Sunday, February 28, 2010

Keep praying

Our second Sunday in Timaru...Nick preached part one of a three-part mini series on 1 John, "Why be holy". We are enjoying chatting to people after the service and getting to know who's who. We came straight back to the Lucas's after church for lunch and a restful afternoon. This is Peter, their firstborn - such a cutie. Incidentally, Peter and Harry are our youngest adherents and sit through the whole service - well done to Carl and Miriam!We spent a fair amount of time in the afternoon preparing for a missions-style slideshow presentation at the 4.30 pm service, in which we presented the ministry on St Helena so that the church, and Graeme and Hazel, can be more effectively prayed for.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

All in a day's NZing

So here's what we did today:
Took delivery of the church's new computer;Went to Burger King for lunch;Got stopped by a police officer for a routine breathalyser check;Looked at houses with Matt and Rachel (see below); Caleb and Aaron had fun hanging out with Caleb and Josh (the new "Ben and Sam", but the originals maintain their high ranking);Took new iMac to Matt and Rachel for tutorial, giving the Calebs and Aaron and Josh more time to play;Went to Rene and Bronwyn for Hannah's birthday celebrations (got to be on the other side of a camera);Enjoyed heaps of awesome food including an NZ pavlova specialty; and got permission to photograph Carl and Miriam Lucas!

The Kempfs, Senior

Following a fairly low-key day in which we looked at another house, we had tea with Kurt and Shirley Kempf - they are Miriam's parents and Shirley attends services. They have an awesome property on the southern end of the town which houses a miniature horse (I never knew such things existed until about a week ago), a cat, a dog, some birds, several fish, a huge variety of fruit trees and vines, and any number of basalt sculptures and other wondrous things. Needless to say we had a most interesting visit! Shirley made an outstanding meatloaf meal after which we wandered outside to feed the fish and have a tour of the property where they have lived for 35+ years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One week later

So it’s been a whole week since touchdown. This week has flown by faster than an Airbus 388, with such a lot of running around, meeting of people, unpacking, familiarizing – but already we do feel very comfortable in Timaru and are getting the lay of the land and knowing which streets get us to which places. So, we didn’t have difficulty finding the Glenwood Rest Home where Nick had a short service this morning. We had a fair crowd of delightful NZ elderlies who listened attentively to his gospel presentation. Above is young Harry, the Lucas's 18-month-old. He's full of chuckles and fun. During the afternoon I had some time to work on the boys’ homeschool schedule a bit more – we are not using Sonlight exclusively as we have in years past but rather piecing together bits and pieces from all over, so I’m drawing up my own schedule. It’s been rather fun but I do have a more rounded appreciation of all that the good people at Sonlight actually do! This evening Nick is at his first elders’ meeting which I imagine will be a long one – no doubt he and the two others have a lot to discuss.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A place to call home?

Another beeeeeutiful day here with almost clear skies and lots of sun. It’s been up to about 30 deg C at its max in the last few days. Had another day of househunting, and found this spot which has potential for renting in the near future, Lord willing. Despite being very comfortable at Carl and Miriam’s place, and being spoiled by Miriam’s gourmet cuisine, we are very keen to get into our own place and set up housekeeping – not to mention that school starts again on Monday! Our first bible study was at Cynthia's home - the location rotates among the various houses. We left the boys here as none of the other children go - will have to see what we do about that in future.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Connections

Had a full day of furniture and house hunting, collected my new toy (a Nokia E63 – it’s such fun having gadgets after four years where we were virtually technologyless), and discovered self-checkout (very cool – you get to scan your own items and feed money in to a machine) at Pak'n'Save, which is where most of my grocery shopping will happen. They are notoriously cheaper than Countdown (which was called Woolworths) and New World which is the most expensive. Our first evening engagement was tea at Caroline Bay. Miriam had organized with some friends and family to meet up for the evening, and everyone brought picnic-style food - salads and cold chicken and quiches and things. There were a few people we hadn't met and it was great to get to know them. We ate supper under a portable gazebo, and then headed to the actual beach proper afterwards. The kids swam and the men played volleyball. I wandered around and had as much conversation as my throat would allow, but my voice was starting to hurt - I've picked up a throat infection since being here, possibly from the plane journey. Above: Caleb and Caleb, and below: Carl and Miriam and the family (they politely declined my request to photograph their fronts at their own home previously, so I'm doing it paparazzi-style...)After a great evening we were ready to head home at about 8.30 pm - twilight. We got the boys into bed and then went out directly again at 9 pm to visit Matt and Rachel, Miriam’s sister and brother-in-law. This was our first time socializing and we had a great evening of fellowship. Photos of all people will follow in due course…I guess I’m the one who is camera shy after all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Help yourself, banks and cellphones

