Kia ora, it’s been awhile since we’ve posted! I’m one of CCSP’s new Student Life Coordinators, Alexa. CCSP is still in Kaikoura but has moved into Sky Hi as our new home for the next few years, and the students have settled in for the next few months of learning.

Since everyone’s arrived we’ve enjoyed a comfortably full week of orientation, a long weekend away, and a week of class. During orientation week the students…

  • Went on a photo scavenger hunt around Kaikoura
  • Participated in reflective turituri (hush, be quiet)
  • Visited Kaikoura’s museum
  • Were welcomed into Takahanga Marae via pōwhiri ceremony
  • Took a trip to Hanmer Springs to relax in the hot pools
  • Visited a Permaculture farm and met Potamus the pig
    • Rachel said, “I personally really liked going to the permaculture farm. I really just appreciated seeing the way that they innovated having different plants that were not just the end product, but that helped the plants they were trying to grow. It lent a sort of chaotic feel, but in a good and wild way. It was really beautiful.”
  • Ate a delicious Iconic Tea by Lisa, complete with Pavlova
  • Helped harvest carrots and weed thyme at the Hislop’s farm
  • Watched the movie Whale Rider
  • Walked the Kaikoura Peninsula with guide Simon
    • When I asked Morgan about her favourite activity she said, “Maybe the Peninsula Walk. It was cool to see all the views and have Simon tell us about the area.”
Students on the Kaikoura Peninsula walk
  • Visited the Resource Recovery Center
  • Walked the Palmer Fyffe track with guide Barry Dunnett
    • Schuyler, “My favourite was probably the Mt. Fyffe walk. It was a blast and a half.”
Students on the Palmer Fyffe walk guided by Barry Dunnett, who has written a book about tramping around Kaikoura and been quoted multiple times in Wilderness Magazine NZ
  • Enjoyed lunch with their small groups
  • And learned about living with less with Ralph and Allie Hogan.

Jenn’s favourite activity was one I had forgotten. When I asked her, she said, “The bonfire was pretty fun,” which it absolutely was. Thanks to Jenn and Schuyler, we were serenaded by the sounds of ukulele and guitar at a beach bonfire while we appreciated the ocean, moon, and stars.

While enjoying planned (and unplanned) orientation week activities the students were deciding where to go on their first weekend away from Kaikoura. The long weekend trip allows students to get a bit of New Zealand exploring in early on in the semester. Charity, Jenn, Mark, Morgan, and Rachel spent the weekend up North in Picton while Kyle, Nate, and Schuyler went up to Picton and then chased the surf Southward. Mark relayed his group’s story to me.

The Picton Crew (Rachel, Jenn, Mark, Morgan, and Charity) is all smiles on a hike

“We took the bus up there and had a kind of funny coincidence. On the bus there were only us and one other lady with her three kids. We saw her once in Picton and she rode back on the same bus as us. We rode on the bus then had to walk two miles to our hostel, and when we got there we got chocolate pudding and ice cream.

The next day we went on our day hike and I fell in the mud, but it was fun and we saw some seals.

The next day we went sea kayaking and several times found ourselves in a pod of dolphins and a gaggle of seals who were feeding on the fish below. They were going under the kayaks and jumping out of the water and it was kind of scary but cool. Eddie the one eyed seal poked his head out of the water only five feet away from my kayak—he stared at me and started coming towards my kayak and I freaked out but then he left.

Morgan and Charity sea kayaking

The next day was annoyingly rainy so we just walked around, looked at the shops, and played games in cafes until we had to get on the bus again.”

Jenn also told me that they went to the aquarium after kayaking and were the only visitors at the time. The employee on duty took out a tuatara just for them and they got to pet it. They learned that tuataras have one heartbeat only every 15min or so.

The tuatara that the Picton crew met

Kyle told me about their group’s trip which was all about the surf.

