Sunday, January 2, 2011
MORE OF NEW ZEALAND ON HOLIDAY
Today we drove to Pauanui so I could go to Church and meet up with friends from Taupo. Taupo is a long way from here, nearly five hours driving time. My friends, Trevor and Linda, are hard to catch up with for another reason. They travel overseas 9 months of the year. They are the International Directors of Father Heart Ministries.
Become a Christian and see the world, it's better than the Navy. Now wouldn't that make a good advertising slogan? Maybe not! I have friends who've been to the Pacific Islands, many African countries, India, Burma, North and South America, Great Britain and Europe not to mention Israel, and Greece and more than I can remember right now. I have friends pastoring a church in France just outside Paris. The world has become a very small place in spite of distance and travel costs.
New Zealanders are right up there with the Travellers of the World in spite of our remoteness and small population. It always amazes me that no matter where you go there are Kiwis or if they have already been and gone they have left their mark, and it almost always seems to be beneficial.
Coming back to my title, we don't normally drive around the Coromandel Peninsula over New Year Holidays. There is just too much traffic on our roads and it's not fun. I was really glad when John said he'd drive me because it is a tiring day. We left home at 8.45 am and arrived at Pauanui just before church was due to start at 10.30 am. Good trip, good timing and only one idiot driver who was passing everything he saw without proper regard to safety.
John went down to the boat ramp and watched the activity in between reading the Sunday Paper and I enjoyed being in my 'home church.' We always have a shared lunch after the service and John came back to join in. There was quite a crowd. Only 4 Pauanui Residents plus a few others from nearby who belong to the Fellowship. The remaining 50 or more people came from all over the place including Northern Ireland, Wellington, and Auckland. Pauanui has a normal population of about 800 people of whom more than half would be retired. The little Baptist Christian Fellowship probably has about 50 regular members and many more, like myself, who still feel as though it is their spiritual home. Isn't it amazing that so many people would rather spend 2 or 3 hours in church than the beach on a gloriously sunny day.
I'd better explain the two or three hours. Most churches in New Zealand would be keeping their service short and sweet, barely one hour, on the first Sunday of the New Year. Our regular service is approximately 1.5 hours plus some, and no-one gets bored. We have all the usual stuff like offering collection, children's talk, notices, worship songs and sermon. Nearly half our meeting is taken up with singing and sharing special moments. Today Trevor preached and I can promise you most of us were shocked to find it was after mid-day when he finished. he is so interesting the time flew. When the main part of the service closes we have lunch, everyone brings a plate of something to eat. At the same time those who desire prayer ministry wait at the front and the prayer team members minister to them. No-one is hurried, no-one is overlooked. We have it all. The meeting with all the elements that make up a church service, excellent prayer ministry and time to catch up with friends over lunch. Many times I've been there when it was after 3 pm before everyone had left and the door closed.
After lunch John and I went down by the sea to a quieter place and watched people playing on the water for a while. We went back to the village for coffee before coming home. The little shopping centre was crowded. There was an Art Exhibition and sale going on, the car park was overflowing, the square buzzing and the Cafes busy, but not too busy for us to find a table and be served quite quickly.
We left Pauanui about 3 pm. I fell asleep and woke up as we drove up Pumpkin Hill after going through Tairua. I was interested to see how much traffic there was. The little town had looked chaotic in the morning. I missed it but I didn't miss the south bound traffic which had backed up at least 6, maybe 7 kilometres from the one-way bottleneck bridge at Tairua. We couldn't believe our eyes. There are still 2 more days before most people have to return to work so why so much traffic? We decided that a good portion were the people who had come over to Whitianga just for the New Year's Eve Rock Concert. We were travelling in the opposite direction and although in a stream of traffic it was spread out enough to travel at a decent speed.
Tonight our daughter phoned to ask if we had gone to Pauanui. She was working, weekend roster and on call, for Whangamata, (about 20 minutes drive further south of Pauanui), and Tairua. She must have been about 15 or maybe 30 minutes later than us and where we had a clear run through to Tairua she said the traffic had backed up so much it took her 45 minutes to travel the last 3 kilometres into Tairua but the huge back-up of traffic we saw on the north side had reduced to a couple of kilometres by the time she got there. How we 'year round' residents dislike holiday traffic yet without the holiday crowds there would be very little work in the area.
We have narrow winding roads up and around big hills, we have one way bridges and we experience 100fold population increase for a few days each year. It's easy to see why people want to come to our beautiful beaches and when you've had enough sun there are lovely forest walks. Our infrastructure will never be sufficiently developed to cope with such a dramatic influx over such a short period. It's times like this that I become aware of the great difference between a country with a large population and ours with barely 4 million people.
I've rambled on much longer than I should. I hope you enjoy my photos of the Community Church in the shopping Centre at Pauanui and a few random shots from our day which could not be spoilt when we paid $75 for petrol.