It’s not that I’m one of those terribly helpless blondes…but when you’ve just arrived in a new country, still trying to navigate the roads and generally find your way, and you get to the petrol station knowing that you have to administer your own fuel and the nozzle appears not to fit the hole, then I think it’s excusable to stand around piteously waiting until someone comes who can be preyed upon for assistance. In today’s case it was an older gentleman who came to my aid. Next time I will know to use a different pump which isn’t broken, and what buttons to push, and I will also have the heads-up on how to open the petrol flap without walking around the car twice. With a full petrol tank, the boys and I continued on our way to town, leaving Nick doing prep at the Lucas’s place. I needed a few personal items and was also curious as to the lay of the shops, and this was the first opportunity I had to go exploring the mundanities of town. Actually I love shopping so this was no chore. I got slightly lost so we ended up in town central, but that was okay as I needed to get to the bank and a Vodafone shop. That done, the map book came out again and I found the Warehouse and Countdown, two big stores across the road from each other. Countdown is a grocery store rather like SA’s Checkers, and the Warehouse is more like a Macro. Both had many interesting wares to examine. We were home for Miriam’s super risotto lunch (she feeds us very well). In the afternoon the boys helped Carl clean out the fish tank before we headed into town again, this time armed with passports so we could open a bank account. We are now banking with BNZ (Bank of New Zealand) and had excellent service from them. The boys made paper aeroplanes while waiting which were duly flown around the bank, aided by one of the bank consultants. We also got a cellphone contract on the go, with one of them decent phone thingies that has e-mail and internet…mobile Facebook, here we come! Called in at the Warehouse again where we found some fabulous liquorice all-sorts with huge raspberry-flavoured liquorice sticks. Yum. There are lots of snacks and chocolates which we shall need to try out over time.

(Above: Stafford Street in Timaru, the main shopping area. Cars are very good about stopping at zebra crossings for pedestrians).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Church, people, church


Our first Sunday at MRBC…what a special day. The boys attended Sunday School at 9.30, and then at 10.30 was the service. It was quite well attended and Nick preached on "A Man after God's own Heart" from 1 Samuel 13, applying David's desire to please God to where the church should be aiming. After the service Nick and I went and stood at the back to shake hands with people as they came out, but no one exited! Everyone stayed for a cup of tea and bite to eat and chatted. There were approximately 45+ people in attendance and they seemed to appreciate Nick's message. We had an invitation to Rene and Bronwyn's house for lunch which we heartily accepted. Bron had done an awesome lamb roast with roasted butternut, mixed veggies, green beans, a sweet potato variety called "kumara", garlic bread, roast potatoes and gravy. She had also baked a zucchini chocolate cake - with grated zucchini! Delicious. And they have a pet rabbit who is toilet trained. Our 4.30 service was great too. Nick had asked me to share my testimony which I did although I was quite nervous and made a faux pas or two. No matter. Nick shared his too and then a bit of a message in which he choked up towards the end.

(Above: Jesse Kempf, the eldest, is learning guitar. Methinks Nick might get involved).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pastor Nick

