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Three months have been and gone and I am now finishing my last week with Musselburgh Baptist in Dunedin. I preached my first Sunday here, and I will preach my last one too. I am doing a narrative, which means the sermon is one big story. The story is the tax collector Zacchaeus who wants to see Jesus, and climbs up a tree to do so. He goes on to show Jesus his true heart, and Jesus proclaims him to be a member of the family of God, much to the shock of the crowd who saw him as a dirty rotten scoundrel.

For the last few weeks I have been mountain biking, and I have loved it. I mentioned in my last post that I had a few spills last time I went up. Well last night I didn’t have as many accidents, but as I was going down I felt like I’d taken a knock to my ankle and wondered if there might be a bit of blood. Upon getting to the bottom I discovered there was some good blood, as the photo shows.

Bloody ankle

Bloody ankle

So I’m hobbling round a bit today, which isn’t good, especially when I don’t have a car any more! If you check out my second post you will see the Suzuki Alto I’ve been driving around the mean streets of Dunedin. But last week it started overheating, and it has since been returned to its owner for a bit of a check-up. So I’ve been left with my trusty bike as transport, and of course walking. So I’m hoping my ankle becomes less painful quickly, as my limited transport options sans car have now been reduced further.

As I near the end of my time in Dunedin, I feel like I have done a good job of seeing much of the amazing scenery Dunedin offers (thanks to Sophie and a couple of other friends). Last week Sophie and I went to another amazing place, this one on the peninsula. Called the Chasm, it has incredible views out to the most vast sea, and also features, as the name suggests, an enormous chasm. We ventured down into it and took a photo with me in it to give an idea of the scale of it. I am pretty small in the picture, so look for the pink circle around me.

The Chasm

The Chasm

The sea views and cliffs are simply stunning. I’ve included another picture below (photo credit: Soph ).

So to wrap things up, I have had a fantastic time down here in Dunedin. I have really enjoyed meeting loads of new people, and I’ve loved having the experience of being in a new city which is quite different to Auckland. Being exposed to people who (as a whole) are different to Aucklanders has been really beneficial.

Of course I have missed my friends and family, but I will be home soon to see them. I have gained a new appreciation for how pretty simply incredible this part of the country is, and I now want to explore more of the South Island before going to other places.

Look forward to catching up with you all soon.


Coastline near the Chasm

Coastline near the Chasm


I want to start this post by doing something I would normally be hesitant to do: by quoting the first line of my sermon from last Sunday.

It went like this:

“The first verse of chapter 23 of Deuteronomy says ‘No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.'”

You could say there was a range of reactions from the church. There was some laughter, some blank faces, and a few kids not knowing what to do or say! Mostly bemused laughter. People who would normally be asleep as I talk stayed awake for a couple of extra moments.

I was preaching my third sermon in a series on Deuteronomy, and this one took a look at (some of) the copious amounts of law in Deuteronomy and asked how it applied to our lives today, 3000 years on. I didn’t try and draw any conclusions on that verse though.I was happy to have the Deuteronomy series done because I did find it to be a challenge, although I think that now I am better for it.

The weather has been fantastic recently. Nothing at all to complain about; it has been gorgeous. Since my last post, I have been swimming, and today it was warm enough to be enjoyable! My friend Sophie has been showing me around lots of the local beaches so when I get back home I can feel like I’ve seen a bit of Dunedin. We went out to see the albatross and sea lions the other day, but didn’t manage to sight any albatross.

Unexpectedly (as it wasn’t dusk, which is when they come out of the sea), we did find a penguin. But, as you can see from the picture, it was dead. If you look closely, you will see its spine coming out of its body where its head would normally be. Just thought there might be a few people out there who would want to see a dead penguin.

