The Smiths 2009
When I left Air New Zealand back in 1982, we really thought our days of flying off overseas were finished. This year surely laid that myth to rest.
Pete catches some Zs with Natialie after a night of firefighting near Bendigo.
Barbara flew off to Coghills Creek, Australia (near Ballarat, VIC) for 2 weeks at the beginning of February to get time with a new granddaughter, Natalie, born to Pete & Genevieve on 20 December 2008. While there, since the fruit trees were laden, Barbara and Sue de Deugd, Pete’s mum, worked overtime to preserve a lot rather than let it feed the soil and the birds. She was there during Black Saturday, those terrible fires in the state of Victoria which raged at each compass point from Ballarat. Pete participated as a volunteer fireman, even being caught in a burn-over at one stage, but without harm, praise God. He also rigged up a 2,000 litre firetruck for use on the farm if the flames came their way, which they never did.
We had a fortnightly Bible Study all year with a shared meal beforehand. Our group is composed of folks from South Africa, Holland, the USA, India and also NZ! The folks from India became Christians while they were living in the heart of anti-Christian land: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia! But there is a thriving underground church among the various ex-pats, and we constantly hear of other strong Christian churches living completely underground in Iran and China and other such places. Anyway, just as we were sitting down to breathe a sigh of relief after one of these Bible study evenings, I look up to see a woman who looked just like our daughter Genevieve. The man who followed her in looked just like her husband Pete, and he was holding a baby that looked just like the photos we’d seen of their baby Natalie. It couldn’t be, of course, since they were in Australia…so I sat there wondering who they could be while they laughed at my spaced-out expression.
Well, that was the only experience I’ve ever had of simply not being able to believe what my eyes were looking at. But the next two weeks with them were great, as we all got extended time together. Well, actually, Charmagne flew off to the USA two days after Pete & Genevieve arrived, so she missed out. However, she got to spend time with my sister Susan & Ron plus Dex in Atascadero, CA, and visit daily with my Mom, Charmagne’s Grandma. They even visited a colony of Elephant Seals, something I’ve never done, even though I lived there for 21 years.
Then Charmagne flew off to live and work with her brother Zach & Megan and little Cheyenh in Bradford, Illinois, near Peoria, for the next five months. Doing those home education conferences took them to several different states in the East, so that she’s now been to 41 of the 50 states. Charmagne also took time out to visit friends in Tennessee and attend the Calvin 500 conference in Boston, which marked the USA’s 4th of July and also Reformer John Calvin’s 500th birthday on 10 July. She was even invited, while still in NZ, to attend a large folk-dancing festival in Illinois as an instructor to show people the art of English Country Dance.
The highlight of being over there was the birth of Dusti Madeira Smith to Zach & Megan in the closing minutes of 3 July. We’ve just been blessed and thrilled with the zillions of photos and movies Zach & Megan send of these two, Cheyenh and Dusti…they are so cute! And we also get photos and movies from Australia featuring Natalie…this being grandparents just arrived with a boom for us!
Also in February or March a group of four men from the USA came and stayed with us briefly as they did a lightening tour of NZ, checking it out as a possible place to escape to. They were Christian home educators, some ex-Amish, who see God’s hand of judgement falling on the USA. Their whole church group, 10 or 12 families, have since decided to come here en masse, settling down south near Darfield, just outside of Christchurch.
Top: Megan, Zach & Cheyenh with new baby Dusti
Bottom: Charmagne with baby Dusti and Illinois soy beans as far as the eye can see. You’d strain your vision on all 4 directions dying to see a mountain, a hill, anything to break that endless horizon of soy beans.
In April, some 13 heads of households from all over the USA, also Christian home educators, came through NZ escorted by Geoff Botkin and his sons Isaac & David. Jeremiah and I helped drive and shepherd them around Auckland to Hamilton and to Tauranga. They flew down to Wellington, while we drove, and met up with them again there. Barbara especially did a tremendous amount of work organising venues and teams of people to host the visitors for brief speaking and meal engagements in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch. She was working with folks she knew plus with total strangers to cobble together a programme, coach people in how to do their parts, plus ring around in each location to rally people we knew to come along. It was practise for what was coming up.
Later in the year, all during the dead of winter, brightening up the place for us, the Fletcher family, one of the 13, came for a 3 month visit, staying mostly with Bart & Alison van der Wee out in the country near Fordell (near Wanganui). We all thoroughly enjoyed their visit, for we could discuss all manner of theology, home education, evangelism, growing in obedience to the Lord and godliness, plus the 13-year-old twins could play classical violin as well as fiddle up a storm of American or Irish folk tunes to get your toes a-tapping!
