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Showing posts from August, 2013

Reframing Stories

Today was my last full day in Capetown. I left Simons Town early and got onto Capetown by 10am. I walked in the increasingly heave rain down to the waterfront arriving I'm plenty of time for a coffee before getting on the 11am ferry to Robben island. It was pretty weird being with a whole lot of people not used to sailing and exclaiming excitedly at every wave.

Robben island is very cool and very well organise. We got into a bus for a 45 minutes tour around the island. Then we are handed over to an ex political prisoner who takes us around the maximum security prison for 45 minutes. That left 30 minutes for wandering and shopping. It is amazing to hear how those prisoners first sent there refused to see this as the end and treated it as a university. St first secretly and then with permission and support those who were educated taught those who could not read or write. In the end many sent there left with diplomas, and degrees. That reframing carries on today  with the facility n…

Table Mountain

Today I tried to go whale watching, but it was not happening. I am booked on for Saturday morning. i will need to be well organised.
So I went for plan B, trained into Capetown, and taxied up to the Cable Car on Table Mountain. 45 minutes later there I was in the midst of the "Table Cloth", cloud that covers the top. I happens a lot and creates this wonderful wet environment that early settlers used as their water supply. Apart from the lack of view, the wicked cold wind, the hail, and the path disappearing into mist, it was just breathtakingly beautiful. Luckily I had a mix up with my coffee so I was delayed leaving the cafe. When i came out the cloud had lifted to a degree and there were stunning views to Cape Point, along the buttresses on the Atlantic side of Table Mountain (the 12 Apostles) out over Lion Head and Signal Hill, and across Capetown and over the Cape Flats.
Tomorrow I am booked to go to Robben Island. the forecast is bad again, but today worked out way bet…

Embracing the wet

Today has been a great but very wet day. We went to Cape Point, and then the Cape of Good Hope. On Cape Point I could see nothing until I went up to the lighthouse where I could make out the sea and some birds. At the Cape of Good Hope I could see a lot more, and climbed up the path to two great vantage point. I was pretty wet by the end.
We then went to the Kirstenbouch Gardens. Just amazing. We had lunch at a very nice restaurant. I had Kudu, and antelope. Very nice. We then ambled through the glass house.
Tonight Nolan had organised dinner for Averil and I at a retired priest's house over the hill in Scarborough, on the Atlantic coast. That is pretty wild as that is where the weather is coming from. Tomorrow I am going to try for a whale watching ride and up Table Mountain. I am not confident about either.

Aquila Game Park

Today we were picked up at 6.30am and then driven for 3 hours north to the Aquila Game Park. The countryside up there is spectacular. Rugged hills pushed up by huge tectonic forces that leave these striations at all kinds of crazy angles. A harsh dry environment, from which comes grapes and cherries.
The Game Park welcomed us with a very nice all you can eat breakfast. Then we set off in our wee vehicle. I could tell it was going to be cold when they gave us a blanket and hot water bottle. And it. When the sun was out and the wind dropped it was almost warm. The rest of the time it was just nasty. But, whatever. We had a hot water blanket.
We set off and over the next two hours sat and watched hippos, elephants (we had to quickly move out of the way of one of those - it was not going to walk around us) zebras, springboks, black and blue wildebeest, water buffalo, lions, giraffes, eland, ostrich, white rhinos, and a leopard in the animal rescue centre. And we saw several groups on t…

Western Cape National Park

I have just returned from our trip away with the brother of one of my parishioners and his wife. They picked us up after church on Sunday and took us up to the top of the Western Cape. At this time of  year there are a ton of wildflowers of all kinds of colours out. I looks magnificent. We stayed last night at a small beach resort, Paternoster. And today spent the day in the Western Cape National Park. We saw giraffes, zebra, springbok, flamingos, herons, egrets, sun birds, ostriches, and a few other beasties.
Tomorrow we are being picked up at 6.30am and taken about 3 hours north to the Aquila Game Park. The forecast is not good for the next two days sadly but we will try to make the most of it with our personal guide.

Just thought I would check in. 

