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Having finished our meetings in Warrnambool (Australia), on March 2nd Norm and Norma drove us back to Melbourne for the next-day flight to New Zealand. Since the flight was scheduled for early the next morning, we went a day early and stayed at a hotel in Melbourne. Pictured below is Norm and Norma with Darla and me.
We drove the more scenic route through Balarat, where Cardinal Pell’s church stood. Of course, that week the news was all about Pell’s child molestation case, as a court had just released the guilty verdict that week after convicting him last December 11.
The court put a gag order on the news until February 26, the day that we had flown from Brisbane to Melbourne.
Cardinal Pell himself was the head of the Vatican Bank, a position which has been held by a series of corrupt financiers for many years. Officially, he was third in line from the pope right behind the Secretary of State. Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict, were both supposedly trying to clean up the corruption at the bank, but both failed. Benedict finally resigned, and Francis lacked the power or the will to clean up the bank.
In other words, Cardinal Pell had more power than the popes. But that has now changed.
He will no doubt appeal his case forever, and I doubt if he will ever see the inside of a prison cell. Nonetheless, his conviction is a blow to the church’s public relations, which has suffered since 2002, shortly after we poured out the second bowl of wine upon the sea (as per Revelation 16:3). I wrote about this in The Wars of the Lord, chapter 34.
We flew to Auckland on Sunday, March 3rd, and from there we took a short flight up the north island to Kerikeri, where Lynley and Ray picked us up. Ray had already flown in from Myanmar (Burma). He is from the Naga tribe and has served as Lynley’s translator for the past few years in her missionary trips. The picture below shows Ray on the left and Lynley on our right.
We held three days of meetings in Lynley’s house in Taipa, near Coopers Beach on the north shore of the north island. About 20 people packed her living room each day, including two men who were led rather miraculously to attend. Other than Ray, the one who drove the farthest was Mike, who came from Wellington on the south end of the island at the Cook Strait.
Here is a group picture that includes most of the attendees. Mike is third from the left in the rear standing behind Ray. The two on the far right side are the ones who were led unexpectedly to come to the meetings. The fourth man from the left in the front row is Raurie, a Maori elder.
The picture below is taken from the back yard where the group picture was taken.
Three days of meetings is the equivalent of a conference in any other setting. The main difference is that in normal conferences, I don’t have to speak all day every day. But in both Australia and New Zealand, I was the only speaker for three such conferences in three different locations. So it was good to get some time off before and after each set of meetings to recover my voice.
After the meetings in Taipa, we walked on the nearby beach enjoying the sun and the sea air, occasionally banishing thoughts of winter back home.
Andrew and Yolinda came with us, giving us all a great time to fellowship on the beach.
Ray found some live fish trapped in pools in the rocks during low tide. He brought them back to Lynley’s house to eat later.
On Saturday, March 9, we had a “tourist” day at the Bay of Islands on the northeast corner of the island. It is a beautiful area with 144 islands offshore of the main island, where the first mission was established and where the first Europeans settled. The town of Russell, located on one of the main offshore islands, served as the first capital from 1840-1841 before it was moved south to Auckland in 1841. In 1865 the capital was moved still farther south to Wellington.
On our tourist day, we visited the museum and walked on the grounds where the treaty with the Maori was signed in 1840. Then Darla and I took a scenic 4-hour island cruise on the Te Papahu while Lynley took some time off by herself to read a book.
The farthest island we visited was one that had a hole in it. I took a picture of it through the glass window of the boat after we had passed through some rain.
We were surprised when the captain piloted the boat through the narrow hole in the rock. He said that this was optional, since one could never tell what the condition of the sea would be. If it was too rough, he would not attempt it.
Below is what the side of the passage looked like as we came through it.
Next to that island was another with a lighthouse on it and a house half way down the side of the mountain where the lighthouse keeper used to live. Now they rent it out as a holiday house for adventurous souls. The original lighthouse keeper in 1917 complained of huge waves nearly hitting the foundations of the house (42 meters up the mountain). When they did not believe him, he quit his job, but when his replacement made the same complaint, the authorities finally took this seriously.
We did not return to our original port of departure but got off the boat at Russell just across the bay. As I said earlier, it was New Zealand’s first capital. I understand that it was moved partly because in 1840 it was a sailing port with a lot of debauchery there.
It is a beautiful town. If you look carefully, you can see the flag pole on top of the hill on the left side. That was where we went to cleanse the land of innocent blood and to deal with the spirits of Treachery, Murder, Revenge, and Hatred.
Below is a picture taken from the top of the hill looking down on Russell. You can see the pier where I took the previous photo of Darla.
Below is a picture of the flag pole itself. It was made famous many years ago when a Maori cut it down three times in protest for violations of the treaty.
The picture below was taken from the flagpole itself looking the opposite direction. On the far right side there is a bench overlooking the pink flowers, where we took communion on behalf of the land to cleanse the land of innocent blood (as per Deuteronomy 21). This decree was applicable to the entire nation of New Zealand going back to the earliest inhabitants.
We spent the night in a nearby hotel and then drove south to Auckland the next day (March 10) to take the flight home. It took more than 13 hours to fly to Houston, and from there it was another 2:10 to fly back to Minneapolis. Because we gained a day in flight, we arrived in Minneapolis at 9:30 pm, just 2 hours after leaving Auckland.
We were greeted by cool 23 degrees temperature and a lot of snow. Our driveway was just wide enough to fit a normal automobile. Oofdah!
The next day I noticed an example of Minnesota humor on top of a nearby house. Nice touch, Olaf.