Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Privilege of Flying
Sometimes people mention to me that it is a long and tiring journey to NZ. It is but I always feel it is a privilege. Given the sweep of human history and the situation of the majority on the planet today it is something many would love to be able to do have done or do. There are certainly many worse ways to travel than on a modern airliner. I like looking out of the windows when I am on a plane. I enjoy the perspective and the way that you can see how things join together. I always feel that I function better when I am able to relate the wider view to what I do each day.
When you are walking by the Thames the London Eye dominates the skyline. It is about the highest place you can get to in London but from a different viewpoint you can see how it fits into the landscape. The Vision Issue of Canvas, which you can read on Cultural Connections and is about to go out in NZ, is an attempt to get up in the air and see some of the major challenges we are facing with some perspective.
Overall this year I have felt much more positive within myself and excited about engaging with these challenges. The time from being at Sprite in Australia, through being in Scotland over Christmas and then back to New Zealand has felt like the start of a new chapter. The first three years in NZ has seen some remarkable provision in staff and finances, conferences have begun to grow again, new groups have been pioneered and many existing groups have prospered, broken systems have been fixed, new partnerships developed, relationships around the Pacific strengthened and potentially strategic initiatives started. Yet for all this encouragement there have been some frustrations, a degree of loneliness and the struggles of adapting to life in a new culture. What I have come to realise over the last few months is that both the encouragements and the difficulties have been part of a process of growth and learning.
Ally left to return to Vancouver. We all really enjoyed having her visit and the boys were sad to see her go. We enjoy having people to stay and although there are many people that we would love to see more of who live in other places it is a privilege to have these chunks of quality time with visitors. Our house still needs a bit of work and we are hoping to get the next phase underway soon.
The boys all took part in the Weetbix Tryathalon. This was severely curtailed last year due to bad weather so they were glad to be able to do the whole thing this year.
It consists of a swim, followed by a cycle and finally a run. It is a fun event rather than a competitive race but you take part with other people of your same age group.
Everyone who participates gets a tee shirt and everyone who finishes gets a medal. Piri Weepu from the Hurricanes is signing Jamie’s shirt. This was good training for Luke and Jamie who are about to take part in the Wellington College World Vision Runathon this weekend. You may remember that last year Luke ran 80 km in 40 hours. This year the additional challenge will be combining it with a Hurricanes match, cricket helping with a kids event and hockey training. It is Jamie’s first year and they both want to be there at the start and at the end. (6.00 am on Friday and 10.00 pm on Saturday!)
Craig did really well in the Year 5 and 6 Speech Competition. He had to prepare a speech on a topic of his choosing and also do an impromptu talk. He chose “Alcatraz” as his subject and was picked to go through to the final.
Ally and Ailsa were both able to be there to see him speaking in front of both year groups. He is good in these situations and he was rewarded with 3rd Place which reflected how hard he had worked on it.
I had a worthwhile trip to the US and the UK. It was good to meet up with a few people I had not seen for a while. It is always difficult knowing who to try and connect with. It is clear that the global financial crisis will have a significant effect. I met with a Trust in the US who had been making positive noises about funding our building project last year but have been decimated since then. Capital Projects in particular are going to be much harder in the current climate. There are a lot of people who are in pain and some of that must be shared. I do have a sense though that there is some momentum building behind Catalyst, Campus Evangelism and Leadership Development.
I was able to visit my sister and family in Buckingham. They were just back from their latest ski competition. This saw Peter win a silver medal and Sarah 2 silver medals. Andrew did well too but is less focussed on the competitions. I did take a photograph of him as well but it was not especially flattering so I decided to spare his blushes here.
The Marshalls were all in good form. Part of the increased fun of visiting the UK is the increasingly long list of things that those who have been there miss and pine for. I think Alastair would probably have been on our boys list but they will have to be content with Ready Brek.
Frizz-Ease Curl Control, Cadbury’s Highlights, Jaffa Cakes and Pickled Onion Monster Munch were all high on individual wish lists. I have not made any promises but I do have some things to declare at the border.
The other highlight was, as always, being at Davidson’s Mains. I came across this poster in the US but actually one of the strengths of the church is that it is not just about Jerry. The move to a new pattern of working eldership focussed on making disciples is exciting and one that I welcome. Change is always hard though and inevitably there will be people who feel they have lost something in the transition. My prayer for our friends is that there is unity and a growing understanding of leadership as being about function rather than position and an increasing commitment to take opportunities to serve and encourage.
At the evening service Jerry spoke of the death of Jim Phillip and the influence that he had made in his life. He said that it was not at college but rather sitting in church week by week that he learned the Bible. There are many in Church ministry today who would say something similar having been involved at Holyrood, Gilcomston, Sandyford and the Tron. Stephen Carvel made an interesting comment that when great Christian leaders pass on it is up to others to take up the baton and build on that legacy in their generation.
I remember someone saying to me once “The puzzle really is not why so few live so well but rather why so many live so poorly”. I am thankful for those around me who do not want to settle for mediocrity and who encourage and challenge me. Life is short and we want to make the most of every opportunity because each day we have does not come again. So as we contemplate the whirl of a new hockey season, speaking writing, fundraising, developing partnerships and working with staff and students, I do not want to lose sight of the big picture. I want to see the privileges more than the problems and take up that baton in my generation. Hope you will stick around for the adventure.