Dead penguin with spine coming out

Dead penguin with spine coming out

On Wednesday night, I went for dinner with a family from church (the family who donated me my car for the summer). Afterwards Geoff took me mountain biking, which I loved! I was hooning down that hill as fast as I could, managing to stray from the track and introduce myself several times to the local trees. I don’t know quite what happened the final time but I managed to find myself a couple of metres down the hill from the track upside down with my bike on top of me! Every crash was awesome – I was laughing each time but now have a few cuts and bruises to remind me that these things (commonly called accidents) do have consequences. I think I’ve found myself a new sport.

Oh and in other sporting matters, I managed to win my first game of squash! It was a highlight, and left me feeling very satisfied with my progress. Now I’ll have to back it up with another win next week.

Holiday club starts on Monday, so it is all go for that. Tonight I am attending my cousin Gareth’s birthday party – all you can eat restaurant (yeehaa!) followed by laser strike. I hope all that food doesn’t decide to revisit as I’m running round playing laser strike – regurgitated food on the floor could prove to be hazardous to attempts to stay upright.

Hope all is well with you.


My original intent for this blog was to enable friends to keep up with me while I’m here in Dunedin. My last post strayed from that, which isn’t a problem, but I thought I would get back to my initial idea.

So what have I been doing?

Me in mighty Gore!

Me in mighty Gore!

The last two Sundays I have been preaching from the book of Deuteronomy. I have found it a challenge. I am doing a three part series, so have one to go. The first week I preached the sermon as a narrative, taking on the character of an Israelite teenager. I retold the story which is told in the first three chapters of Deuteronomy. It was about recognising and remembering God’s activity in our life, so I stopped talking a few times during my sermon and had the congregation reflect on their walk with God over the year just been, then towards the end asked them to look forward to the year ahead and consider how they might step out in faith for God.

In preparation for last Sunday I was really struggling with what to do. So my knowledgeable friend John McClean gave me a couple of pointers. Going from Deuteronomy chapters 4-11, I looked at the way God is the source of everything, even life itself. I told Tony’s story, the example he had been to me in his love for God and people, a love which led him to his death in April of last year. Tony’s story is obviously very touching and powerful.

So one more Deuteronomy sermon to go!

Socially, I’ve been getting out and about a bit (for someone who doesn’t have heaps of friends around!). The weather has been pretty nice recently, so I’ve been going to the beach (yet to swim, but that may happen tomorrow), watching soccer matches and riding my bike, as well as gathering up enough motivation to go for the occasional run. There’s a girl called Sophie who I’ve met, and we’ve been hanging out a bit too, which has been cool. I also have a weekly game of squash against my pastoral supervisor, and I’m gutted to say that I haven’t been able to win a game yet! He plays very well, and not just for a man in his mid 50s.

Pretty close to the bottom of the country

I now spend Thursday mornings at Dunedin Hospital. My pastoral supervisor (who I play squash against) is a doctor at the hospital. And when I mentioned that it would be helpful for me to gain some experience in pastoral situations he arranged for me to come in the hospital and spend time with some people who are reasonably sick. I’m not trying to have spiritual conversations with them; it is just practice for engaging people in conversations with a distinct purpose in mind. Last week was my first week, and I had an elderly gentleman tell me about how he is ready for death, and how he doesn’t want to be resuscitated if his heart fails, which is an increasingly likely possibility.

Time is continuing to fly by. I am two-thirds the way through my time here. My church Musselburgh has a holiday club for primary school children at the end of January which I am helping with. So with that and my other commitments, I am keeping busy.

Looking forward to catching up with people when I get back up to Auckland.


I’ve been in Dunedin for 7 weeks now, and will leave for home again in less than 5.

Time is going fast. I have been enjoying my time here (among some challenges), and have enjoyed meeting new people. Meeting new people is something I enjoy and has been really good. There are heaps of really cool people down here who I will be sad to leave behind.

Dunedin is quite a different place to Auckland. That may sound like an obvious statement (it’s in the South Island for a start, Ryan!), but there have been a few things which I’ve noticed.

