Tuesday 24 June 2008

Feast your eyes (and ears) on this!

...something from "Down Under" that I put together (with the artistic help of Jacquie Lawson, of course) for my friends and family in the States, with a message of hope for your collective well-fare, a renewed sense of community, and all the best that can be mustered to sustain the country's future - all of which I think is especially needful during this season of fractious campaigning.

This "alternative" expression of patriotism may take a bit to load - especially if you don't have a good broadband connection - but will be well worth the wait because it is not just any old "fly-by-night" production, as you shall see! Plus, you will be especially rewarded if you view the "Scrapbook" at the end - something for all 50 States. (And feel free to pass this link on to others, with my compliments.)



Monday 23 June 2008

Desperate Ethiopian Food Crisis - many Christian families are literally starving

Shalala weed now being eaten

Insect on bean leaf

Completely destroyed Teff

Sunday, June 22, 2008
Dear friends, The situation in Ethiopia has become exceedingly desperate, especially in the countryside - and the news shared below apparently has not yet registered on the consciences of those who should be disseminating it to the rest of the world. I got this letter from a physician friend of mine who travels back and forth with her pastor husband to Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, doing AIDS education/prevention work, community health training, and pastoral education. Thus I know this information is coming from a reliable source. (If you cannot see the photos attached, for illustration, I have posted them at my blog -- see the address below.) I think we need to each be asking ourselves (and our congregations) some personal questions: e.g. "What can or should we be doing about this? To whom else should I be passing along this appeal, in order to encourage further investigation and response?" This unfortunately represents but one, but perhaps the most desperate, among many situations in our current global food crisis.


20 Kookaburra Ridge / 4 Tauss Place, Bruce, ACT, 2617, Australia
Australia phone: 61-2-6253-4072
USA phone contact: 508-762-4226
Email: Clair.Hochstetler@gmail.com

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: update@hopeinview.org
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2008 17:13:45 -0500
Subject: [Update from Carolyn Klaus] More urgent news from Ethiopia

Dear Friends,

I apologize for writing again about the famine in Ethiopia, but we've received new information that we feel compelled to share with you. Here are excerpts from Messele's report of his meeting with our 10 church-planter/community-developers this week, with his pictures attached:

In their reporting time before the training they reported on obstacles they are facing in their ministry because of the severe famine created in their mission sites and all around. Many children died because of the lack of nutrition. Some families have lost two or three children. They have nothing to eat now and for the coming period because of an uncountable insect fallen in to their teff, maize, potato and bean.


Now for the letter from Messele:

Dear family, the truth is this but if you heard our mass media, this truth is denied by our own authorities for the sake of politics. The famine is serious everywhere but it is more serious in countryside. People in towns at least have salary or some other financial income to buy what they could. But people in countryside almost lost the only thing they have. Do you believe me if I truly tell you that many people including some of our missionaries are eating a weed and if affordable cabbage with out any additional food? I myself went and verified this by my own eyes. I wept when I saw this during my missions sites visit.

Here are personal reports from our church planters from this past week:

  • T.O.: Robbery is common in Gutu-Onoma because of the famine. Last week the unbelieving relative of our church member killed a person from another clan for robbery and due to this all of the killer's clan including all church members left the area for the fear of revenge. Now the church is empty until reconciliation because all are from the killer's clan.
  • A.D.: Last time on the way to the mission site 6 people I know surrounded me and gave me choice: death or give up my money. I gave them the only 20 birr I had and saved my soul. The famine is serious in our Kebele [neighborhood]. Yesterday night me and my family had cabbage dinner with out any additional and today just now I am here without breakfast.
  • W.B.: I sold the only oxen I had for farming for 1000 birr and bought 100kg maize for 550 birr. Now the flour is almost gone and I don't know the next.
  • J.T.: I lost all my teff harvest I have. It was my yearly budget. I don't know what will happen to my children.

In all of these sites there is no any aid from the Government or any NGOs, including World Vision or United Nations. Not even any aid from the Government except medication and nutritional food aid to sick mothers and children in Kuyera Hospital. This is the real situation of the area.

Let's pray and do any thing we could for the sake of the compassionate Lord Jesus Christ the Savior. Matthew 25: 33-46.

