Friday 25 July 2008

An Update From Oz...

It's hard to believe that it's been six weeks already since Carole Anne and I arrived in Canberra. But we are excited that I'll be able to go up next week to collect our big shipment of clothes and "household stuff" arriving a bit earlier than originally expected on a ship from California sailing into Sydney's harbor!

The weather, though its mid-winter and locals complain about the cold and feel "freezing", we think it's WONDERFUL compared to Indiana weather. The temp has barely dipped a couple of degrees below freezing at night and generally hovers around the 50's in the daytime. The sun shines a LOT, praise God, and the bird life is abundant. A scarlet parrot just flew by my window on the way to the feeder, chasing away a Magpie with bright yellow eyes. Not a squirrel on the continent to raid the sunflower seeds! Cockatoos fly in large flocks all over the place, constantly announcing their presence with distinctive screeches, nesting in trees.

We do have a "permanent" US-based online phone number (linked to Skype that rings direct into our computer, if dialed, or a message will be stored in voice mail which we'll hear later if we aren't online at the moment.) So use this as our main phone number from now on: 508-762-4226 And it's free to call on nights and weekends - at least to most people with a cell-phone. (Just remember that we are 14 hours ahead of anyone in the Eastern part of the US!)

An ongoing dilemma is that we don't have a permanent address over here, yet, since we are still house-sitting, and plan to be doing that through October or so, due to the off-the-scale high cost of rent and housing here in Canberra. The ten-year-old home on a half-acre of property we sold for $117 K when we left Goshen would easily bring a half million dollars here! You can't touch a shack here for less than $300,ooo. And the prices are not projected to go down anytime soon. Average rents are $400 per week for a two bedroom apartment.

Some people become perpetual house-sitters (and we are tempted to try it, too!) since its not hard to find folks living around here who travel for one or two months at a time. Many folks in civil service jobs, and that includes about half the folks in Canberra, retire at the age of 60 and then get "out there" frequently. We are talking with group of folks now exploring the concept of building some co-operative housing units.

The address of my pastoral care office is fairly "permanent" though - as long as I hold down the job here at The Canberra Hospital. So persons can use this for a "snail-mail" and shipping address:

Chaplain Clair Hochstetler
TCH Pastoral Care Dept - ACT Health
GPO Box 825
Canberra City, ACT, 2601

Besides working at TCH as Manager of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care Services (officially 25 hrs/wk - or three days/wk - but you know how that goes....) I am currently also on the pastoral team of the Canberra Baptist Church -- what I now like to refer to as the Canberra (Ana)baptist Church, where certain other affiliates of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) attend, including Doug Hynd, and also CBC's own senior pastor, Jim Barr.

Carole Anne and I are both enjoying involvements in the worshipping life and other activities among these outgoing, friendly CBC folks, and are being drawn into many new friendships -- there and among the wider circle of friends in the community these members' lives touch. We are truly enjoying life and work in AUS ("Oz") except for the skyrocketing cost of living. (We didn't come here to make money, but it would be nice to at least "break even!")

It has certainly been mutually beneficial for me to be able to contract with CBC as a pastoral care program consultant for two days a week at least through January of '09 (and maybe longer, depending...) I'm in charge of facilitating efforts to implement the congregation's Goals H and J, listed here: developing/coordinating a pastoral care training program for members (which I'm shaping as a sort of modified Stephen Ministry program) and being a resource for strengthening CBC's spiritual ministry and involvement among families with young children. I occasionally preach or help lead worship, as well.

I am becoming an affiliate member of the AAANZ - see their nice home page here or their latest newsletter here. You might enjoy perusing some of the excellent book reviews included in the later. Doug Hynd, one of the reviewers, has become a friend and occasionally attends CBC, as well. I've been invited to join a discussion group he leads called "Subversive Voices!"

By the way, Moriah Hurst, who has been attending Assembly Mennonite during her AMBS student experience in Elkhart County over the last several years, will be joining our CBC pastoral team about a week from now, coming to coordinate actions and activities specifically addressing goal C, and some of goal G. She will be coordinating CBC's youth and young adult ministry, while also spending some time establishing and directing an ecumenical Peace House here in Canberra. The plans are to bring some young adults together into intentional community while working/interning with a common mission, focusing on peace and justice issues, and a committee from the church has been been meeting to set the direction and supervise/support these efforts. (Moriah's parents are Mark and Mary Hurst, administrators/pastors for the AAANZ, now based in the North Shores area of Sydney.)

Keep in touch!

Clair Hochstetler
House-sitting now at: 20 Kookaburra Ridge / 4 Tauss Place, Bruce, ACT, 2617, Australia
Online US-based phone number with messaging center: 508-762-4226
Hoffnung. espoir. esperanza. 希望. ελπίδα. Hope!

Saturday 19 July 2008

One of the most important speeches I've heard this year!

While I think it's increasingly difficult to argue against this sort of rationale, I am quite aware that some think Al Gore is off the wall about the reality of global warming or the economics of our current situation in the world. Thus, I invite folks to take 26 minutes to watch this very important speech and then share serious comments and discussion -- post them right here, below.

For those who disagree I invite you to share your argument(s) against what Mr. Gore laid down this week and why it doesn't make sense to you - and we can then engage in further discussion (off-line, if you wish.)

If you agree with what Al Gore is proposing, then click here to consider various options to pick up the challenge!


Friday 18 July 2008

Reflecting on NAIDOC week - gettting the "full picture"


Since we just celebrated NAIDOC week here in Australia, I thought I would share this to spur some additional reflection and possible action...

--Photographs of current living conditions among many Aborigines in the Northern Territory.

--This accompanying report is also quite sobering.

Any comments?


It is not perfection that leads us to God; it is perseverance. -- Joan Chittister

Friday 4 July 2008

Do you really think Obama has a snowball's chance in November?

After reading this article and some of the references linked to it, one really wonders: Read this analysis -- a good summary of longstanding issues and problems that simply have not been addressed by those that could make a difference.

Elliot D. Cohen, the author, is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-Hungry Government are turning America into a Dictatorship. Cohen is the first-prize winner of the 2007 Project Censored Award.

While you are at it, please take a bit of time, as well, to peruse the readers' comments after the end of this article. Many substantiate or illustrate the points made -- and only magnify the concern.

Your thoughts?