Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Minister = boring... Yeah right! Don't think so.

It is funny that in a social setting people often do not know how to talk with ministers. They hear that you are a minister and look for an excuse to escape. This is especially true if you are an old minister, like I am. They expect "boring"!  But I am an almost 64 year old church minister and I do not find life boring. What follows is a quick march through some events in my week from Sunday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.
Sunday afternoon... 12 August... Went to Ross Home elderly persons rest home and conducted a service using power points and video clips for hymns. It was a lot of work to set up the stereo, computer and data projector, but the positive feedback was overwhelming.
Monday... After running around on Monday morning checking some things out for the night shelter, I was asked to appear on the local TV station to be interviewed about the Night Shelter that evening. It was a new experience being interviewed live in the TV news. I did not do too bad.
Tuesday.... Went into the office and received a phone call from a man wanting me to take him into the ED department at the hospital. I did and ended up hosting this man in my office for the greater part of the day. Both he and his wife were ill and going through a rough time. I picked up some pills from the hospital pharmacy and delivered him home by 3 p.m.
- I visited fire stations where I learned that one of the fire fighters was gravely ill after a heart attack during in the weekend. I listened to many reactions to this news as I went on my rounds.
Wednesday... After an hour or so of reading and service preparation I had coffee with a woman prison chaplain who was keen for me to do some work among released prisoners. For once I said "no". (or not yet)   At 2p.m. I went on a shopping spree buying bedding, carpet and other stuff for Phoenix Lodge at the Night Shelter. We are setting up a seven bedroom house for short term three month stays, and I am keen to get it going. I was driven around in a Mercedes V6 with all sorts of extras. The driver, my friend John, could talk to the car and it would dial numbers or give him street directions to get to an address. It had fancy GPS built in and heaps of other features. Upon returning to the office a call from my brother who was at Brisbane airport, had me visiting my nephew at 5 p.m. to check out a funny noise in his car. "He does not know much about cars so needs some guidance." Off I went in the rain to play mechanic.
Thursday... In the morning I had an important meeting of some of the Night Shelter Trustees. We dealt with some tricky issues in preparation for the Trust Board meeting that night. I had arranged a stand in chairman for the evening meeting.
- The evening for me was spent at Speights brewery as their workplace chaplain, at a function to hear about new developments they are working on there. I spent a couple of hours on the brew floor having a couple of beers and nibbles and chatting with various people. I was warmly greeted by an ex-firefighter and his wife and we caught up on each other's life. It was an enjoyable night. I learned too that a fire fighter had been taken to hospital with a broken leg so I texted with him.
Friday... Visiting St John Ambulance at lunch time I spoke with mechanics who are to be made redundant at the end of the month. It is a sad time for them. I found myself fixing the coffee machine in the kitchen there. I transported some medication to Tuesday's sick man and briefly chatted. Then two and a half hours of visiting fire stations followed with some "heavy" conversations. I finished the day at the drop-in centre until 9:30 / 10 p.m. where about 40 people called through. I talked with many and played table tennis with about three different guys. A teenager I played with seemed to glow with his success. The more he grew in confidence the wider his smile went. One man who walked in I had not seen for about a year. He had been gravely ill, but he looked well and sober. I have known him for a long time and he greeted me with warmth and respect. I could not help but remember the various incidents we had been involved in together over the years where drink or drugs had the better of him.
Saturday... most of Saturday was spent at home, but in the afternoon I went to the medal presentations at the Fire Station. The fire fighters receive medals for their years of service. I enjoyed the time because I could catch up on so many of them and meet their wives. I also caught up on a number of retired fire fighters who greeted me warmly. I felt important and included.
Sunday... I led the morning service and mostly it went well. As I was leaving the service I had a phone call from Tuesday's sick man. He had ended up with stomach problems and had spent much of the night on the toilet. Then the toilet blocked up! Knowing that I was once a plumber he asked if I could assist. I had a speedy lunch and went up. I was so fortunate. I found the appropriate cleaning eye, managed to unscrew it and had the drain unblocked in a matter of minutes. (Without getting my hands dirty)  It looked so impressive!
A walk with my friend finished the afternoon.

Rest Home service to brewery brew floor conversations. A live TV interview to unblocking poo in a household drain. Deep conversations with emergency service personnel, to table tennis and soup with mental health patients. Dealing with Night Shelter issues through to checking out a nephew's car. Preparing and presenting a church service to doing things for a sick couple. It is challenging, life enhancing and not "boring elderly minister" stuff.  These are just the broad brush strokes of my week. I have felt under pressure and stressed but I am grateful for the range of experiences my lifestyle leads me into.

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