Below: Google Images   This winner gave IT ALL
To think that GOD loves me
Autobiography   Dieter R. Fischer   Book 8
THE WINNER GAVE IT ALL Index ISBN 0 9577 426 8 1 Book 8 / Ch 13 Written/Published 24.3 - 31.3.10
(This chapter continues our New Zealand journey, until the end of January 2010, from Greymouth to Christchurch. In between the outcome of the McGee conspiracy trial.)
Precious silver, costly gold
Not very often do I give my mother-in-law a lecture. When I explained that I felt God wanted me to stay on in Christchurch until my birthday, I heard this standard reply, which family members in the past had often quoted: "God gets the blame for a lot of things."
True, many terrible and evil deeds are done in the name of God. But is this a reason to dismiss everyone, who says, I feel this is what God wants me to do at this time? The bible describes many amazing deeds, accomplished when men and women of God stepped out and did what they perceived God wanted them to do!
A Christian who does not commit every step of each day, every thought along the way, every major decision to God in prayer is obviously not on a journey with HIM. Such fearful doubters are quick to criticize those, who are launching into an adventure, by faith doing what God's will is for their life at that time.
Such critical minds often assume a risk-taking believer is indulging, using God as an excuse to do whatever. Ultimately, however, we all must give account to God, not our mother-in-law, for our life's choices and actions.
Isobel and her mother were due to catch the airplane back to Australia on January 16th 10, in the afternoon. That day we traveled from Greymouth on New Zealand's west coast to Christchurch via Arthur's Pass. The scenery along that route was absolutely spectacular.
Not long before we climbed Arthurs Pass we saw the famous TransAlpine train as it crossed over a viaduct. What a sight it was. On the 4 1/2hour / 223.8 km long journey this popular train crosses from one side of the South Island to the other. Wikipedia tells us there are five viaducts and 16 tunnels along that route.
There are no road tunnels under Arthurs Pass. Our small hire-car struggled over this very steep sections of the highway. The amazing landscape, dense forests, followed by vast skiing fields, deep gorges and many waterfalls - all made the trip a visual adventure. (A reason to return on another New Zealand holiday, to take it all in from the comfort of a train carriage.)
Unlike the evening before we found a place to have a meal at a reasonable cost. The three of us ate fish and chips at a Cafe / Grocery Store at Springfield. The service was excellent and friendly; total cost only NZ $ 24. At that time I did not know I would be visiting Springfield again a week later, and experience an episode of precious magic. (Read on).
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Thankfully, the gentleman we had rented our apartment from (the white-bearded Atom 2 dare-devil) kindly agreed to let me keep the Firenze bicycle for my extended stay. I had made the choice to stay on until January 30th 10. There was a good reason. Looking back, it was a good decision.
Isobel and her mother were hours early arriving at the International Airport Terminal. I used the hire car to collect the bicycle at Opawa, before returning the vehicle at the airport depot of the hire-company. There was still time to say a final good bye.
Late in the afternoon, cycling away from the airport with all possessions strapped onto the carrier on the back, I again experienced this wonderful sensation of freedom and independence. Perhaps, after 11 days of close proximity to wife and mother-in-law, feelings of freedom are inevitable?
A night at the Oasis Backpacker/Motel (at NZ $ 24) only cost what it would cost to pitch a tent in an Australian caravan park. The next morning I attended a Pentecostal Church just around the corner. How could I not go to church on Sunday in a place called Christchurch? The theme of the sermon that morning: "Know who you are."
The big day when my soccer team from Adelaide was to play in Christchurch was almost two weeks away. Ever since having made the decision to stay on, I was thinking how I would fill in that many days in a strange city and not blow the budget? (Who was the no-brainer, who invented budgets?)
The possibility of a solution had germinated during the wedding reception. Until that day we really didn't have any relatives in Christchurch. But since my daughter's husband and family comes from there, the reason the wedding was held in New Zealand, we now did.
My son-in-law's father was a well-know horse trainer/breeder, who ran a horse stud about 50 kilometers south of Christchurch. I simply asked, if I could make myself useful around his farm for a week or so? He said I could, and I would be welcome to stay longer if I wished.
It all worked together for good. In the afternoon of Sunday 17/1/10 I was on my borrowed two-wheeler, cycling south through Canterbury toward Oxford. It was very flat terrain; the weather rather cool, considering it was midsummer. Since we had been to my new relative's horse stud for a BBQ ten days earlier, I had to ask only once, if I was on the right track.