I em currently in Simons Town, near Capetown, for a meeting of the TSSF Ministers Provincial. As part of our meeting we have been getting out a bit. On Thursday we went for drive around the coast, past the towns all the coloureds were moved into in the 1960's from Simons Town. We then went into one of the townships to visit a school on of the Tertiaries helps at one day a week, and a foster home people in Nolan's parish have been involved in establishing and running. Such beautiful children, and such a lovely place. We then had drinks with several of the Trustees at the house of one of the key people involved in establishing and running the home. It was inspirational to see these people working hard to change the world for these 6 children. It doesn't seem alot, but for those children and the foster mother it is everything. The are eating the elephant one bit at a time.

Our meeting finished yesterday lunchtime. They have decided that the next meeting will be in NZ while I …

The Graced Body

I had the privilege to join the SSF Brothers living at the Hermitage at Stroud near Newcastle in Australia for a week. Well, Br Alfred Boonkong was there for the whole time and Br. Bruce Paul was there for the first couple of days.
Technically I was there for a retreat. But I spent the first couple of days just talking and catching up with Bruce Paul and one of the other people staying there,and Alfred took me sightseeing on afternoon.
The last three days were much more retreaty, although I spent most of the time reading Bruce Paul's doctoral thesis. It is called "The Graced Body - toward a theology of human sexuality". In it he uses the work of Karl Barth and Jurgen Moltmann to develop a theology of embodiment. Embodiment he describes as involving "the meeting of the life giving Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit with the totality of the human person, body and soul." We are embodied souls and ensouled bodies. That embodiment then becomes the medium by which and in…

Burning Verandah

A man sits
enthroned on his verandah
caressed by warmth and
wind, touched by song
and stirring, surrounded
by bush on blue sky, aroused
by beauty and fear.
Desire burns hard in the loins
of his soul. He aches with
a longing so deep he
does not recognise it.
Lost
with no way
to find his way home.

Final Thoughts

It is very hard to believe that tonight is the last night here in the Solomons, and my last night here as Minister Provincial. I hope I will come back, but I will have no official capacity. I have grown alot in all three visits. It has not been easy. I struggled on Savo. But I have been humbled by the welcomes, hospitality, generosity, friendliness and honour that has been shown me. The fact I took the time to travel, to stay in various places, to meet people and to get to know them has meant alot. It has not cost me alot, but I suspect God will use this time to do some good things in TSSF. Tomorrow I go to Australia, and the next part of this grand adventure will begin. I am excited for that, but very sad this part is over. I would happily have stayed longer.


Chapter

Yesterday was my last formal engagement. It was the Regional Chapter. This was a highlight. When I was last here 3 years ago we held a two day regional Chapter. But for various reasons only people for Guadalcanal, Savo and by accident Ysabel were there. We spent along time working out what kind of structure would help Melanesia stand on it's own feet. Then we elected people to each of those positions. While they developed a budget and hopes on how to raise the money, there was a sense that they would struggle. And so it proved.
This Chapter had representatives from nearly every Area, (not Vanuatu). We reviewed and affirmed the structure put in place three years ago and new people were then elected into all but one of those positions. The new Regional Minister then chaired the last half of the meeting. (It is really hard chairing a meeting when you understand less than half of what is being said). There is a real sense of hope and energy and I look forward to what the next three y…

Kiribati Camp

Sunday night Jimmy took me to a friends for dinner. Kenneth is an AOG pastor working in the Kiribati camp area of Honiara. this is home to over 20,000 people (out of 60,000) who basically squat on government land. Because they have no title they are unable to have water, except where they run illegal hoses off the main water pipe, and even power is not very accesible. And because this is not an official area the council takes no responsibility for roading, so the roads are in places like goat tracks. I was amazed that anything but 4 wheel drives even attempted them.
We had been invited to Kenneth's mothers 95th birthday. She has 160 grand and great children and counting. Only some were there. They are an AOG family, and it was great to be part of their singing and praying. The mother then prayed over and for her grandchildren while we sang which was beautiful. I was asked to speak some words of encouragement, so i talked about Francis and his love for God, and seeing in everyone…

