Easter weekend, Gayle had four days off work. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays here. We made plans to go to Nelson to visit friends, but God had other plans for us. A cyclone hit New Zealand that week, and hit much harder than we expected! We had torrential rains for several days, culminating in a flood Thursday night. Friday morning, we were still trying to decide whether to leave for Nelson or not when we were told that both routes north were blocked by slips (landslides). That made up our minds—it was not time to go! Instead, we decided to go to a conference we had been invited to at a church in Timaru. The first meeting was to begin at 1:30 that afternoon, but there was no way we would make it for that by the time we made contact with someone at the church in Timaru Friday morning! We kept working away at getting ready to go, however, and finally had the pop-top camper we were borrowing packed, the van loaded, and everything ready by noon. We weren’t sure how the roads would be going south, but they turned out to be fine. All the rivers were full to the brim, though!
The Waimakariri, just north of Christchurch. This one actually wasn’t quite as full as some of the others. I just didn’t get pictures of them!
We had a wonderful weekend of good preaching and fellowship with other believers. We had never met any of the people at the conference, except the one family from Hawarden who invited us, but we soon had a lot of new friends! We stayed at the home of one of the families from Timaru; it was funny how that man and his son argued about whose house we should stay at—they both wanted us! We really appreciated the hospitality we were shown. We set up our camper in their driveway, and they offered us a choice of a bedroom in the house or another man’s camper for most of the children. We chose the camper; the man moved into the house for the weekend. Five of the children slept in that camper, and the two youngest slept with us in the pop-top camper. The couple whose house we were at treated us like family; it felt like old times when we would go to meetings away from home! One of the speakers at the conference (they had two visiting speakers, from Australia) stayed there, also, and Gayle really appreciated visiting with him.
There were two meetings Friday afternoon, and then tea (dinner) was served. Saturday afternoon was another meeting, followed by a barbeque tea at the home of our host’s son. Sunday morning was a regular Sunday meeting, focusing on communion, and then everyone came for lunch at the place we stayed—quite a spread! We were the last ones to leave church that time, and shortly came up behind the person Gayle had been talking to, pulled over at the side of the road. He was driving a 1950 Buick, and had run out of gas because of a faulty gauge! It was good we were behind him and could take him to get some. After lunch, we went back to church for another meeting, followed by tea, and then one final meeting. After that, everyone went back to our host’s home for a singing! We sang, accompanied by piano and organ, for an hour and a half. After about an hour, I took our two youngest out to the camper to go to bed. The second-youngest realized he hadn’t had a snack yet, so I offered him bread. Well, there was a table-full of dessert waiting in the house for after the singing, so he wanted dessert. Thankfully, we had a few bananas in the van, so I offered him one and that satisfied the two of them and they went to sleep happy. After the singing, and dessert, we stayed up late visiting. It was so good to be there!
Monday morning we packed up and headed home. What a great weekend!