Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The Family Budgeting book is moving along reasonably well with something approaching a first draft getting towards 120 pages. It's absolutely fascinating what is turning up in the sparse records. I dare not count the number of volunteers who broke down under the sheer weight of demand through the years I am reviewing. I know of at least three personally, but in almost every town in the country there's a story of huge effort in the face of ever-increasing demand.
The huge input of government assistance has created a model that is so different from what we used to do in the 1960s and 1970s that the story really needs to be told. As the last "steam budgeter" with any knowledge of the national scene, I feel some responsibility to get it done - in spite of my commitment to myself a couple of years ago not to start any large project that I could not finish well before my "best before" date. So it's good to see it coming together.
However, the book has had to compete with quite a few other things.
We made a grand trip down to Hutt Valley, driving through some of the least-known main routes through the north island. I'd never done the Waitaanga route and we really enjoyed another run down the Forgotten Highway to Stratford where our motel provided the best view ever of Mt Taranaki.
I attended the weekend National Training Seminar for Community Patrol and then we had three or four days with the wonder Great Grand Kid, Cohen David and his parents. Saw his first dip in the local warm swimming baths. And guess who got to give him his first solid food - at four months... We had such a time with them... Another night in Upper Hutt with Bev's nephew Vaughan and Cushla and we were back up country in time for a last-minute chorus rehearsal. The ten days left us pretty whacked - but it was a terrific time of touring, family and singing.
Our Barbershop Chorus did pretty well at our own village's concert last weekend, together with a visit from the choir of Pinesong Village where we sang at their concert a couple of weeks earlier. And our men's quartet put on two pretty good numbers, our encore was musically pretty awful but it scored high on entertainment! We are having such a great time doing it. It's back to rehearsal this afternoon for both groups.
Since then I've been heavily involved in helping the local parish address a running deficit of $2000 a month. It seems they spent $100,000 of reserves in the previous couple of years but were actually living on the same reserves for routine expenses. All reserves will be gone in December, so they are trying to do some kind of review of giving. They've had no stewardship education programme in place for at least 15 years so far as anyone can remember. Our congregation consists almost entirely of people who have been here less than four or so years and there's no "memory" of serious commitment through regular giving. Nor do most people have the slightest clue about the costs of keeping a church there in case they want to roll up now and then. The parish is in a growing area and is not declining. Indeed, a membership review last month produced an increase of nearly 30%. But we will not survive with the equivalent of a fulltime minister if the parish can't lift its giving. I've been asked to assist. But helping to raise commitment to pay for stipendiary ministry and property goes against most of my mission strategy principles. Of course, this isn't really a small parish so Local Shared Ministry is not an option. It's an unaccustomed situation in which to find myself.
Meanwhile, my fitness is pretty good. I've not had any major falls but, like a few of my age, have a bit of vertigo now and then. And my walk isn't as firm as it was. I guess the spine is probably feeling the pinch down around L4! We'll be watching that from now on, I should think. Especially if the PSA doubling time stays up around two months.
Now I am trying to put together a service for Sunday. Only my second in eighteen months here so I can't complain about having too many, I guess...