Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas down under....well in New Zealand.

It never ceases to amaze me that Christmas in the southern hemisphere is so northern.

Walking through a shopping mall in Auckland is an odd experience if you have lived most of your life in the north. The shops look like European/British ones, carols and Christmas songs play, Santa and vague references to Jesus being born are everywhere. People seem to be dreaming of a white Christmas but would be very shocked if it happened here in New Zealand. 

More astonishing was a recent visit to a Mega Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a Muslim country where the Christmas shopping bonanza was even more pronounced, with the tanoy music being much louder and more overtly Christian.  To hear the strains of "Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace" being belted out, as burka clad ladies and Saudi shoppers all in black, poured over Gucci shoes and Chanel perfume, was very unusual. Charles Wesley would have been amazed. A Muslim friend didn't seem at all concerned by the Christian emphasis.

I find the commercialism of it all somewhat tedious, especially as however hard I try not to give in to it, I find myself joining the queues to get presents wrapped at the "Free Gift Wrapping" stands. I asked the girl who was Wrapping for Charity if she was a volunteer. She said "No way, I get paid, this is far too much like hard work." 

At least Santa in his Grotto looked traditional and made the children cry. My grandson was too scared to go near him. My granddaughter said it wasn't the real Santa because he was not wearing glasses.  At Bayfair, in Tauranga, which is by the beach, Santa has a Beach Batch (a NZ beach cottage) rather than a grotto, wears swimming shorts and balances on a surf board.

I hope a some point we will get a chance to rejoice again over the Father's gift of his own dear Son, whom he gave to the world because he loved us all so much; that it is all about the Father who wants his lost and orphaned children to come back home and be in his family, with or without the snow. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Joys of being upgraded

I don't know why I was surprised when we got up-graded but it was twice in one day. We pitched up at Changi Airport in Singapore to catch our 8 hours flight to Brisbane and lo and behold we were upgraded to business class. Thank you Father, what it is to have an influential Father who likes to surprise his children! We got access to the business class lounge with amazing food to keep us going as well where the staff just were so keen to help and serve us. We got on the plane and tried not to look like a couple of kids trying out all the buttons and gadgets like the massage buttons on the seat. I could get used to this.

Then we arrived at Brisbane and go to collect the cheapest car on the rental stand and lo and behold we were up graded to a very classy Holden Cruse with leather seats etc etc. How cool is that.

I suppose we should be learning through this that our Father delights in us being delighted by these little treats. At the end of a long and very fulfilling 3 month trip away from New Zealand this is a welcome reminder of his love and care for us.

Today we have been just enjoying seeing the grandchildren delight in the gifts and treats we had for them. That's probably how He was yesterday when we were so tickled by out treats.

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Malaysians have a particular like of abbreviation in the names of places. Today we are in KL going to JB via PJ and so on. It works fine mostly but why some and not others? Doesn't matter really. It makes you sound like a know all if you say "Oh we spent the week in KL and are going to JB for the weekend." Anyway we have spent a week in Kuala Lumpur which has been fun. We have met and made friends with a number of the locals, Nick Wu and Martin Duke, both pastors of local churches in PJ (Handy to be able to abbreviate this one because I am not sure how you spell the P bit, I think it is Petaling Jaya).

The shopping here is world class according to Linda. KL or is PJ boasts S E Asia's biggest shopping Mall. It is huge. I left Linda doing a bit of shopping while I went off the the movies for 3 hours to watch 2012. This is the latest Hollywood version of the end of the world etc. It never ceases to amaze how easy it is to wipe out 6 billion people and still leave a mild feel good factor at the end. Very strange really. It is interesting how certain iconic landmarks get the computer graphic doom treatment. St Peter's and the Sistine Chapel this time and a whole bunch of Cardinals in a 10 second clip. If you like this genre of movie it ranks as spectacular, if you like something a little more thought provoking then this is probably not the one for you.

Tonight we are at Trinity Baptist Church doing a weekend Conference with Ben and Becky Ho in JB - Johor Bahru, then after the weekend on Tuesday we head back south to Queensland and the little family there (C & J, N & L) Then after a few days it's home to NZ and a couple of days with S & S, LDK. Well TTFN (LOL) etc etc