Thursday, December 21, 2006

'Twas the week before Christmas.......

Christmas always brings something special to our community. AND SO IT SHOULD! It isn't restricted to children. It is for all, for Christ entered this world to bring salvation to the very young......and the not so young.As the above delightful picture shows, Christmas is about reaching out to one another. This is perhaps easier with children, but there are those in our community today who are lonely and feel deserted. I hope we can all be sensitive to opportunities that allow us to just say 'G'day and happy Christmas' to those who need this.

The week before Christmas was a busy one and for us began with the Christmas break-up party for the Meet & Make group that meets in our Church:A warm invitation to everyone:This group meets weekly, inviting folk to come along and meet others and have an opportunity to 'make', whether creative things or friendships. It is good to see a link between the Hobart Baptist Church and Lifeline and both groups obviously enjoy sharing time with one another:The above show the creators with their creations and indicate their enjoyment of doing things together and sharing their successes.

And a close up look of the variety:Entertainment was provided with the singing led by CarolGraham, as always, loved challenging everyone with such things as QUESTIONS - TEASERS:While Pastor Steve provided a moment of reflections about what Christmas means:As you can see, there was an attentive audience:But....then the attention shifted to that other important business leading up to Christmas. Yep, the feeding frenzy is really no different between children and adults. Have a look at this:The above shows Jorge in full flight!

The other delight for us was to share graduations of our grandchildren, starting at the University of Tasmania. We were just so happy that Karina (Brenda & Graeme's number three) and Andrew (Ann & Dale's number two) would have their degrees conferred on the same morning, both with Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), Andrew specialising in Biotechnology. I have circled them both as they waited with fellow graduands for the citation from the Chancellor.One could be forgiven to think that Andrew looks rather pleased with himself!

The Chancellor (Damien Bugg) waits to congratulate Andrew....and, it would seem, with great delight awaited Karina who seems to be saying, "I am coming Chancellor!"
But, Karina Sally was justifiably thrilled with her degree and both deserved this very special moment in their lives:For this occasion, the Occasional Speaker was the Hon Dr. Barry Jones, who is well known in Australia for many reasons, including Pick a Box, Government Minister, and being a 'smarty pants'.

Then of course to the photo take and here is just a small sample:Andrew Herbert, B.Sc & Karina Holt, B.Sc.

Andrew with Carol and me:Karina with Carol & me (forgive us if we look too proud)Then of course, the four of us:I had photos of Ann & Dale as well as Brenda & Graeme, but sadly - and I don't understand why, Ann & Dale's was very much out of focus - sorry guys. But here are a couple from the Holts. Proud Brenda & Graeme with Karina:And with sister Gemma - whose turn is still to come!
That same evening we attended Nigel's High School Celebration - another graduation. He delighted us with playing the saxophone in the senior school band - that's him on the far right:And the receiving of a special merit award. Well done Nigel. Next.....years 11 and 12.And finally, yet another 'graduation' the following day with grandson Luke graduating from Kinder to Infant School!
Great to see him do well and enjoying himself. The children entertained us with singing Santa songs - no emphasis on what Christmas is really all about. Sort of the world going somewhat to the extreme with what it feels is political correctness.

Then, as at all good graduations, the eats are on the table. It was our cue to quietly leave them to their celebrations.

All I can say, looking again at the above, "Isn't God good!" His blessings are overwhelming as so clearly expressed in Psalm 103. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits!" (Note for Natasha - here is a story you can pick up on for the blessings of the Scriptures)

Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, wherever you are and don't forget to look for an opportunity to say hi to someone who is lonely.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Retirement? Are you kidding!

As most of you know, I remain an active consultant (on a volunteer basis) with the United Bible Societies and have special responsibility to the Bible Society of Papua New Guinea. I have to say that this is not in any way a hardship as we both love Papua New Guinea and love the Bible Society. Even so, the task can at times be hard and frustrating.

The Bible Society in PNG is heavily dependent on international financial assistance to undertake the many publishing tasks requested by the different language groups - there are over 800 of these. This financial support comes from Bible Societies throughout the world including Australia and substantially from America. It is the American Bible Society that invited representatives from Asian & Pacific countries to attend a special workshop about changes in future funding arrangements. As a result, I found myself on a plane to Bangkok last Sunday and came home on Friday. What one could classify as a rather quick trip.

The workshop was great and very informative. BS-PNG was well represented by its General Secretary - Leontine, who delighted us all with her humour and, more importantly, impressed on us her country's need for assistance.The American Bible Society President - Paul Irwin was generous in his comments but made it clear that project proposals would in the future require better research and funding grants will require greater accountability. I don't have any argument with that.The sessions were pretty lively and most helpful. Above: in session with me sitting between Leontine (PNG) and James (Bangladesh).

Of special joy to me was to meet up again with many brothers and sisters from the worldwide family of Bible Society, including:Nora from the Philippines. We recalled many happy moments, including the time when I brought a gift of two huge bunches of grapes into Manila. The two bunches would just fit into one small carton! I never have given a better gift! It was so well received at the time.

Then there was my good friend Peter Bradley with whom I worked when Peter was the Executive Vice President of ABS, from where he went to the International Bible Society to become their President. It was a delight to meet up again with Peter:The above photo is with, left, Paul Irwin (President of ABS) and Peter Bradley, centre.

Following the day's session, some of us went to dinner - Thai style, which was very pleasant!Some B B Q!!

The people in Thailand were busy celebrating the King's Birthday, his 79th. There were signs everywhere and the whole population dressed in bright yellow tops:With a whole day to myself prior to my departure, I chose to go for a little sight seeing, generously assisted by a representative from the Thai Bible Society. He took me to the Grand Palace near the river and we then went on a river boat up river for some way, where we had lunch. It was just nice to relax and enjoy the sights and the atmosphere. The Thai people are really friendly and I enjoy meeting them.

The palace was quite spectacular and we seemed to be welcomed by the military band:The sights of past opulence. The site is well maintained and quite outstanding:Just a couple of photos with me in it. As you can see, while I missed Carol terribly, I made the best of the opportunity!Even in a busy place such as this, there were the devout Buddhists:Rahd showed me the proper way to handle Thai food. He was a good guide and brother.It's time to get back to the hotel, shower, rest and off to the airport for a comfortable flight home and then the work of following up the conference.