home again

For me, 53 days without flying in a plane is a break all of its own - but to be home again in New Zealand, with its beauty of scenery, friends and family has been a delight ... even though somewhat exhausting.

Best food     Cafe Anatolia in Levin (Turkish).

Greatest act of grace     Someone lending us a vehicle which I picked up from the airport on arrival and will deliver to the airport on departure (8 weeks later). Then when I notified the owner that I had to fill out my first ever car insurance claim form after a gentle nose-to-tail (which was my fault) to read his words, 'Don't worry about it, get on with your trip'.

Most comfortable accommodation (more grace)     Three nights at Flaxmill (Coromandel) gifted to us. On arrival, it felt different. It just did. Turns out they are Christians. I love it when that happens. On departure I glimpsed their 'guiding truths' on the wall - right there, articulated in the public world, as they should be more often. [Although I'd like to tweek 'There is a God that loves us. Actually involve Him in your life', changing it to 'There is a God who loves us. Actually involve yourself in His life.'].

Most strategic sleep     With driving a car for almost 7000 kms over 6 weeks, the five different times I had to stop by the roadside for a car-nap seems reasonably significant.

Most foolish advice     (and probably the best evangelistic opportunity) in an old pub in Otira Gorge. 'Don't take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.'

Biggest disappointment (in society)     TV news shows. Really?! They are becoming more vacuuous by the year, even as their hosts become more chatty, casual and celebritous. Ahh, the danger of being enslaved to ratings, rather than reality. I had to turn away, as it was that bad.

Biggest disappointment (in church)     Worship. Really?! How come this is still an issue? So many churches seem to have their services led by younger musicians, rather than maturer worshippers, who are underprepared (maybe 'casual and chatty' works again here!) and who choose songs that their band wants to perform, rather than songs we worshippers want to sing.

Best eye for beauty in the detail (while being surrounded by grander beauty on the horizon)    Barby with the daffodils in Kaikoura. Its horizonal beauty is pictured over here - while the daffodils can be seen here:


Best ice cream     I Scream for Ice Cream in Feilding.

Most 'I love being a New Zealander' moment     Hard to go past watching (finally!) The Hunt for the Wilderpeople ... although starting a movie after 8pm, while sitting on a comfy couch is always a challenge for me.

Most truth-filled words seen on a toilet door since 'vacant' and 'occupied'     At our daughter's home, splashing across the Himalayas of our distant childhood, was a frequent reminder of why we do what we do and live where we live with our lives. 'Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.'

Best drinking water     The little fountain with natural spring water on the main road in Tirau.

Most effective shortening of the bucket list     Visiting Parihaka is right up there, even though we barely got past the AA road sign.

Most provocative mission question     'Are you counting conversions, or conversations?' One cannot help to conclude that the former would go a whole lot better if the latter was embraced more fully.

Most necessary mission question     Do NZ Christians really need such a big presence on free-to-air TV?  Is this good stewardship of limited resources? Sure, a few people may be drawn to Christ by it - but who is counting all the collateral damage in terms of spreading the perception of the church being a little too foreign, a little too slick and a bit too obsessed with Israel and creationism?

Best poetry     There it was - hand-written on the inside cover of my 85 year old mother's cookbook. Ahh, that familiar maternal font I've loved all my life, expressing convictions, so incarnate in a life that God has used to touch so many people.

Most frequent conversation topics overheard   The (apparently) invincible Auckland property market and the (apparently) invincible All Blacks. Really?! What does that say?  The gospel might just have greater opportunities to progress in this land if they both came unstuck a bit.

Most 'reunited and it feels so good' moment     Well, with food it was 'tasty' cheese, Vogel's bread, the box of avocados posted to me by my daughter for father's day, my mother's muesli - and chickens with far more flesh on them than that to which I am accustomed in India.

Most unfortunate name for a company     Tranzit. Every time I saw the name on a bus as it went by, I found myself wanting to reach for a mirror to ensure that a plague of pimples had not spread across my face.

Most profound theological moment     Standing in front of the crumbling Catholic Cathedral in Christchurch, so devastated by earthquakes, and knowing enough Latin to understand what it says atop the ruins: 'the dwelling place of God is with men'. Yes, it is true: the church is not a building.


Greatest privilege (in ministry)    I preach infrequently these days. It is kinda ironic. But preaching more than 20 times in 6 weeks (with not that many repeats, plus a few daylong seminars), while fighting two separate waves of heavy colds, not only exhausted me - it reminded me of the 'grace given me' to open the Word of God for the people of God and that His 'grace is sufficient' so to do.

Greatest joy (in family)     More grace. It has been a delight to see 'the gracious hand of our God' resting upon our children in different ways - nowhere more so than in the arrival of a new grandchild, to bring the total number to three.


Off again tomorrow...

nice chatting

Paul

Comments

Ben Carswell said…
It was lovely to see you, hear you & get chance to cha(a)t with you. Thanks for coming back & making the time/effort.
Paul Windsor said…
Likewise - enjoyed the opportunities to see you and yours!