Grace Notes APRIL 2020

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Grace Notes APRIL 2020

Dear friends

Over the next four weeks our lives will be very different. Many of us have never had to live in an isolated bubble before or not just be able to pop out for our clubs, concerts and coffees. Already I am feeling a separation from my routine which is not entirely comfortable. We are very fortunate to have access to our devices to keep in touch but it is not quite the same as the face to face contact and conversation between friends.

My hope and prayer at this time is one of optimism. A hope that this virus will not let us lose the joy of some of our new social contacts at St.s A & A. I hope that we will still maintain contact with each other to lift spirits and communicate even when things might become more challenging.

After this enforced quarantine maybe there will be an opportunity for us to change many of the problems of the past few years. The need to take more care of the earth and the resources given to us to take care of it, the oceans, the forests, the air and the wildlife and their habitat. All things we have taken for granted in the name of progress.

I believe in a God who loves all the things we love and will give us the strength to see this time as a time to come closer to Him through our isolation.

Pat and Colin spent a week from 15 March on their yacht, Fine Line 3. Expecting to enjoy the last of summer, they found it was a delight sailing into the bays of the Hauraki Gulf which are often very full of boats, now with just a few yachts and launches. Perhaps the most special of these is the beautiful and iconic Mansion House Bay in Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island which is often so full of boats that they do not attempt to anchor, this time there were only 4 to 8 boats. Their passengers could row ashore, go for walks and speak with the few other people also out walking. For one day and night we sat out a south-easterly storm with rain and winds of up to 45 knots, while safely anchored in 8 knots of wind. At night the Mansion House is lit up, beautiful in a different way. Little did we know that this would be the last sailing of the season.

After 3 days at Kawau Island we sailed to Waiheke Island where we anchored and were able to restock food at a grocery store ashore. We then motored around Waiheke to a secluded anchorage near Man-O-War Bay which has beautiful views of the coastline, before we sailed back to Westhaven.

Through our marvelous phone and internet system we were able to keep up with news of Covid 19, which unfortunately worsened each day; with more and more of the organisations we are involved in closing or cancelling events.

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Excerpts from ‘Etiquette for All ‘ Man, Woman or Child regarding ‘Bridge Parties’ by Eileen Terry.

You are not expected to indulge in small talk at a card party, as it would interfere with the play of your companions, and probably at every other table in the room. A casual remark now and again between hands is all that is necessary. Nor should you make comments on the play, though you can do so upon any unusual fall of the cards. Bridge is looked upon as a very serious matter by those who are at all keen, and you are expected to treat the matter seriously and, as if of the utmost importance, 

you must keep your temper and not become cross if things go badly with you, and most certainly you must not scowl at your partner, man or woman, should they make a mistake  If money is involved in the outcome, many estimable people lose their natural self-control, and cannot bring themselves down to formal good behaviour.                                     

If you cannot play for the enjoyment of the game, you should let it alone – card playing will bring you no pleasure, and you will make things most unpleasant for your companions. Ladies are great offenders in this respect, probably because a man can be snubbed into decent behaviour, whereas one can do nothing but suffer when a woman offends against good manners. She is, therefore, never checked, and unless she is gradually “dropped” by card-loving hostesses, she continues to be a nuisance.

End of quote but I can assure everyone the book sorting has seen this book put on the ‘Keep’ pile. With the bridge clubs in lock-down some of us have withdrawal problems. Love to all, Robin                      

Andre and Helene are very pleased to be able to report that their granddaughter Hannah arrived safely  in Auckland on one of the last direct Air New Zealand flights from Vancouver. She is self-isolating at her Dad’s. All lectures have been suspended at the University of British Columbia which Hannah is attending but she is following the online lectures and will also be able to write her exams online.

News of Margaret King We are sorry to report that Margaret (on 25 March) is in Lake View Coronary Care Unit. However at this stage she seems to be doing OK. We will keep Margaret and her family in our thoughts and prayers.

David and Rosemarie recently travelled to Wellington on the Northern Explorer Train.  The train didn’t have WIFI – it had Windows Live…… “look out the window, the view changes every second”…. was one of the announcements at the beginning of our 681km, 11-hour trip.  The scenery was amazing and the commentary provided via a headset was very interesting and informative.  It provided an excellent appreciation of the north to south topography and the challenges that the early settlers faced.  The commentary gave us a new understanding of the Land Wars, how the Maori control of the central North Island, and the typography, created a huge challenge for the construction of the railway.  

