Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Christmas

When the Pohutakawa Trees begin to flower we know that Christmas is coming. They are known as New Zealand's christmas tree and make a striking addition to the landscape. Christmas in the summer is still something of an adjustment after years of experiences in the northern hemisphere. There is a distinct lack of appropriate iconography for southern hemisphere Christmas celebrations but the Pohutakawa probably comes as close as anything.

At church we have had carols in the car park, Christmas in Narnia and had the unusual experience of being greeted by Santa Claus at the church door and him telling us that Jesus was alive. We notice carols are sung a lot less and not known as well here. Certainly "In the Bleak Mid Winter" does not resonate as strongly as in Scotland but there is a richness in some of the "carols" incarnational theology which is a loss. I am not saying that Christmas is better or worse but it is different in its celebration, its focus and its feel. If we could distill exactly what we are celebrating at Christmas in Jesus "official birthday" is that God became human and lived among us. In the middle of winter or the height of summer the humanity of Christ has compelling relevance.

We formed a welcoming committee at the airport to greet our latest visitots from Scotland.
It has been great having our friends Stephen and Nina and their children visiting for three weeks. It is two years since our families have been together and it has been great to spend time together. As with many of our visitors it reminds us of what we miss the most. It has been great to see the kids get along so well and for them all to have opportunity to meet some of our friends here.

We have been able to enjoy the full range of Wellington weather and been able to visit some of our favourite attractions like Te Papa and Pirates Cove.

We were also able to head up the coast to Raumati for some fun in the sea and an icecream at Lindale.

Alastair has probably changed the most since our boys last saw the Marshalls and has been keeping everyone entertained with his smiles and chat.

Luke is half way through his orthodontic treatment and has had his braces redone in his new school colours.

Seeing the children together again reminds us that we are part of a much bigger circle of friends.

Consider these two Christmas pictures of Craig in different caps. Both given by godparents of the boys, both called Alastair and Sophie, one the Red of Ajax from Amsterdam, the other the Blue of Duke from North Carolina! The boys wardrobe with its eclectic mixture of teeshirts, sports shirts and caps from different countries is a constant visual reminder of our internationalism.

We are thankfull for our circle of friends around the world, in New Zealand, Scotland and many points in between. We could not do what we do without the support of friends and family. As we pass the milestone of our second anniversary in New Zealand we want to thank you for your love, prayers and partnership. We wish you a very happy christmas and a great new year. A special hello to our friends at Davidsons Mains.

We decided last year to celebrate our anniversary of our arrival in NZ at our favourite Wellington cafe where we went on our first day here. Sadly The Chocolate Fish just closed its doors. So our "tradition" did not last very long!!

I have been thinking about some of the lessons of the first two years and will share some of those soon. In the meantime thanks again for your part in our story so far. It is a New Year here already -so far its going ok. Hope it starts well for you.

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