amazed by the beauty of nature around us. It was a good time to talk and share with each other. Some of us were crazy enough to sleep outside despite the low temperature. On the third day we had breakfast on Castle Rock while the sun was rising. The porridge never tasted better than on this very morning.

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The next days Mom and Dad (Norm & Christy) kept us very busy. Here in New Zealand we learn to be close to nature. We had a work day serving with the Department of Conservation, where we planted small trees in a nature reserve.

1. lesson: Care for everything that grows. Especially Hilline took it very seriously murmuring to the trees: “Hello tree!” and “Goodbye tree! You’re free!” What is better to encourage them to grow deep and wide?

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2. lesson: Be able to provide for yourself. There is more than just plants. Catch what you can and eat it but never forget some good spices. Oh, and by the way: Don’t eat anything raw or alive.

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3. lesson: Watch out! If the farmer goes feeding his cows you should better be out of their way.

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4. lesson: Admire the beauty of God’s creation. Just contemplation the sky and the ocean.

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In our study time we learn more and more about the Old Testament and how God places the pieces of his perfect plan into place. Absolutely nothing in the Bible happened by chance. This week we fully centred on the work on ourselves to find our values for life as a Christian.

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We have now arrived at the middle of the programme and look forward to the next days that promise to be full of surprises.

Sali zaeme
Gruess us Neuseeland! Es isch eifach herrlich do, sodass i gad gar nueme zrugg cho woett. xD D’Ziit vergoht wie im Flug und i gnuesse jede Tag mitem Team. De Worm und d’Crispy ueberraschet ues jedi Wuche mit grossartige Trampingtoure und Tagesaktivitaete. Im gliche Zug chani mi grossartig uf mini persoenlichi Ziit mit Gott konzentriere. S’Wichtigschte: Gott meints guet mit ues und mir sind mitenand dra, ihn meh und meh z’entdecke. Sind gsaegnet!

Salut tout le monde !
Je suis au bout du monde et je peux vous dire que ca vaut le detour !
Les paysages sont magnifiques, et meme si l’hivers pointe le bout de son nez et qu’il fait de plus en plus froid, j’en profite tous les jours !
J’espere que les quelques photos que je peux vous partager vous permettent d’avoir un petit apercu de ce que je peux voir.
Au-dela des paysages, le travail sur Dieu et sur nous-meme et notre potentiel est vraiment tres interessant. Norm et Christy font un travail formidable. Soyez benis !

Prayer requests:

  • Winter is coming. Pray that our noses stop running and colds are cleared up.
  • That the seed that God planted in us brings fruit so that we can be a blessing to the people we meet on our tramps.
  • For safety during the next two weeks when we are on the road.

See y’all!

Written by Sylvain (France) and Jonathan (Switzerland) on behalf of the entire 02/2018 Off the GRID team.

The One With The Kayaks

Hello Everyone,

Welcome back to Week 2 of Off The GRID 02/2018! We are growing closer and closer together by sharing everything from secrets to laughs to a really bad sinus cold.  This week we had the pleasure of meeting the awesome family that is letting us use their house as our basecamp (and their pet goat!) 

To run you through our week:

We started with our first Sunday at Hope Community Church and got to meet a lot of people who have been praying for us. After the service, we led a prayer meeting for unreached people groups around the world (focusing on the 10-40 window). Please be praying along with us for these people.

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We then headed on our very first adventure with Uncle Greig, which meant we had to say goodbye to Mom and Dad (aka Norm and Christy). It was hard. But we had LOADS of fun anyways – we kayaked through Abel Tasman National Park to spend the night at Anchorage Bay. There was lots of people at that hut, which meant lots of opportunities to share swiss chocolate and good conversation. Two of our “gridders” had an awesome discussion with a Dutch guy staying the night. They attempted to answer some of his big questions about life while sharing what we believe. Meanwhile our local frenchman, Sylvain, formed a friendship with another Francophone staying in the hut. We also got to see some of God’s coolest creations – glow worms and bioluminescence in the water!! On the way back to base camp we saw a gorgeous rainbow and some chubby ‘lil seals – some more fun in God’s creation. While we were there we had some great chats in our study time tackling  1. stepping out of our comfort zone, 2. serving each other and 3. breaking apart the Gospel.

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After completing our biggest challenge yet (this puzzle), it was time to head out to the bush again. 

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Next we headed towards Browning Hut in the Richmond Range (with Greig, of course) and guess who we ran into on the trail?! Our German friends from the last blog post! It was great to catch up with them and be amazed by God’s plan. While spending the night inside a toasty hut, we discussed 1. how we limit God based on our human limits, 2. how we can encourage each other and 3. the fact that we don’t have to do anything because it’s already been done (yet we should still take the “opportunity to serve others with love”).