We were able to see the famous Raurimu spiral very clearly – unless you were watching, you would not know that you had gone in a complete circle while climbing – a feat of engineering that saved 50 miles of an alternate route.  The viaducts are also spectacular – some old and some modern.

Our carriage was modern with big picture windows and the seats were very comfortable – we had a table and were able to relax with 4 seats. There is also an open-air carriage – great for the photographers.

No trip like this would be complete without a pie and coffee from the buffet car! We’ve been told that the train sometimes stops in Te Kuiti for the steward to dash across the road to the dairy for some milk – only in NZ!    

Clearly not a trip for regular commuters.  It is well worth doing to see what our forebears achieved.  I wonder, in this day and age – would we even contemplate such a massive project?

Dalia. You might have heard about the first Lithuanian mass in New Zealand on 8 February when Lithuanians in Auckland gathered to celebrate Independence Day. Lithuanian priest father Juozas Deveikis arrived from Melbourne for this special occasion. This first Independence was declared in 1918 on the 16th of February after Russian revolution. It was a window of opportunity for Baltic States to claim their Independence from Russian Empire. 

On 14th of March Lithuanian Community celebrated 30 years of Restored Independence. Lithuania was the first country to break from USSR on March 11 in 1990. Despite economic sanctions and blockade, invasion of tanks and killings of innocent people that followed the declaration of Restored Independence, Lithuanian people did not stop fighting for their freedom.

At St Aidan’s local Lithuanians gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Folk group Dainava and Simona Smirnova prepared a concert for this occasion. Stylised traditional dances were performed by 8 pairs of dancers in different colourful traditional costumes. Every dance had a theme like greeting, searching for a partner, etc. Dancing shoes were changed into wooden clogs. It was great to watch different combinations and arrangements.

Choir sang well known songs. Audience could freely join in. 

Musicians surprised with their musical multitasking. Fiddle player was beating a drum with his foot while playing. Artistic director Arvydas Mikalauskas was singing with the choir and playing piano accordion at the same time. Traditional instruments like birbynė (a Lithuanian aerophone) and kanklės (zither) had a chance to be introduced to the audience.

Intervals between the pieces were filed with a famous poetry about the beauty of Lithuanian land. Vocalist and zither player Simona Smirnova sang her own jazz composition, Lithuanian freedom song and famous L. Cohen’s Alleluia. She even made everyone sing a traditional polyphonic song!

Concert was followed by tea and coffee with free improvisations. Local guys formed a small team and pleasantly surprised the visitors with air lifting Haka.

After the concert folk group toured South Island. There was a big concern for their safe return back to Lithuania. Despite all the hurdles everything ended well and they reached their homes successfully.

Some light amusement. We need to have some laughs during our period of isolation.

 In Aurora, IL. a band of squirrels had become quite a problem The Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about their squirrel infestation.  After much prayer and consideration, they concluded that the squirrels were predestined to be there, and they shouldn’t interfere with God’s divine will.

 At the Baptist church the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a water-slide on the baptistery and let the squirrels drown themselves.  The squirrels liked the slide and unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim, so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.

 The Lutheran church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creatures.  So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist Church. Two weeks later the squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the water-slide.

 The Episcopalians tried a much more unique path by setting out pans of whiskey around their church in an effort to kill the squirrels with alcohol poisoning. They sadly learned how much damage a band of drunk squirrels can do.

 But the Catholic Church came up with a more very creative strategy! They baptized all the squirrels and made them members of the church. Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.

 And not much was heard from the Jewish synagogue.  They took the first squirrel and circumcised him.  They haven’t seen a squirrel since.

A waitress was on her first day at a truck stop diner. A customer came in and she asked him for his order. His reply was: 4 flat tyres, 2 headlights, and 2 running boards. Puzzled she went over to the cook and repeated the order to him.”Oh I know exactly what he wants; 4 pancakes, 2 fried eggs and 2 rashers of bacon.” Presently the waitress went over to the customer and put a bowl of baked beans down in front of him. “What’s this?” the man asked in surprise. “I did not order this!” To which the waitress smoothly replied: “I thought you might as well fill upon gas while you are waiting!”

Go well……………Grace.