Eyrewell, near Oxford, Canterbury, New Zealand
During my stay at Eyrewell I made myself useful in another way. January was school holidays. Ten-year old Mikayla, the daughter of my hosts, was happy to have an 'uncle', around, who loved playing Monopoly, who had the time to take her bike riding or to have fun at the nearby adventure playground.
Another ride on the bike took little Mikayla and myself to Oxford, 15 kilometers away. She had never cycled that far before, and was proudly showing me her classroom at her school. Mikayla is a clever girl, Oxford educated.
The Oxford district, with its spectacular alpine panorama in the background, is not only scenic, but ideal for cycling. During one ride I noticed property number 1368 for sale. My brain saw it was only 1 short of my 1369 number. This is why I was on alert, when I picked up a large sheet of paper opposite.
Remember, this was a rural area, very green, very clean. My curiosity was satisfied when I found out the paper was an information sheet by the Department of Agriculture ITO (Industry Training Organisation). I liked the names (Sparrow, Benfell, Williams), but was more taken by the phone number 69 (a famous one in my latest chapters) followed by 1111.
The locality was Horrellville. It was at this point that my oxygen flooded brain, while riding through this village saw the number 96 in VILL(e).
The remainder - Horrell - also lends itself to much re-creating: Heorr LL ( Hear L) etc.
Oxford District, Canterbury, New Zealand
Left: Father and daughter having fun outside Oxford's historic jail cells!
Top right: Mikayla, resting her tired legs at the Union Parish Church, Horrellville.
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There was only one church service per month taking place in the Oxford District. In January 2010 this happened to be at Horrellville, Union Parish Church, on the 24th. This was my only Sunday in the district.
It was only about six kilometers to church. I sat in the 5th row of the small simple chapel. There was a good mix, about half of each, men and ladies, attending. A good sign in any church.
The sermon at the Union Church that morning was by Rev. Jean Bruce. Before preaching about justice (how I loved the subject) she changed the story, the children's story. On the news sheet was: 'The Tale of the Heaven Tree'. But instead she read the children's book: 'The machine at the heart of the world'.
Further studying the church newsletter I learned it was Epiphany 3 (third Sunday after Epiphany).
Later, after it went (glue-all - Edna) into my diary, I saw the misprints!
Church New-sheet, Sunday 24 Jan. Horrellville Union Parish NZ.
(Back to New Zealand)
Having enjoyed wonderful hospitality and fresh country air for nine days, on Tuesday January 26th it was time to move. The weather improved remarkably. After the coldest January in years, according to the weather bureau, the sun finally broke through. My feet became itchy to connect with the pedals of my borrowed two-wheeler, yearning for their turn, if you pardon the pun.
Riding back to Christchurch, possibly on the longest straight, flat road I ever had ridden on, I came to the corner South Eyre / Mabers Road. I remembered, when I had first passed this spot 9 days earlier, asking a lady for direction She hadn't been much help. But I remember, she had worn an Andre Rieu cap.
Now, passing this spot again nine days later, I could not help counting the number of cows, which were grazing right opposite Mabers Road. There were nine, and they were (what else in New Zealand) all black.
Later in the afternoon, after having secured a bed at Christchurch's Central YHA, I was watching harness racing at Addington Raceway. My son-in-law's dad, who I had stayed with and worked with until that time, was racing two of the horses he was training. I had played a big role. I had collected the champion horse's droppings every morning.
His first entry, No. 7 Dari's Girl, looked in great form. Right into the home-stretch she looked like winning her race. Toward the finish line she had to slow for traffic ahead. She only came 4th. Maddison Hill - horse No. 9 won. (Picture below).
The other star, one who had a great victory a few weeks earlier, was U CAN I CAN. He was the favourite to win his race, expected to repeat his earlier success. He carried No. 3 and surprised everyone. Not by winning again, but by dropping out of the race soon after the start. I never found out exactly what had happened, but sensed disappointment by the owner and the trainer, my son-in-law's dad.
Addington Raceway - Tuesday 26 Jan 10
Race 5 Christchurch Casino Pace: 4th place *Dari's Girl No.7.
Maddison Hill No. 9 won by one head.
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The next morning it was my turn in the saddle, the start of a three-day cycling tour through beautiful Canterbury. I studied the map and found that a roundtrip of approx. 250 kilometers would take me from Christchurch to Springfield to Methven and return. In both towns was YHA (Youth Hostel) accommodation available.