The Surf Crew (Nate, Kyle, and Schuyler–not pictured here but photo creds @Schuyler)

“We started out going to Whites Bay, then up to Picton, and then drove Port Underwood road that went around the NE corner down to Robin’s Hood bay where we stayed the night and surfed.

We went to Ward’s beach, Awatere River, and finally Mungamanu and then stayed in that area. We surfed at Kahutara and then it was time to come back to Kaikoura. It was pretty awesome. The best waves were at Kahutara Sunday evening. I would say 5ft or 6ft.

We saw a kinkajou and lots of wekas. Other than going to the amazing bays and surfing and camping there, the best part was driving Port Underwood road. The road was on the coast and it was high up above the water, and it was just amazing that they were able to get a road there. It was a really scenic drive.”

Nate added, “I think my favourite part was grabbing fresh mussels and eating them for dinner.”

All staff and students had Sunday tea together and participated in foot-washing during community night.

The students just completed their first week of class—Sustainable Community Development with Dr. Michael Duncan. Mick’s life story and faith journey are intertwined with his course. The difficult topics addressed and new ideas presented can be emotionally heavy for students; but if they approach the topics with open minds and hearts it can be very rewarding.

When asked about her favourite part of the course Charity said, “I like how he talked about how his life applied to what we were learning. I liked that he talked a lot about going to places of disorder and establishing order.”

And when asked about his Mark said, “I loved his openness to telling difficult stories. He has such a passion for the poor and it really shows through his personality.”

Mick will return during the last week in September for week two of SCD and to debrief the students’ Wellington field trip.

It’s a sunny, late-Sunday arvo as I write this, and I am happy to report that although students did not have a long weekend to travel, they still took advantage of and enjoyed their time off. Yesterday Rachel, Mark, and I ran a water station for the Whale Run, a 10k and half-marathon run that had over 500 entrants. Schuyler ran the half-marathon at an impressive pace, coming in 49th with no prior serious training. We all spent the afternoon in cafes or otherwise relaxing, except for Nate, Kyle, and our intern, Dayton, who climbed Mount Fyffe together. Nate relayed a funny story of their tramp to me…

Mt. Fyffe Crew (Nate, Dayton, and Kyle)

…they made it up to the hut where they would be sleeping for the night and got comfortable, but when they went to make tea realised they had too few utensils, a proper knife for cutting steak (they were attempting to use a butter knife), and too few pans. A man named Ben who was making himself a nice ramen-looking dinner of noodles and meat, “did everything he could to make their lives easy,” Kyle said (Ben gave them utensils, a knife, and a pan). Ben’s made-up bowl was sitting on the floor and Nate needed to go outside but accidentally clipped the edge of the bowl with his foot, ruining most of Ben’s dinner. The consolation? They shared their tea meal with Ben.

Above the clouds

This morning I dropped Mark off at Mount Fyffe—he planned to summit and climb back down the other side today. However, a rock slip cut his hike short. While the other students and I attended New Life church, the other guys made it back from their hike without issue. This afternoon naps were had by most. And, what do you know… Ben rocked up for tea!

I think we’re all enjoying the pace of life here in Kaikoura.

Sunrise over the Kaikoura Esplanade


All of the photos in this post were provided by this semester’s CCSP students. Remember to follow our adventures on Instagram @creationcsp, and check out our website at!


A fond farewell

It’s hard for me to believe that ten months ago, I (Lex, SLC) was on a plane headed for my new home in Kaikoura, New Zealand. Now, with my responsibilities as a CCSP staff member wrapping up, I’m getting ready to say goodbye to not only the people here and the memories I’ve made, but also the plants, land, and animals here in town. I haven’t always liked goodbyes, but this one in particular will be hard.

I think I’ve gotten to know the earth and soil in this little corner of the planet so much more than any other place I’ve ever lived. I’ve learned how to harvest kale, what it feels like to lose 5 games of Rummikub in a row to the one and only Willie van Hoof, and how to cook. I’ve learned to appreciate both the easy and tough things about living in an intentional community, and how to take time to myself when I need it. The past two semesters have been so influential to me, and have definitely shaped me as an individual, but also as an earthling.