Another full and wonderful day here in Kiwiland/New Sheepland/The Land of the Long White Cloud. Nick's induction happened today along with the FRBCNZ meeting. I dropped him off at the church at 9 am then came back to the house where the boys and I spent the morning. We had good fellowship with Michelle and Peter who were down from Christchurch for the meetings and were staying with our hosts for the night also - a full house! The first part of the meeting was for the men only, so we joined in after lunch for the induction service itself. It was a solemn occasion, and Nick answered his charges to shepherd the flock and remain faithful and diligent in his walk with the Lord with "By the grace of God, I do". He is now officially the pastor of Marchwiel Reformed Baptist Church. After the service there was tea and cake and an opportunity to meet many of the new faces who form part of the local church, and brothers and sisters who had flown in or driven down specifically for the meetings. All in all, a wholly blessed event! Next stop was Burger King for an ice-cream (this photo for you, Sue) which we ate while walking down the road to Caroline Bay. The bay is one of the major places to visit in Timaru (I hope I'm getting this right, otherwise I'm sure to be corrected by the Timaruvian blog readers) - it's a carnival over Christmas time, and the rest of the year it's a place to walk on the boardwalk, swim in the sea, walk along the beach, play volleyball, or patronise one of several restaurants or coffee shops in the close vicinity. Spent a wonderful afternoon there with Grant, Petru, Erin-Marie, Danica, Jayden, Dinae, Rene, Jesse, Samuel, Oliver, Hannah, and Rich and Bernie. At hungry-time we swung in at the Phillipsies for left-overs from the day, and yacked until nearly 9 pm. This was our last opportunity to see Rich and Bernie so we really wanted to maximise our time with them. It's been so special having old friends here, and the new friends are quickly feeling like old friends too. Perhaps it's just that they're old...
Above is Hannah who belongs to Rene and Bronwyn Kempf. Ren is one of the deacons.

Timaru, Day 1

Today was a very enjoyable and busy day. Slept wonderfully, then did a little unpacking in the first part of the morning, then we all went out to the front where someone was moving house. Now this I mean in the literal sense; they had sawed the house in half, loaded one half on a trailer and were transporting it to a new spot. You'd have to see it to believe it! Apparently it's not too unusual to relocate in this manner - some timber houses can be uprooted like this. Around 10 am, John and Joan came by to take us out and show us Timaru. We all piled into their little car which seated the six of us comfortably as it has a little fold-away seat in the front. We drove around the Timaru Bluestone factory, then to Joan and John’s place, then to the hospital to drop John off for a check-up. The five of us left him there and went to the botanical gardens - a truly beautiful spot with no entry fee. Ducks and seagulls came running for the bread Joan had cleverly bought for the purpose. We spent some time there before driving through the main town area and Caroline Bay. The town is so very pretty, with trees and flowers in abundance thanks to the ladies of the Timaru Beautification Society. Town is where the main shopping area is, and although it's not classified as a mall, it is essentially one - a collection of many shops up and down the streets. Joan took the boys for a frozen yoghurt while Nick and I went to one of the banks to open an account, but had to make an appointment for later in the day. We also bought a British to NZ adapter as the plugs here look different to ours - the holes are smaller, closer together and at different angles. This was getting toward lunchtime now, so we collected John from the hospital (he is well) then they took us to Subways for a sandwich - Nick and I shared a grilled footlong sub with roast beef, cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, avo, green pepper and dill - quite a thing. Very tasty and a lovely spot to eat at, quite reasonably priced. I've been multiplying everything by 5 to get some sort of Rands price bearing which is helpful until I get a feel for how far a $ stretches. After lunch we were dropped back at home but didn't tarry long as we had to get back to town for our bank appt. Got there slightly late because we had some trouble navigating around town (using a map to find places) and then a spot of problem parking. No matter though as they still couldn't help us anyway due to their systems being down. Had a look around some of the shops - quite amazed at the HUGE department stores like Farmers, which is like a cross between Edgars and Boardmans. Looked at furniture and linens and stuff for a while, then found a real estate place in town so got some info on rentals. Drove around to four rental places around Timaru but weren't overly impressed with any of them. Will try that again on Monday too, at different estate agents. Got home around4.30 in time for half a snooze before Grant came by, saying he had some people who wanted to meet us. Turns out the people were Richard and Bernie Roodt, who we know from CPBC, who had come down to South Island especially for Nick’s induction and the FRBCNZ meeting tomorrow! We were thrilled to see them, and had a short catch up before they left for Grant's place where we would meet up again a little later. Did a bit more suitcase unpacking and at about 5.30 we left again for Grant's place; Nick and Grant met up with John at the church and I chatted to Petru and Bernie and Richard. It was so great to be able to quiz them on all sorts of things about NZ and Bernie especially is full of help and tips. That was a really good visit, and then we came home at 8. Supper was ready for us; the boys bathed after supper and got into bed around 9 pm again. Another couple arrived from Christchurch while we were having supper (sorry, must refer to that as “tea” – henceforth I will call meals by their NZ names), also here for the meeting and induction tomorrow. It's a big event.

