Lisa shares more about her life in New Zealand and her heart’s desire to impact lives through a horsemanship experience.
Q: What were some of your influences growing up?
A: My parent’s worked at camps while I was growing up. Having so many fun activities, like horses, right in your backyard is so cool. We moved around a lot so I got to experience a number of different camps. It is interesting to see how different camps operate and how many incredible ways there are to reach people with the love of God. I think growing up in the camping environment definitely influenced my love for horses, nature and people.
Q: Do you have siblings?
A: I have one brother and one sister. They are both married. My brother has two kids and one on the way. My sister just had a little girl. They live in New Zealand. All of my immediate family lives in New Zealand.
Q: How did you become a Christian?
A: I grew up in a Christian family. We went to church regularly and my parents worked in Christian camping, so I was pretty well surrounded and heard about God from a very young age. When I was about nine I was at a camp and decided to make that my personal faith too. I would have claimed I was a Christian prior to that but that’s when I remember clearly making a decision that wasn’t just my parent’s faith, it’s my faith – I do believe in God and I love Him and know He loves me.
Q: After you were an intern at Warm Beach Camp, what did you do?
A: I ended up getting married to an American. My husband, Tyler, grew up coming to Warm Beach Camp and was really involved here. Right after we were married, we went to New Zealand and worked at a horse program for three months but had to come back because Tyler had difficulty getting a visa. Tyler worked at a church in youth and young adult ministry. It wasn’t possible for both of us to be doing ministry - someone needed to work to pay the bills - so, I worked in the “business world” doing accounting, purchasing and general business administration. Which I also love – I have a passion for paperwork. While I did that, I helped Tyler in the ministries he was running.
Q: How did you get back to New Zealand?
A: We really both missed working in ministry together. I grew up in camping ministry, and to me that is the ultimate lifestyle – I think it’s a great way to show and teach people about God and also have a loving community. Tyler loves camping too. At the time when we looked into getting back into camping ministry it was the recession here so camps weren’t hiring, but in New Zealand they were. It’s always nice to see how God leads and you know it’s the right thing to do. One day I sat down and wrote a list of all the obstacles that were preventing us from going – there were probably 10 different things in the way. When we pursued going back to New Zealand we were just planning a three week trip but then all the things on the list kept getting crossed off. Within a month, every single one of the things that had been on the list for years suddenly weren’t a problem anymore. So, God opened up the doors for us to move back there.
Q: What did you do when you returned to New Zealand?
A: We worked at the horse camp where we were when we first got married. After a year and a half we moved to another camp where my husband was the Kids’ Camp Director and I helped him with the administration for the camps. Even though I loved it and it was great, I did miss the horse aspect and how much you can use horses to teach simple analogies about God - our relationship with the horse and rider and how that compares to our relationship with God. I did really miss that.
Q: When you came to America, were there things we said you didn’t understand?
A: Even though we both speak English, we say different things. I think it’s easier for New Zealander’s coming to America because we see all the American movies, so when we come here it’s not so foreign. I think people from America who go to New Zealand have a harder time understanding what different things mean. Funny things like the words and phrasings, not even the accent. If you say “this is a cruisey horse” it means they are really laid back and easy going. I often say “don’t run around the horses as you’ll give them a fright”, meaning you will startle them.
Q: What are some similarities and differences between New Zealand and here?
A: The Pacific Northwest is very similar to New Zealand, I think that’s why it has been easier for me and why I feel so at home here. The rain is definitely a similarity. Winter is wet in New Zealand, so that’s an easy adjustment to make. It’s beautiful and green most of the time. When I’m in America I miss the beaches – New Zealand has incredible beaches. Here you can drive six hours and get to a nice beach but even then it’s super windy and you have to wear a jacket – that’s just not my idea of being at a beach. You’re supposed to lay on a beach in the sun to get a tan, not a layer of sand! In the part of New Zealand where I grew up, there aren’t mountains like here. I love seeing the snow on the mountains. I never had snow where I lived in New Zealand. It was a cool experience for me the first time it snowed when I was here. It was like a dream come true.
Q: What do you like to do on your days off?
A: The funny thing is, I find myself wanting to go down to the barn on my days off, which is ridiculous considering I’m probably there more hours than I should be. But it’s hard because jumping into the role of Horsemanship Director keeps me busy doing chores and other tasks that even though I’m surrounded by horses all day, I don’t usually have much time to actually ride them. So sometimes on my days off I just want to go and ride to have fun. Other than horses, I really like to play board games - I’m very competitive! I also enjoy being out in nature seeing God’s beautiful creation. At the moment on our days off, we are mostly catching up with our friends and family we haven’t seen for a number of years, hanging out and talking a lot. I love coffee so I love being back where there is drive-thru coffee every block! I also enjoy crafts and other things, but I don’t have much time for those at the moment.
Q: Looking into the future for the Horsemanship program, are there things you would like to see happen?
A: We currently have western riding and vaulting, so I would like to see some English brought in to give kids a well-rounded experience of horses and the different things you can do with them. At the moment we have our summer programs and Saturday riding lessons and we will continue to do those and grow those programs. Also, I would like to explore other ways we can use horses all year round. I’m interested in how we can use horses to help kids that are in a difficult place in life. I recently visited Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Oregon – they work with rescued horses and at risk youth. I looked at their program for ways we may do something similar, working with kids and helping them in their life. I would like to see ways we can reach out to more kids in our community. I’m excited by the possibilities.
Q: Is there anything else you would like people to know about the impact horsemanship can have for kids?
A: A lot of people see horses as a luxury item, like it’s a fun thing to do. But it can be much more. There is so much we can teach through horses that kids often can’t learn in a classroom. Sometimes in a classroom kids shut down but when they are out on a horse you have the opportunity to input into their lives and help them overcome the struggles they are facing or help them through it. Even just brushing the horse can be soothing or relaxing, or giving them a hug and feeling its breath on their hand can take them to a different place and give them hope. I would like to find ways we can actually help change lives through it.