Your brother,



We are profoundly moved by Messele's report and other reports consistent with this that we get from other areas—and by the Scripture he referred to: "Inasmuch as you have not done it unto the least of these My brothers, you have not done it unto Me."

We CAN do something. Even if we can't "fix" the famine for all of Ethiopia, we have the possibility of saving many specific lives and making the good news credible in at least these five Muslim villages. The advice I'm getting from several senior missions statesmen is that in famine, you should get as much nutritious food as possible to the people affected, and worry about sustainability later. Ron and I have looked at our budget and are planning to give all we can to that end. Will you consider joining us? All donations for this purpose should be marked "for famine relief" and should be sent to Hope In View, PO Box 334, Goshen, IN 46527-0334.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Your fellow servant,

Carolyn - Update@hopeinview.org

Kids - Will They Survive ?

Funeral Tent

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Many American War Veterans Now Feel Betrayed!

The following was composed by Joe Burgess, a Vietnam veteran, and son of a WWII tank operator. But it pretty well sums up how I feel, too!

Everybody knows that Bush isn't remotely qualified to be at the helm of the world's superpower. He can neither think nor speak coherently, can recognize little other than Texas on a map, has completely torpedoed every business venture he attempted, and admittedly was a hard-partying sot until he was 40. Cheney was another matter. He was a household word. He had been a public servant throughout his career. He served as President Gerald Ford's chief of staff, earned six terms in the House of Representatives where he ascended to the position of minority whip and, finally, was the elder Bush's Secretary of Defense.

We trusted Cheney to keep Bush from making rash decisions. Was it not Cheney who, at the conclusion of the 1991 Desert Storm assault, made the assessment that to expand the exercise to include regime change in Iraq was not morally sustainable because of the chaotic bloodletting -- the needless toll on our uniformed military?

We were wrong. Had we bothered to check the "other priorities" that allowed Cheney to dodge the draft five times on his rise to power, his chilling congressional voting record, his efforts to enrich the military industrial complex by privatizing defense duties and granting massive contracts to Halliburton, we would have known that Cheney was consumed with lust for power and money. We would have known Cheney had been champing at the bit for more than a decade to impose a new order wherein the American Empire controls the world and its resources.

Had we checked, we would have known Dick Cheney was the wrong babysitter for a kid who gets his jollies by blowing up things.

I don't want to go off on an Aristotelian rant here, but thanks to Cheney and those around him obsessed with world government, this nation appears to be running on empty where morality, or ethos, is concerned. Values such as compassion, sympathy, prudence, virtue, decency, ethics -- cannot thrive in a nation controlled by war criminals who force its citizens into submission through fear, violence and propaganda. How can a society be "just" when natural laws have fallen by the wayside and nobody is held accountable for crimes against God and humanity?

We are under the control of the criminally insane. Cheney has turned the greatest democratic republic ever conceived into a world corporation and anointed himself its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He has supplanted two centuries of protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with executive orders and secret laws. In their lust for power and riches, Cheney and Bush have managed in just seven grueling, sadistic, morally corrupt years to destroy entire nations, including their own. And they accomplished this in the only way possible. Because we permitted it. Because we lost our moral compass.

Sunday 15 June 2008

Getting Real: The Hidden Room in a Man’s Heart - For Father’s Day, 2008

Created Jun 10, 2008


The leaf forms
slowly unfolds
feeding off the sugar it makes,
cooking in the kiln of the sun,
sending this sun-sugar through
the tiny venous system of its body.
The life of the leaf burgeons, lilts,
colors it green, red, yellow, then brown.
...The leaf falls,
leaving a scar on the branch,
etching the wood, so you can see
something has broken away.

End of life? No.
By this means, another band of branch is grown.
In the next season comes a bud,
then a leaf, then another scar.
And thusly another band of branch grows
and is connected to the last one.
So goes the tree of living wood,
growing upward, outward, full and whole.
Over and over.
The tree expands.
Scar by scar.


It is soon Father's Day and if one could tell the caretaking temperament of a woman by what's inside the black hole of Calcutta, I mean her purse, then perhaps a man's desire to fix all things that come before his sight and his hearing can be understood by the small carpentry and repair shop he carries around in his heart....

