An update from Martin Stewart on some of the ongoing mission work in ChCh, post-earthquake...
It is a real pain all this shaking – I really feel for those poor people out east with any hope they might have had of something being closer to normal being erased this week. While the quakes themselves weren’t as bad insofar as the devastating trampoline effect in February (esp the lives lost) in other ways they are more demoralising, especially with winter upon us. There is widespread anger now – wanting some resolution over what will happen with their land and property, but anger at the sense that there may not be any end to this in the medium term. It is scary, hard on the nerves, massively inconvenient, and hugely disheartening.
I do a bit of chaplaincy at a university hostel (well I try – it is hard to get there these days) – I was talking to some students last night who are quite fed up. They have missed crucial parts of their semester but also they are in exam mode with exams postponed and squeezed into a very tight timeframe but also their ability to concentrate in any extended way is very difficult. Some are seriously contemplating transferring elsewhere for next year. I cannot blame them, but it will have devastating consequences for ChCh and the University of Canterbury who are quite worried about their ability to attract new students for 2012 as it is.
The Presbyterians have had fewer problems in this week’s round of shocks – a disused church to be demolished is now demolished (quite convenient as it had historic places issues), another two congregations that were uncertain about whether their buildings could be repaired are clearer now about having to move on from them, and one minister is probably going to have to move from his damaged house.
My little project of having people from St Stephen’s, St Giles, and St Mark’s delivering $200 supermarket vouchers to the homes of people in the Avonside/Dallington area is chugging along nicely. My target of raising $50,000 is now up to $33,000 thanks to two large donations from a Wellington trust and an Auckland parish, along with quite a few $1000 donations from supportive folk. Once I get the $50,000 I will be approaching several supermarkets on this side of the city to buy the vouchers and invite them to match us dollar for dollar.
St Stephen’s is handling this project for the three parishes – we even have a dedicated account:
contact Martin for details of this account: firstname.lastname@example.org