Cycling west that Wednesday morning the weather improved increasingly. What a great feeling - summer, sun, magic mountains and blue sky. Traffic was very heavy until I left the city, but it was never really a problem. The road surfaces, even on country roads, were smoother with very few pot holes.
My initial track through Christchurch's suburbs took me past the corner Barrington and Rose Streets. (The place where I had done a 'clean-up' job on our first day in New Zealand - Chapter 10). A small church not far from that corner displayed a road-side pulpit (large sign with text). The message stirred my creative brain:
ALL THERE IS CAN BE SEEN FROM WHERE YOU ARE NOW.
After about two hours in light winds down Highway 73 I felt hot. I dismounted. It was on the corner of Old West Coast Road. As I took off my jacket I saw a small cross with a bunch of faded flowers underneath. The name on the roadside memorial, the road accident victim, was Andrew Newton.
Something else, right beside that cross, took my attention. A white post, marking the edge of the road, was displaying numbers; most likely to show distances between certain places. The numbers were written vertically: 4 1 4 (Perhaps 1 4 4 or 4 4 1 - my diary is not certain which).
Had I known what I would discover next, a short time later during my lunch stop, I would have taken a photo. The next stop was West Melton (love the name) on Highway 73, where I took a prolonged stop to eat lunch, use the public toilets near the tennis club and to change into my cycling shorts.
After 45 minutes or so, I cycled back toward the main road. On the corner Weedon and West Melton Roads I remembered to apply sunscreen. It was the first time since arriving in New Zealand. Summer had arrived. Had I not stopped right there, I would have missed a real gem of a landmark, a small, cylindrical fountain. Take a look:
My mind was spinning as I continued cycling west. Names, numbers - all circulated in my brain, wondering what would come next?
It wasn't far away. Opposite the Challenge Service Station at Kirawee I noticed six parked vehicles. If it was the word challenge, the name of the chain of gas stations in New Zealand, which made me stop and think, I don't know.
But again, I dismounted and added the registration plates of the six vehicles parked right there, opposite the Challenge. I cheated a little and used paper and pencil, rather than try to memorize them all.
At first the total of the registration numbers I came up with (7198) meant very little. If I wanted to bring out the number 98, I could have deducted the scriptures on the fountain - 414 - 316. But for the moment I just continued moving west on the blue Firenze. My diary entry added two words at the bottom of that page: Silly game! And it was, until ...
That evening, after I had arrived in Springfield and settled into the cozy YHA, with very friendly caretakers looking after the guests, there was ample time for an evening stroll. Springfield was the same town, where ten days earlier, together with Isobel and her mother, we ate fish and chips for lunch at the local Grocery/Store Cafe, at a bargain price.
It was truly a beautiful, long summer's evening; little wind and not a bother in the world. Until - I read street names and they began teasing my relaxed brain. Not only street names, but other external stimuli did that.
Springfield is a stop for the TransAlpine Railway to Greymouth. I walked behind the township up King Street to checked out the railway station. It was deserted. An vintage steam engine, in the process of restoration, was parked across the far side of the tracks.
Next I walked along Tramway Road, just enjoying the peaceful, rural atmosphere of this glorious corner of the globe. Then came the magic or madness, whichever you interpret what I saw. On the ground was a small, round object. I saw some writing in tiny lettering. It was not a coin, but a beer bottle top; so I walked on. As I looked up I noticed it was right outside No. 27. That day was the 27th (of January).
I turned around. No harm checking what the writing was about. I kept it as souvenir:
The small writing inside the bottle top was a quiz question: "Where was the 1978 Commonwealth Games Gold Medal Weight-Lifting Champion Precious McKenzie born?"
New Zealand bottle top, for gold medal ale! (Read on).
Why Thomas? As I was writing this section I was listening to a song on New Zealand's Southern Star Christian Radio. A male voice sang: "Just because I got Jesus on my mind". The Spirit inside told me to check who the singer is. Mr. Google told me B J Thomas.
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The following day's cycling ranks among the most enjoyable I had ever done. Perfect weather, great scenery and since I turned south, instead of following toward the West Coast, there were only a few short hills to climb. My diary compares the scenery to that of the Allgau in Southern Germany. The fields were green, the mountain panorama of Mount Hutt a spectacular backdrop.