The tiny repair shop of the heart
Some say that fathers have no time for their families nowadays that so much is left undone, unsaid. But, I'd say, even in the midst of struggle, even in the midst of trying to catch favor or the fetching of one more aegis for himself, there is in every man, a small room, where he is wizard of the universe and where he hopes he has the means and time to build and mend and fix most anything that might come before him, including himself.

That is the father's truest heart...

... a tiny corner workspace inside his heart wherein his soul keeps all manner of hand tools, psychic ones, which he plans to use, and does use to shape, to fasten, to plane and level, to tender, to repair, to splash with new color, to make as new all things within his reach... the persons dear to him, the creation of ideas, dreams and actions ... and also turning the mallet and chisels to the better shaping of his own ragged parts.

All this is in a man.

How ancient is the theme of the father who fixes people and things? Very old. The keeper of the hand tools, the noble cabinet maker, the woodworker, the carpenter, is an ancient leitmotif in tales since time out of mind. And, the subtext, most often, is about learning to "be real," to be faithful to the true self and all its gifts.

Geppetto, the father woodworker
The Italian Carlo Collodi, the creator of the story Pinocchio, was in his time--the early 1800s-- bound for the seminary and the priesthood. But his mischievous demeanor pre-empted that. He had to struggle to find the right fit for his own life. So, instead he became a preacher in a different way; he became a writer, and handed out his soulful stories like seeds.

Collodi's story of Pinocchio is one wherein, by the shaping of the pattern for the wood and by the harsher shapings via difficult life experiences, a piece of pinewood becomes a truly animated child, a ser humano, a true human being. In analytical psychology, this could be seen as representing the woodenness of the ego being overwhelmed by the true and fluid heart of the soul; the real magneto of a male's nature.

Pinocchio and his maker lost their leaves too, so to speak, and were scarred, but also grew as time and again they were challenged to relinquish ignorance and acting as though various important things are trivial.

Pinocchio suffered from having his legs burned away. Legs, in archetypal symbolism, point toward the ability to move in thought and action from one place to another with a plan, with determination... but also, legs can symbolize standing for something useful and important. New legs, new stances, new viewpoints to stand on and for... had to be carved for Pinocchio and fastened to him integrally again.

So too, many a man, many a father as he grows older, has his 'legs knocked out from under him,' and thereby willfully changes from naïve child into wiser man.

Pinocchio's maker, Geppetto, would often scold the puppet-learning-to-be-fully-human. But he also grew from scarrings, for his boy-son, his heart of hearts Pinocchio, was wont to wander off and nearly be killed time after time. Especially when the charcoal burners in the forest burned Pinocchio's legs, Geppetto found his heart torn apart.

It could be said that for the old man, as for any man, any father who helplessly loves the precious innocence in another--whether child or adult-and himself as well... that Angelus Silesius's prayer about loving and being loved beyond the merely human plane is a fit: that God may rise up in my soul and shatter me. In other words, that Love be allowed to open a man fully. All the way. Nothing withheld. Even if at first it feels like being ripped open and scarred.

In no way trite, and in every way arresting, one more scar means one more bract of branch grows outward.

Yusef, the father carpenter
And in an uncanny similar vein, there is another famous woodworker story, far more ancient: Yusef the Galilean shaper, the fixer, the maker who stood over and cared for the bashert, the destined love of his life, Mir-yam, and the child born God of Love. Yusef, himself, was from a line of kings (Davidian), yet he was dedicated not to palaces and pomp, but to working the woodenness of things into living arcs and joinery, into earthy and helpful, purposeful things for others.

Knowing Yusef's story-his standing up against the stoning of his Mir-yam and taking head-on the shrill opprobrium of the other men who were mad to kill her-can you imagine the men bellowing at Yusef? He didn't put up with 'appearances.' He insisted on the realness of the soul. Leaves falling everywhere.

Yusef, having to flee as a refugee with a brand new infant and weakened wife in the middle of the night, arriving as immigrants without papers in Egypt. More leaves lost. Scarring erupting at every turn.

Later, Yusef losing track of the beloved child in the Temple. My God, can there be anything worse than seeing your child one moment and having them appear to vanish the next? There just isn't. In all those heart-stopping moments, we know Yusef grew into a giant force, scar by scar by scar. When the force of the soul breaks through, the real self is constellated.

