Welcome to Aotearoa!
Today was a early start as I gather with other members from the SPABC conference for powhiri. This is a traditional Maori welcome ceremony of mihi (exchanged greetings between hosts and visitors), waiata (song) and even hongi (pressing of noses with all of your hosts which signifies the mingling together of the sacred breath of life) and then ending with hakari (sharing food together). Our powhiri was a bit abreviated (45mins, where they typically last 3-5 hours) but still a great experience to get to know a bit about Maori culture.
At breakfast I got introduced to other members of the SPABC conference (the South Pacific Association of Bible College) which made up of principals and leaders of different theological schools from across NZ & Australia. So far I have met people from Brisborn, Queensland, Perth and Sydney. I was also surprised to see a familiar face from my past in the bunch, John Capper, whom I met in 1999 in Edinburgh at an international conference of Media, Religion & Culture. At the time we were both PhD students and gave papers together on the same panel on religion online (which was memorable as it was one of my first academic conference presentations). He is now Academic Dean at Tabor College in Victoria (AU). Am looking forward to catching up a bit more with him tommorrow.
I sat in on a few sessions today of the conference and tommorrow I will be on a panel talking about religion and education in the Middle East. Though the rain subsided today, I spent much of the afternoon resting, still recovering from jet lag.
Quote of the day:
"Selah...it basically means shut up!"
-Donna Dinsmore, worship leader at the SPABC conference explaining the possible meaning of the term found frequently in the book of Psalms