Posts Tagged ‘Ponderings’


Thursday, June 10th, 2010

A quick post for no other reason than to share a nice true story.

  1. Yesterday, I grabbed a burger and fries with a young guy from church and chatted through some stuff he’s got on his mind.
  2. This morning, walking to the college bus with my daughter, the young guy finds $120 in crisp new notes in the street.
  3. They call me on my cellphone for advice and I say keep it safe and hand it in to the police station as soon as possible.
  4. The young guy passes the money to my daughter as she’ll be able to get there sooner.
  5. After school, she goes to the police and they ask her to check with the three local banks before they take the money into safekeeping.
  6. The banks all say no-one has reported the loss to them so she signs it over to the police.  They say that if it isn’t claimed in 90 days, the $120 bucks will go to the young guy.
  7. Meanwhile, the young guy’s mum is waiting for her lodger to return from work and pay the rent.
  8. The sad lodger returns home to report that although he drew the rent money out of ATM this morning but has somehow lost it during the day.
  9. The young guy overhears and gets to deliver the ‘happy ever after’ punchline to the story.
  10. They call us to say they’re heading to the police station first thing in the morning.
As Hannibal Smith used to say, ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’
[edited as ecto swallowed the text of the original post somehow]

I have a dream – redux in Uganda

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I have been following the writer Matthew Paul Turner for a while and find that he often has a new angle on some of the challenges we all face in life and faith.  He is currently in Uganda with World Vision for Uganda Week (click the image above) and is covering his activities extensively in blog – Jesus Needs New PR – and via his numerous tweets.

In a post earlier today (which will be Martin Luther King Day in the US), he pondered on what King’s dream might look like from the dusty streets of Uganda in 2010.

“On the flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe, I watched This Is It, the documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s final concert series. Toward the middle, the film showcased a clip of Jackson singing/practicing his song “They Don’t Really Care About Us” from the album HIStory. Most of the song’s lyrics involve Michael lamenting injustice and inequality… then, toward the end of the song, he sings:

“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see/But if Martin Luther was living, he wouldn’t let this be.”

I realize that’s a big statement to make about any human being. However, Dr. King was indeed a man whose strong words against injustice were followed (and often led) with action. Simply offering big speeches and making grandiose statements was not in his character. Dr. King acted on the words he spoke. His actions were bold and loud and often scraped against the social norms of his time.?  As I prepare for my first day walking among Uganda’s poorest of the poor, I’m wondering how Dr. King’s dream relates to the children I will meet tomorrow in the hot dusty sands of the Gulu District in Northern Uganda. In honor of Dr. King’s day, I borrow the finale of “his dream” and rewrite it in perspective of what’s currently on my mind…

It’s a brave man that rewrites one of the most famous speeches in modern history but there is no denying Turner’s passion and heart for his fellow man.  It certainly serves to remind me just how lucky I am and the vast catalogue of things I take for granted and should be continually thankful for.  Turner’s post also caused me to recall my own post five years ago about how our lives were fleetingly but indelibly touched as a result of the genocide in Uganda.

“A few years back, we befriended and worked to assist a single parent from Uganda in her challenge to make the enormous adjustment to settling in the UK after her escape. We helped her set up home and, when Christmas Eve arrived, we visited her with a few things like decorations and presents to give to her children. Satisfied that we had done what we could without patronising or embarrassing our new friend, we spent a happy Christmas Day morning opening the presents we had received from each other. Answering a knock at the door, we found our Ugandan friend standing outside with a large package wrapped in second-hand wrapping paper. Refusing to come in, she offered the package with a few words then turned and left. We opened the package to find a ‘Welcome’ door mat, the cheap woven kind that one would find in every pound-shop up and down the country. Knowing her weekly income was less than we would spend on a family meal out and that the pound she had spent on the mat was no small percentage, I was lost for words and stood there quietly with a lump in my throat. I am under no illusions whatsoever as to who received the greater gift.”*

I saw something of Jesus in our friend Mary that that day and I only have to close my eyes to see him again her blazing eyes and beaming smile. Once more, I am called to make a difference – will you answer the call too?

