I am sure many of you have seen the devastating images of the damage in Christchurch as a result of the last quake. Many of us have family there and others will have friends. It has been an emotionally charged time attempting to track them down and confirm that all is well. On such occassions there is a desperate sense of helplessness and all we can do is to be alert to responding when the time is right. To those who have injured friends and family and to those who have lost loved ones we send special thoughts and prayers.
We are aware of the damage to two of our Churches in the city, St. Paul’s Trinity which had already suffered previously from a fire and the first earthquake and Knox Church which was likewise effected by the first earthquake. As Geoff’s letter below indicates the work of our ministers and their congregations is demanding in the time of crisis. I know that all reraders of this blog and beyond will be behind them offering support and encouragement. Thank you Jeff for taking the time with this update.
Thank you for the messages and prayers of support that greeted me as I switched on the computer this morning – power was restored to our place around 9.30 last night but I was still dealing with texts and trying to find somewhere for the family to sleep in the mess of our manse. At midnight I accepted a friend’s offer to take Gillian and our two boys north to catch the ferry to the north island, so it’s just our dog and I getting ready for another day. I walked home from what remained of Knox yesterday afternoon surrounded by scenes of devastation far worse than on 4 September. Whilst visiting a parishioner I spoke with one of his neighbours, whose husband was at that time unaccounted for in the Pyne Gould Guinness building in town. I walked for a while with a barefoot young woman whose workplace in the city had collapsed, and who told me of seeing a woman giving birth on the footpath. Later I passed others heading on foot with blankets and little else for Hagley Park, and wondered how they fared when the rain began to fall a couple of hours after that. Dinner was sausages cooked on the outdoor barbeque; I’ve drained the leaking hot water cylinder upstairs into several large water containers so can probably manage with that, whatever food there is in the fridge and a bucket toilet for several days. Got around some of our older parishioners yesterday afternoon but by no means all of them – back on the bike after I’ve had breakfast today. It’s hard to describe the destruction in the central city – modern buildings have collapsed crumbled this time, and there is now no need for the reconstruction meeting that was planned for Knox tomorrow, as only the wooden pillars and roof are still standing – I am profoundly relieved that no one was injured when the wall on Bealey Ave collapsed towards traffic. I’ve heard that at least one bus in the central city was not so fortunate, and all of us are anxiously awaiting the release of the names of those who’ve died. I’ve closed the Knox Centre as a precaution – whilst the newer building is still standing the rear wall of the church collapsed through the gallery and hall/centre stairwell, so may have damaged the centre’s outer wall.
I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to post updates as there is so much practical stuff that needs to be done here, so will sign off now with gratitude to all who’ve sent greetings and are praying, and in fervent hope that the worst is over for now.