No sooner had that tour finished than Jeremiah and I had to go back to Auckland for our interview with the US Consulate to finalise arrangements for Jeremiah to immigrate to the USA. We’d started this process back in 2007 when I felt for a while (and I’m not completely free from this) that we should leave NZ because of the totalitarian character of central government, especially its declaration, against a clear and many-times-documented 80+% opposition of voters, that parents commit a criminal offense should they dare to correct their children using any degree of force (undefined) whatsoever. As long as Jeremiah immigrates to the USA, with me his natural born USA citizen adoptive parent as sponsor, before his 18th birthday (coming up in April 2010), he has automatic claim to USA citizenship, becoming a dual national. The interview and the tons of form filling went well, greased by many hundreds of dollars in fees, and we got the lovely immigrant’s visa sticker in Jeremiah’s NZ passport…after he submitted to a series of immunizations.
Some time in August Alanson took a 6-day cruise to Apia in Samoa, courtesy of one of Her Majesty’s Navy ships, where he helped wire up a temporary tent village for some joint military exercise. The RNZAF flew him back after a few days. And Charmagne came back to us on 18 August.
Bill & Diana Waring started another tour of NZ mid September. Barbara again did an even more massive amount of work locating, training and coaching people over the phone to co-ordinate things in four NZ locations and seven in Australia, stretching through the end of October. This included the logistics of travel, timetables, costs, shifting resources from venue to venue, etc., etc. We Smiths and Warings spent hours travelling together, stuffed into a van with our gear all around us…just as we’ve done many times before. In this way we left Palmerston North for a gig in Hastings and next day headed off to Auckland.
On the way to the next venue on the following day, Barbara and the Warings dropped Jeremiah and I off at Auckland International airport. So started our 2 ½ weeks away, first in California with Susan, Ron, Dex and Mom. We also got to meet up with NZ-born evangelist Ray Comfort as he preached from his soap box in Huntington Beach. I used to watch him do the same in Christchurch when he was just getting started back in 1977. Then we had quite a time with Zach, Megan, Cheyenh & wee Dusti in Illinois, including a really pleasant and enjoyable evening out with Bob & Linda Schneider, Megan’s parents, and three of her siblings. We got to clear the garden, feed the horses, cart hay, catch a wee snake, build shelving in the pantry and see enough corn and soy beans to last a lifetime.
This trip included handing a sealed envelope from the US Consulate in Auckland to the Immigration people at Los Angeles Airport. They confirmed Jeremiah’s Immigration and citizenship status, so in Atascadero, CA, he applied for a US passport and in Peoria, IL, he applied for a US Social Security number.
Meanwhile, it was discovered that the cost of trans-Tasman shipping of the Waring Tour resources was such that the Warings suggested – and shouted – for Barbara to personally transport the stuff as baggage and meet them in Melbourne! So six days after Jeremiah & I returned from the USA, Barbara flew off to Australia. She usually does this via Christchurch so that she can spend a couple days with her Dad. She and the Warings all got to meet up with Pete, Genevieve and Natalie, and Barbara got to stay on some more, building and planting out a raised garden plot for them.
I think it was the same day that Barbara got back from Australia that Jeremiah and I started doing a “salad run” with Roy Sandbrook. Up at 5am, meet at the Speirs Foods factory in Marton, load up with refrigerated salad and meat items and deliver them to supermarkets and such like in Feilding and Palmerston North, finishing up by 9am. Roy has loaned us one of his small refrigerated trucks, while he builds one for us to buy, and we do this six days a week. But Jeremiah pulled out of it – and out of almost all driving – soon afterwards.
Eleven days after Barbara got back from Australia, we were driving up to Hamilton on Saturday 7 November for a steak Bar B Q and English Country dance with our good friends the Reymer and Bearsley families. Charmagne and Jedediah were all packed for flying off to Australia for a month-long stay with Pete, Genevieve & Natalie. We were also transporting Sam & Ash to Hamilton, so we had both vans, our old faithful workhorse, the white Toyota Hiace and the more comfortable and stylish Toyota Estima. Sam & Ash come for tea virtually every Thursday and have also occasionally tutored the children during the day. It was a beautiful, sunny day, little traffic, no wind. We’d stopped in Taihape and in Waiouru for lunch with snow-clad Mt Ruapehu in the background. Just south of Taumarunui, as we entered the straight road leading to the bowser at Owhango, Jeremiah (driving on his provisional license) left the road onto the grass verge on the left. Without waiting for the speed to decrease, correction was made to get back on the tar seal. The effect was over-correction, shooting back across both lanes into on-coming traffic, which was, in God’s merciful Providence, a ways off. Over-correction to get back into our lane caused the Hiace to roll onto its right side, then onto its top, then onto its left side, all the while with its nose pointing, and the whole vehicle sliding at speed, straight down the centre line.
Alanson telling the ref and his team mates all about it…just before a double tackle by the other side broke his collar bone.
Alanson, already nursing a broken collarbone from playing rugby league with the RNZAF, found himself sitting on what used to be a side door window with the tar seal ripping his rear end away. It took his pants but left all his skin. He also got various cuts to his feet and hands plus a cut at the back of his head and a big graze near the right kidney. Jeremiah’s right collar bone got broken by the seat belt and his right shoulder was burned by the heat of the tar seal and glass ripping off his sweatshirt’s shoulder but leaving his skin pretty much intact. Jedediah got a wee graze on one elbow and two fingertips. Something hit the top of my head making two slices, one requiring 8 stitches and the other needing 2. And my left index finger took a whack turning it black and blue and swelling, but not so much as a scuff mark. There were only us four in this van.
