Thursday, September 22, 2011

The next hundred

Yes it has been a while since my 100th post. I recognise that those not on Facebook and Twitter appreciate some longer news so I am going to try to do another 100 posts and see where that takes us. At the original rate of one every two weeks it will be mid 2015 at the current rate of one every ten months I guess Luke will be finishing what I start around 2094. I thought we should start with a review of recent sporting events!
We are nearing the end of the hockey season. Craig's P1 Hutt Team tried their best through the season but struggled against bigger, better and older boys. They improved a lot but lost more games than they won. Craig has transitioned from being a goal keeper to playing centre forward. He has thrived on the change and managed to score the winning goal in the last game of the season. That game marked the end of 5 years of Jamie and Craig playing at Hutt and 5 years of my coaching at Hutt. We have had some great times there and made some good friends.
Craig was selected for the Wellington Under 13 Development Team again this year. They have had a really good start to the season and won all three of their quadrangular tournaments including the Hardy Cup. They are a good group of guys and I am enjoying them. We have won ten games in a row and on that run have scored 36 goals and not conceded any. Everyone will be out to beat us now so we will have to keep improving. The Curtis Cup is in Wanganui in a few weeks time in the first week of the school holidays.
Jamie has had a good first season in the Wellington College 1st XI. He did well to make the team and has worked hard on his hockey through the year. He was selected for the Wellington Under 15 Premier Team and played at the National Tournament in Timaru where they played well but did not really fulfill their potential. The school team played in the Rankin Cup which is for the top 16 schools nationally. They gave a good account of themselves but were disappointed to finish 13th equal which will put them back into the India Shield next year.
In the local competition Wellington College defended their P1 title, topping the league and winning their semi final and final on penalty strokes. Jamie has also been captaining the Under 15 Elite team which plays other school under 15 teams and draws players from our top three teams at Wellington College. We have the Miskimmin Cup on Monday which we have hopes of doing well. At the prizegiving this week Jamie was given the cup for "Best Junior Player" Reading the recent names he said that he had a lot to live up to.
Luke narrowly missed out on the 1st XI but has had a fantastic year with the 2nd XI. He was the vice captain and really developed through the season both in his skills and his leadership. Expectations were not high at the start of the season as they were overall a younger team. I was not sure about coaching them at the start of the year but am really glad that I did. They were a great group and we had good fun as well as achieving the most successful season the 2nd XI have enjoyed. We play other college 1st XIs and won the grading round of the local competition including a monumental win on penalty strokes over Paraparaumu College which went to a third set of strokes. We won the bronze medal at the Galletly Cup National 2nd XI tournament in Auckland and finished 3rd in the local competition.
Luke played really well in a number of games and at the Auckland Tournament scored a fantastic individual goal against Hamilton where he beat two defenders for pace and reversed a powerful shot into the roof of the net over the advancing goalkeeper. It was hard to say who was more surprised but I doubt he will score a better goal. He also scored the winner in the bronze medal match against Tauranga finishing a great team move with his first touch after a 5 minute suspension for over enthusiasm in the tackle! He and Jack, the captain were joint Most Valuable Players of the Tournament and Luke got the award for Best Forward for the 2nd XI and the Club Cup for Sportsmanship and Team Spirit. At the end of our last game, which we lost Jack and Luke both said a few words and I was very proud of them both.
Luke did his final Duke of Edinburgh Gold Tramp over 4 days. It was a more difficult expedition than they had anticipated but a fitting end to four years of endeavour.
I was talking to Luke's headmaster yesterday and he was commenting how it is not easy starting in year 10 but that Luke has persevered and has made an immense contribution to the life of Wellington College. He only has one more term and most of that will be exams.
Luke is not sure what next year will look like and will probably not decide until the end of the year. He is thinking about studying geography but will probably take some time out before that.
We are all looking forward to the Elgin cousins coming in a few weeks time and to having some holiday at the end of what has been a particularly long term. Ailsa has started doing a few days relief teaching at St Marks which she is enjoying.
We are all enjoying the Rugby World Cup. We have been to a few games but have also been trying to make the most of the opportunity. We have produced a rugby themed gospel "Godzone" which has had some media exposure and we are encouraging churches and student groups to give them to their friends, colleagues and neighbours. All the student groups are putting on events including "what is rugby" introductions for overseas students and some evenings with current and past international players. I have also been involved meeting chaplains who are attached to teams and looking at how sports ministry could grow of the back of the rugby world cup. Obviously we are hoping that Scotland will beat Argentina on Sunday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anniversary and On