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On Saturday we had some free time in Nelson to check out the Market and relax. While we were there we ran into our French pal from Anchorage Bay and had coffee with her and a friend. We had a great time discussing even more about the Gospel and how much it means that God loves us, while trying to answer some really big questions about faith. 

Overall, it was another great week and we’re looking forward to find out what the next 27 days will hold.

Hi familie en vrienden! De tijd vliegt voorbij! We groeien als team steeds dichter naar elkaar toe. Het is tof om als team samen te leven, leven te delen en te leren van elkaar. Mooie , leerzame en interessante gesprekken. De natuur hier is zo overweldigend mooi en ik blijf me steeds weer verbazen over God’s creatie. Het is tof om mensen te ontmoeten in de hutten en de open gesprekken die we hebben met hen over geloof. Ik geniet hier intens van elke minuut en zie uit naar de komende weken die nog voor ons liggen! 

Prayer requests:

  • Health and strength as we recover from the cold going around.
  • That we can grow closer to God as we continue to learn more about Him and more about each other.
  • For the people that we meet and the conversations we have, that the love of Jesus is able to shine through and make an impact that will stay.

PEACE N LUV

Written by Micah (Canada/Malaysia) & Hilline (The Netherlands) on behalf of the entire 02/2018 Off the GRID team

Kia Ora!

Hello Everyone,

We are here at the end of week one; it is hard to believe a week has gone by already!  Our team has really hit it off since we arrived, and we are growing closer each day.  Our first day, we hung out at the basecamp and spent the day learning about each other and the programme.  As far as the schedule goes, we don’t know all that is coming, which is an integral part of being “Off The GRID,” in addition to being in nature a lot, reading the Bible, study time and having great talks. 

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On our second day, we began our first tramp to a hut in Nelson Lakes National Park, and we began our Bible study led by Norm & Christy.  We are learning a lot about our need for a relationship with God, and are growing closer to Him each day.  As a team our group discussions have been filled with great questions about our faith! Without technology, we have had quite a bit of time to think and reflect on what we are studying, which has also contributed to the deep discussions we are having.  Also, we met around fifteen fellow travellers in the hut and experienced Kiwi culture firsthand!  We also met two really nice german guys with whom we befriended.  Before they left, they let us pray for them, and we invited them to dinner at Basecamp  if they’re ever nearby.  

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On the third day we mainly walked in the rain to test our gear, which was very wet but still fun. The tramp back home was probably our favourite day. The sun showed up, we crossed a river and went to a waterfall where some of us climbed to the top. We finished it off with a nice jump in the freezing lake.  After this, we continued to hike back to the van, which took around 4 hours.

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Looking back on our first trip, we are getting to know each other very well and mesh as a team, which is a blessing! Also, we have quickly realized we do not really need a phone because Norm is a human Google!  

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Hier noch an die lieben Schweizer und Deutschen! Wie ihr sehen koennt, geht es mir sehr gut. Die Leute hier sind wunderbar und wir haben sehr interessante Gespraeche, die einen schnell weiterbringen. Da wir nicht abgelenkt werden, koennen wir uns umso mehr auf Gott und sein Vorhaben konzentrieren, was die Zeit hier sehr intensiv und kostbar macht. Ich versuche jeden Moment zu geniessen und alles aufzusaugen was ich hoere uns sehe. Norm und Christy haben  viel zu geben und ich noch mehr zu lernen. Die Gespraeche sind sehr vertraulich, was uns in kurzer Zeit sehr nahe bringt. Ach ja, die Natur ist uebrigens ueberwaeltigend.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray for friends that we met on the trail. Pray that seeds were planted and God continues to reveal himself.
  • Pray for safety as we tramp through the bush, climb, and kayak.
  • Pray for the hearts of those we meet during the  programme and that God will use our interactions to draw them to Him.

Cheers mates!

Written by Anna (Switzerland) & Aaron (USA) on behalf of the entire Off The GRID 02/2018 team

Welcome Off The GRID 02/2018 Team!

Hello Everyone,

Please join us in welcoming Off The GRID 02/2018 that began today!

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From Left to Right:

Aaron (USA), Micah (Canada), Hilline (The Netherlands), Sylvain (France),

Frida (Denmark), Anna (Switzerland), Jonathan (Switzerland), Michelle (Hong Kong)

We appreciate your prayers for the team as they begin this 40 day journey together focussing on God and what He has for them.  More updates to come soon!

Thank you & God bless!

The Off The GRID Leadership Team