I’m not  trying to show that one city is ‘better’ than the other by listing these. They are merely observations.

– For a start, people look you in the eye when you are being served in shops. People aren’t quite as rushed and take the time to make eye contact as they serve you. It’s quite nice, actually.

– There is a slower pace of life. The whole ‘slower pace of life’ thing is a bit of cliché, so I thought I’d explain what exactly I mean by that. The first aspect of this which springs to mind is the speed people drive on the roads. Now some of you may claim otherwise, but in Auckland I feel like I drive about the same speed as everyone else. Down here, I felt very impatient! It seems people perpetually drive below the speed limit, and to my initial frustration, no one seems to mind or even notice! People are less in a hurry. In a new thing for me, I see people generally stopping at orange lights. I have grown accustomed to this though and am now (kinda) happy to cruise at the same speed as everyone else.

– The second aspect to the slower pace of life is people’s social life. I hope I am not generalising inaccurately here, but people seem more content to do less in terms of going out at night. Half way through last year I was talking to a friend of mine who had moved to Auckland from a smaller town, and echoed that thought, saying that in his home town, people liked to stay home more. He thought that always having something on in the weekends wasn’t such a good thing.

– Another difference between Auckland and Dunedin is the importance placed on image. I suppose living in Auckland almost all of my life in middle class suburbs I have not had huge exposure to other ways of life. Although in saying that, I have spent six months each in Wellington, Colorado and Ethiopia. Down here people don’t dress up as much. That doesn’t mean they can’t dress up, it doesn’t mean they don’t know how or that they don’t have smart clothes, it is just that people are less preoccupied with image.

– The suburbs are interesting  here in Dunedin. The difference between the most expensive homes and the least expensive is way less marked. There are not these huge mansions which are found in parts of Auckland. And conversely, there are not areas where I would be cautious walking in after dark. The other interesting difference in terms of housing is that higher and lower socio-economic areas are not as clearly defined as they are in Auckland. It is more common in Dunedin to have a less-expensive house next to a more expensive one.

Yeah. That’s my thoughts on what (some of) the differences are between Dunedin and Auckland.

I had a great time with my friends Tim, Aneesh, Rob and Chris in Queenstown over New Years. Unfortunately the weather didn’t quite do it for us on New Years Day as we sat outside battling the weather trying to watch the cricket, but by countdown time it was fine and the stars were out!

I took an extended drive home, visiting Invercargill, Gore, and managed to get down to Bluff! As I was driving home I realised that I didn’t know when the next time I would be that far south, and that I should visit these spots while I was close. So I’ve included a few snapshots of some of the views in between Queenstown and Bluff.


South of Queenstown, looking south

Funny old chimney


Mountains around Lake Wakatipu


It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted, so very briefly, this is what I have been up to since then.

Mum, Soph and Jordan at the top of Tunnel Beach

Mum, Soph and Jordan at the top of Tunnel Beach

I preached at my classmate Bruce’s church which was good fun. I found out in the week leading up to me preaching there that my Grandparents attended had attended that Church (South Dunedin Baptist), and that as a 22 year old, my great, great Grandfather assisted the pastor in the opening of the church way back in the 1880’s. So it was nice to have some kind of connection to the place. Lots of older ladies came up and told me about how they remembered my family, which was cool!

My family came down a few days before Christmas which was great. We did the various tourist things in both Dunedin and Queenstown, check out the photos through this post. We went to Tunnel Beach, which features a tunnel. It was built by this old rich guy way back when for his daughters. One of them had a physical disability, and he wanted them to be able to go to the beach without others seeing them. So he found a beach inaccessible by land and dug a tunnel through the rock face so that they could enjoy some time on the beach without having to suffer the horrors of other people seeing them.

Playfighting seals at Sandfly Bay

Play fighting seals at Sandfly Bay

We also checked out the seals, which just seem to hang out on local beaches. Soph thought she saw a penguin up in the hills, but it turns out it was just a small stone. There are penguins around, but they are nesting at the moment. I plan to go see the Albatross at some point in the future. Their wingspan is 3m!