We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in August. It seems hard to believe that 20 years ago we stood in Davidson's Mains Church and made promises to each other. It has been a privilege and an adventure and has certainly taken us to places that we never imagined going. We feel very blessed to have known so much happiness and have certainly seen God's faithfulness through the years.

Partly through the generosity of Air New Zealand we were able to celebrate with a night in Auckland. I wore the same jacket that I bought for our honeymoon. It does clash slightly with the colour of the walls in the office.

We had time to explore a few new corners of Auckland. Ailsa looked as beautiful as always.

I on the other hand could relate more to the sentiments of this advert at the cafe we had coffee in by the harbour.

Fortunately this photograph was taken after the coffee!

We are very thankful for all the people who have supported us through the 20 years. Our friends and family have poured love and care into us and our children and we would not have made it this far without the care, concern and practical support that we have enjoyed. They say behind every great man is a surprised wife and although I make no claims to greatness I do believe that anything I have been able to do has been multiplied through Ailsa's encouragement and partnership.

We had a great time exploring some new parts of Auckland and were grateful for friends in Wellington looking after the boys for a couple of days. I am not sure if 20 has a name but we decided not to buy half a ruby.

The boys enjoyed the cross country season and all competed in the round the bays relay.

Luke's running has come on significantly this year and he was delighted to be able to run in the Nationals. He is currently working on his athletics and hopes to run in the track nationals too and to make the school athletics team.

Craig has started playing tennis matches for Maungaraki and won his first two matches ever last Saturday.

The boys all live life in the fast lane and we don't have the opportunity to sit down together as often as we would like.

Jamie has been choosing his subjects for year 11. Art will be one of his options and he is producing some really good work. This was a piece of Maori Art that he created using paint on board. The Maori word in the centre means homeland.

Craig has had a remarkable run of success in different areas. He won a prize at the Wellington Science Fair for his project on re-designing a recycling box.

He also played Caliban in the school production of the Tempest and was picked to play Fleance in the New Zealand Opera production of "Macbeth" at the St James theatre.

Luke's 2nd XI team played in the Galletly Cup and finished 5th. Jamie was also picked to play in the tournament so they played together again for the first time this year. They have both improved a lot and both teams finished 3rd in their respective competitions.

On the work front I spoke at the second Catalyst graduates conference. This was a very encouraging time and we had 150 in Auckland for the weekend. 15 tracks addressed different disciplines and professions and embryonic networks continue to develop. We are currently completing a resource for final year students to help them transition into the world of work. Mark Grace is doing a great job developing this important initiative.

Craig's Wellington U13 team, which I coach won the Curtis Cup in the Wairarapa. This is a regional competition for development teams and we won all three of our group games before playing brilliantly against Hutt Valley in our semi-final and winning a tight final against Hawkes Bay in the last minute on a partially flooded pitch.

My mum and dad are visiting from Scotland for 6 weeks and it is good having them with us. They were able to hear Luke sing in the chorale and to see Craig's tournament and operatic performance as well as going to a few places with the whole family. Our Odyssey sadly died after completing 230,000 km and 16 years of service but we hope to get a new one in due course. I am heading off to South Africa for the third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town which promises to be interesting. You can follow news of that on Cultural Connections. We are also producing news and insights for a wider student audience. You can read that on our networked blog for Lausanne.

Oh and just in case you think from the news above that our children are perfect and never get into trouble or require discipline. They are not and they do!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The writing in the sand

It still seems very strange having winter in July. Having had a bit of a cold and wet spell the four days holiday we had as a family after conference was fantastic. It was hard to believe that it was winter.

