Posted in Living in New Zealand Now, Living in Timaru

Appreciating the New Zealand 2014 General Election – Our First

2014 general election nz
John Key of National Party waving to his supporters (Photo grabbed from video)

Yesterday, 20 September 2014, we cast our votes, our historic first participation in New Zealand’s general election.

Towards noon, I and Jewel and Jadyn tarrying along trooped to the voting place, which is at the Waimataitai School Social hall.

We’re glad it’s just over a 100 metres away from where we live.

There were no long queues when we arrived. There’s just one person before me.

I really admired how the person distributing the ballots just simply asked “Are you this person?” (pointing to my name on the Easyvote card).

No ID card, no in-depth scrutiny, no request for person to verify my identity.

Our voting lasted for less than five minutes as there were only two circles to tick, one for party vote and the other for electoral representative.

What’s really amazing and admirable is that the results came out on the late night of the same day.

Towards midnight with 99% of results in, I watched John Key giving his victory speech.

His acknowledging and thanking his strong rival, David Cunliffe of Labour Party for calling him and conceding defeat made the process very honourable.

Such is the gift of democracy, administered well in the spirit of freedom and honesty by the people and government of New Zealand.

Coming from a country where in some places the election conduct is quite the opposite, our first New Zealand general election is like a breath of fresh air.

It is my prayer and hope that Kiwis will always cherish and preserved the democratic and honour system that we migrants appreciate.

Congratulations John Key and the National Party! Congratulations to all participating parties!

Congratulations New Zealand!

Posted in Living in Timaru

Congratulations ‘The Timaru Herald’ on your 150th Anniversary

The Timaru Herald
The Timaru Herald Building at Sophia St., Timaru. (Mytchall Bransgrove/Fairfax NZ)

Today, 11 June 2014, The Timaru Herald celebrates her reaching 150 years in the newspaper business.

Circulating in the Timaru, South Canterbury and Otago districts of the South Island New Zealand, The Timaru Herald has a daily circulation of 14,500 copies and approximately a readership of 31,000 people.

Thank you The Timaru Herald for your important role in information and community development.

My association with the prestigious paper began when they published about our blog promoting South Canterbury on their 17 January 2013 edition.

Since then, The Timaru Herald had published several articles about our role as channel of service and support for the Timaru communities. These articles are as follows:

Then calamities struck the Philippines in last quarter of 2013, a catastrophic earthquake in October and the destructive super Typhoon Haiyan in November.

The Timaru Herald wasted no time in helping the Filipinos through publishing our concern and desire to raise funds to help the earthquake and typhoon victims in the Philippines.

These articles stirred up the community (local and international) to donate for the Philippines.

Businessperson and blogger, Jonathan Davey of The Berkshire Blog UK told me that he read the article on Stuff about my desire to help so he contacted me via LinkedIn. I provided estimates on the boat-building project he was launching at that time. Many have benefited through the Rotary Club One Boat for the Philippines project he started.

The Country Women Institute of Timaru is one organisation that responded after reading the articles in The Timaru Herald and South Canterbury Herald.

The blog post “Fisherman Benefits from CWI Donation” shares about the beneficiary of CWI’s gift.

In anniversaries of longevity such as the sesquicentennial celebration of The Timaru Herald, the olden days are often revered more than the present ones.

This is quite understandable because it is through history that an organisation finds strength and inspiration to continue in the next hundred years or so.

Clearly, the recent developments in the life of The Timaru Herald, particularly referring to the news articles mentioned above and her commitment to provide news and information have paved way for forging relationships in the community to help one another regardless of race and distance.

Again, congratulations The Timaru Herald!

Posted in Chaplaincy NZ, Living in Timaru

My First Pastoral Visit at Timaru District Hospital #Gigatowntimaru

Timaru District Hospital
Timaru District Hospital

I’m happy and thankful for the opportunity to hold my first hospital visit today.

I’ve done hospital visits before when we were in Auckland and here in Timaru but it’s my first time to visit as a pastor.

Finally, I have the chance to apply what I learned from the two Clinical Pastoral Education courses I took at Central Philippine University College of Theology with chaplaincy practicum at Iloilo Mission Hospital.

Approaching the reception desk, I greeted the staff, introduced myself, state my purpose of coming and requested her to please connect me to the chaplain-on-duty.

After making the courtesy call to the chaplain-on-duty, I proceeded to conduct my hospital visit.

I appreciate the friendliness of Timaru District Hospital personnel.

I must admit this has been a fulfilling day for me and the person whom I visited.

To God be the glory!

Posted in Christmas, Help Philippines, Living in Timaru

Kindness of a House Owner in GigatownTimaru

In the spirit of Christmas, I would like to share the kindness that our landlady did for typhoon-stricken Filipinos.

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck Central Philippines on 8 November. I and my wife were very much concerned because of the destruction it brought to Northern Iloilo, particularly our town of Ajuy.

Sunday afternoon of 10 November, I got a call from the Timaru Herald. Their reporter asked about the situations back home and my plans for helping fellow Filipinos.

On 11 November 2013, the Timaru Herald published our desire to help the Philippines through fund-raising for relief goods.

Two days after, while we were busy contacting and soliciting help from friends abroad, I got a phone call from our land lady.