*Later edit: The echo of the parable of The Widow’s Offering in Mary’s gift has just struck me – perhaps that’s why her generosity causes me to catch my breath even now.

Easy like Sunday morning

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Our Sunday mornings are beginning to take on a semblance of normality, or at least what passed for normality before we decided to up stick and moved to the other side of the world. This means that SWMBO and the sprogs head off for church and I take the opportunity to try and get a couple of hours quiet writing under my belt. Sadly, the theory is great but, in actuality, what happens is that I invariably get diverted by email or checking out an interesting web site and before I know it, the family are back and baying for lunch. Another diversion has been my frankly pathetic attempts to settle back into running every other day, a simple enough programme but one which I have yet to accomplish. Compounded by a back strain earlier this week, my current sweat-drenched efforts are woefully inadequate considering that, in just four weeks time, I shall be taking part in an 18 hour, 160 kilometre relay race around Lake Taupo. All of which is my way of recording that I am finding it hard to get back into writing regularly and have found procrastination all too easy to embrace, even when I have house to myself and peace and quiet reign throughout. Not content with finding reasons and excuses for not being able to write here right now, I have also resumed my more geekish jottings over on my long-standing blog bignoseduglyguy, where I can get a shameless instant gratification fix by posting short and snappy comments rather than the longer, more considered pieces I have been posting here.

Teacher’s Note: Must try harder.


Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

Earlier today we found our tortoiseshell cat Jessie, who had become another road toll statistic over Christmas. Sadly, we have been here before with Jasper. Always an independent, on her own terms cat, she would often join me on my late night online sessions by flaking out on top of my monitor. I don’t think she ever forgave my for getting a LCD flat screen. After I set it up, she leapt on top, not realising their was no ‘top’ any more and plummeted down the back of the desk, emerging in one piece but distinctly unamused.

You’ll be missed, Jess.

Here and there and elsewhere

Monday, December 26th, 2005

I suspended writing on my long-running weblog a few months back in favour of concentrating on recording our emigration experiences here. Whilst I have never been the most consistent of bloggers, I now intend to resume blogging there as well as here and elsewhere. Now I am settling to my new life and work routine, I am feeling the desire to be looking around the web again and writing on other subjects. This being the case, I am pretty sure that I will now split my blogging across the two sites.

No.8 Wire was always intended to be a collection of impressions and recollections centered around our experience as migrants in New Zealand. This being the case, I hope to keep that focus as the core of my writing here whilst broadening it a little to include things of interest to friends and family around the globe.

bignoseduglyguy will resume where it left off – as a stream of geeky bits and bobs, comments and critiques, fun and philosophy – namely a common or garden blog.

As for writing elsewhere, I was involved in the London launch of the ever-growing Metroblogging franchise and still intend to post there occasionally as a ‘foreign correspondent’ though, now I have sorted shelter, food and warmth for the family, I might just have time to work on something else with Sean and the crew. Last but not least, I still hold out a small hope for making time to work on something with my good friends Chuck, Jason and Roger. Though we are all more than busy with our various lives, careers and families, I still fondly recall the fun we had writing for Chuck’s most excellent but now-dormant

Missing Mog

Monday, December 26th, 2005

One of the cats has been missing since Christmas Day morning. Whilst it is perhaps not too surprising as they have been uprooted and relocated twice in the last four months, it has brought a subdued mood to the house. Given that she is a town-raised cat in a rural setting, the possibilities are endless, for all the cats have gone into overdrive exploring their new and extensive territory. As well as the more usual getting stuck in a cupboard or locked in the shed, here we also have possibility of getting lost in the five acre maize field, being kicked by a bull or becoming trapped in the abattoir to factor in. Needless to say, no-one is wanting to even consider the State Highway at the bottom of the garden likelihood.