We hired a holiday house in Foxton, which is in Horowhenua, another 30 minutes north of the Kapiti coast.

Foxton is most famous for having a windmill. It looks quite rustic and is a working replica of a 17th century Dutch windmill but this was only opened in 2003 and was imported as a kit from Holland. It celebrates the Dutch heritage in New Zealand and (like many things in this nation) has no real business being here. But maybe that is the point.

Jamie managed to kick a ball through the bedroom window within 20 minutes of our arriving. This would have been a great feat of skill if the window had been open at the time. The emergency glazier was very helpful.

The first night we walked through the sand dunes to the beach. We have spent hours on this coast watching the sun go down. I often think that as it sinks over the horizon it is rising off the east coast of Scotland.

We seem to spend more time during the term on different activities in our weekly schedules. It was good to have time together without the pressure of things to do.

We are becoming conscious that Luke is in his second last year at college and we probably have more family holidays behind us than we have ahead!

He is starting to think about where to apply to university and considering a year out between school and study. He did a three day barista training course in the holidays for which he got City and Guilds, NCEA, and Hospitality New Zealand credits. He had to make 7 drinks as part of his assessment and did it in under 8 minutes to achieve excellence. This may prove a useful skill in the months ahead.

Ailsa has not managed to get any relief teaching yet and is wondering about approaching a couple of other schools. I was given a night in an Auckland hotel by Air New Zealand and we hope to use that to celebrate our anniversary next month. We are also discussing how to celebrate both of our parents golden weddings in 2011 and how that meshes with school exams and other commitments.

The boys enjoyed some extended dune jumping.

And some dune climbing.

Enjoyed the patterns woven in the sky and the sand.

And made some patterns ourselves.

I am still the tallest but Jamie is catching up with Ailsa and Craig is catching up with Jamie. From the beach we could see Taranaki and Ruapehu.

The road at Foxton is part of the State Highway system. Nearer the tideline the speed limit may be relevant but it seems a little optimistic at this point.

Anyone with a modicum of common sense would know not to try to drive a saloon car down the access road when faced with a reasonable amount of sand. But common sense is not the route to adventure, digging and rescue by nice local man with large ute. Still it was another nice sunset and I did have fun.

Which is probably why this sign (taken through the gym door at conference) does have some abiding relevance.

We were able to join Ben and Jen to celebrate Sam's first birthday.

The boys are all very fond of him and friends become more important when family is far away.

Ben's dad Roger was able to be at the party having been here for a few weeks including speaking at the National Conference and visiting Vanuatu. Ben was slightly miffed that a number of people thought they were brothers. Roger made a great contribution and was a real encouragement while he was here.

He was also very encouraging about Ben's work and seeing the value of what we are trying to do in NZ and around the Pacific.

We continue to build partnerships and look for ways to develop student and graduate ministry in these islands and beyond. There are a growing number of opportunities. Next week for example I am recording 5 three minute radio slots for the E100 series of 100 Essential Bible readings. I am doing Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. I have also been asked to coordinate the Lausanne World Student Initiative which I will write more about next time but which is starting to build some interesting relationships.

Luke was invited to the St Orans school ball. This is a presbtyerian girls school near the church which a number of girls in the youth group go to. We were able to acquire a great suit on Trade Me for around the cost of hiring one.

He looked really smart and is there as I am typing this. I sometimes catch myself wondering "who is that man that Ailsa is talking to?" and then I realise that it is Luke.

Craig was doing a project on role models at school and decided to write to John Key, the Prime Minister, to ask who his role models were. He was pretty pleased to get a reply.

A few weeks later John Key came to visit the school and although he was scheduled to visit a different year group was introduced to Craig because of the previous email.

I like that in NZ an 11 year old can write to the prime minister of his own bat and that the Prime Minister remembers the letter and will spend time looking at your work in your classroom. I would love to see more politicians who had this kind of heart.

We continue to be grateful for all who care for our family and support our work in prayer, finance and practical encouragement. Ailsa also commented that my writing in the sand is much better than on paper, which the people in the office would probably agree with.