She told me that she read the article on the local paper and learned about what happened in the Philippines.

Then she said, “Instead of paying me for this week’s rent, I would like to donate it for your town’s relief effort.”

Her kindness surprised us. We’re so thankful for her generousity.

Our land lady’s contribution became part of early relief operations for Ajuy.

See some of the photos below:

Giving relief to Ajuy folks  (2)

Giving relief to Ajuy folks  (1)

Giving relief to Ajuy folks  (4)

Giving relief to Ajuy folks  (5)

Giving relief to Ajuy folks  (8)

Giving relief to Ajuy folks  (3)

Thank you Lord for giving us generous neighbours.

The kindness of people at Gigatown Timaru is quite amazing.

Posted in Living in New Zealand Now, Living in Timaru, Love, Mission

How I Wish Everyone Would Just “Love Your Neighbours as Yourself”

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

Seeing a video on Facebook about how thieves (called ‘sliders’) operate in the US sparked my wishful thinking.

Indeed, when we love our neighbour as we love ourselves, there’s always peace and order in the community.

Committing to this law is much much cheaper than building a fence or installing a state-of-the-art security surveillance system.

Real estate developers in the Philippines try to recreate a neighbourhood and make “peace and order”, “security” and “safety” as their primary selling point. Some would even attach the term “exclusive community”.

A friend in Auckland forgot to close a rear window remained untouched.
A friend in Auckland forgot to close a rear window but his car remained untouched through the night.

We thank the Lord for making it possible for us to live in a community where neighbourhood values are very strong.

A schoolmate who lived in downtown Auckland, parking on the street for the night forgot to close his car window. He was so happy nothing was lost nor his car was ever touched.

Well, we could say he was just lucky.

How about these.

We were living in Forrest Hill, Auckland and we were about to sleep at past 10:00 PM when someone knocked on our door.

It was our Korean neighbour. She apoligised for disturbing us. Then she told us that we left our car door open.

Yes it was wide open because our 7-year-old forgot to close it after getting off the car and we’re just parking on the street.

Living in Timaru now, one of our Kiwi friends noticed how I would unlock and lock the door when he comes to visit.

I told him that it’s been a habit in the Philippines to always keep the door locked even if we’re in the house.

There was a time we get off my car as I parked on the side street. Then I locked the doors. He said out loud, “Oh Jonan, you don’t trust your neighbours?”

I blushed a bit and laughed telling him, “It’s just a hard habit to break, mate.”

Well, these are just bits and pieces of why New Zealand is the safest country in the world.

I do believe when people bind the law “Love your neighbour as yourself” in their hearts there would be much peace and order in the community.

In Timaru, the Presbyterian Home Support provides food delivery and home cleaning for the elderly.
In Timaru, the Presbyterian Home Support provides food delivery and home cleaning for the elderly.
Posted in Living in New Zealand Now, Living in Timaru

One Year of Living in Timaru

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Living in Timaru at Trafalgar Street

Today, 14 August 2013, marks our one year of living in Timaru.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being our Rock in a weary land,
our Shelter in the time of storm.

Dear friends and family, thank you for all your prayers and support.

Many believe that Timaru comes from Māori Te Maru, which means ‘place of shelter’. Indeed, Timaru has been a significant shelter for us.



Posted in Living in Timaru, multicultural response ministry, pastoral ministry nz, South Canterbury living

How God Used A Blog Post to Inspire Support for a Multicultural Ministry in South Canterbury


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Wilson Street Multicultural Response
The Multicultural Response Website

Last week The Timaru Herald published “Pastor Spreads Word in His New Business” to highlight one result of the Tell-a-Friend Promote South Canterbury program.

May I share that before any idea of creating Online Writing Niche Ltd. was ever discussed, there’s a far greater undertaking that has unfolded .

Far greater undertaking because one blog post, “Reasons for Beautiful Living in South Canterbury” inspired support for the Multicultural Response Ministry, which I and my wife take part.

Wilson Street Baptist Church, through Pastor John McMullan, Errol James, the Church Elders, and the members, supported the holding of the “Evening of Praise and Worship“, the first multicultural worship ever held on 20 April 2013.

We held the second multicultural worship on 6 July 2012. We have set our sights to holding the third event in November 2013.

The church has considered creating the multicultural response team that will stir up participation in pursuing the ministry vision.

The Lord God touched the hearts of a couple in Timaru after reading the article published in The Timaru Herald titled, “Pastor’s Blog Becomes Ad for South Canterbury. Learning about the ministry vision, the couple committed to giving financial support.

Then we created the Multicultural Response website. When Ross Waugh requested me to work on his website projects, I’m not so adept with wordpress themes, domain hosting and file management.

Thus, the Multicultural Response site became my learning laboratory while putting up online presence for the ministry.

Isn’t it wonderful to see God’s hand working through His people and many avenues? He is always in the lookout for hearts committed and passionate to serve Him.

As the song “Pass It On” says “It only takes a spark to keep the fire going”, I believe that God has more things in store now that the multicultural response ministry is ablaze.

Please don’t miss listening to this lovely rendition of ‘Pass It On’ by Evie Tornquist Karlsson. 🙂