Saturday, March 6, 2010

Moods of the mountain

For the first time in my life I am living 'in the shadow' of a mountain.

Every morning heading off to work the mountain looms large in the windscreen.

Every afternoon returning from the office the mountain sits as the backdrop to the traffic.
The mountain can be a barometer of the day. When the apex is bathed in sunshine it is most likely that the sky is blue and the day is clear. When the cloud hangs low down the slopes a cooler day is in the offing.
Each day is a little different. The combination of light and shade, clouds and clear skies offer an infinite variety.
No matter what the weather, and no matter how I am feeling, the mountain stands firm.
It's persistent presence and stability reminds me of the God who is always there.
No matter what is happening in my life the mountain is there. The world might keep changing around it, but the mountain remains.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Very much alive!

"Tasmania is a quiet little island south of the mainland. Nothing much happens there, and it is a good place to go for a holiday." That may (or may not) express the thoughts of many people, but my last week has challenged that sort of thinking.

For two days it was a privilege to travel north and visit Salvation Army centres in the north and north west. There's a lot happening there, and more to come.

At Burnie, Ulverstone and Devonport things are happening. With good leadership in Corps and social centres needs are being met and lives are being changed. New possibilities are being explored at the same time as ways are being found to overcome current difficulties.

In Launceston the Doorways program is being commenced, and under one roof most services will be accessed and people will be able to access physical, social, emotional and spiritual help. Communities are being reshaped. The Launceston Corps is in the process of a radical rebuilding program that will set the tone for the next generation. It is an exciting concept that is renovating the old and making room for the new. Nearby at Kings Meadows response to community needs is bringing change, challenges and life to an older congregation.

And back at DHQ there is always some new development as responses are made to opportunities that resource the Army in meeting human need.

One common factor in north and south is community. As the faith community meets the wider community at their point of need God works. It is great to see, and great to be involved.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Settling In

Two weeks and counting. New house, new job, and now a new golf club. One decision still to be made - new fellowship.

Over the last two weeks much change has taken place. We continue to adjust. During the process we have welcomed family and shared with them in exploring parts of southern Tasmania.

So what have I learned in these past two weeks and 4 days?

  • Tasmania is hilly... a great contrast to the landscape we travelled in the last six months.
  • Roads are winding... but the views are impressive.
  • Locals are friendly... and very helpful.
  • Historic buildings are everywhere... and most towns and villages have more than their share. The weather is great... when the sun is shining, but chilly when clouds come over.
  • Amazing work is being done... and I am impressed by the people working in many of our programs.
  • Administration is demanding and complex... and never ending if programs are to function, people be helped and lives changed.
Exciting times, and more challenges to come.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New year, new home

The early days of 2010 were spent finishing our small amount of packing and preparing to move to Hobart. On January 12 we headed to the Spirit of Tasmania and sailed across Bass Straight.
We returned to the state we have left twenty two years earlier.

There was a sense of familiarity as we landed at Devonport and made our way to Hobart via Launceston. A few days on and we are settled in Moonah. Our gear arrived as expected, and the unpacking process has been largely accomplished. Not everything is in its correct home yet, but we are getting there.

Our last home in Preston offered views of other houses and wonders of Northland Shopping Centre. Here we have a view of the Derwent River and Queens Domain, a hill the obscures any further view down the estuary. In the foreground if this vista is my workplace, a stately old mansion that has served many different purposes over the years. As we head off to work we also gain a perspective of Mount Wellington from the front of our house.

These things come at a cost. The vertical dimension of life in the physical realm is one of the facts of life in Tasmania. Having previously lived in the north of the island I had failed to appreciate that most of the inner suburbs of Hobart are akin to the steeper areas around Launceston.

This week it is back to work. After twelve months of choosing our own pace and place we are now gearing up to get back into a work-life routine. It starts in earnest on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another year over, a new one just begun

New Years Eve 2009.

It began in Victor Harbor. Just after 8 a.m. history was made. The Roberts family - Bill, Graham, Russell and Lynda - hit the fairway at Victor Harbor Golf Club. It was the first time the four of us had played together in a competition, and probably the first time we had all played golf together.

Victor Harbor is the home course of Bill and Lynda, and father is well known at the club where he has been a member for over 20 years. Lynda has only commenced her membership this year.

The bird man is always popular, and attracts the magpies on a number of holes. By the time we got to the twelfth his stock of crumbs was still intact and sufficient to feed the crowd that gathered.

By the time we got to the twelfth the youngest member of the family had already set up a commanding lead with a birdie 2 on the 10th (4 stableford points) and a par on 11 for another 4 stableford points. Lynda hung on to her lead and get back to the clubhouse with 41 stableford points and a clear margin over the men. To win the day Lynda played 5 shots under her handicap and will lose a few strokes before she plays in another competition.

The octogenarian managed to finish the 18 holes in the heat (it got to 41 degrees at Encounter Bay) and performed creditably in difficult conditions with 32 points, about 4 shots over his handicap. That probably means that Lynda beat him off the stick!

After golf there was time for a quick bite and coffee before heading back to Melbourne. Until Horsham the weather was hot and storm clouds were brewing. From Horsham to Ararat the rain was torrential - good for a land in drought, but not for farmers in the middle of harvest. After hours of careful driving it was good to get back to Melbourne before the year was out.

2009 is now gone. The year of change is over and we prepare to resume work in mid-January in Tasmania.

We look forward to new opportunities, new challenges and new experiences as we settle into Hobart.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wedding Number 2

Sydney is a crazy place - great to visit but the roads go everywhere. We managed to find what we needed to, and were mostly on time. It was great to share again with family and to celebrate a major milestone in the lives of our extended family.

Congratulations to Dave and Jess on their wedding, we wish them all the very best for the years to come. The reception was a lot of fun - and Jess was smiling all day.

It was a great celebration, and it was great to be there for the occasion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Family Connections

From a wedding in Melbourne we headed to wedding in Sydney. After months of travelling together Beth and I went in separate directions - Beth drove up with her parents while I went a little west to Orange to catch up with my brother and his family and t play a little golf on the way.

Fortunately Tocumwal Golf Club is on the way. A three night stopover was pleasant, with golf each day on the two well maintained courses. It is remarkable what can be done with an ample supply of recycled water.

At Orange it was more golf - with rounds at Orange Duntryleague, Wentworth Ex-Services, Blayney, and Cowra, as well as the odd nine holes at Orange Ex-Services either early in the morning or in the cool of the evening.

Five competitive rounds - and in the sibling contest I was second once more than I was first.

Considering the lack of water in Central NSW the Orange courses were in fairly good condition, although there is a lot of run on the fairways. For so many places the lack of water is having a devastating effect. Where recreation is concerned it is an issue that detracts from the experience. When it is your livelihood it can be a matter of financial survival. For golf clubs across the country the extended drought is tough but most will survive. For golfers we might just have to pay more to play golf, or get used to playing in less than ideal conditions.