Earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and a dead bull. 
It's been about three weeks since my last post! Plenty going on. I've been in Rangiora this week, which is about 20 minutes north of Christchurch. This was for the national conference of the youth work organisation that I'm involved in. It was a really full on week.

We set off just after 5am, and took the plane down. Due to the ash from the volcano in Chile (which has been round the earth twice and popped in to say Hi) all flights on JetStar had been cancelled. Air New Zealand was still flying, so we were fine.

Plenty going on at the conference. In particular, we heard about the events that had happened after the February earthquake. The ministry of education had been so impressed by the ability of the youth workers and churches to support the local schools that they had offered funding for three of the four remaining schools without a youth worker. All three schools accepted within a week. We gathered round the Christchurch youth workers and prayed for them; they're pretty tired.

We were supposed to go home on Wednesday night, but we were booked of JetStar this time, and all flights were still cancelled. Fortunately we were staying in someone's house, and they were off on holiday all week. We had with us another girl who had made it down from Auckland by bus, ferry and train (she got a certificate for it), and was now trying to work out how to get back. Plus another guy who joined us on Wednesday because he'd been stranded too. Hope they made it. Meanwhile, we rebooked on Air New Zealand on a flight to Hamilton (about two hours south of home) and made it back on Thursday night.

Many thanks to Rob who took us to the airport, and gave us a tour of Christchurch on the way. It was curious at first; the roads were still littered with sand and silt from the June earthquake. Things slowly began to dawn on us as we continued into the city. The roads became increasingly buckled, and the houses began leaning at odd angles. Chimneys and walls were down. By the river I saw one building that had one corner over a metre lower than the others. It looked like it was falling into a hole. The houses were almost all deserted. In the central city, many buildings had been left exactly as they fell, particularly in the inner red zone. We stopped and looked at one particularly demolished street, and prayed for a few minutes.

Yet there were plenty of signs of hope. I'm not sure how people will cope if there's another earthquake, but there were cars driving by, and businesses opening up (I understand the parking wardens are back in force next week) and people generally just getting on with life. About 5000 people are thought to have left though.

Meanwhile, it's been wet. Really wet. Bronwyn's parents have been off on holiday in England for a few weeks, so we've been all helping out on the farm. Bronwyn managed to jam the gearbox on one of the tractors while trying to round up the cows. Allan retrieved it, and left it in our garden. So we're now the proud gardians of a tractor.

The bull wasn't well, and we called out the vet. She pulled out a load of mushed up grass from his mouth and gave him penicillin. However, he dropped down dead this week, so the vet has been out again for an autopsy. Apparently he was insured! We've also had the dog down at the vet, after Bronwyn noticed a red lump protruding from her rear. Turned out to be a huge hormonal growth, so she's had an operation and a complete hysterectomy. She's fine, but we're not allowed to make her run for a couple of weeks.

Rachael is looking forward to going to the Girl Guide Jamboree next year, which happens to be in New Zealand. She's been saving up (and blackmailing us for money). They did a fundraising event recently - we all went to a rock climbing place for the evening. Sarah managed to get about six metres up, which is not bad for her age. Rachael managed to get to the top on the children's section. I managed the beginner adults' section, but struggled on the "Easy" adult routes! The harder routes were all graded, with some looking practically impossible...

Think that's about enough for now. Better put another log on the fire.

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