The old carpenter and the young carpenter
And too, there are tales of a carpenter who did not do so well at first... one 'semi-chestnut story' told in our family is about the old carpenter who had a son who was also a carpenter.

The old man and the young man worked together and turned out three masterful houses. But then, the son said he was tired and just wanted to take a year or two off, just to relax and play.

The grizzled old father begged, "Please, just one more house?
You'll be glad you set your tools to it, I promise you."

So, the son grudgingly agreed and set to work, but with only half a heart. This time his father did not work with him, so the son nailed here but not there; trimming out, but not evenly; mortises not matching; leaving the rough edges to ripped boards unsanded.

But finally the house was done.

The aggravated son got into his pickup thinking how much free time and fun he'd missed just because he'd taken on the building of this last dumb house.

But the old man came to his truck window holding out a set of keys. Here, these are yours, the father said smiling.

Mine? said the son.

Yes, as a gift. This house is yours... from me to you... to show you my gratitude for all the fine work you did on the three previous houses.

Well. Though one could say this story is about whether to be a conscientious worker or not, or whether to be immature vs. mature man and father, it is not a story only about those things exactly.

More so, though overtly a story about a boy-man building a house, it is also a story about how the inner workings of the mind might go as a man chooses how he will live, who he will allow himself to be in all his charisms that brook no acedias, how he will build for the soul in all things if there is no one there to watch. How he will be real by the soul's sight.

Will he build the beautiful house his soul can live in with joy, or will he slap-dash it together and then go busy-bore himself half to death doing repetitive, senseless endeavors?

The old father in the story mimics aspects of the archetypal father: the creator, the one who imagines and brings to fruition the wild and deep ideas in that younger male psyche. The wise old man of the psyche now says, Look, here's a leap of growth to be made, even though you're tired: This time, be true to yourself, to your gifts, your craft, even if no one is watching, even me... especially me.

The boy, without realizing it, is building a home for his own life; the walls or lack of them, the colors or lack of them, the breadth and scope or lack of it, the depth of meaning or lack of it. That he doesn't build with imagination to the edges of his craft and knowledge-regarding everything that shows above ground, and everything that is hidden behind the skins of the house-- represents a loss for him. A terrible loss of the vast acreage of the self; a loss of competent and cared for abode for the one wild and worthy soul.

The drive to become real is so important for habitation of soul, it is addressed in stories from ancient times to the present

Viz: not knowing how to construct, or knowing how, but nonetheless just turning one's head for a time, or somehow sloughing it all off a bit instead of being present to the craft of the soul- this ancient leitmotif of 'the uncompleted self' which mirrors the father/son carpenters story, is found in an ancient document called 'first letter to the Corinthians' 3: 12-15. Paraphrased, it goes like this:

"Don't be reckless in choosing the materials you're going to build with. Eventually, the inspector cometh. If you use cheap or warped goods, the jig will be up. The inspection will be by the sighted, not by the blind. You can't throw it together just to get by. If your work is even reasonably sound, the building is hale. If parts of your work don't pass, your errors will have to be corrected. You'll have to start over at those places that didn't work the first time. This might feel like being passed through the fire at times, yet you'll survive- but there might be scars."

In that 'first letter,' written by Saul-the-transformed (by falling off his high horse), the above words were written, I believe, by a man specifically to men. Paul is speaking about the grit of being a man who conveys, that is, who literally carries the holy knowing within. How a man lives his life in depth is like constructing a house by using the hand tools of his heart, his words, his deeds, his loves, his losses, and yes, too, his scars. Paul is saying, if you don't do it well enough the first time and many things fall, then whether you be father, lover, son or brother, you'll have more chances.

But, not without loss. Even though scar tissue may result from lack of knowing, from being afraid, from loathing to leave the rewards of trading real life for one of self-induced taxidermy, there are still generous possibilities for redoes of shortfalls and wrong turns... claw-hammering out nails, reorienting, retaking the castle so to speak, reshaping oneself-or one's offspring if the pattern's been accidentally handed down-rerouting one's genuine ideas to flow with one's actual actions at last.

