Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Zealand Memories (Richard’s version)

Returning home brings back its memories. During the past month we have travelled to different parts of the North Island.

Auckland is an interesting city of about 1 million being built on an isthmus and some 30 volcanic domes. It seems that wherever you go you get a glimpse of the sea. However, we did not see much as it was constantly raining. However, we did meet a lot of old friends and family members.

Gisborne, the place of my birth and upbringing, always stirs some memories. One of the first stops was Waikanae Beach where we spent a lot of time every summer with picnics, swimming and fishing. We included a drive up to Whangara (20 minutes north) where the movie Whale Rider was filmed. The Marae (meeting house) used in the film was very familiar to us as our home assembly in Gisborne used it for several years for the annual Sunday School Picnic as well as for Youth camps.

The Waikato, a rich dairy farming region to the south of Auckland, occupied a lot of our time. Nancye comes from a dairy farm in the Waikato and several of her brothers are still farming there. How relaxing to look out from the dining room window to see sheep or cows grazing on gently rolling green hills. It was at Te Awamutu, a small town in the Waikato, where we celebrated Nancye’s mother’s 90th birthday with over 50 guests in attendance.

Tauranga is where Nancye’s mother used to live before Te Awamutu. We spent some time there after leaving the Waikato. Tauranga always includes a walk around Mt Maunganui (another extinct volcano). Mt Maunganui was where John Duckhorn first discussed with me the concept of STEP – the summer cross-cultural outreach in Los Angeles. That was during John’s visit in 2004.

After Bill, Angela and Jon flew out of Auckland to return to Los Angeles we travelled to Wellington for a few meetings. A highlight there was celebrating my Aunt’s 91st birthday. It seems that it is a bit contagious celebrating birthdays in the 90s!

And now we are at Hatepe, a little community of about 100 holiday (vacation) homes on Lake Taupo. Hatepe is 22 kms. south of the town of Taupo. The name in Maori means “wiped out, finished” as a famous Maori warrior Te Kooti came through here over a 100 years ago with an axe to grind. Most of the villagers were away at the time but he killed the one man who remained to guard the village and then burned the houses. Being winter time there are very few people here, and so since we have been here we have talked to no one else or been in contact with anyone else (except by telephone). With a busy ministry in Los Angeles that is a new experience for us. We are not sure when it has happened in the past as we are always surrounded by people.

However, we are enjoying the experience. Today the sky is so clear and blue and the sun is shining brightly. The house we are in is just 25 metres from the water’s edge. It is so quiet and peaceful looking out over the lake towards the western hills. We have enjoyed seeing and hearing the birds - tuis, native pigeons, fantails, ducks, chaffinches and swans. What more could you want for company!

Monday, August 25, 2008


I am sitting in a warm room looking out over a beautiful calm lake with the surrounding mountains. Birds, ducks, swans and rabbits pop in and out of the scene. There is blue sky peeping through fluffy white clouds....what could be more relaxing than that?

We arrived here in Lake Taupo yesterday afternoon after an enjoyable weekend in Wellington where we met up with good frieds and relatives. Dick had a few meetings and much interest was shown in the work in LA.

Now we are settled in here in a comfortable beach house with all mod cons and plan to just relax as much as we can. Dick will be speaking at the local assembly on Sunday and sharing at a home meeting next Wednesday but otherwise there are no pressures. It will be good to catch up with a few friends at these meetings. We need to mix a little with other people or we might start talking to the walls!! We are not used to such solitude!!

We trust not too many are jealous of our situation here - however, we don't feel guilty and plan to enjoy it!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Our family are now back in the USA - so we are now travelling to visit a few friends, family and churches to share about the work in LA.

We have had a great time in the first three weeks here with our kids visiting family etc. Nancye's mother's 90th birthday party went very well and we did enjoy seeing family members not seen in over 40 years!! It was fun.

We have travelled south from Auckland and now are in Palmerston North staying with friends. The drive down was quite interesting (about 7-8 hours altogether) driving through beautiful farmlands where we saw new born lambs and calves everywhere. We drove by the highest mountains in the North Island and they were covered with snow. In fact while driving through what is known as the "Desert Road" (it is high desert) there was a lot a snow everywhere but the road was clear. In fact that same road had been closed the day before so we were fortunate! We even got to drive through snow for a few minutes but not much - fun!!

We are now staying with friends and have a couple of small meetings tomorrow. On Thursday we travel on to Wellington for a long weekend and a few more meetings and meals out with friends.

Then we will be back to Lake Taupo and three weeks of real R and R on our own at a beach house that is being loaned to us. This house is right on the water's edge so the scenery is very spectacular so we look forward to that. Maybe we will catch up on a few emails there also.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Yes, here we are in our homeland once again. We arrived in the midst of 3 severe storms so it was a nice change from hot California!!

It has been good to catch up with family once again....we have been with Dick's brother and family, Nancye's sister and mother and now we are with Dick's sister for a couple of days. All a little much in less than a week as we are still feeling the affects of jet lag and so are tired. We have two cars between Bill/Ang and Jon and us so have been tailing each other around the countryside! They are just small cars thus the need for two - got to make those "boys" feel comfortable and share the driving around a little - we are all slowly adjusting to driving on the other side of the road and no accidents yet!

To get from Auckland to where we are now involved is about 7 hours of driving in mostly rainy weather so that was a little tiring. But the countryside has been very green but with lots of water/flooding around and rivers overflowing their banks. My (Nancye) old High School is completely flooded and school has been cancelled! I remember that happening back in the '50's!! The school is built right on the river bank and I guess the stop-banks just couldn't hold all the rain we have been having.

Tonight Dick's sister and their church are organising a welcome home dinner for us so that will be interesting - seeing lots of old friends etc.

We have yet to be able to hook up with the internet with our computer so we are just checking in where we can with other people's computers. Hopefully we will get organised soon.
We leave back for my sister's tomorrow and then have the big event of the year on Saturday - my mother's 90th birthday party where we will catch up with some cousins I haven't seen in over 40 years!!! Will be interesting to say the least.

Until the next instalment..........