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Suzanne Sands

1979-1981 / Certificate of part-time studies at Diploma level (Henderson campus)

Living in the Family Flats was wonderful – friendships were formed with many like-minded people of various nationalities; working and studying together, and praying for and supporting each other; plenty of playmates for the children; the College Kindy; shared picnics out on the Green. And that reminds me of the fun-filled Annual College Picnics held at one of the beaches – cell groups worked together on the sandcastle competition.

I loved having the opportunity to study, albeit part-time. I often wished I could do it full-time. So many of the lectures – and lecturers – were stimulating and enlightening. History of Mission with Bob Glen stands out – I hadn't realised that history could be so fascinating; then Old Testament (a bit of a love-hate relationship with that!) with Bill Osborne – practising saying ‘hesed’ without covering your neighbour with spit; New Testament with Murray Harris – such a learned man who could present his material in a simple and understandable way, humble and deep and sensitive; Creative Writing with Stewart Hillman, who was so encouraging. I also appreciated the warm and caring leadership and support given by Helena Stretton and Rod Edwards, the Deans of Women and of Men respectively.

My time at College gave me a sounder understanding of the Bible and a range of subjects relating to mission, even while letting me know how little I still knew! It confirmed me in my interest in languages and language teaching as a means of ministry. It enriched my life in terms of godly models and of friendships.

After my studies I went back to family life, and continued training in English Language Teaching and tutoring migrants in English. I continued to be very involved with BCNZ, editing The Reaper magazine for about six years and teaching for some years in the Preparatory Course. Then while my husband Edward was doing further study in Brisbane, I undertook an MA in Applied Linguistics (TESOL), and taught English to foreign students at the University of Queensland.

After that we headed out to a country in Central Asia, where we served for ten fulfilling years. I taught English in a variety of contexts – in offices, colleges, university, NGOs, and at home. Among many memories, one of my happiest is of the English Bible Study group that met in our flat each week, half a dozen lovely young women working through Bible stories, singing songs like "In Christ Alone" and "See what a morning" to the music of a CD. I did some teaching in the Bible college where Edward was Rector. One subject, new to us, was Church History, which Edward and I taught together in the form of radio interviews – thank you, Bob Glen, for your inspiration for making history accessible and enjoyable! Supporting our team members was important to us too. After having to leave there we went to SE Asia for two years. As retirees we were not working there, but while learning the language we could give support to a newly-established team.

Ten years ago we returned to New Zealand, to retirement. I continued to have a good deal of involvement with Interserve – especially in editing and proofreading publications and online materials. Voluntary work with an adult literacy trust provided a new outlet, when I found that there were very few people from overseas who needed English tuition living in the village we had moved to. Since the literacy coaching was all done on Skype or phone, it didn't matter where I lived.

We now lead a quiet life, supporting family, continuing to be involved in church activities, and leading a home group. Some of our other activities like U3A, my te reo Māori class, and exercise group are intermittent, depending on Covid-related considerations. A current interest is family history, with several family trees on the go.

I am grateful to God for the enlargement and focus that my time at College gave me, for the rich and varied experiences of the years since, for the wonderful people whose lives have touched mine over the years, for the wealth of relationships with students and team members in Central Asia, and for the privilege of having friends around the world.

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