Saturday, May 30, 2009

My absolutely brilliant long weekend!

Saturday was a lovely sunny day in London and very warm! I spent most of the day at the beach volleyball court (London only has 1!) coaching/meeting junior players. It was our first kick off day of London Juniors as part of the London Beach Volleyball Club. We had 6 players turn up, 2 who were complete beginners. The aim for now is to get some of the indoor players playing beach and representing London in tournaments—long term maybe even Great Britain in the world under 21s! I also had my first game of the English season for this year after the juniors training. After 7 hours out in the sun it was home to lie on the couch watching Britains Got Talent-the UKs fav TV show!

Sunday was the highlight of the weekend. I was off to the train station at 10am to catch my train south to Pulborough. (just north of Worthing) This took just over an hour and my friend Ali met me there as her and some others had been camping down there. The reason being that Sunday was the Big Church Day Out which was held on a private estate where there is a huge historic stone house called Wiston House. The day started at 2pm but we were running touch rugby coaching sessions so were there much earlier. It was a glorious day. Many of us kiwis there commented how it felt like we were home in NZ. It was beautiful clean green countryside and there wasnt a cloud in the sky and with the temp pushing 25 deg or more we were remarking how hot it was!! (well for England anyway!) Around 6pm we headed for mainstage. It really felt like a mini parachute festival! Families were all spread out on the grass hill which formed a natural ampitheatre feel—not steep like the one at Totara Springs but also no sheep poos but rather lush green grass. Michael W Smith was on at 6:45 and was as good as usual playing for just over an hour. Then at 8:30 as a huge orange sun was setting over behind mainstage Delirious came on. After a few songs some of us wanted to be way closer and so made a run that Karen Macnab would have been proud of to get closer to the stage and mosh pit—yes there was almost a mosh pit! 5 of us went up there and had a brilliant time singing and jumping and dancing to the music. They played for 90 minutes and challenged us to again be history makers—break down denominational barriers and speak out about injustice in the world etc. Overall a phenomenal evening. I then got a ride down to Brighton and caught the fast train back to Clapham junction.

Monday (a public holiday) I went to Battle (near Hastings) with my football club. We took 2 teams-an over 35s and an under 35s. Battle Baptist were our hosts and at 1:30 the over 35s took the field. As we were short of players I played for them on the right wing. We dominated and went ahead 3-0 before letting them score 3 goals to level it very late in the game. But we then scored the winner just before full time. It was very hot and humid making for a tough time esp. in long sleeved winter shirts! Then the under 35s played. I rested and refueled for the first half and then came on 2nd half and played on the left wing. The temp had dropped and even had a few rain drops which was refreshing. Although we had been down 1-0 and 1-1 at half time we finished them off 5-1. I had a chance in both games both times putting it over the bar. After a BBQ we drove back to London—my legs were rather sore after playing 130 minutes but no cramp so pretty happy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Shack

On the plane to Ukraine I finished off the book by Will Young, The Shack. Wow this book is brilliant! On the back cover it hints it will attempt to deal with the issue of suffering and pain in our world and how could God be in control and allow all of that? Much of the book does deal with this issue but then it hits on sooo much more! I recommend anyone who has any sort of belief in any higher being/religion or wonders if there could be such a being reads this book! Do not expect a theological argument or doctrinal statement about who God is or isn’t and why you should or shouldn’t believe in Him. However expect to have a lot of religious premonitions and ideologies kicked into space and a fresh perspective on how God just might want to relate to us if He is indeed real. It’s also been likened to Pilgrims Progress—the classic book written by John Bunyan in the 19th century. They hope this book will be made into a movie once a certain number of book sales are reached. So encourage your friends to get this book and read it! check out for more!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ukraine- Day 4

14042009999 A beautiful warm sunny day here today! After breakfast Jono , Jon and I went up to Daniels house and played table tennis. I don’t get as much practice as they do and lost to both Jon and Jono. Then visited Natasha (she runs Jono’s business for him) and had morning tea. Then Jono went to work and Jon and I walked to the beach. There is a really nice beach which is man made but a huge amount of sand has been put there so its a very large beach. Unfortunately they don’t keep things very clean so there are bottles and rubbish all along the waters edge making it look rather dirty. We walked back through the town stopping at the shop for lunch food. After lunch back at Jon and Ruths, I finished filling in the big hole in the back lawn. We had afternoon tea at Bruce and Debs place and then back to mark out and dig holes for Jon and Ruth’s deck. Ruth cooked a roast chicken dinner and Jono and Magdala came for that and then we all went to Masha’s place for a fire and cooked damper and hung out. Its been a great time here, very relaxing and London feels along way away! Tomorrow I leave back to the big smoke but I hope I can come back soon—really want to build the deck for Jon and Ruth!