That not so well constructed house can ever be rebuilt where needed, and with more care the second time around, sometimes a third time, or many more times if needed. It's alright; the integrity of the foundation is born into the man, even when he doesn't think it's so, or fears it is no more.

And that little workshop within a man's heart, where the soul presides and teaches, and where so much is given to repair, replacement, building? it's that protected temenos, that healing, strengthening and inventing space where the ego tamped down learns to dare be authentic... that is fully present in a man, too.

Fully alive. Fully real. Fully within reach.

"Getting Real: The Small Workshop in a Man's Heart" and "The Leaf Scar" poem excerpt from La Pasionaria: Collected Poetry ©2008 Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

Scenes from our first "organic" food shopping experience in AUS - hey there, mate, it's kinda unique!

Carole Anne and I went out with the car to get a feel of the lay of the land and do some grocery shopping Friday afternoon. We were intent on comparing about four key locations, the prices, the quality, and the variety -- to make informed decisions on where to buy our food stuffs.

The photos you see attached (above and below) depict a bit of what we found just outside and inside the "Eco Meats" shop near some other specialty markets offering a variety of "organic" foods raised locally. We feasted our eyes on something new...but weren't sure our stomachs could handle it all, just yet!

Because so many kangaroos were proliferating abundantly in one big park-like tract of land owed by the government, the border of which is less than a kilometer from the neighborhood we live in. As they overpopulated the space, they were prone to venture (...er, shall we say: hop out) all over the place, through various suburbs of this capital city, onto golf courses by the dozens, often leaping into the paths of vehicles (just like deer do in the States) causing great damage and disturbance. Officials opened it up to licensed hunters to shoot about 400 of them just a couple weeks ago, but not without plenty of protest by the animal lovers. Not sure if this "Roo Jerkey" we saw resulted from all that -- or not!

Shopping here is indeed quite the experience, and puts a major dent in the wallet, as well. We are definitely NOT in Indiana (nor Kansas, for that matter) any more. For example, organic free range eggs here are a mere $10.00 a dozen AUD.

Because of the dropping value of the US dollar over the last few months, AUD dollars are now almost on par with USD. (When we first visited here in March the AUD dollar was still at about 91 cents USD, so the power of our savings we have in American banks has just lost 10% of its value now that we have moved here. And from analyzing the trends, it looks like its only going to get worse, so we are getting ready to move most of it here quite soon, and invest it in the international markets. Wonder how many Americans realize that banks in Australia have been offering an average of about 8% interest on savings accounts, and for quite some time!)

The terrible floods in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest this week are making the news here in Australia - we can only imagine the incredible stress for folks in that region - it's hard just to watch it all happening again, from afar, and hear our friends and family members talk about it (we are using Skype.) It's finally been raining here in the ACT the last couple of weeks, off an on, after a year or two of drought conditions. Even though we could use still use plenty of extra water around these parts, we don't want THAT much!

Counting our blessings,

Friday 13 June 2008

Settling In...

Carole Anne and I have really enjoyed our first two days here, getting settled into what is simply a wonderful single-level home owned by a distinguished well-traveled couple, offering a nice "retreat" atmosphere surrounded by flowers, trees, small gardens, and lemon and kumquat trees. (Phillip and Kelli Hughes who own this home are in Europe until the latter part of August.)

There are many open green spaces, parks and walking/biking trails close by. If this is winter I would never know it - the temperature lately has hovered around in the mid-60s in the day, and in the low 40s at night. The area has finally been getting blessed by some rains recently, as well, after extended drought. Yesterday when I drove the Hughes' Mazda (they put us on their insurance!) about five miles down to "the City Centre" to do some banking, many people were walking around with only shirtsleeves and sweaters. However, we are only about 10 days away from the longest night of their year.


I start my work at the Canberra Baptist Church on Sunday -- and at the hospital here sooner than I could have imagined, given all the structural/logistical difficulty we have been through of late.

The arrangement to contract out my time via Baptist Chaplaincy Services will speed up the acquisition of my "religious worker's" business visa considerably, and address all the various issues and concerns of the Government, the Canberra Hospital, and the Deacon Board of the Canberra Baptist Church, each of which had their own qualms about the inherent risks in the whole endeavor heretofore.

