E NEWS 21 APRIL 2023
I had the privilege and honour of doing the opening devotion and blessing for the inaugural Pacific Criminology Symposium at Victoria University yesterday. I stayed until after the keynote speaker’s presentation. A man in his mid fifties named Fa’afete Taito shared his story of how he had been institutionalised for 35 years. How as a child he chose to live on the streets from the age of 12 to be with his friends. He became a ward of the state at 13 years of age. At this time he went into foster care and eventually ended up at Owairaka Boys Home. He then went on to Borstal which he describes as the worst experiences of abuse ever in his life. This was followed by lags at Mt Eden and Paremoremo prison as an adult. During his adult life he became a member of the King Cobra gang for 14 years. Like he said the total number of years he spent institutionalised in and out of prison was 35. Subsequently, when he was finally set free for the last time, he turned his life around and went to the University of Auckland and did a degree in Social Work. He is currently assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in State care. I had heard about him many years ago when I was working as a Youth Worker for the Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church in Auckland.
This time last week Friday evening I had to take my senior dog Peanut to the vet as he was really unwell, he stayed at the After-hours vet until 8.30am Saturday morning then I had to pick him up and transfer him to Wainuiomata Care vets until 4.30pm then transfer him back to the After-hours on Saturday evening. On Sunday evening the vet rung me to come and pick Peanut up and take him home and see if he would eat anything at home as he still had not eaten or drunk anything since Friday morning. I asked them whether I was taking him home to die as he was coming off the drip feed that he had been receiving over those 3 days. The vet said, not necessarily as he had improved since Friday night after receiving the drip and he was no longer dehydrated. At home on Monday morning I put some food on my finger, and hallelujah he licked it off, previously he would turn his face away from food or water. I then fed him little bits of wet food after which he then walked over to the water fountain and took a long drink. Within an hour he was back to his normal self running around again. Fortunately, this meant that I could keep my pre-arranged engagement and go to the movie Alleluia with some of our church people at the Lighthouse Cinema in Petone (that’s another story). Now, Peanut is as good as gold although my bank balance has a huge deficit in it to the tune of $2,400. However, I’m grateful for pet insurance but as a senior dog I hope to at least get 50% refund of my vet bill, fingers crossed. At the end of the day pets are priceless. I’m grateful for the extra time I now have with Peanut, the dog with 9 lives.
In my sermon preparation for Sunday, I have been thinking of the many different Emmaus roads people walk along during their lifetime. The times in our grief and loss Jesus joins us and we feel the burning in our hearts and yet we don’t recognise him. It is often retrospectively when we reflect on that time that we realise that we were not alone, that we were accompanied perhaps even carried through our grief to the other end by this Nazarene, Jesus. After my weekend attending to a sick dog, I was preparing myself to say goodbye to Peanut as he is 14 years old which is old for a small dog. I was reminded of the death of Bailey, Peanuts brother in October 2014. He died at the Bethels Farm stay kennels while I was running a conference in Fiji and my husband was in a private hospital after suffering from a stroke. I left the conference early and came home because I wanted to bury Bailey at home in my backyard. One of the NZ delegates from the Congregational Union Church said to me “isn’t there anyone else in your family that can attend to this for you? No there wasn’t and it was something I wanted to do myself. She obviously did not see the death of my beloved companion of 14 years as important to her after all its “just a dog”. She could not understand how this should take priority over my work and the conference not that it was any of her business. I was absolutely devastated something she found hard to comprehend. My colleague who I was running the conference with was very empathetic as he had had a similar experience with his dog when he was working abroad, and he also travelled back home to bury his dog and he told me to go home and do what I needed to do. Unless you have owned pets you will never understand the grief when they die, and we should not let the ignorance of non-pet lovers influence us. I believe the grief one experiences with the death of a pet is very different to the grief one experiences with the death of a human; they are both deeply sad and sorrowful but not the same you cannot compare the two. Instead of walking the Emmaus Road our pets walk over to the Rainbow Bridge. Both of these pathways can give us comfort.
Next weekend I will be attending the Uniting Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand Biennial Forum in Christchurch as I am on the Standing Committee of UCANZ. St Andrew’s on the Terrace follow the UCANZ constitutional guidelines alongside the Presbyterian Churches Book of Order as it complements our type of Governance structure better. As there are five Sundays in April Fiona McDougal will be organising Sunday worship as in my tradition the 5th Sunday is always put aside as Lay Preachers Sunday. This coming Sunday after coffee I will be presenting part 2 of Pacific Issues in Aotearoa NZ. Hope to see some of you there. Go well and have a blessed weekend. Fei
You can read the full E-news here: https://mailchi.mp/db5478d14480/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-9339211