These are some of the things I will deeply miss from the past few months:

  • sharing a French press with Courtnay (and Arin, Sabrina, Teri, Katie, Ellie, Lilly, and sometimes Laura)
  • peanut butter & budlet toast with Laura
  • painting in the craft room with Teri
  • watching movies on Friday nights
  • eating endless amounts of popcorn
  • joking with Adriannea about when the sun is out and when the moon is out
  • School of Rock, Nacho Libre and Monty Python: the Holy Grail at the church
  • trips to the beach or Seal colony to look for cateyes, sea glass and paua
  • coffee dates with Emma Jane
  • listening to Pentatonix, J. Bieber and Beyonce on car rides with Arin riding shotgun
  • taunting Landon with Arin and Ryan as we drop him off for a run
  • swimming at the beach when the weather got too hot
  • seeing Dusky dolphins from our porch
  • trips to Ngatiawa
  • walking to Hislops for a chai latte
  • Riverdale episodes with Adriannea
  • watching Downton Abbey with Lisa, Cat Pat and Nicki
  • playing ukulele with Matthew Lee
  • going to Thai Siam with Teri, Katie and Landon and watching LOTR over takeout
  • popcorn dates with Katie on the steps of the Presbyterian church
  • reading upstairs with a cup of tea
  • Ethiopian night (thanks Ellie, Sabrina and Laura!)
  • morning prayers with Court, Arin, Laura, Sabrina and Landon
  • going to the penguin colony with Jody
  • homemade forts with games and treats
  • listening to Kelly play the piano
  • sitting in the coffee-tea kitchen in the sun
  • petting our neighborhood cat, Felipa/Penelope
  • sitting on the beach talking with Kelsey and Karoline
  • cooking chickpea burgers for 15 people
  • sitting around the fire for breakfast
  • going to the Lookout
  • Saturday morning breakfasts with Lisa
  • kayaking and paddle boarding
  • taking trips back to the Convent with Landon
  • meals with the Churnsides, the van Hoofs, the Hursts, Repekah, Bronwyn and Ezra
  • cups of tea/coffee and biscuits after church






Farewell for now, friends, family, animals, soil, garden at the marae, neighbors, Anglican Church, the beach, sleeping on surfing beaches. I bid you all a very fond farewell…

-Lex Draut

Reading Week Spring ’18

It’s reading week here at Dolphin Lodge. I love to read, and so the idea of spending an entire week reading ahead in our school books excites me. We haven’t spent all our time reading, though. There are also assignments to be written, and fun to be had. They told us in the pre-arrival letters to be prepared to re-learn how to “recreate” without technology, but I wasn’t prepared for how much fun it is to spend time together without electronics (except for music, which is always a good thing to have).

Before I jump into reading week, I would like to recap the weekend. CCSP arranges it so that we don’t have assignments over the weekends, which means that a lot of us students are enjoying “real” weekends for the first time in a long time. Landon, Heather, Teri, and I kicked off our Saturday with some surfing on the point. It was Teri and I’s first time surfing, and it was so exciting to be out in the waves with the other surfers pretending we knew what we were doing. We got back from surfing just in time to head to mini golf with the whole crew! I spent a lot of vacation time growing up playing putt-putt, and so it was great to get a chance to play again. Everyone ended up doing quite well, despite a couple balls hitting the nearby shrubs. 😉

My favorite part of the weekend has to be Saturday night, when Lex, Landon, and all of the students were all hanging out in the living room. We did a variety of things, like coloring, journaling, talking, and doing a puzzle. I just can’t get over how much fun it was to relax and be creative all together. We laughed so much that night, and I went to bed full of thankfulness for the opportunity to live in community with such great people, in such a beautiful place.