Friday, February 19, 2010

24 hours in the air

Our journey from Joburg to Timaru started at around 6.30 pm on Tuesday night when we left my parents’ home and drove to the airport. It took us over half an hour to check in as there was some confusion with our visas – the check-in guy misunderstood the itinerary and thought we were stopping over in Sydney overnight which would have necessitated transit visas which we didn’t have, and on my South African passport I would have been denied access. It took him a long time and many phonecalls to sort it out, but eventually we were done and our luggage booked through to Christchurch. Had Wimpy food with our dewelcoming committee comprising Tony and Sue, my mom and dad, Alan, Kate and ZoĆ«, and two friends from Pretoria, Heinrich and Elspeth (they were a lovely surprise). At last it was time to go, with Heinrich praying for us before we said our goodbyes. We did it quickly without lingering too long over tears so it wasn’t too much of a painful parting – certainly not as bad as our initial separation when we left for St Helena four years ago. (Above - last supper together at home, and below at OR Tembo Int)Went through the security gates all fine, then had to hang around in the departure lounge for about an hour or so because of the adverse weather conditions. Eventually boarded and got settled. The airplane was lovely (an airbus 380 something or other) - very large and each chair has its own computer/TV monitor with a choice of 600 movies, TV episodes, live news feeds, radio, CDs, and information about the flight, destination, airline, and so on. They change the cabin lighting to match the outside conditions. During the day they had regular fluorescents going, but at dusk and dawn they lit it with pink, orange and blue lights to simulate sunset or sunrise. At night they turned off the main cabin lights and had a starlight effect on the ceiling which was quite pretty. We watched a few movies during the 8-hour flight to Dubai. The boys got a bit of sleep, perhaps two hours, and I dozed off an on for an hour or two as well. Nick stayed up all night, not being much of a chair sleeper. The seats are comfortable enough but not great for sleeping in as you don't want to recline into the lap of the person behind you. They provided a blanket and a pillow. Also, as soon as we had boarded and settled, the boys had their photograph taken with a polaroid camera, which the hostesses stuck into a certificate frame sort of thing. They were also given a super little gift bag containing a sleeping mask and soft toy thing which the boys rather like. So a lot of effort is made for the younger flyers. I didn't see a lot of kids on the flight, perhaps Caleb and Aaron were the only ones. The plane was fairly full but not overcrowded. We landed slightly later than scheduled, so the Dubai airport (at which we really felt like foreigners) was a bit of a rush. Had to walk quickly through the buildings to the security check where I was frisked because I set off the alarm, probably because of jean zips. Then a brisk walk to our departure gate, getting there in time to check straight in. Had a bit of a wait in the departure lounge, possibly half an hour, during which time we brushed our teeth and went to the loo and generally freshened up as best we could. Then we were on the plane again for the 13-hour flight to Sydney. This time we were separated - Nick and Caleb sat right at the back of the plane on the left side, and Aaron and I were about halfway down on the right side. Pity that we couldn't get seats together, but really it was quite fine. We watched more movies and tried to get some sleep in between. Nick and Caleb did not do so well with the sleeping so both were exhausted. Anyway, got to Sydney after a 13-hour flight and were glad to be offloaded at the airport, which is also huge and very lovely - looks more like a shopping mall than an airport! We had time for a cup of coffee and iced teas for the boys, and again a teeth-brushing time, then not too long of a wait before boarding again for the last little 3-hour flight which went very quickly. We were well fed on all the legs of the journey with gourmet food and about five courses on one tray. During the last flight we had to complete an arrival card for NZ customs, declaring anything and so on. At last we touched down in Christchurch to rainy conditions - didn't get to see the Southern Alps because of extensive cloud cover. Had to stand in queues for luggage checks and then customs so it took at least 45 minutes from disembarkation to actually finally being free of all airports and security (the novelty quickly wears off). When we went through the final doors we were greeted by four happy faces - John and Joan Leevers, Carl Lucas and Rene Kempf. Carl and Ren are the two deacons; John is one of the elders and also a past pastor of MRBC. Hugs all round and then lots of talking on the two-hour drive to Timaru in Carl’s Kia Carnival which carried all eight of us plus our luggage. The boys and I sat in the back row where our six closed eyes were hidden. Got to Timaru around 7 pm? Wasn’t really too focused on the various times which also became rather confusing through 11 time zones. There we met Miriam Lucas and their boys Peter and Harry, as well as Grant and Petru Phillips and their children Erin, Danica, Jayden and Dinae. A bit later Rene popped on with his wife Bronwyn and children Jesse, Samuel and Hannah. Got the boys into bed around 9 pm (around sunset time), then Nick went off to see the church with Carl. I found myself drifting off while talking to Miriam (how rude) so took myself to bed around 10 pm. It was such a blessing to sleep in a comfortable, warm bed (three duvets kept us toasty) and have a shower the next morning, after our extensive travels! We thank the Lord for our safe journey and arrival, and are all very excited to finally be here amongst our new family.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