Savo

To be honest I was a little nervious about this part of the trip. Jimmy and John Ama had told their terrifying stories about their last boat trip there - slow, big seas, slightly overloaded, arriving in the pitch black of night. And my bottom remembered the last plastic boat trips.
Actually the trip out (1.5 hours) was pretty uneventful. Nearly two weeks here has hardened my up more than I thought. Our boat had been organised by David Raurau's (Savo Chaplain) wife, Florida. I discovered she is studying Early Childhood Education in Honiara and does not have the money to travel home to see her family very often. It was good we were able to pay for her to come with us to her home.
We were met and warmly welcomed by David Raurau and other Tertiaries. Staying on Savo was challenging, and yet very good. Savo has no electricity, no piped water, no sewage system. Aus Aid had come to this village a few years ago and put in a solar panel and provided batteries for each of the houses, but ov…

Kohimarama - Bishop Patteson Theological College

Today I was invited up to Bishop Patteson Theological College to visit the three Tertiaries that are there on faculty, and to speak to any faculty, students and spouses that wanted to hear me. The day began with me arriving back at Agnes House to find Brother Clifton had come to pick meup. Despite me asking John Ama 3 times to confirm that I would be picked up at 10am, he told clifton 9am. They came back at 9.20 and I was far from ready, and a little peeved with John. I was ready well before 10, as I knew I would be, but felt like I had held people up.
The two topics I was asked to speak on were: my role as Minister Provincial and what it means to be a Franciscan Priest.
I began by talking about the Francis and his being immersed in God's love, and how soon many others sought to follow him so that they might, like him, walk in the footsteps of Christ. I also talked about the three orders Francis established, with a quick history of SSF in the Anglican Church, and how TSSF was esta…

Other thoughts and such

What one has to be ready for is the unexpected. While I have been given a programme it has not always been clear what each section meant, like the Quiet Time on Malaita. And then there are the things that just happen. So on the last night after we have finished with the community obedience, Sam was giving the notices. In these I discover that there will be a Eucharist the next morning at which I will be presiding, and no prayer study time, but that is OK, I can use my material in my sermon. In my what?? In your sermon tomorrow during the service father. Oh, that sermon. Right, fine, thanks. And when I arrive the next morning before morning prayer it has been decided that we should also commission all the office holders, which is a good idea, and give opportunity for us all to dedicate ourselves to the task ahead. All good, but where might we find such a thing. Luckily I was pretty sure the SSF Daily Office book would have such a thing, which it did. It was a grand way to finish our f…

Sunday sermon on Luke 11:1-13

I was greatly helped in my approach to this reading (as I am most weeks) by the blog site "Holy Textures". Each Monday I receive the beginning of that weeks posting, which I happened to receive before I entered the internet free (for me, my sim just not work here) Solomon Islands. The writer of this blog, in talking about the line "Hallowed by your name" by asking who makes God's name holy? The Greek he suggests is in the passive voice which means it is God who makes God's name holy. So I used that as the key to the rest of what Jesus teaches about prayer.
How does God make God's name holy? God makes God's name holy through "Your kingdom come." And what does this kingdom look like? When we who pray this prayer are willing to trust that God will "give us each day our daily bread," and that we do not need to be anxious and strive each day and to see what we are given as God's generous gift and to be thankful. At this point as a…

Sessions on being Franciscan

I was asked to lead several "sessions" for those present. The first was a retreat for those being noviced and professed the next day at the Cathedral. I was also asked to lead a quiet time, address the chapter, and then preach on the final morning during the Eucharist, at which I presided. In the end everyone attended everything, and one or two first order brothers sat in as well, which was a little unnerving. In addition I preached at the Cathedral on the Sunday morning before the admission of the novices and the life profession. Given my lack of pidgin, and my love of big words this was all a bit of a strain, but I have enjoyed preparing the talked and giving them.
One of the things I learnt with all those sessions I did with Polynesia was that I need to try to keep my input to a low level, and get the participants to do as much of the work as possible. So for the retreat I did two talks - two stories really.The first was Susan Pitchford and why she follows Francis, and th…

