Sun, birdsong and beauty thumbnails.
Here are some pictures from my life in NZ over the last few days;
* Coming home to Sawyers Bay, 10-15 minutes out of the city centre and hardly hearing a sound. In the midst of bush and farmland we have a great place to withdraw to after busy days.
* Riding my bike beside the Otago Harbour. The green hills, the sea, the bays are simply beautiful.
* I came home from a run and climbed out of the car and was struck by the birdsong coming out of the trees and bush all around. I never heard such birdsong overseas.
* Lying on the grass verge by my car in the sun, soaking up its warmth. A week ago at the same time I was running into a cold rain almost blowing horizontally. It is never the same, but some how that is good to.
In spite of an earthquake in Christchurch and the tragic Pike River Mine Disaster, New Zealand is a beautiful place to live.
29 lives lost in the Pike River mine and other tragic lives lost.
I have been very sad about the 29 men who lost their lives in the Pike River mine disaster. It has struck a deep chord with us in NZ. There are condolence books to sign. We are raising money for the families. We are lighting candles and holding church services. It has hit us in NZ very hard and there is a public outpouring of grief. There are people wanting an enquiry and wanting to know what happened and why it happened. All sorts of sentimental messages are being sent around about the 29 dead which are loving and an expression of support. As nice as these are, they do not change the harsh reality that 29 dads, sons, partners, husbands, uncles and friends are dead. It is very sad.
It has hit us because in a moment 29 lives were wiped out. I do not want to detract from the tragedy in anyway, what I want to say is let's use this tragedy to truly value human life. Let me put beside it other sad statistics though. Because of our gung-ho attitude toward driving we kill over 29 people on our roads every month! Do we grieve these lives? We should be just as shocked and distraught at this tragic waste of life. We will demand that mines be safer because of the tragedy at Pike River. But do I let the monthly death toll on our roads change my aggressive driving habits? Another statistic is that if we add another 10 to 29, we get roughly the number of people (including children) killed in family violence in a year in NZ. (There must be heaps more injuries and other hurts)
The mine and these statistics are VERY sad. People are valuable! Let's do all we can to keep them alive, enhance their living and make them know they are valuable.
I am often frustrated with my life. I often ask myself or God "Why can't I be pastor to some wildly growing church?" I find myself wondering if I am "successful"? But lately I have been reminded of some positives.
* At lunch time we dropped a man off at his boarding house and as we drove away I said to my wife, "He's a different man than what he used to be isn't he?" It is true, and I have been a big part of that. How good is that?
* I have had several people, now adults with families, who were in youth groups I have run come up to me and say that my ministry has given them a good basis for their life. How good is that?
* On Friday I asked a fire fighter how he was. "I am much better now after talking to you the other day." I thought he was just joking but he was serious. As far as he was concerned, simply by listening, I had helped him greatly. He said, "That's how it works! That's why we have you." How good is that?
* My wife and I counted up relatively new faces within the orbit of our church life and the contribution these people are making. There was a surprising number on the list.
* I met a woman who was a lecturer at a social work course I did in 1994. As we caught up and talked, I began to tell her the various things I had been involved in since then. I realised that there have been a lot of good things I had been fortunate enough to achieve.
That's enough. At the moment I feel deeply fulfilled. That is a very rewarding. I might get grumpy next week but just now, life is sweet.
* A shrub in our backyard
* The Silver Peaks hills near here.
* A view from our back paddock. NZ - a nice place to live.