We had Christmas lunch (beautifully cooked by Amanda) with the Tonks family and had an awesome time. The next morning we dropped Sophie at the airport so she could go back to Auckland and do her New Years thing, and then we drove to Queenstown.

Dad, Jordan and I did our first skydive, while Mum watched her first one. It was awesome! Video of it will be on facebook soon.We went for a jetboat ride as well, similar to the shotover jet apart from its on a different river and the boat we went on is the most powerful jet boat in the country.

So I’ve been thinking lately.


The boys after their bungy

And for the first time in my life, I feel old to not be married. It’s not something that bothers me, but previously, it seemed like all the people similar in age to me who were getting married were just getting married young. But now, well, it’s different. But that’s cool 🙂

Tonight (30 Dec) I go back to Queenstown to hang out with some Auckland mates who are down here for New Years. We are going to the cricket tomorrow, so hopefully Central will put on some good weather for us (Central means Central Otago – it’s what the locals call it).

Hope everyone is well and enjoying their summer break. In between trips to Queenstown I am working on a preaching series from the book of Deuteronomy. Ha. I will have my break in the second half of Feb when I get back up to Auckland, so I’m hoping for nice weather then.


This Tuesday will be four weeks here in Dunedin.

Time is going fast, I suppose. I have been in my flat now for a two weeks, and for the first time tonight I will have flatmates. They have all been away in various places, and three of them arrive home today. The only one I have had any contact with is Jono, and I will meet him tonight when I pick him up from the airport. It will be great to meet the others and have some company in the flat.

Yesterday was the first day of the cricket test match between New Zealand and the West Indies, which happened to coincide with Dunedin having some very nice weather. So I went down there with a young guy Matthew from church and we had a great time. It was so hot I wanted to get my shirt off (I already had my stubbies on) but I didn’t want to be the first person to be topless. So when the 60 year old just down from me whipped his shirt off mine was off in a flash.

Tonight I am going to the ballet! Sophie and Amanda (two of the girls in the family I stayed with for the first couple of weeks) have their end of year performance, so I’m stoked to be able to go along and watch. I don’t know much at all about ballet, so last night Jacqui (mum of the girls) gave me a quick run-down. Actually, when I was staying with them Soph and Amanda taught me a few ballet moves, so I will be able to assess the dancers with a critical eye based on my previous experience.

I have played a couple of games of squash in the last two weeks; I am very sorry to have to say that I was beaten in both of them. Two middle-aged guys taught me a lesson in how to play, and I discovered that I’m not as fit as I think I am; squash is tiring. I’m hoping to improve while I’m down here so that I can thrash any of you who dare challenge me when I get back up (as well as starting to win some games down here).

Church has been going well. I spoke last Sunday on Philippians 3:12 – 4:1, it was about becoming like Christ, so I used a snowboarding metaphor; how when you are snowboarding it is your head movement which helps determine the way you turn.  My point was that just as Paul (the apostle) had his eye on the goal of becoming like Christ, so we needed to keep our eye on that same goal, just as we keep our eye on the direction we want to move in when we are snowboarding. In other church news, I forgot to turn up to a pastoral care meeting on Wednesday because I thought it was at 2.30pm when it was actually an hour earlier. Luckily I escaped without punishment.

One of my fellow students from Carey, Bruce, is at a church down here over summer too. The church is just down the road from mine, and the two churches have a bit to do with each other. My pastor Mike offered my preaching services to Bruce (who was having to preach continuously for three months), so next Sunday (the one before Christmas) I am preaching at their church on the story of Zaccheaus, the man who climbed the tree to see Jesus and then had him back for a meal, even though he was a ‘baddie’; a socially outcast chief tax collector.

Hope everyone is well, I’m thinking of you and missing you.


