Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Give me some men who are stout hearted men..."

I watched a rugby Test
Lately I have been very worried and stressed out about the Night Shelter. My wife has been keen to visit my family members in beautiful Central Otago, so insisted that a trip away from Dunedin would do me good. We drove into Central on Saturday morning and drove home again via a different route on Monday morning.  We had Saturday evening meal with my two Central Otago brothers and their wives in Cromwell. It was the first time we had spent decent time together this year.  We stayed at my brother's lifestyle block near Alexandra and on Sunday morning I got to watch the final All Black Rugby test for the year.  They were playing the Welsh team, and my brother and I got up early to watch the game. (They have Sky TV - something we do not have.)  It certainly is a nice part of the country and I enjoyed the company, the scenery and the break.
The Clyde Dam and surrounding hills in Central Otago.
An historic country store.
Richie McCaw heroic NZ All Black rugby legend. 
This is retirement?
I am chairman of the local Night Shelter Trust. It is hard going at the moment. There are always issues just in the day to day running of the shelter. It is really the nature of the beast, the people we deal with and the agencies we relate to.  We have also got a further project called Phoenix lodge where ex-prisoners have guided accommodation as they restart their lives. We are trying to run both on a shoestring budget. We have to rely on grants we apply for and people who donate funds. We are also in the midst of trying to raise a big amount of money to purchase our buildings. There is endless work with that and a deadline of next October to have at least $595,000 in the building purchase account. But the latest issue to emerge recently is that because of the timing of grant applications we could have a cash flow problem over the Christmas/ New Year period. We will have to pay rent and staff wages and it looks like in a couple of months we could be $12000 short before new funds come in.  I came back from my overseas trip looking forward to retirement. In my mind I looked forward to gardening, walking, biking, maybe some rock fishing and doing some free time stuff as well as have this Night Shelter Trust responsibility and the few hours of chaplaincy I have each week. It is not turning out that way. The work component of my life is all consuming.  It is not just the work involved, but the stress. I am out of my comfort zone. There are so many uncertainties. I find myself awake at night stressing out about the problems. This is not retirement as I thought it would be! I had envisaged a time when I could get enough exercise, more balance and fewer stressors so that I could get on top of my blood pressure issues! Even as I type this there are emails coming in from Trustees with opinions and "things we should do".
Give it up!
At a meeting we had with an ex mayor recently he said, "If it is not fun,... if you are out of your comfort zone.. if you feel like it's a duty then you should not be doing it!" ... I grinned and under my breath said, "Well that's me out!" When this latest crisis emerged I really felt like giving up. I had asked about the issue a month earlier because I can read the numbers, but had received assurances that it would be OK. Now, however, I am stressed to the max trying to muster funds for the shelter to survive.  The other day I found myself saying, "I can't do this! I'm going to give up!" ... But I do not see a queue of people to pass the ball to?
Two encouraging messages...
I got up at 3 a.m. the other night stewing about the Night Shelter predicament. It is a bad look running out of money! My ever patient wife made a hot drink and offered comforting words. "We have had 40 odd years of ministry with all sorts of projects. You have helped establish Habitat for Humanity in Dunedin, building thirteen houses. We did twenty five Christmas Day dinners... You will work your way through this too!" My Night Shelter mate John in an email reminded us of the saying.. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"  Then I read about Richie McCaw the current All Black captain. He is captain of the All Black rugby team. He has just played his 100th test as captain. I know rugby is not known throughout the world, but in anyone's book he is a top world class athlete and leader. But after a defeat of his team in his 23rd game as captain that put New Zealand out of the World Cup, he nearly gave up. Here is a report about that time...

"I questioned whether I was good enough to do it or the right person to do it," he said this week, reflecting on a low point of his stellar career.
Confiding with his parents was followed by a period of soul-searching as the fallout from the tournament swirled around him.
Finally came the realisation he would have a lifetime of regret if he walked away from the job.
"You can either man up and get on with it or drift away and remember that experience as one you couldn't handle," he told NZ Newswire.

In the past when it got tough to do stuff I have dug deep and continued. I have persevered when others flagged. I have decided to do that once again with the night shelter.
The second message came as I was flicking through some films I have stored on my computer. I have Barbara Streisand singing, "Give me some men who are stout hearted men, who will fight for the right they adore. Start me with ten who are stout hearted men, and I'll soon give you ten thousand more." We used to sing that at secondary school assemblies. It is the whole concept of a team working together for a good purpose. I am part of that. I love being part of the Night Shelter Trust team.  I have enjoyed friendship there as together we have tackled issues. More than that, we are starting to see the people of the city take ownership of the Night Shelter. There are groups and individuals wanting to do things to help finance us or support us in some way, and a part of the stress of my job as chairman has been actually finding ways to fit people in.  I will continue because I am part of a team of very special people. It is not retirement as I envisaged it, but that time will come. Just now the Night Shelter needs any help it can get, even from average me.

No comments: