Saturday, June 30, 2012

Aaron, the Amazing Goalkeeper

Matt texted early this morning to ask if Aaron could play soccer as their team was short a player. The game was at 10 but we had to be there at 9.30.  Aaron had the honour of being goalie (and he doesn't even play soccer at all).  He did excellently, not letting one single ball into his goal.  To be true, the ball only came near him once but he did kick it very well.  Clearly our team was the stronger!  Consequently he spent almost the entire game standing around on his own and got very cold (poor thing).  BUT...for volunteering and being such a brilliant goalie, he won player of the day, earning a few gift vouchers including a McDonalds cheeseburger.  I, meanwhile, got to know Nadine - a very lovely lady who, along with her husband and four children (three are triplets, two of whom are boys and were playing on our team) have recently started coming to our church. 
As soon as the soccer was over we went home and warmed up over cups of tea.  Went out for lunch to McDonalds, of course, then Victoria came at 2 for some violin playing; we spent a very lovely afternoon together including going to collect song books from the church and a spot of shopping at PaknSave for supplies for church lunch!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Winter in Fiji (sigh)

After squashing five days of work into three last week, I was ready to kick back and relax in the last week of term.  Ha!  Last-minute preparations for Nick going to Fiji, end-of-term stress for the teachers, and getting everything done in four days was the reality.  On Sunday after the pm service we gathered at the Kempf home for pasta and soup so that Nick could meet with the Fiji Missions Trip 2012 Team - ie Erinmarie, Dannica, Jesse and Sam.  This has been in the planning for a long time, and on Friday they will be off for nine days.  Seems like there were still a lot of things needing doing! It was decided that I would accompany the five of them to the airport in the Phillips's bus - I volunteered as I was needing to get to a violin shop in Christchurch and this was a good time to do it.  The whirlwind week of hecticness reached its climax and end on Friday morning at 9.15 am as we drove away - bags all packed, passports in place and everything done.  Phew! Please pray for them as they are in Fiji from 29 June to 9 July, ministering in and to the church and community in Ba alongside Rev Vijay.
Did just a quick drop-off at the airport, then got out my trusty iPhone map to get across town to Antonio's Strings.  The shop is in a building of office suites in a closed-off "no thoroughfare, no public access" street next to a lot of earthquake damage and repair sites and heavy machinery.  Found parking and spent the next hour surrounded by a vast multitude of violins and every kind of accessory available.  Had my violin valued and restrung; while they were busy with it in the quiet workshop a magnitude 4.0 earthquake rumbled through the building - window panes rattled, the building itself shook - it felt big and I wondered if I should be seeking shelter.  No one else did though so I kept my little nerves quietly contained!  Of course in Christchurch they are so used to those frequent shakes that no one worries any more.  During the day I had been in contact with Mrs Rentoul who was in Christchurch with a small group of our school kids on a Young Leaders' Conference.  The school van had broken down and it looked like they might struggle getting back to Timaru.  I met up with them at 3 pm at Middleton Grange, accompanied Bethany to the mechanic where we waited for about an hour for the bus to be fixed.  Fortunately it was all sorted but I drove back to Timaru behind them in case anything went amiss.  Tuckered out when I got to the Phillipses at 6 pm to return the bus and collect Aaron, and nearly fainting with hunger - they kindly fed me before letting me collect Caleb from the Tuckers and go home. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Becoming more Learned in Auckland

3.15 am...not a very happy time to get out of bed, but with a two-hour drive to Christchurch to be on a 6.45 Auckland-bound airplane, it had to be done!  I had planned to just shower, dress and have breakfast before leaving, with plenty of time before departure to do make-up at the airport...but the walk from long-term parking to the terminal was longer than I had anticipated so when I walked into the departure area they were already calling my flight.  Eeek!  Had to get through a long queue at the security check-point; walked straight through boarding and onto the plane - not even five minutes to spare for the toilet!  Felt naked.  Couldn't wait to land and get myself sorted out :)  On landing I realized I could rather catch a bus into town instead of driving a hire-car through unfamiliar traffic-laden streets; thank the Lord for that particular prompting as it saved much stress.  The point of this whole exercise was to spend two days doing training on a new payroll system the education department will be rolling out country-wide.  I was volunteered to be in a small group of 'specialists' - while everyone who administers payrolls and timesheets in schools will have to undergo on-line training, we were doing it a bit more intensely with the intention of feeding back to the developers about what works and what we think can be improved.  I soon realized that I was out of my league with a lot of senior office admin ladies (and a few men) with many years of experience!  Didn't struggle with the actual training or software; a definite advantage of falling into the the younger generation is less resistance to change.  It was extremely interesting all in all and a great opportunity.  By 6.30 pm, after browsing shops on Queen Street and having a solitary McDonalds wrap, I was in absolutely finished and ready for bed.  To be honest, being in the throngs of people walking up and down the street was utterly depressing (Mom, I understand now).  Everyone is on their own plane, with their own artsy thing happening, and most of them absolutely lost and wandering in darkness, spiritually. I thought how extremely difficult it must be to have any kind of ministry here, where peoples' hearts are hardened to the truth and beauty of the gospel, its simple message of Jesus' saving work on the cross sounding like foolishness.  Back to my hotel room around 5; it was great to not be needed by anyone - no hockey matches to oversee, tea to make, homework to check or togs to hang up.  I spent the evening quietly with boring shows on TV and a book.
Day 2 of training - Friday - was also good although I think towards the end we were all getting a bit weary.  We had many, many questions for the developers to go and scratch their heads about, which means we did our training well!  We finished earlier than expected, getting out before 3.  Their original agenda had indicated that we would finish at 4; my flight was a few hours later as the earlier one would have cut it too fine.  If I had only but known!  Ah well.  What's a girl to do with a few hours to spare on Queen Street but shop??!  But with a 10kg luggage allowance nearly at maximum, I was pretty restricted (not that funds were unlimited either!). So much fru-fru and bling in this shop, it was difficult to concentrate :)
Took an early bus back to the airport and waited there for a very long time.  Landed Christchurch around 9.20 pm, retrieved the rental car and paid the $50 parking, and nearly got myself lost getting onto the highway.  I'm not a very good night driver at the best of times; this was probably the worst of times after the last two days of activity.  The highlight of the drive (and probably the best thing that could have happened to keep me awake) was a breath-test by the police in Ashburton.  I burst into tears when I walked into the lounge into Nick's arms at nearly midnight! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yay Rachael!

Had the privilege today of attending (albeit only for about half an hour) Rachael Moore's engagement party, and meeting her betrothed, Johnny.  There was a good crowd gathered at the Moore's place and Nyree had worked hard to make this gorgeous spread of delicious edibles!  Pity we couldn't stay longer but Nick (what a hunk) had to get home to do sermon prep.  Yippee Johnny and Rachael, may the Lord bless your marriage and make you suitable partners for one another!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Love the Usual!

After a busy week we were glad to have a regular Saturday at home and together as a family. We all chipped in to get the cleaning done, which freed us up in the early afternoon to do a few errands in town together. It was a gorgeous winter's day; the sun hung low in the sky all day as it made its tiny arc across the horizon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Winter games not for sissies

Caleb has been sick this week with his regular chesty cough and cold - we had to excuse him from his hockey game.  Aaron still had his game on; it was so cold outside that I couldn't brave it, even with a huge fluffy coat on.  Caleb and I watched whatever bits of the game we could see from the car instead.  Back home for our pizza and movie night.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kids for Kids

Aaron and several of his classmates have been practicing for weeks and weeks to prepare for the 2012 World Vision Kids for Kids Concert.  This concert happens every year all over NZ and involves thousands of kids, led by Suzanne Prentice who is a well-known kiwi performer.  The TCS choir joined with about 12 other schools to form one mass choir who were on stage for the duration of the show.  It was very well done and excellent in raising awareness of the work that World Vision does in feeding and helping poor communities and starving children and their families across the globe.  Aaron's head was just occasionally visible in the throng, stage right about three rows in.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath (no blood and guts all over the place)

The gospel featured strongly in Nick's Romans 2 message this morning (as it should do) - powerful stuff! Andreas will have it up on the church website real would have been sooner but we hijacked him for lunch and entertained him with iPhone apps and violin duets.
After another excellent church service (in which Nick explained the different methods and principles of the OT sacrifices - very interesting), we had Royce and Debbie around for a quick toastie and cup of tea. Debbie lives in Christchurch (so she and Royce have to negotiate the difficulties of long-distance dating) and although I had met her briefly last year, this was the first time that we'd really interacted with her. We think she's just lovely! And...nice teeth, guys!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tree-chopping taboo