Makira

It seems a lot of this journey is about God teaching me stuff. The plane down was overloaded, so they needed to reduce weight. They asked for volunteers to take the next plane on Monday, but no one volunteered so they off loaded a whole lot of bags, mine included. I discovered this as I stood around waiting for my bag to come off the plane. It did not come off. I was told it would arrive on Monday. At first i was grumpy as. Why leave my bag? Why not a local persons bag. They would have other clothes to wear. Me, I have nothing. Worse, all the manuals and crosses for the novicings and professions were in the bag, with all the other paper. Plus my drugs to keep me going. But I was surprisingly quickly able to see the other side and take this as an opportunity to embrace simplicity. I went out and bought a tee-shirt and lavalava to wear at the transit house and to sleep in, and some soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and deodorant. And I have survived. It has been a good learning.


Friday

Today was pretty quiet. morning prayer and Eucharist at 6am, with breakfast some time later. While waiting for breakfast I talked with one of the Franciscans who had stayed with John and I. he is a Catechist and works with young people in the Cathedral Parish. He receives a small amount of money for that, and for the rest of their needs relies on crops they grow on their land. As he spoke his eyes lit up with passion for his work and those young people. he has a family to support in all this, with three children either at secondary school or about to go to secondary school. that involves school fees, uniforms and all the rest. I think his wife would like him to get a real job, but this is his passion. I wonder how to honour and support him
A little later we had a quiet stroll down to see the Bishop, Bishop Sam Sahu (I think). I went armed with our community obedience and intercession list. He was genuinely interested in the third order and our relationship with the first order brother…

Malaita

Our journey to Malaita was nice. It was good to see Tulagi again, and St. Clare's clinic near Taroniala. I had no idea the channel between Little Gela and Big Gela was so long. It was very beautiful.
We were met by Fr. Wilfred at the wharf who took us to St. Francis House where John and I were staying, and where the TSSF brothers were beginning to gather. I had an experience that took me aback. It showed me up badly. When Brother Athanasius showed me my room, the first thing I noticed was that it was dark and grimy. Yes the door and walls were grimy, but the floor was clean and the bed cleanly made and all was make ready for me. I could not believe I could be so ungrateful, so unreceiving of the kind and generous hospitality offered me. I was humbled and was truly grateful for everything from that point on. It was a good learning for a so called Franciscan.
Wilfred explained what the Quiet Time in the programme was, - that was the retreat time for me to lead them. So after a super…

The Solomons - arrival.

I was greeted by John Ama and a small group at the airport and taken to my place of residence for the first night. I has been told the time was an hour later than Brisbane, but when I asked some of those who picked my up what the time was they told me the time it was in Brisbane. This nearly had terrible results.Later John arrived at Agnes House to take me to dinner. He was surprised to see me sitting drinking tea and reading Chris Barfoot's early history of TSSF in New Zealand. I was surprised he was so early.
During dinner Jimmy told me that I needed to move out of the room. I had unpacked and was thinking I would only take a small bag and leave most of what I had taken behind. So we had to wake up Betsy to talk about where I might leave that bag. All sorted. I got back to the room and decided to repack and organise myself.
So next morning my alarm goes of at what I think is 6.15, an hour before John is coming to meet me to take me to the ferry to Malaita. Surprisingly John turn…

John is going away

Over the next six weeks I have the privilege of travelling to the Solomon Islands, Australia and South Africa to fulfill some of my duties as Minister Provincial, Third Order, Society of Saint Francis, Province of the Pacific. I have decided to record some of what happens, and my thoughts and reflections. Here they are,

Travelling to the Solomons
The journey out of NZ was pretty uneventful, except I discovered that my MPass app has a little feature that alerts you if your flight is delayed, which mine out of Tauranga was due to fog,. I discovered this once I was at the airport and finding out that it was an hour delayed due to fog in Auckland earlier that day. Never mind. Some good people from St. Georges had offered to drive me there, and had coffee with me while we waited which was really nice.
The flight to Australia was all good until we arrived, and the air bridge at our gate broke down. Eventually mechanics got it to move, and we were allowed off. Then you have to go back throug…