I have a tendency to go into too much detail, so I won’t recount every detail about Sunday, but my favorite parts of Sunday were leading worship at the Anglican church (a hilarious experience) and reading The Fellowship of the Ring on the window seat upstairs.

On to the actual week, finally! After we had our reading week debriefing on Monday, we all went separate ways to begin reading. We went to the marae garden to work after lunch and had our first Te Reo Maori class after dinner. Tuesday, I went to poetry class with Lex, went with Landon, Jonathan, Teri, Lex and Heather to read on the beach at the point while others surfed, and then we had Te Reo again. On Wednesday, some of us had a Valentine’s Day sunrise picnic before coming back and doing more school work. Then, we celebrated Jonathan and Kat’s Birthdays with burgers, games, headstands, handmade icecream (with homemade hot fudge and candied almonds), and Pavlova! It was so much fun celebrating them and eating good food. On Thursday we spent most of our time doing school work and then had Te Reo again in the evening. Friday was spent preparing (with a brief beach break) for our Te Reo Exam and presentations in the evening.

So, you could say it’s been a good week. One full of learning about the Maori culture and language, fun times, and reading. A week of further bonding as a community and of learning how to balance school time with fun time in this beautiful location. I can honestly say that so far this experience a student with CCSP has been one of the best in my life. Here’s to more growing in our wisdom, our faith, and our friendships.

A Weekend Away

Greetings from Kaikoura, New Zealand! We’ve just gotten back from a long weekend of tramping. (That’s Kiwi for backpacking.) One group went to Lake Angelus and the other group, the one I was a part of, had planned to go to Mount Owen in Kaharungi National Park. When we got to the information center, however, they informed us that the impending weather meant that we should consider changing our plants. We also didn’t rent a four-wheeled vehicle which meant that we would have had to walk an extra eight miles that afternoon in order to get to the trailhead, so that was a no go. Instead, we decided to stay in Nelson National Park and do a tramp there. New Zealand has this awesome network of tramping huts all over the country that only cost $5-$15 a night and they’re right on the trail, so it makes it a bit more accessible to people and certainly made things a bit easier for us. We bought some hut passes, took a picture of the map on the wall because we didn’t want to buy a paper map, and headed on our way. Overall, the trails were gorgeous. We walked through forests covered in ferns, mosses, and mushrooms in many colors. Here’s a picture of what some of the trail looked like:


The change of plans turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however. On our way to our second hut, we met a couple from France who said that they had just stayed at that hut and that there was an amazing waterfall only an hour’s hike from the hut. Once we got to the hut, we warmed up by the fireplace, dried our socks, and decided to go find that waterfall. Despite being pretty tired from a long day’s hike, the thought of a pretty cool waterfall pushed us forward and once we got there, we were certainly glad that we had. Not only was there a waterfall tumbling down and weaving its way between rocks, surround by lush greenery, but directly opposite was the biggest, most impressive valley I had ever seen. We were all speechless. Standing in between that waterfall and the mountains towering ahead of me, I felt small. There aren’t adequate words in the English language to try and describe the experience of being there, but in an effort to, I will say that it was a manifestation of the grandeur of God, played out in His creation. It reminded me just how small I am and just how grand and majestic my God is. It is the kind of experience you impress upon every corner of your brain, hoping it will never leave you. Following are a couple of pictures I took in an attempt to capture this beauty:





Besides the amazing views, the trip proved to be a fun time between friends, both new and old. There were six of us, each with a very important role that was essential to the group. Those six roles were as follows:

  • Honorable Toilet Paper Carrier
  • Master Chef
  • Just and Fair Pathfinder
  • Spunky Conversation Instigator
  • Human Garbage Can
  • Bug Attractant

As you can see, we had all the necessary components of a functioning team and it was a pretty great trip. So, if you ever get the chance to go on a tramping trip in New Zealand with people you just met a week ago, I say do it.


–  post written by Ellie Jasper, CCSP student from Dordt College

Kayaking with Dolphins!