Today was marked in the church calendar as a Work Party Day (the kids thought it something to look forward to - they haven't been exposed to many work parties), specifically to chop down the six silver birches on the side of the church, the roots of which were interfering with the underground pipes and plumbing.  The decision to chop the trees was made months ago after lengthy debate at one of our church meetings - the tyranny of the majority won on this one but the tree-huggers were not violent in their opposition.  So, 10 am saw a group of eager men (and a few ladies) with their chainsaws, earmuffs and overalls gathered outside the church, ready for action.  It took about two hours for the trees to come down, get sawn into usable sizes and loaded onto trailers, ready for burning next year.  Sad to see them go, but it had to be done.  There was much action inside the church too with Tossing Out of Old Stuff on the go, and morning tea and lunch to be made and served.  It was a great morning of fellowship and work. 
Above: during and Below: after.  The 'after' shot was just after midday, but look at the length of the shadows!
Only stumps remaining now where these fine trees stood (sob)
Anyone notice something amiss here?
Had some time for a bit of shut-eye in the afternoon before heading off to Liz and Graham for a roast chicken and games evening, along with Mark, Viv and Genevieve.  Viv provided dessert by way of this incredible pavlova with pear and chocolate sauce - the likes of which I have never tasted but sure do hope to do again!  Played Dutch Blitz, Taboo and Ticket to Ride - all good fun. 
Liz - much gesturing in a talking-ONLY game :)

Friday, June 08, 2012

We haven't outgrown the Muppets after all

While *most* other parts in NZ had snow on Wednesday night and Thursday, Timaru had No Snow. Good old Place of Shelter.  Disappointing, but on Friday when the sky was clear and the temperature had risen strangely and we had no slush to wade through, we were happy :)  Hockey was entirely bearable without the regular bite in the air and it was an interesting game with the two senior St Joseph's teams versing each other - Caleb and Aaron would have faced one another but Aaron subbed on Caleb's team.  The game was good with a lot of action from one side to the other, but in the end the Clevelys were on the victor's side.  Well done lads!  The game was early enough for us to do our Friday Family thing with pizza and a movie - we hired The Muppets!  I think collectively we all rolled our eyes a little at the prospect but it was the only new release worth watching that we hadn't seen...turns out it was really entertaining with no blasphemy and some surprise musical numbers that had Nick and I shaking our heads and laughing in disbelief at the 80s styling - utterly and unashamedly stereotyped.  It was excellent and we'd actually recommend it! 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Who's a donkey then?

Between services and after our monthly fellowship lunch, we were back in Liz's shop for more table tennis - after Friday night's success and fun the invite was open!  Gathered a good crowd including three people off the street who were passing by and thought the shop was some sort of community lounge.  Instead of letting the men dominate the table with doubles, we played a few rounds of 'Donkey' - where you hit your shot then run around to the other side of the table.  Easy when you have ten in, but when you're down to three and have to run fast it gets tricky.  Liz and I expended much our energy giggling! 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Not for recycling

Today was one of those great Saturdays for Getting Stuff Done - swapping bed bases around between the guest room and our room (tucking the duvet into the sleigh-bed was not making Nick's toes happy), tidying cupboards and getting rid of old things - when one's shoes are left in the corner of the cupboard and end up looking like this, one knows one is not wearing them often enough to warrant the space they take up!

Friday, June 01, 2012


I simply had to rush outside when I saw this rainbow in the clouds - as if the clouds themselves weren't spectacular enough!  Glory to God.  Below, our resident cat.  It's not ours - we neither feed it nor allow it indoors, but it has adopted us nonetheless.  In the morning it's there on the front door mat, waiting to be petted and stroked and loved.  We guess its owners aren't very affectionate, which is such a shame given the friendly nature of this feline. 
On Friday night, after Caleb and Aaron played together on the same hockey team, we were treated to a games evening at Liz's shop - table tennis was set up upstairs and fuss-ball downstairs, as well as heaps of board games - several I had never heard of. 
 Graham - pointing out some rules?  You wag that finger!
First introduction to an interesting game of strategy involving trains and tunnels and missions across Europe and Asia.  Took four of us about an hour to get through one playing, but is definitely a game worth trying again.