Auckland, New Zealand
We’ve finally done all the firsts….first time visiting the supermarket and vege shop, first checking the mailbox, first play with neighbours, first chat over the fence, first BBQ, first time to the organic shop, first summer swim, first walk, first day back at work, first contact with medical personnel (thankfully this does not tend to be a regular occurrence for us, but we are going to have booster shots done so we can take off again any time in the next ten years without having to go through the rigmarole of weekly jabs for Far Too Long At Far Too Great An Expense), first rain, first vege planting, first bread baking (we’ve even got a sourdough bug on the go now)…we had completed all the firsts except going back to church.
Now that’s done too.
One lovely (obviously-blog-reading) lady spoke to us afterwards, saying she had looked over and seen us and thought that if she’d been us she’d have been sitting there missing the close-knit Romanian church group we were a part of for a month; she’d have been feeling today was impersonal and non-interactive and very big. Strangely enough, these were not the things that stood out to me. I noticed the niceness. As a matter of fact, in a number of different settings, this keeps happening over and over. Everything seems so pristine, so well-cared-for, so unbroken, so matching, so nice. We don’t attend a church that meets in a big fancy cathedral or even in a modern church building – we set up shop each Sunday in a local school hall. But, even still, it looked nice. And when the lights were dimmed, it seemed like a performance!
Secondly, everything felt slow. Instead of needing to race to try and keep up with the words of the songs, we were able to sing along comfortably. Even the song that had been learnt while we were away. It was not completely unfamiliar to us though – we encountered it first in Romania, and now we know what it meant;-)
Thirdly, there was real English. The sermon included turns of phrase that you just don’t hear coming from language learners. This added a depth and made me aware again of the importance for people to have the Scriptures in their own tongue. Having not given it a moment’s thought for many years, I remembered that once upon a time I had thought I would be a Bible translator some day….clearly that never happened.
Fourthly, we were able to connect with people we know. What a comfortable blessing, and one we shall try to not take for granted.
The last thing we noticed was how our trip continues to affect this new life.
Cloths draped over a big wooden cross made us think of similar ones draped over statues in Cambodia.
A sermon reference to the multiplicity of gods in ancient days brought forth images of statues lined up outside temples, both in Asia and Europe.
A prayer for those suffering as a result of the Haiti earthquake led my thoughts to the suffering elsewhere as well.
Our experience of the past fifteen months will no doubt continue to mould us into the future. But the time has come for us to stop the recording.
Our adventure of life for the next year will involve Rob continuing to serve the local community at his place of employment….giving to the wider world community by raising money for Big Brother Mouse…becoming a biking family….possibly becoming a farming family….we’ve already started new learning experiences through books and activities….we’ll hopefully take road trips round our own country….we’ll dream dreams.
And one day, we hope to reopen Pilgrims’ Progress, for another chapter.
insert picture of the ten of us lined up like our front page picture….but we need to take the picture first (and we’d quite like to take it on the new land we are going to call home signifying our new adventure into a different lifestyle….we have been to look at properties, but haven’t found The One yet….so maybe any picture will do)
PS In a few days – or perhaps when we’ve taken that last photo – we’re planning on rearranging the blog. We are not going to close it completely as some travelling families have done when they finish their travels (maybe because we do not feel we have finished), but we are going to reverse the order of the posts so that we can read from beginning to end!
PPS When we had a look at an old post the other day we discovered it had somehow got truncated…..Grandpa Gene, we’ll be sending you the full version of the story you were in the middle of reading!