Ukraine- Day 3

Woken by Jono and after showering we picked Jon up and drove out to the strawberry farm. Jono’s friend Gavin runs the farm and Masha works there 3 days a week so we spoke to them and looked over the farm. Then drove to a war memorial on the river where Russians set up a dummy river crossing to avoid the Germans but in order to make it seem real they had a camp set up with people in it. The Germans slaughtered all the people there. On the way back to town we stopped at a timber mill and Jon and I looked at some timber for a deck. Jon and Rufus plan to build a deck on the back of their house so I had drawn up plans and we found the timber we needed and at a fairly good price so we ordered it all and it will be delivered on Saturday. Not in time for me to actually build it unfortunately! We then went to the school where Jono runs his English teaching business and had a look around. We left Jono there and Jon and I went to the shop to buy some bread. Was interesting to look at the various food items and see some familiar brands- Nestle, Mars, M & Ms, Wrigleys, Kinder. The shop is kinder like a corner dairy but for a town of 10 000 people its not that big! I guess most rely on the markets for their goods—I’ll see the market on Wednesday. Back to Jon’s house to find Rufus with a power tool in the pantry trying to cut the shelves down to the correct size! The joiners hadn't done it correctly so I helped her with the first one. We ate lunch and then I put a sheet of backing on the joinery under the bar, and then went outside and destroyed the old outside toilet, completely filling the smelly hole in! They also had a massive hole in the back yard which I began to throw junk into from around the yard—mostly bricks and then shovelled dirt on top. It’s nearly all filled in now! Meanwhile Rufus had finished all the pantry shelves and sanded them and put all the food in there. We all ate dinner at Jonos with Cassie from Texas and watched some DVD’s before another day was over and time for bed! Also today

Ukraine- Day 2

Easter Sunday although in Ukraine its only Palm Sunday as they follow the orthodox calendar. Pancakes for breakfast and I hid Easter Eggs for the others to find (Cadbury Creme Eggs!). Went to church which today was all the 4 churches in the town together in one place for the first time. So it was a special service and ended up being 3 hours and 15 minutes long!! (and no breaks!!) We had translators but we were all still very restless and couldn’t wait to get out for lunch!! Lunch at Rufus and Jons was sandwiches and Masha also hung out with us. Later on went and played some volleyball with a bunch of locals in the town. Then back to Rufus and Jons where I whipped up a batch of scones which we ate fresh with jam and cream. Played a game of settlers which Masha won and then ate again—rice and a spicy chicken dish. Then back to Jonos house and watched a movie. Have now seen the town in the daylight and they have some great views of the river as their houses are up on a hill. Unfortunately all the trees are still bare so it looks a little dull but I can imagine in summer its prettier. The town is very basic tho, not to many cars or shops and the streets/houses are also basic. Most houses are whitewashed, and don't have running water but wells – some have pumps and some draw it by hand. Gas pipe run all over the place about ground always painted yellow.

