Tuesday, April 07, 2009
When we were in Scotland at Christmas we walked past an art shop that was having a closing down sale. In the window was a Jack Vettriano print which I rather liked and much to Ailsa's dismay bought on impulse. It was not that she did not like the picture but that she was aware of the logistical issues involved in buying something large in a different hemisphere from the one in which you live. (which to be fair is not an unreasonable concern)
The picture is of the Bluebird at Bonneville. It portrays Sir Malcolm's Bluebird CN7 being inspected on the Bonneville salt flats in Utah where Sir Malcolm achieved his ninth and last record of 301.12 mph, in 1935. I like it because of the resonance with Bert Munro, the connection with the inter-war era and the way that 12 people gather round the car. (that and it reminds me of top gear!). My Scottish friends were slightly concerned at my chances of carrying it as hand luggage all the way from Edinburgh to Wellington. It did have it's challenges at times going through 4 airports, 4 security checks and 4 flights but it now adorns the wall in our lounge. There is something about this story which is quintessentially me. (for better and for worse).
The annual World Vision Runathon took place at Wellington College. Both Luke and Jamie took part. They each ran 80km in 40 hours, with both of them completing a hockey practice, Jamie playing a cricket match and Luke helping at a youth programme in the middle of it all, not to mention attending a day of school classes. Craig joined in scootering 20km to earn points for his brothers teams. Luke and Jamie were there for the first lap at 6am on Friday and there at the last lap at 10pm on Saturday. They were stiff the next day but have each raised over $600 for World Vision. There is something about all this which is quintessentially them! (for better or for worse).
Luke went the extra mile and had his head shaved which has been slightly disconcerting as I have wondered from time to time "who is that skinhead and why is he following me?".
The hockey season is just getting going. Luke and Jamie are likely to be in the same Wellington College Under 15 team which I am coaching. We played our first match on Monday which was a promotion relegation game to see what division we would play in at the start of the season. We won 3-1 so will play in Premier 3 which will be a good standard playing against some schools 1st X1s and some 2nd X1s.
Craig has decided that he wants to try being a goalkeeper this year so he is going to play for the Hutt P1 team. He has a bag of kit which is slightly bigger than he is. It will be quite a step up for him so we will see how he copes! My Hutt Teams have finished 3rd for the last 2 years so it would be nice to at least make the final this year.
Craig celebrated his 10th birthday. It seemed a bit of a milestone the youngest reaching double figures. He is doing well and continues to enjoy St Marks. He is hoping to have a party when the busy family schedule allows!
Ailsa has been busy helping at school and at church. She is enjoying working with the two interns at church and we continue to practice hospitality despite the issues with the house still being slowly resolved. We hosted the board retreat last Friday which was a very positive start to what turned out to be a great weekend. There is something in the desire to keep giving and serving even while not everything is exactly as she would like it which is quintessentially her. (mostly just for better really!)
The Black Caps played India at the Basin Reserve this week. It was great seeing the Indian community out in force and the atmosphere was probably better than the game overall. Cricket is the quintessential Indian game all hand eye coordination and timing with not too much running and plenty of breaks for drinks and tea. You can see why it caught on so well in the subcontinent! We had David Jayakumar from UESI in India here visiting around the same time. I have an affection for India and Indians and are glad that we are able to support the theological training of some of their staff through scholarships.
I know it's eleven against eleven when they get on the pitch but India are choosing from 1 Billion and NZ from 4 Million. Despite this statistical reality we genuinely think that we can win. (there is something quintessentially Kiwi about this - which is also pretty Scottish)
This week we have been sorting out the remnants of the Cleaning Company to whom we were renting downstairs in the office . They went bust at the turn of the year. They left an office like the Marie Celeste and abandoned a pile of stuff which we have been throwing out, attempting to sell and giving away.
One of the things we found was a document entitled: "Principles for a sustainable property services industry". Sifting through the wreckage of their business we did wonder if they had read the paper. There was something about the irony of this which echoes through the world that we find ourselves in at this point in history. I could say quintessential but I think that may be overdoing it slightly.
Luke completed his Young New Zealander/Duke of Edinburgh expedition with an overnight tramp in the Tararuras. That more or less completes his requirements for Bronze. He is going to spend the second week of the school holidays with the church youth group who are going down to Nelson to help run some programs with disadvantaged kids.
I am speaking at the Presbyterian Youth Camp for the lower North Island over Easter. Both Luke and Jamie are going with the youth group from Knox and Ailsa and Craig will look in at different points. I have one talk on Friday and two each on Saturday and Sunday.
Then we drive up to Auckland where I am speaking at the North Regional Student camp. This looks like being quite an exciting event with over 80 students booked already.
One of the things I am doing is experimenting with a different kind of response at the end of each talk, so we will see how that goes. Our friend Jodi is coming over from Sydney for the camp and to spend some time with us. We will have a few days off after camp, travelling with her, which we are looking forward to, (except for Luke who will fly south on the Thursday).
Val, Ben and I are all presenting in the "Smorgasbord" at the Kiwi Made Preaching Day. We have been right behind this new initiative and see it as a potentially significant day. It will be great to see Jonathan Lamb too.
I have also just had my annual review which was a helpful and positive experience. I am conscious that the organisational elements of my role do not always align with the vocational aspects and need to help people with that. I think those around me would also value me finding a new PA or EA. But overall I am the most encouraged I have been since we have been here.
But since I started this post talking about a big picture that seems a suitable place to close. The response to the "Big Picture" Vision Issue of Canvas has been very encouraging. As one church leader said to me "this is the kind of thing that we hoped you would do when you came to New Zealand - it is quintessentially what we need and quintessentially what we hoped you would be doing".
I have to say that "quintessential" was not a word that I had heard for a while. But having looked it up; (Adj.1. quintessential - representing the perfect example of a class or quality; quintessential; (adjective) ultimate, essential, typical, fundamental, definitive, archetypal, prototypica); I resolved to use it more. (just in case you were wondering).
This comes with our love and best wishes for a wonderful Easter. (which is after all the quintessential Christian festival!)