...go!!

We're off tonight! We unexpectedly got tickets for this evening, so spent the day packing and doing some last minute stuff. We fly at 22h20 to Dubai (8 hours), have a two-hour stop-over, then leave at 10h15 their time for Sydney (another 14 hours). Three hours in Sydney, then the final 3-hour flight to Christchurch, arriving at 15h15 on Thursday afternoon, then another two hours of driving to our final destination. Needless to say we are VERY excited although not a little sad at the pending separation from family and friends - new adventures are always bittersweet for us. Catch you on the other side!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ready, set, ...

Last week after our Golden Harvesting with Glen and Antje, we jokingly said "same time same place next week" - assuming we would be long gone already. Of course as the week unfolded it turned out that we weren't long gone, so we spent the afternoon together at the park. This time though, instead of meeting there, we met at the Northgate ice arena for the kids to skate. Amanda and Rachel have weekly lessons so they really cook on the ice, but it was the boys' first exposure to gliding across a slippery surface on thin blades. They hovered close to the barrier throughout, but by the end of about two hours they were making good progress. We ate our lunch at the rink then went to the park around 1.30 pm. The kids went off for a walk together, and Glen and Nick followed them shortly after, leaving Antje and I to talk - she is such a blessing and I thank God for her! It wasn't long before Nick came running back shouting, "our passports are ready"!! A whole day early, praise God! We packed up, said our final final teary farewells to the Thompsons, dropped the boys off at home then haretailed it to Pretoria to collect the passports. How very exciting! Supper was pizza at Bruce and Debbie again - it's been great seeing them in this overtime time!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oh yes, and happy Valentine's Day

We attended Rosebank Union Church this morning, where Leigh Robinson is the senior pastor - Leigh was the pastor at Honeyridge Baptist where I 'grew up', and he married Nick and me. A blessing to sit under his ministry again. Lunch was another 'this is the last Sunday we'll see you' barbeque at Al and Kate, where Nick introduced his new life's motto of "never try to finish the chili". Alan doesn't hold to the same philosophy. Shortly after lunch Al brought out some puzzles which kept Nick, Dad and I thoroughly occupied!
Providentially we bumped into some very dear friends of ours at RUC earlier in the morning who we have not seen in many years - Mike and Candice Manby were our first couple friends, married just a few months after us. We had great times of fun and fellowship together as young marrieds, going on holiday together a few times as well. Sadly we lost contact somewhat over the years through various relocations on both parts, so it was a real joy to see them again - they are back in Joburg for now. We left the luncheon early to get to them for afternoon tea, and reconnected as though we'd never been apart. It is so good to have friends with whom you can pick up a friendship like a lace doily in progress, not missing a stitch.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friends and cousins

Saturday morning we fitted in another visit to the Golden Harvest Park, this time with my dear school friend, Heather, and her three. Her poor DH was laid up in bed with a bug. Had the best time chatting while the five kids played all manner of adventure games and things. In the afternoon we were with Tony and Sue and Ethan and Jack for lunch, supper and a movie - very relaxed afternoon as always.