Christmas in Kumeu: a day in pictures

Sunday, December 25th, 2005


One adult, two kids and just three hours to assemble


The Chef’s Salad and the salad chefs


No turkey here


The family and the neighbours lunching


Cap from Maryland, USA: US$40
Daughter’s RipCurl shades: NZ$20
Shirt from Rarotonga, Cook Islands: NZ$35
Chef’s apron from London, UK: £20
Feelings of happiness and contentment: Priceless


The cattle are lowing…

Friday, December 23rd, 2005


Christmas Eve 2004, London, UK

A plastic tree, homemade paper chains and snowflakes, short days with biting winds, some nice neighbours and Chardonnay in the fridge.


Christmas Eve 2005, Kumeu, NZ

A real tree (same fairy on top), homemade paper chains and snowflakes, sunshine in the 20s, bulls for neighbours and Chardonnay on the vine in the distance.

Given the horrors and privations that some have endured in the last 365 days, we feel extraordinarily privileged to have been able to bring about change in our lives and be where we are today.

Bush telegraph

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

In the last 36 hours, the combined technical clout of NZ’s satellite TV company and national telecoms provider has converted our rural hideaway into a fully connected digital homestead. After nearly four months of expensive cellphone calls and 3G wireless data connections, we now have expensive digital satellite TV and ADSL!

This means is that, when I’m not glued to the European cinema channel eating turkey sandwiches or watching All American supermarket cart racing whilst grilling steak and prawns on the barbie, there’s a good chance that I’ll start writing here a little more regularly again.

[UPDATE] I have either just fried my AirPlus wifi router or it’s power supply, so wifi access for my iBook will have to wait until tomorrow. All I have to do is work out which of the children’s presents to return to the store for a refund to pay for a new router.

More to follow…

Hitting the road

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

The last ten days have passed in a blur of activity and, by securing
a work permit and finding a house to rent whilst we find one to buy,
we have now cleared the last two major obstacles in the first phase
of our move to New Zealand. Just over a week ago, after four days
and 1500 kilometres of house hunting, we have found a great house to
rent in a rural township, 35 kilometres north west of Auckland.
After several days of viewing disappointing and nondescript suburban
properties, we knew that we would find it hard to live in a home that
was wedged in amongst others. Having spent too many years in a small
apartment listening to every neighbourly noise, such places were not
what we had envisaged when we decided to move halfway round the
world. Firm in our resolve to find a place where the kids would have
space to run amok, a community where we could enjoy life and make
friends and yet within commuting distance of my new job, we searched on.

Having been told that rural rentals are rarer than hen’s teeth, we
continued north to a place called Kumeu[1] and popped into a real
estate agent to enquire anyway. It just so happened that one such
‘hen’s tooth’ was back on the market that morning and the description
captured our interest. As the agent couldn’t contact the outgoing
tenant, we drove out of the town and up the hill to view the property
from the road. Whilst the neighbouring Tuscan style villa, nestling
amongst the vineyards on the other side of the road had the edge in
terms of setting, the large house opposite, set back from the road
and with a large garden and patio to the rear was certainly in line
with what we were looking for.

Later that afternoon, we were able to have a look around the house
and it seemed to offer most of what we needed and wanted plus a few
other things like a sunken mosaic bath and a dressing room for the
lady of the house! Although it was a little over the budget we’d
set, we both knew that it was the best place we’d seen all week and
that the township was just the type of place we could see ourselves
settling in. Subsequent enquiries showed that the house was well
placed for access to good schools, local amenities, farm shop and a
reasonable 30 minutes from my office. We have since signed on the
dotted line, paid our bonds and deposits and will hopefully move in
at some point during the coming week.