The family I stayed with the first week had four daughters between the ages of 10 and 20, all of whom I get on really well with. One of them, Alice, who is 15, decided she would write a story about me. They have named me Ryan Seacrest, so when you see that name you will know it is me Alice is talking about. Spelling and punctuation have been left as is.


Ryan secrest

Ryan smells funny and lives in a skungy flat. He has bald head but some people say its shaved. His face is retardedly shaved as its is only slightly hairy. I think that he sould grow a beard and then he would look like a hobo. Then he could live in the streets and he would fit right in. And I would laugh at him because he would be living in a wet box. Heheeheheheheheheheheheheh hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

He also teachers the hobos about god then they have a bonfire in a rusty can. Then they drink whine. After ryan shaves off he’s  beard the hobos all regret him bescause he doesn’t look like them any more. Then he finds a dog who is blind deaf and dumb. They become best friends. Then a giant moster comes and eats the dog. Now he has no friends. But then alice comes along and ryan thinks he has a friend. But alice just walks away and blows a rasberry at him. Then ryan sits down and gets hit by a bus and gets splated all over the ground.

This is the story of ryan secrest.

Looking south over the harbour, city and ocean

Looking south over the harbour, city and ocean

Ok so today Dunedin is officially warm! And it is very nice, thank you very much! The sun is shining, the wind has been stilled, and I am spending a little time in the sun cos I don’t know when it might be this warm again.

No actually, today has been spent shifting into my new flat. After taking hold of my sweet new ride yesterday (see pic), today has been spent shifting into my new place. It has some amazing views, and I consider myself lucky to be living in such a great place. Come to think of it, the home where I’ve been since getting down here has awesome ocean views, too, so I’ve been very lucky – or maybe that’s just Dunedin: good views all over the place.

I had my first week at church last Sunday (23 Nov) and it was really cool. It was great to meet loads of people, people I’m going to be spending the next three months with. Everyone has been very welcoming and I had dinner with a young couple Wednesday this week which was heaps of fun, and a good chance to get to know them a bit more.

I have included a picture of me in my new car, but to be honest it would have been more accurate to put a picture of me on my bike, because that’s how I have got around most of the time. The central city and the south-side of Dunedin (where my church is and where I was living) are relatively flat and it has been great being able to cycle most places. It appeals to me alot more, and is definitely an advantage to living in a city like this. I am enjoying my time here, and finding lots I like about this city. It is different from Auckland, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

My new wheels!

My new wheels!

I am not preaching this Sunday so my mission before then is to find a place to watch the rugby before heading off to church. Tonight (Friday) I am off with a couple of friends to try some salsa dancing – I’m a little scared cos I’ve never done anything like that but it should be fun!


P.S. I like to keep up with what you’re all up to – send me an email or leave a comment!

P.P.S I hope to put together a short video for next time – flat styles : )

Looking west toward St Clair beach

Looking west toward St Clair beach

I’ve arrived. Literally, not figuratively, that is!

On Tuesday 18 November I arrived at Dunedin Airport, and felt like I had travelled back 15 years into the past when I discovered you could park at the airport for up to an hour and only pay $1! Awesome!

For the first week I am staying with a family and they have been great – very friendly and welcoming, especially considering I am a complete stranger suddenly staying in their home!

I am preaching this Sunday, my first week here, on Philippians 1:27-2:18. It’s about living in obedience to God, as Jesus did, and working out our salvation as God works in us. I’m looking forward to going to church for the first time on Sunday and meeting everyone.

Last night I met with some of the leadership of the church, and on Tuesday I move into a flat which I am going to share with a couple of guys from church, which’ll be fun! This weekend my cousin Megan and her friend Lauren will be down here because Lauren managed to win a trip to Dunedin, so it will be good to catch up with them.

One other thing – the wind hasn’t stopped blowing since I got here. I’m sure the temperature will be almost pleasant once the wind stops!