Well everyone came to Kaikoura with this amazing dream of seeing all the sea life. Each of us had the wonderful opportunity to go kayaking. When we went out we went with the hopes of seeing dolphins. We went out over the course of a few days. The first group was Karoline, Matthew, Courtnay and myself. It was amazing. We went out at about 9:30am to Gooches Beach. When we got there it was a little overcast but it was beautiful. I was in a bright blue rain jacket and Karoline was in bright red. We got the yellow kayak which turned out for some pretty fun pictures.


Honestly all we wanted was to be out on the water and taking in all the views of Kaikoura. The first sight we saw was some amazing jelly-fish! They were a spectacular orange and some were blue. We went right through a kelp forest which was so picturesque!


As we continued to paddle out we saw our first dorsal fin! It was a pod of Dusky Dolphins. They were so close it was amazing. When they finally swam away we had squealed and laughed at each one. We started to paddle back in to shore Karoline and I had a little bit of a hard time. We started to paddle and we went well…nowhere. We were not moving. Courtnay and Matthew were having the opposite problem they were motoring to shore. Karoline and I went in a bunch of circles. When we finally got going again we weren’t moving very fast but then we saw another fin! Well the squeals came and we started paddling harder. Fun fact about Karoline, when she gets excited her shoulders go up and her paddle just skims the water and the person in the back, me, takes a little shower! It was amazing! As we raced over the water we saw more and more dolphins! As we got closer we realized the dolphins were all around Court and Matthew. When Karoline and I finally caught up we were surrounded by happy playful dusky’s! I stretched my hand into the water and could feel the waves and the water move as the dolphins swam by. It was by far one of the coolest experiences ever.



During our week of environmental literature with Amy she said to us, “knowing at this moment we are in a memory.” That stuck in the moment with the all of the dolphins jumping around us and the laughs of Karoline and smiles on Courtnay and Matthews faces. This was one of the many blessings from the Lord this semester. Now, the semester is over and we have returned to the states. Being back in Colorado is amazing but I will never forget the memories that were created in the moment with those dolphins and amazing friends.



sacred spaces

Almost three months ago now, I moved to Kaikoura, New Zealand. It was my second time moving here, but this time instead of planning to be here for four months, it was going to be almost a year. Almost a year of having my phone on airplane mode and always seeking easy wifi access. Almost a year of being away from my family and my first Christmas not at home decorating the tree the day after Thanksgiving and drinking hot chocolate by the fire. Almost a year of keeping in touch via Skype, FaceTime, Whatapp video calls or basically whatever app works at the time.

Yet, while I said goodbye to many things that I’ve always known (living in the States, being surrounded by people I know, being in a familiar landscape), I also was saying hello to a new year. I was entering into a year living below Kaikoura’s beautiful Mount Fyffe, a year of living in intentional community (that can be equally frustrating and beautiful and growing), a year of learning in a place that I love and have been longing to return to since I left it in May of 2016.


About two weeks after I arrived, so did eight wonderful new friends who quickly came to be like family. Kelsey, Karoline, Kelly, Robyn, Matthew, Dan, Lilly and Adriannea quickly became Kels, Karl/Karol, Kel, Kobyn/Kob/Rob-Kob, Machu, Dan-O the Man-O, Lil, and Aid (even if sometimes I’m the only one who calls them that). Living in Dolphin Lodge with these new people became my norm, and a place where I felt safe and known. Days were filled with class sessions, reading, making up silly songs on the guitars/uke, playing card games, going on walks downtown, baking after tea, and riding bikes to church.

These few months have been very different than when I was a student here. For starters, I’m on staff now and instead of being a carefree goofball, I actually have responsibilities. I have to set an example, and the closer I become to those around me, the more I realise I am a flawed, broken person. I have had to grow in patience, because living with fifteen people in a cozy little hostel right next to town is not always the easiest, especially compared to a spacious Old Convent in the farmland where I previously lived. I’ve had to learn not to have expectations or compare, but to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving and joy during this time of my life.

