Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Constant dripping..."

When I was about 21 years old and decided to change my career path from plumbing, I took a nostalgic bike ride around town with a camera taking photos of all the significant buildings I had worked on as a plumber. I have since lost those, but there was something precious knowing e.g. that the toilets in the Clinical Services building were working because I put pipes in there. I felt proud and a little surprised about the work I had done and the contribution I had made toward the functioning of these buildings. I have crammed a heap into this past week. It has been a week from hell in someways... but it has also been a week in which I have sensed moments of satisfaction.

On Tuesday I met with a woman who is writing an article about our next Habitat for Humanity build. I was asked questions about what we have done in Dunedin. As I reviewed the twelve houses we have built, all the hours of work both behind the scenes and on site since 1995 came to mind. I was part of establishing Habitat, raising funds, gathering volunteers. Have we housed twelve families? Really? When did that happen? I, little old muddling Dave Brown have been a part of THAT? Wow! And yesterday I was part of a meeting with Mega store management, making plans to build the thirteenth house in their car park.

The chairman of the night shelter trust was stuck in Thailand with the unrest there and it became evident that I as deputy chair had to create a report and run the Annual General Meeting. As I looked through old reports and reviewed the year in question, I could not help getting nostalgic. A few years ago there was no night shelter in Dunedin. About four of us who had contact with people likely to need a night shelter had lunch together. Another few lunchtime meetings, then a public meeting and now we have had a night shelter in Dunedin for the last three years. We now employ two staff members and at the AGM we received positive feed back from some people in the community. We have had battles, resignations, ups and downs but it is unfolding and little old, average, muddling Dave Brown has been a part of that!

I have been working toward our twentieth Christmas day community dinner at the church. The phone has been ringing with familiar friends booking in, sometimes catching up. I have been explaining our processes to potential volunteers again and again. It is all happening again. Twenty years of Christmas dinners! Unbelievable! Our first invitations were printed on a blotchy old "Gestetner". I typed them up on an old portable typewriter. Computers were a very rare commodity and very limited in capacity. Cell phones were not around. Twenty years of planning, of phone calls, of meeting people, celebrating with people, and cleaning up. Unbelievable! Yet little old, ex-plumber, slow typing, slow thinking Dave Brown has been a part of that!

We can make a difference if we persist in our muddling! Never doubt the Grace of God! Never doubt that there is a mysterious movement at work among people of good will. I had a college lecturer who tried to teach me Greek. His oft repeated words of encouragement were, "Constant dripping wears away the stone." Yep Clinty, you were right!

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