Jim Barr (lead pastor of the Canberra Baptist Church) and I both just "knew", internally, throughout this saga, that somehow all this would come together, but could not imagine just exactly how it would happen until the last few days. I actually anticipated a much more difficult time, thinking we still would need to create the new employer entity and policy agreements to manage it all, once I got here.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that
this is THE ANSWER we have all been praying for! I didn't even know this arrangement with Baptist Chaplains Services was even an option until yesterday (Wednesday afternoon) when the idea was floated by me by Jim Barr during the wonderful face-to-face meeting I had with him and Merilyn (the other associate pastor of CBC) in "our" house, just a few hours after arrival in Canberra.

Jim has been the "point man" behind the scenes instigating many conversations and meetings on my behalf throughout this saga. We are deeply indebted to him for this. He has demonstrated tremendous creativity, fortitude and energy and will be getting a well-deserved break soon - I hope!

We are all looking forward to the arrival in August of Moriah Hurst,
recently graduated from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart (my alma mater as well.) She will be a welcome addition to round out this wonderful pastoral team.

"Exceedingly abundantly, above all that we can ask or think..."

With thanksgiving,

Thursday 12 June 2008


Yes. we have finally arrived safe and sound in Canberra, with quite a tale to tell about our final days in Indiana - and our trip actually getting here:

We had to work VERY hard in intense heat and humidity (about 80 to 90 %) and about that hot, too -- for the whole last week without any air conditioning and the constant threat or experience of rain every single day. We were especially disheartened on Friday, because a sudden unexpected cloud burst that afternoon while we took a break for ice cream with our pastors at Dairy Queen, damaged our "stuff" and
effected the bulk of the final packing and sorting process, as items selected to put into shipping containers were exposed out in the yard.

So...we had many loads to dry out to avoid mold problems later on. With already feeling "behind", being slowed up by intense heat and humidity both inside and outside the house and garage all week, and not in our own place anymore but in a house we were sitting for friends gone to Europe...I had no choice but to miss the wedding of my nephew on Saturday, though Carole Anne was able to represent us and glad to get in air conditioning for the day.

A couple of friends from church made a fantastic contribution of their time and energy Friday evening, and a couple more on Saturday, bless their good hearts. I gathered a whole crew of friends from church on Sunday morning in the final hours packing all the shipping crates away, and taking the other stuff to our "permanent" storage location. (It's a good thing our church meets for worship on Sunday evenings!)
Sunday morning was especially an intense "cooker" for those working and grunting out in the garage and lugging containers.

After final clean-up of the house we were "sitting" for the week, and finally leaving Goshen for O'Hare Sunday afternoon in the Toyota mini-van I'd rented in Chicago the week before, we almost got blown off the road by tornado-like blasts followed by a blinding rain storm near South Bend, IN, for about a half hour. I knew I had to keep moving forward, somehow, in order to make the plane. Most sane people were stopping and hiding their cars under overpasses.

The main thing is that we DID somehow, by the sheer grace of God, make it onto the plane we had booked (although they initially told us it was waaay to late for us to board - another story to tell there!) Plus we had to take time to process the extra bags, paying extra for those and the "Big Wheel" in its special case. A whole list of things went right that day (some due to careful forethought) after so much had not gone well (some due to not-so-good anticipation of the unforeseen) but in spite of many great challenges "we made it!" We sank down into our seats on that international flight with but three minutes to spare, finally able to truly relax for the first time in days.

We first had a four hour leg to San Francisco, then what was supposed to be a 14 hr flight from there to Sydney after changing planes (but same flight number - go figure!) The biggest surprise is that we encountered NO HASSLES OR QUESTIONS WHATSOEVER from the immigration officials in Sydney, upon arrival, as I had expected otherwise. I was prepared to prove that we would be leaving the country in 89 days for New Zealand for a week, then coming back in, on the renewable 90-day business visitors' visa. It turns out I probably won't have to. (* See the paragraphs at the end, below. for that explanation.)