Ukraine- Day 1

Another crazy busy week in London in which I moved into a house, and tried to prepare All Souls church for Easter weekend and the 6 Easter services it holds plus on Thursday holding a Memorial Service right after our normal lunch time service and before the first Easter service in the evening! So I got home at midnight Thursday after a very late dinner at Nandos and Friday morning I was off to Luton Airport to get on Wizz Air. London has 4 major airports surrounding it and for some reason only Heathrow and Gatwick have decent train links. Luton and Stanstead luck out. Wizz air however soon wizzed me off on a 3 hour flight to Kiev where I touched down at 6pm local time. They parked the plane in the middle of the tarmac and brought buses to it to get us to the terminal. However we were short a bus so had to wait behind the plane! 2 of the idiots waiting with us lit up cigarettes—all while standing a few yards from a Airbus A320 which10042009992 was being refuelled!! (They were soon told to put them out tho!) Customs was quick and easy and I was through to meet Jon and Rufus (my sister and her hubby). They had my brother Jonos van which is a bit of a machine! They took me into Kiev across the huge river Dnipr where we met Jono for dinner. At one point traffic got busy so other cars were driving up onto the footpath on both sides of the road and using them as extra lanes to try and jump the queue! People just park their cars anywhere and no one seems to care about road rules too much. Apparently many people buy their drivers licence without ever having driven before!! After dinner we walked up the main street and then went back to Rufus and Jons very nice spacious apartment. (after Jono broke the van key off in the gas tank cap and we had to get a taxi home!)

Saturday morning we packed up and loaded the van as we were going to end the day in Rzhyshchiv where Jono lives. We drove back into the city centre and got some great views of the city and river from the tin woman statue. Looked through the war museum and then a monastery and church with much gold everywhere. Could see how religious the culture is but so far from understanding God and Jesus. After lunch we wandered through a street market seeing all sorts of art and crafts and a lot of football shirts etc for sale! Then we drove south, I fell asleep in the van and an hour later we stopped at a town where a youth event was on. Interesting to hear songs that I knew sung in a language I couldn’t understand! We ate here and then drove the last 20 mins to Jonos town. Rufus and Jon also have a house here where they come to in the weekends and on holidays. There house is very nice as they have completely renovated it from scratch. Jonos is like a kiwi bach and so I feel like I’m on a holiday and I try to think that I’m actually down the Marlborough Sounds (my fav Easter vacation spot!) but tomorrow when I wake up I’ll see that I’m not!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Madness

March has been mad! March 1 Michael W Smith came to London and we hosted him at All Souls Church during the evening service and then an acoustic set after the service followed by the world premiere of his new DVD- A New Hallelujah! It was a massive privilege to meet and hang out with Michael. I even got to introduce him for his set and emcee the evening! I’ve been a massive fan of his music since I was about 12 and his songs have inspired and challenged  and encouraged me at many different times in my life. The fact that he was associated with Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri helped in my decision to pursue working there where I spent 2 of the best summers of my life! So was a brilliant evening! The following week I moved out of my short term room sit and stayed with Alex for 4 nights and then Cheri and Roy for 2 nights before house sitting for Brenda for 2 weeks and now I’m back with Roy and Cheri. Its been a bit unsettling moving all around and not having a place to call home. It’s frustrating that All Souls treat the “ministry team” one way (they all get accommodation provided) and those of us not on the “ministry team” another way. March 9 we premiered the Hansie Cronje movie with Hansie’s older brother Franz coming over from South Africa to introduce it and answer questions. March 21 we held a special nite on the Credit Crunch with a BBC economist correspondent and a top economics advisor. I produced and ran the multimedia for the night—was very interesting. There have been a lot of job losses in London being a big financial centre. March weather has been very settled and quite a few lovely sunny days! Soccer has been up and down with 1 win and 2 losses. I did score one of my best goals ever as a 25 yard free kick tho! We are still near top of the league with about 3 games to play. Easter is nearly here and I’ll be off to Ukraine for 5 days to visit my brother Jono and sister Rufus and her husband Jon. Should be an interesting trip (flying Wizz Air!!) Hoping to be in a house very soon to call home and before long summer and beach volleyball/touch rugby will be here!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Summer in NZ

This morning I flew back into London after 7 1/2 weeks holiday in NZ. I drove 7500 kms covering 30122008927from Auckland in the north island down to Milford Sound in the south collecting 1 speeding ticket in the process. I crossed on the Cook Strait ferry 4 times, stayed in 4 hotels, 2 backpackers, and 2 camps. I climbed a glacier, rode in a jetboat, swam in the river and the sea, spent 18 full days on beaches (beach volleyball) and ate loads of fresh boysenberries. I ate outside at many restaurants on balmy summer evenings with beautiful sunsets such as the one in this picture over Nelson. I spent 5 days including Christmas with my family which we now do every 4 years. Its always a special interesting and crazy time—there are now 22 of us but unfortunately my sister in law and 4 nieces couldn’t make it from Australia. I also caught up with many good friends and family in Nelson and was good to see friends in other places as I travelled around too. Its cold and grey in London as per usual, seems a bit strange being back here. It was a brilliant trip and I’m very grateful to have had the chance to do it and a huge thanks to all those I stayed with or spent time with in NZ.


