|Friday breakfast in Timaru, about halfway to Christchurch.|
|Our bedroom van beside our "kitchen, lounge, dining room" in Christchurch.|
|Theodore Tobias Brown - is it two years since a rocked you to sleep on the first day of your life?|
|The main street of Oxford township - busier than it was in my youth.|
|A cup of tea under a tree - about halfway home.|
|My prized $2 tool from the secondhand shop.|
Last Friday was "Waitangi Day" in New Zealand. It is the time when we celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, a treaty between the "Crown" and the Maori, signed on 6th February back in 1840. We have a holiday on that day. It is still a pretty important document in terms of the relationship between Maori and the rest of us who belong in New Zealand. I value our history and think that overall we have done reasonably well in our race relationships in New Zealand when compared with how other nations have treated indigenous peoples. There are valid grievances, some terrible events and attitudes in our history and still today there can be racism expressed, often unconsciously. I like Waitangi Day. It was once called New Zealand day. I think it is good to value the road we have traveled to become New Zealand and the reminder of our special partnership with Maori.
Because it was a holiday I did not have to do chaplaincy on Friday. We decided to drive toward Christchurch, 361 Kilometres away, on Thursday afternoon. Our grandson there had his second birthday over the weekend. We stopped for the night about half way up. We have a queen-sized mattress in the back of the van and camping equipment. On Friday morning we traveled the rest of the way to Christchurch. We enjoyed time with our son, daughter-in-law and grandson. They visited us at our campsite and we visited where they lived with her parents. It is special visiting and spending time with family, and retirement allows us to do a bit more of that.
The long way home...
On the Sunday we drove back to Dunedin, but we went a long way home. We drove out to the township of Oxford. My wife's family used to have a holiday house there ("bach" or "crib" depending on what part of New Zealand you come from.) In our youth, before we were married and as young marrieds we had spent warm holidays there. We enjoyed a walk down memory lane as we drove around the township, though we saw many changes that had happened. We then drove down highway 72, the "Alpine Scenic route" through the centre of the South Island of New Zealand. It runs beside the foothills of the Southern Alps. It was a very hot sunny day and the countryside looked fantastic. We stopped at the township Mayfield, that boasts a big secondhand store. It is heaped with old treasures, books, clothing, tools, machinery and countless other bits and pieces. I was looking for a particular old and rare tool. I did not find it but I loved the looking. I enjoy old tools and machines. We traveled on to end up on State Highway 1, and called into another secondhand shop in the township of Hampden. It is full of tools. I was in seventh heaven and among the screwdrivers I found the little tool I was looking for. I took it to the counter and to my surprise the woman knew exactly what it was and still only charged me two dollars for it. I need it for a project at home. We carried on home, pleased with our time spent with family, valuing the natural beauty of our country and valuing our "bedroom van" which makes such trips cheaper, and somehow rebellious fun - two old people living like 1960's hippies.
Today I have spent about four hours talking with people involved in St John Ambulance organisation and firefighters at several stations. I came home moved by the friendship I enjoyed. I have said it before, it is a real privilege to meet and chat with people. I love the interaction and value how they let me into the "emergency service family" and into their lives. I drove home tired but having a sense of being involved in something special.
The "to do" list expands...
A big part of today was spent answering phone calls, and emails about Night Shelter work. I have been making sure I delegate work and have groups doing various things, but the work left over feels daunting. It seems to be expanding. Three long phone calls had me wondering when it will stop. I will admit that some of my troubles happen because I sometimes tend to procrastinate on difficult jobs. I am officially retired, but it does not feel like it. A retired man I talked to on the phone commented that retirement for him meant that even though he was busy, it was less stressful. I am out of my comfort zone so often that my stresses are not less, just different. Church ministry I knew how to do. Many of the skills involved in chairing a Night Shelter Trust are new or not so familiar.
New Zealand's history and ethos, family time, travel amongst beauty, friendship and work to do - life is good but tiring!