Days 51 – 56 (July 10 – 15) Working the Sabbatical, Rugby and the demolition of a magnificent forest.

Paik and Roy, the owners of the home we are staying in were with us the first three days of our stay.  It gave us a chance to break bread, watch the NZ “All Blacks” rugby team and talk about our faith and the churches we belonged to.  Our first night we watched “our” team play…only to end the game in a tie.  This was very upsetting, mostly for Paik and Roy.  Though I admit, I found myself rooting for a team I didn’t even know and for a game I didn’t understand.  And that is the magic and power of sports!

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Below is a formation they call a scrum.  I have no idea how they came up with that name except it kind of sounds like scrunch which is what they do.  The two teams weave themselves together like a giant round doily.  The guy in blue on the right of the picture throws the ball in and then they, without collapsing, try to get control of the ball. You know how wrestlers get cauliflower ears…so do the Scrum team players.  This is a sport bigger than football and is played all around the world.  Apparently we have a US team…who knew!?

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The game was great fun to watch but I think I’ll stick to football.  Both are brutal games but at least we wear helmets!

Below is the Anglican church that Paik goes to each Sunday.  It was built in the late 1800’s and was once a bustling church with its own graveyard.  Hearing that there were Mormon churches in the area she was anxious to know the size of our congregation in Paihai when we got home.  We were sheepish to tell her only 75.  She was startled that it was so big!  Her active congregation that Sunday was 20.  She asked me what was the age range of those that attended our service.  I told her it was made up of old and young, families with babies, teenagers and older couples, missionaries and visitors.  She would be blown away to come to an Arizona ward! I wasn’t sure how to break the news to her that their were probably 10 more units just like the branch we attend in the surrounding areas within an hour away of her home.  They hired a consulting firm to figure out how to grow their congregation, especially with the youth. They have none.  I’m not sure how long they will be able to keep that tiny chapel open but it is a sad thought to shutter those doors to its history of faith.


Many may not know this about Bob.  He has a tremendous connection and love of nature. Roy told him about the Manginangina preserve which became something we really wanted to see.  It was both magnificent and tragic.  New Zealand was naturally a tropical forest, so dense you could hardly walk through it.  The forest was filled with the majestic Kauri trees and because of the over-harvesting of the forest, it is almost extinct.  At the risk of sounding like an over zealot tree hugger, it made me sick how we Anglos came and raped their forests all in the name of capitalism.  There was no regard for the health of the forest, climate and animals.  They just clear cut most of the north island. This small reserve was saved only because the terrain was to difficult to get the wood out of it.

Kauri forest


They found that the trees that they could not cut down still had value in the gum they produced.  It was highly sought after for varnish.  They took what was naturally produced and then scarred the trees so they would produce more, killing the standing trees as well.  They gum of a Kauri tree is used for Stradivarius violins.

I’m standing on a trunk of an old Kauri tree that was used to carve out one of the war canoes used when Europeans came to colonize the land.  Now you see just the stumps dotted all over the farms that have replaced the forest.  I’m all for industry but this just became senseless greed and I feel some shame that it was my conquering ancestors that ravished this land.  When I say my ancestors I mean Bob’s.  Grandma Christiansen could sing but both of father and father-in-law were in New Zealand logging these forests.  One of the sons was killed logging these very forests.

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