More on Tour!!

After 4 sunny days in Ohope (the girls finished 9th after pulling out due to Baileys injury) we drove over to Mt Maunganui for the weekend. Weather was perfect on Friday and Saturday, Sunday morning a little cloudy as we set up for TV but came out sunny by the time we went live on air at midday. I refereed some of the games and so got on TV. Other highlights of the weekend were staying in the Sebel Hotel (very nice!!), calling the police after seeing a fight in the street on way home late at night, and a delicate first aid procedure on Nina’s feet in the lobby of the Sebel!! Monday I drove up to Auckland where we started work on transforming the Tennis Centre main court into a Beach Volleyball court. Tuesday I drove a bobcat all day loading sand into wheelbarrows as that's the only way to get the sand onto centre court. Wednesday we finished it off, Thursday was the qualifying tournament at Mairangi Bay and then the NZ Open ran Friday thru Sunday. The weather was perfect all the way through—hot and sunny every day! Sunday we were again live on TV. The first live game was a semi final between Brazil and NZ which I was refereeing-it was a brilliant 3 setter, soo close all the way and the crowd was so loud, the atmosphere was awesome, and the Brazilians just won!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Tour!

05012009955 Halfway thru the NZ National Tour now. Started in Christchurch on Sumner Beach, staying in the very nice Grand Chancellor Hotel. Was good to join back up with the sandy crew and also did a bit of refereeing along with coaching Team Biopaints. Drove back to Nelson taking the boys from Chile and sandy Tony stopping at the very nice Maruia Falls . In Nelson we hosted a Grand Slam tournament—had 2 perfect days of hot sunny weather on Tahuna Beach—the best beach volleyball beach in NZ! I played with Cory—pulled him out of retirement we won 3 games and lost 1 and then defaulted our quarterfinal meaning we finished in 7th. After a day off on Thursday to finish packing and have a nice BBQ/swim up the river with mates and family, it was off to Wellington via the ferry with Team Biopaints. Wellington was its normal wet self on the first day of the tournament. I played as Copy of team bp 09well as my coaching and crew duties making for a busy day. Finals day was much finer however and we had some great semis and finals. Monday was a long drive up the North Island to Whakatane which is where I write this from. Its hot here and today we setup on the beach and tomorrow the tournament starts. I will be playing again but mostly hoping Anna and Bailey do well—they are seeded 8th and have a favourable draw so here's hoping!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Christmas with the whanau

Yes its been a long time since we had Christmas together—possibly 20 years. Technically this one we still weren't all together as Tim only flew into the country just before midnight on Christmas day but as I met him at Wellington airport I at least saw him while it was still Christmas Day! Dec 23 I took the ferry to Wellington and then a 30 minute drive up highway 2 past Upper Hutt to where we had a campsite booked out. We had the place to ourselves and although its rather run down now we were able to make it work for us. Computers were networked, Christmas decorations were put up, table tennis table was put out and of course a table for settlers. We took turns cooking meals for everyone—my turn was Christmas Day so I did a ham, 2 chickens, new potatoes, and a bunch of salads. Then of course Christmas pudding and fresh Nelson boysenberries and ice cream---mmmmm! The kids enjoyed the water slide and pool and hot tub, we had a great in-laws v out-laws soccer match (won by us again-yes I scored the winning goal- yes I'm competitive!) and many other great moments together. Dec 29 I again ferried back to the South Island and to Nelson where it’s been hot and sunny ever since! Have been swimming and laying around, finished reading The Kite Runner and generally relaxing! Tomorrow I drive to Christchurch for the start of the National Beach Tour-4 weeks of beach volleyball all around the country. Brilliant!!!