And while it’s been challenging and hard and frustrating at times, it’s been a wonderfully sweet season. I’ve been able to make new friends, both within CCSP and in the local community. I’ve discovered more of who I am as an individual. I’ve learned to cook! I have learned ins and outs of gardening in a country whose seasons are opposite to those at home. I’ve worked on finding joy in chores, volunteering, and serving others. I have found delight in weeding even the most overgrown gardens.


About two years ago when I was a student here at CCSP, my friends Lisa, Johanna and I created a garden. Maybe we didn’t so much create it, as shaped it. It was already there, but you couldn’t tell from looking at it. It was overgrown with branches, weeds, and layers of dead leaves. For two or three weeks, we pulled weeds, raked up leaves, trimmed branches, and cut the edges of the bushes. We laid down weed mat, poured mulch and wood chips on top, created a gravel path, and put a couple of chairs and a bench in the middle. We got an old wheelbarrow to be the centrepiece of the garden, planted with purple and red flowers, and used old ceramic pots for some succulents. To finish it all off, we got mdeium-sized white stones, wrote on them a verse for every person at the Convent that semester, and placed them in the shape of a koru at the entrance of the garden. It wasn’t perfect or a magazine-worthy garden, but it was a sacred space. It had become a place I longed to be, to sit and enjoy the birds singing and appreciate life in all sorts of forms.

In some ways, I feel like this is the process that our lives follow. The Creator of all things, who also created us, sees us as the overgrown gardens we are. And yet he doesn’t leave us like that. Over the course of years, he cuts off edges of impatience, judgment and disapproval. He pulls weeds of arrogance, pride, and selfishness; he trims off past hurts and plants flowers of love and grace. He replaces branches of envy with the weed mat of joy and gratitude. And though we never reach perfection, we are allowed to become sacred spaces, places where joy and peace and shalom are present. One of the most beautiful things about it is not the end result, but the process: the process of living and growing and learning and being willing to be shaped by a sovereign Creator is a sacrament in itself.

I feel like living here at CCSP is like that – it’s hard and it hurts at times, and we can become blatantly honest or rude with each other. But we also are being shaped into beautiful people that, fortunately enough, are able to grow together. We are able to learn to see beauty in what used to upset us and love in gentle ways. Like ivy, we intertwine together, but also live and thrive individually. And it doesn’t matter if we are student, staff, friend of the program, local of the Kaikoura community, or family member – we are all the same, we are all growing, and we all have the chance to become sacred and safe spaces for each other, for the Creator, for creation, and for ourselves. What a lovely process to be able to be a part of, and to share.

– Alexis (Lex) Draut

Till Next Time

Snow catching the first rays of sunrise

The month of May has flown by and winter has claimed New Zealand. A few weeks ago we said a tearful goodbye to the students and sent them off with loads of awesome memories. Though it’s sad to let them go it’s exciting to know they’re equipped to change their corners of the world and continue God’s work of shalom.

The Dolphin Lodge is now eerily quiet (though I’m sure the neighbors are enjoying it). The town of Kaikoura is settling in for a busy winter; it is hosting 300 workers who will repair the roads and open up access to the north again. They are housed in a temporary village and while it might mean less rest for locals it will also mean more business for those in food service who will be providing meals for the workers. On the workers’ end, Kaikoura is not too shabby of a place to be stuck for a few months!

Four of us staff have also finished our time with CCSP. Those staying will be joined by a new Program Administrator and two SLCs in August. Soon enough they’ll be welcoming a new crew of students to make more fun memories at Dolphin Lodge!  

As for me, well, I’ll be passing the administration of this blog on to the next staff member. I have no plans to return to New Zealand… yet. Somehow I think I’ll always find a way back. So rather than say goodbye, I’ll say “till we meet again.” It’s been a fantastic semester and I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse into it.

This is Essie signing off.


The Kaikoura ranges from the air