With six humans, four cats, eighteen bags and cases, two bikes and
numerous boxes of stuff to move up country, not to mention my
upcoming daily commute, it was obvious that even our eight seat
family car would be woefully inadequate. Having driven a long 600
kilometres back to Foxton on Sunday and spent Monday running around
trying to work out what we needed to do first, we headed to
Palmerston North on Tuesday to look for the second car and trailer
we’d need to move north. During a quick lunch break, we got a call
to say that a package was awaiting collection at Palmerston North
Airport’s Courier Post depot. When I drove over to collect it, I
found it contained a letter from NZ Immigration and my passport,
inside which I found my brand new two year work permit. I was
stunned; partly because it had been processed and returned to me in
under two days but also because, after a good few years’ research and
planning and a large leap into the unknown without any guarantees, we
were now in New Zealand, with a home to move to, a job to start and
the permit that holds the key to our future.

I’ll admit to being a little overcome for a moment or two as it all
sunk in and I felt a wave of relief pass over me. It was only then
that I realised just quite how much pressure I had put myself under
to keep focused on getting the job and permit we need to stay in New
Zealand, occasionally at the expense of my family’s feelings, if the
truth be told. I think that it was then that I appreciated just what
we are in the process of accomplishing as a family: for all the
relocation programmes on television, comparatively cheap air travel
and desire for different lives, uprooting a family of six from an
established life in one country and moving them to another far away
is something that is hard to quantify and appreciate until you
experience it for yourself. After sharing the good news with SWMBO
and our dear friends Peter and Rae, we celebrated by buying a second
hand car and returning home to cook a family meal of chicken piri
piri. During this, SWMBO and I drank a toast proposed by our
daughters with a white wine charmingly called ‘Cat Pee On A
Gooseberry Bush’. With a spooky twist of synchronicity, upon reading
the label, we discovered that the wine (which helps raise money for
the SPCA, in case you were wondering) is produced in the valley that
we shall be moving to. Be it fate, destiny, the prayers of friends
or sheer coincidence, it made us smile.

After many calls to shippers and Customs, it seems likely that next
week we will finally be reunited with the shipping container with all
our worldly goods in it next week after living out of 18 cases and
bags for three months. This being the case, we now have just two
days to get ourselves packed (of course, we have bought more stuff
since we arrived) and ready to leave at 0600hrs on Tuesday. It’ll be
an eight to nine hour journey as a convoy to our new place, with
SWMBO driving one car with half the kids and her cats whilst I’ll
take the remainder in mine, along with a load of boxes and bags in
our newly purchased trailer. Having bought the truck secondhand, we
splashed out on a trailer because every Kiwi family seems to own a
four wheel drive ‘ute’ and a galvanised trailer with which they haul
their sheep, cattle, white goods, hunting dogs, old mattresses,
building materials and mother-in-laws, depending on the task at
hand. As we drove back from the vehicle testing station, I turned to
SWMBO and asked her how it was that our lives had come to resemble a
Country & Western lyric – just a man, his gal, his truck ‘n’ his
trailer, driving into the setting sun. We thought it was funny but
you had to be there, I guess.

Joking aside, there’s hardly a day goes by when we don’t pinch
ourselves to check that it isn’t all a dream. In just the last ten
weeks, we have abandoned the Northern autumn, snorkelled in the
Pacific, paddled the Tasman, made new friends, hiked the mountains,
been interviewed many times, swum with dolphins, joined schools,
attended clubs, seen Venus and Mars in the same night sky, drunk
lovely wines and fretted over papers and formalities. Whilst we have
had the odd blue moment and it is very early days yet, each day seems
to confirm the rightness of our decision – days where the girls can
cycle to school with minimal risk, days where one’s word is still
enough to close a deal and days where the local pastor lets folk use
his open wifi connection for free because he’s paid for it anyway.
Leaving the friendly folk of Foxton and Horowhenua in the week to
come, we can only hope that we find their like amongst our new
neighbours in Kumeu.