Summer is here, building blocks, etc

After Tress and I had a quick dinner on our way home last Friday night, we caught up with Jason and Mel over some chocolaty dessert in the newish choc shop in the Forest Hill Chase shopping centre. Sammi came along and relayed some good news – she has made it through her second year in Uni (really well) and has lined up a summer holiday job in a retail food outlet. We had a laugh over the second piece of news as it was the same retail food brand which had copped some bad press earlier in the day, with serious food hygiene challenges!

We chatted a little bit about a recent meeting Jason and Mel had with a young couple – a couple with whom they had been close, helped and supported for a very long time, before the events earlier this year caused so many issues and turned their lives (Jason and Mel’s) upside down. It appeared what we had said before is slowly proving true i.e., the leader makes the member. With a leader that is superficial in engagement and adopts a “touch and go” attitude members slowly become the same. They make general statements in a passing manner, never stopping to consider the meaning, import and impact of such statements. Often they are meaningless. It’s a sad outcome but these are independent able bodied and healthy adults. If they choose to think and behave like so, it is their prerogative. I suppose it can only prove our decision (to leave) right.

Saturday was 30 November – the date of my dad’s passing. It’s 7 years already. I woke very early for a Saturday, and when I couldn’t go back to sleep, I got up and started our usual weekend activities. After an early and leisurely breakfast and an early drop at the dry cleaners’ (I was the first customer and they had just opened), Tress and I went to the Strawberry Point fruit and veg shop on Canterbury Road again to get our green groceries and get ready for the salad we were bringing to the Hipos’ that night. We then popped into a medical lab to get my blood test done – the doctor had ordered it as a periodic check to gauge the outcome of a year’s consumption of allopurinol.

When we got back around 9.30am, I started pottering around the outside of the house. It has been a while since I got onto the roof of our home, and the gutter clearing activity took me up there again. Just before noon, gutters cleared, Tress and I cleaned up and went to Madam K’s. After lunch we came back and after another coffee, we went back to working on the gardens. The spate of rainy days and warm weather had provided great conditions for the lawn to grow out of control, and the mower was strained by the thick growth. I realised the oil level was low when I checked to ensure the heavy workload wouldn’t blow the mower, so I took a quick trip to Bunnings’ and picked up a few things in addition to the engine oil, came back home and got the rest of the work done.

It was close to 5 and I had just come into the house, and then Kiddo messaged us asking to skype. We did that for the next hour or so, which was great and even when I went away to clean up and Tress nicked off to the shop to pick up some food for the Hipos, we kept the call going. It was just like she was physically in the room with us. I’m just so grateful we have the privilege of access to all these modern communications. We often reminded her during our time it was maybe a couple of dollars for every minute we were on the phone with someone back home in Malaysia. One year back in the 80’s I was at my uncle’s home (Thomas) in Sydney for Christmas and I got a Christmas present from them. I opened the box and there was a slip of paper and nothing else in there. The message on that slip of paper was I get to make a call to Malaysia… I was courteous and kept the call to only a few minutes but a 10 minute call would have cost more than $20…

The dinner at Gerry and Jesslyn’s was very pleasant as always. “Hipos” was the term of endearment they coined for themselves (combination of their surnames). We have known them since their early days in Melbourne more than 5 years ago and their 2 young girls (3½ years and 3 months old) are both like young nieces/wards of ours. Other than just being their friends however we don’t usually have to do a lot of heavy lifting as they such competent, confident and smart young people. Their wherewithal to deal with life’s challenges is fully matched by their warmth and humour at every turn.

On Sunday a missionary couple spoke. They work with the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. They work in the western region of Papua New Guinea, where the development index lies somewhere between the lowest and second lowest countries in the world. The theme of isolation and the issues that presents, was framed with the message of battling Goliath as the metaphor.  Just as God used the most unlikely person in David to deal with “the Philistine”, God can and will use anyone to deal with apparently gigantic issues like isolation in the Papua New Guinea western region.

Sometimes simple messages like this can come across as banal but as in many things, life is often about getting the basics right. Perfection is getting many basic tasks right over and over again, it has been said. Lessons shared by this young, hardworking, compassionate missionary couple would be significant building blocks for their lives and ministry going forward. They simply need to stay focused and faithful and it would in the end, be lives so rich they can joyfully say they have run good races and fought good fights. I sincerely wish I too can lay claim to such deeds when my time comes.

It was the first day of summer and people – young and old, in church and everywhere else – were decked out in shorts and sandals. Tress and I spent the afternoon just pottering around, taking the little black furry fellow on walks and generally just enjoying the very warm day. We put up some minimalist Christmas decorations, and finished the day with some cooking (for the dinners this week) and getting my lunch ready. One more week before Kiddo comes home for a few weeks, and only 4 weeks before the year is over.