The ride in the Boeing 747 from Frisco to Sydney went better than expected because I managed to get us seat assignments in the middle row (four seats wide) in the back where we took both aisle seats but had two empty seats in between. Thus Carole Anne and I could take turns stretching out all the way on "the bench" formed by three seats with the arm rests propped "up", while the other person slept (or in my case, tried to sleep) in the remaining seat tilted back. Carole Anne was able to get her feet up for a good portion of that part of the trip that way, which really helped deal with the swelling of feet, a persistent problem for her when flying that long. But what was supposed to be 14 hours turned into 20.

We actually made it a day earlier than expected by those in Canberra (there is another whole story there) but even that turned into a MUCH better situation for us than we originally planned, since we stayed in Sydney overnight in a hotel where we could "crash" after the extended delay of five hours getting there (and the extra hour getting through customs) due to getting rerouted to Brisbane first! Our plane sat on the tarmac for two hours - with no ability to call anyone or get off into the terminal - because all planes to Sydney got diverted that morning due to heavy fog. Happily, all our baggage arrived safely with us, including the "Big Wheel!"

We had 7 major checked bags, plus 4 carry-ons and a VERY large "purse" of Carole Anne's to deal with. You should have seen what the carts looked like when we left the airport and sought the shuttle to the hotel! We needed to take basic fall and winter clothing, plus the books and materials I would need, plus other things to stretch us out for three months here without knowing for sure (up until just a few hours before I'm writing this) whether the whole endeavor was "rock solid" viable enough, financially, to justify shipping all the rest of the stuff we had crated up for the "long haul." It seems now that it will be - see that explanation below.

We finally obtained a good long sleep at the Ibis Hotel near the airport in Sydney, instead of having to endure a couple more hours of wearying travel by car down to Canberra yet that day, as earlier planned. Don White from the Canberra Baptist Church graciously drove up to Sydney with his own car yesterday to stay at the same hotel and haul us with all our gear including that oversized unicycle in his car -- "packed to the gills." I was fully expecting to have to take a train with my wheel" ("38" in diameter) but we amazed both our selves by somehow getting it all in, with just enough space left for me to squeeze my body, somehow, into the back seat.

This evening (Wednesday) is the first chance I've had to connect to the Internet, and I'm forcing myself to stay awake until another hour or two so that I can go to bed for another loooooong night's rest, and hope to be "OK" by Thursday morning. I find that I am adjusting to the jet lag better than Carole Anne, because she conked out about mid-afternoon already. We arrived at about noon today to our home in the Bruce district of the ACT, only about five miles from the centre of the city of Canberra. I went shopping for food straight away, driving around (on the left side of the road and negotiating many rotaries) to get oriented to the city, then had a meeting with pastor Jim Barr, who shared much encouraging news on the employment and visa front.

Carole Anne and I are feeling very thankful right now that a whole number of prayers are being answered, even as we prepared to leave and as we traveled. We experienced MUCH grace and mercy, overcoming a whole handful of obstacles along the way, even as we traveled (involving details with schedule, the weather, details in returning the rental vehicle, and several other pressing matters at the airport too complex to go into here -- any one of which had the potential to completely wreck that trip.) We are sooo relieved and happy to be here.

Thanks to many of you reading this, for sticking by us, for your many prayers and expressing concerns about our health and safety as we made the transition. We know we'll be OK, after catching up on sleep and getting off the allergy medicines (to deal with the cat where we were staying) and getting oriented to our new surroundings. I will officially start my work this Sunday, as originally scheduled, attending worship with folks eager to meet us at the Canberra Baptist Church. (It could more accurately be referred to as the Canberra Anabaptist Church, reflecting their theological bent, but that would really be messing with tradition!)


* I wrote on the immigration card turned into immigration in Sydney that we would be in Australia for three months -- that I would be serving as a "pastoral care program consultant" during that time (which is the truth) having aquired a special short-stay business visa via the internet last week. However, I will be applying shortly for a renewable two-year religious workers visa which will allow me to be employed (paid in the usual manner) and now have some important meetings planned for next week to work at finalizing memos of understanding with the appropriate parties involved , namely myself, the hospital, the local church, and those officially employing me. Besides contracting for services as chaplain manager with the Canberra Hospital three days a week, I will spend part-time (two days/wk) as a consultant in pastoral care and visiting the sick and family ministry, as part of the ministry team of the Canberra Baptist Church - through the end of 2008.

