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New Zealand Trip

Week 1 - 2  
November 9, 2009

Hi again from New Zealand.  Weve actually finished our tour and are on our way home - so some of this will be written in Wellington (NZ), Sydney (AUS) and Los Angeles as we wait for planes: a good way to spend time in airports.

First, I need to add a couple of pieces of information to last week's blog:

  • In addition to working at the conference, we were asked to preach at Central Baptist Church on Sunday and were warmly welcomed by that congregation in their worship.
  • Shirley Murray is the first woman outside of North America to become a Fellow of the Hymn Society.
  • The new New Zealand hymnbook, Hope is Our Song, is available in the US and Canada through the Hymn Society at: office@thehymnsociety.org
  • and, for more information about the New Zealand Hymn Trust, go to: www.hymns.org.nz

OK - back to the adventure. The journeys of this week have been rich and beautiful. Both the land through which weve traveled, and the people who have graciously opened their homes, have offered wonderful adventures and deepening relationships.

At the close of the first week, I indicated that we were just leaving Palmerston North with John and Shirley Murray, traveling to their home on the Kapiti coast. We spent parts of 3 days there and enjoyed walks, talks, spirited "discussions" on theology, church issues, world affairs, environment, hymn texts - tunes, and on and on. I'm not sure we ever stopped talking (well, maybe to eat and occasionally to sleep). It was very hard to say "good-bye" knowing that the distance between our homes is huge - the only consolation is that we have the gift of this time and we know that our sharing and caring will continue.

   

   

   

Our journey continues as we return to Wellington and the home of our friends, Kate and Steve Osborne. Actually, Kate had picked us up from the airport the week before and we had spent our first night in NZ in the Osborne's apartment in downtown, Wellington. So, our return is a welcome time of continuing all the conversations that had started the week before. We are here for just one night as we will board the ferry to travel to the South Island in the morning. Kate and Steve are "old time" friends - Kate is one of the "Hatfield girls" of Calgary fame and we've known her family for over 35 years (she use to babysit our older kids when we were working at Naramata Centre in Canada). So we enjoy their take on being "kiwis" having lived in New Zealand for 12 years. Jake, their son joins us for dinner. We're hoping that they will find their way to Naramata next summer while we are there. Below are pictures of the Osbornes, the "Beehive" - parliamentary building, and the stormy Wellington skyline and harbor, from which we will take our ferry ride.

      

In case you WANT to know - here are a few facts that offer a glimpse of New Zealand and its people.
New Zealand's form of government is a Parliamentary democracy. The country has 4.2 million people living on the two main islands (total area the size of Colorado). NZ was the world's first country to give women the right to vote (1893). It also adopted old-age pensions in 1898 and a national child welfare program in 1907. It is known for its strong peace stance, particularly its leadership in the struggle to create a nuclear free Pacific.

Now for the trip south. It was much more of an adventure than we were expecting. The ferry ride (4+ hours) was wild - we were on the largest of NZ's ferries (1600 people with 10 decks) - the sea was extremely rough - many people didn't hang onto their breakfasts - at one point the ship caught a wave sideways and we tilted so Jim, who was outside hanging onto the rail, ended up looking straight down at the sea. The restaurant near me managed to dump (and break) most of its galley's contents on that particular wave. It took an extra hour to make the crossing - we were more than thankful to get to Picton and board the train for the 5+ hours ride into Christchurch. So, folks, this is the "scenic" tour of this day.

   

   

      

Those last two pictures are of the waves coming up over the windows at the front of the ferry where I am sitting - on the 7th deck!!!

OK - we finally reach Picton and transfer to the train - we are on the last leg of the journey south to Christchurch: stunning snowcapped mountains on one side and a sometimes stormy, sometimes brilliant sea on the other.

   

   

   

 
In Christchurch, we are welcomed to the home of Raewyn and Hugh Perry. They are both pastors. Hugh is serving St. Alban's Parish where we are working for the weekend (concert, Saturday workshop and worship on Sunday). We have a wonderful stay with the Perrys - incredible food and health services - I've picked up a cold that I manage to share with Jim and then Hugh and Raewyn - yikes! My voice disappears toward the end of the workshop, but Jim covers the vocals on Sunday and all runs smoothly.

 
 
The church in which the events take place is an 1895 Methodist Church with a beautiful history. Frank, the organist, and the Tracker organ are an added bonus. We have a rich time sharing musical experiences and tales of Methodism from our various journeys.

      

      

Well, the work is done, and we have a day - Monday - to explore Christchurch. It is sunny and reasonably warm - so we walk a good part of the peace trail through town, find a Starbucks (see the pictures for it's location in an historical building on the square), discover the cathedral, an Indian restaurant, a whistler beyond compare (Jim joins in using his stomach as a drum!), high school boys in uniform from Christ College, and beauty and delight everywhere we look.

      

      

      

   

So, it is time to move on from this adventure. Our hearts are full, our bodies tired, and our minds churning with all the myriad of new information and experiences. It was wonderful to sing with so many New Zealanders, make many new friends and enjoy the breath-taking beauty of this place. It was a special honor to participate in the NZ Hymnbook Trust conference, Hope Is Our Song ~ Peace, Justice & Creation. We were asked to do a workshop and also to a plenary session to share our experiences of the power of song in transformational faith communities in the US, Canada, Central America and India. These were well received. This group of hymn writers and hymn lovers is amazing. The songs that grow from their soil, culture, and spirit express the bright growing edge of faith and vital theology essential to leading their country into a future of peace, justice and the care of creation. Their work is a treasure for our hearts of faith and a powerful resource for our churches!

E noho r - good-bye for now ~ Blessings to all, Jeanie and Jim

Oct. 30 - Week 1 in New Zealand