The front window of the van, being now vertical and without glass, was like a handy five foot high door through which three of us stepped out, and Alanson got out the back “door”. I looked like a crash victim with the red stuff running freely over my bald head and down my face. Alanson got me to the side of the road, and we both sat down, he holding my wound. I really had next to no pain and was just thinking what a hassle this was all going to be. Barbara and the rest were checking on us and shifting our gear off the road. A motorist stopped and was very helpful with providing shade, a first aid kit and talking to me “to keep me awake.” I was feeling fine, but in answer to his questions, I got to explain a lot about home education! Two farmers in the paddocks came running, the male directing traffic and the female, a nurse as well as a dirt farmer, got straight onto my injuries. The next person to come into my view identified himself as a doctor, probed us four in a professional manner, pronounced us A-OK and took off. Then came the rescue firemen who assisted the farmer/nurse in assessing us all and in cleaning me up a bit. Police turned up and gave ol’ Jeremiah the third degree…they were nice about it and advised him of the possible legal scenarios coming up. When St Johns arrived, there wasn’t much for them to do but load us into the Ambulance and take us to Taumarunui Hospital.
“OK, Lord, you’ve got our attention. What is it You would have us to learn from all of this?” There have been a number of issues highlighted for us as a result, and each of us is working on at least one project, some personal, others corporate. The van was a write-off, and we’ve decided not to replace it.
The Bearsleys and Reymers rescued us from Taumarunui and took Charmagne and Jed to Auckland airport Monday. We still had our BarBQ Sunday, but the dance was scratched, and the rest of us drove home Sunday. Jed (not quite 12) was a bit scared of new things as a result, but Pete coached him along in Australia to where he was driving a big articulated, front loading caterpillar and using an assortment of power tools to build a new addition to their house. He, but especially Charmagne, did so much work during the four weeks there, Pete and Genevieve want her back ASAP. Charmagne spent more of this year 2009 overseas than she did in NZ.
Alanson seems to be more of a semi-professional sportsman than an avionics technician, for he went from playing rugby league all the time to playing softball and scored another three weeks off work while travelling, courtesy of RNZAF, to Auckland and then to Sydney in December. Nice one. He is also off to Antarctica in January for a month, mostly to help unload supply ships.
This year has also been exceptional for the increased number of phone calls from folks asking about home education. The tenor of the calls is much more serious, more committed, for most of the folks have already obtained the exemption form and just need help filling it in. And we’ve had a lot more enquiries about home education from folks in the USA and South Africa planning on shifting here.
I’ve already talked a lot about some of us. Jeremiah is looking seriously at joining the NZ Police force and has had quite a bit of contact with them in various ways over the year. He’s booked to fly off to stay with Zach & Megan in Illinois, working for Rainbow Resource Centre helping with the home education convention crews with Zach, from March til August 2010. Jedediah has been on the back burner most of the year, but is not only taking over lawn mowing, he’s developing a clientele for lawn mowing services in the immediate neighbourhood. He’s a hands-on, give-me-the-tools, let-me-build-it, kind of guy. Kaitlyn turned 9 in October and is progressing in her reading and maths a lot faster, even passing Jedediah. Grace, aged 4, is talking all the time using quite a vocabulary and is so incredibly active she would be diagnosed ADHD double plus for sure, if at some kind of institution, and drugged into conformity.
Charmagne’s latest creation for Reformation Day, 31 October….we celebrate Martin Luther’s starting of the Protestant Reformation on that day, rather than Halloween.
The plan is to say “No” in 2010 to everything that doesn’t have an immediate connection with the children, home education and the church. 2009 was a killer as far as political developments in NZ and world-wide and even in our church, with massive issues being endlessly deliberated upon by elders and Presbyteries, the implications of which will be stretching far into 2010. What we get so excited about is that the Lord is doing some house cleaning in the church, and He is showing us all on the world stage what power-hungry, deceptive, meglomaniacs people in positions of power become when they decide they are not accountable to God as the highest, ultimate authority, when they decide they can do whatever they like, whatever they can get away with, using lies, calling good evil and evil good, to get their way. This climate change hoax is a classic example, and the ones behind it hardly try to hide their deceptiveness anymore. The battle lines between God’s divine requirements and mankind’s pragmatic, self-gratifying experiments are being ever more clearly drawn. As we are told in Psalm 2:
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, “I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.”… Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss His feet, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way…Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
May each of us be found throughout this coming 2010 doing just that: serving the LORD with fear and getting blessed out of our boots as a consequence of doing what is merely our duty to do.
Craig & Barbara Smith & Family, 4 Tawa St., Palmerston North 4414, New Zealand, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.homeschoolblogger.com/KiwiSmithFamily.