We have a verbal commitment now for the long haul, with written stuff documented soon, confirming that I can be" sponsored" (then contracted out) by Baptist Chaplaincy Services of New South Wales. NSW is the state surrounding the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) where we live. What this means is we will be setting some precedent in the ACT for improved ways of delivering chaplain services here that will be consistent, finally, with how things have normally been done for years in the rest of Australia via other ecclesiastical entities.

My coming here has apparently pushed all these changes along, but these particular discussions and possibilities didn't emerge until after we heard (only two weeks before moving here) that the hospital was denied, by Australian Immigration authorities, the ability to be my direct employer as a part-time religious worker. And waiting two whole months to hear that! Being affilated with the Canberra Baptist Church for the first six months, something that was decided separately - but providentially, in hindsight - makes this other new arrangement possible!

All of this created much distraction from the sorting/packing process, with it being needful to maintain many important communications with key folks in Australia, reapplication for a different visa, planning for alternatives and booking some flights out of AUS before the 90 days temporary visa runs out - all of this with genuine wonderment how it was all going to work out (but harboring faith that it would - in the face of much genuine questioning from family and friends) in those final hectic days before we left.

THANKS BE TO GOD for being so faithful to us in the midst of our frailty and human fallibility!
-Clair (for both of us)

Monday 2 June 2008

Mark Swatzentruber Piano Concert , June 18 in Goshen

Friends in the Goshen area...

I received word this past weekend from my Aunt Jan from Columbus, Ohio, regarding a (free) concert by a world class pianist to be held at Sauder Hall at Goshen College the evening of June 18. The pianist is Mark Swartzentruber, her son (and my first cousin, because he is my mother Edna's brother Paul's son) who has lived in London, England many years and raised his family there.

Mark teaches music and helps make sound tracks/film scores with Franco Zeffirelli, etc, and performed at many major music venues throughout Europe and the Middle East. See the press release below for more about that and some other interesting details
regarding his upcoming master classes at Goshen College and the evening concert being offered in connection with that.

Here is a link to a site containing some of the clips of his pieces (some are full length) which are sprinkled throughout six CDs he has recorded so far. All are available from his own music label, Solo Records.

Also, a search on Amazon using his name reveals over seventy different piano pieces he has recorded, which can be previewed or individually purchased there.

I am VERY disappointed to have to miss this concert and hope some of you might be able to enjoy it -- or the other one he's doing in Columbus Ohio the following evening. (I'm hoping they will be able to make a video or DVD copy that can be sent to me in Australia.)


Press Release:

Mark Swartzentruber will be performing at Goshen College on June 18, 7:30 p.m. in Sauder Hall. After teaching master classes on Tuesday and Weds he will perform on Wednesday evening. The concert is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, June 19, Mark will be performing at the Worthington Methodist Church in Worthington (across from the Post Office on High St.) This concert will benefit the Peggy McConnell Worthington Arts Center which will have the ground breaking ceremony on Saturday, June 21. The tickets for this event are $25 and the proceeds will go toward the building of this facility.

Mark graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana University School of Music and is now living in London, England with his wife and three children.

Mark Swartzentruber’s solo recordings on Sony and Solo Records have all won critical acclaim in the international music press. He has performed throughout Europe and in the United States and the Far East and has appeared regularly in recital in important London venues including Wigmore Hall, the South Bank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and St. John’s Smith Square. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and Classic FM and enjoys chamber music partnerships with pre-eminent string players including the Allegri String Quartet and members of the Raphael Ensemble.

He is Music Director of the Holloway Arts Festival in London and has worked with directors such as Franco Zeffirelli and Richard Eyre developing and performing music soundtracks for London West End productions. A committed teacher, he is regularly invited to give master classes and to adjudicate competitions.

Press Quotes:

‘His classically honed but never inhibited account of the Appassionata is one of the best I’ve heard.’ – BBC Music Magazine

‘Few pianists have offered such transcendental pages with greater honesty or coherence.’ – Gramophone

‘A blend of poetic expressiveness, aristocratic Classical restraint and keyboard virtuosity.’ -- International Record Review

‘His playing leaves you once more in awe of Debussy.’ -- Gramophone