The short section between Springfield and Methven, my next overnight, took me through the Rakaia Gorge. (The very first photo of my New Zealand report in Chapter 10 shows an aerial view of this Gorge). When I saw the beauty of the place I wished I could have stayed longer. The green lawns of the caravan park, with magnificent views of the surrounding hills and valley, looked inviting.
Somewhere on the road to Methven I made a rather weird find; two actually. At first I noticed an Eclipse (peppermints) container on the roadway. On this lonely stretch of road this looked out of place.
At the same moment, only a few meters away on the green grass, I saw an empty cardboard box, the kind used to carry fruit to the markets. The white box was printed WEBB'S FRUIT. I ripped out a section to take home, another free souvenir.
Arriving early in Methven allowed for time to appreciate another evening in a quiet, little town. The hostel accommodation was once again superb, the staff equally friendly and helpful as the night before. For only 30 NZ Dollars I had a room to myself, breakfast included. If I wanted to I could have hired a bike for free, plus unlimited access to the internet.
That evening I had even more time to go walking. There is a marked walking track around the town, which altogether takes 3 hours. I only walked it for two hours, but that was enough to start seeing things again!
Two cars were parked in the main street, right behind each other. They did not look like part of a fleet, but ordinary vehicles, whose owners had gone shopping. The first carried registration plate DYR 196, the other DYR 197.
If this was code 96 WON, or hinted at PLUS WON, I am not sure. Both vill do? (Pardon the pun).
The Methven town-walk at one point leads right through the cemetery. Who doesn't read the names of the deceased on their gravestones? I did that, while I kept walking. One particular name, however, made me stop and take a closer look. IN MEMORY of .... son of David QUINN.
During an evening ride around the golf course and through town I spotted two alpacas, outside No. 10. My diary records street names, Wayne's Place, Cameron Street etc. My journey has been such a long one, so many names and numbers trigger memories, when I see them.
At the end of the street, during my early morning walk before departing, I discovered a small park. The name shown was Garden of Harmony. I suppose this completes a 'harmony hat-trick', if we include the two harmonies in Chapter 10.
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Canterbury's Rakaia Gorge. (See also picture Chapter 10).
Another scripture amazes me:
(Back to the Land of the Long, White Cloud)
My journey continued on Friday 29th January as I was leaving Methven in heavy fog. Along that road a blue street sign is worth of a mention - IRWIN Street 1 - 144.
Pedaling past the one-church town of Barrhill I saw a street sign Sycamore Street. I turned there for no reason, except to explore what's there. Suddenly a large dog came charging toward me, barking angrily. The owner on a motorbike followed his angry beast, shouting loudly: "ERIC ...! ERIC, come here!"
The menace came closer. I had already contemplated, which tree I could climb for safety (just kidding). Eric finally got the message. I never found out what Barrhill has to offer, except a barking, dog named Eric (or Derrick?) who hates cyclists.
The fog lifted before I reached busy Highway 1 at Rakaia. The town is famous for the giant Salmon, a major landmark on the highway south. A short ride around this fishy town revealed a most unusually painted building. It was a hotel, painted blue. Bright, light blue, parhaps to match the colour of the giant salmon?
In the modern Cafe by the big Salmon at Rakaia I relaxed, drinking a coffee and affording myself a cake.
Just for the fun of it, I got out the piece of paper and looked again at my six Kiraween-challenge registration plates, which totaled 7198. I added the registration plate (AR) 7702 and came up with 14900. (Maybe I tried to get to the bottom of it all, spurned on by cos we can?)
About three hours later I was approaching the suburbs of Christchurch. A brief visit to my son-in-law's step father at Rolleston ensured that I found the best way to avoid heavy traffic into the big city.
As I was riding through the suburb of Islington a big rig, a semi-trailer carrying machinery, pulled out in front of me. I wasn't going to argue with that giant. (I wasn't riding my Giant). Very slowly the long vehicle turned right at a roundabout and crossed a railway line.
I couldn't have missed the registration plate if I tried. It hit me in an instant:
H 149 C
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On Summit Road, looking toward Lyttelton Harbour.
On the morning of my birthday, Saturday January 30th, I took an early morning walk. On this special day I wasn't going to eat breakfast without milk. The small deli near the hostel wanted $ *3.00 for 1 L of milk. Even when the cost of milk made the date of my birthday on my birthday, didn't I want to pay that much!.
(*I just noticed how the L completes the date of my birthday.)
I took a walk along the Avon River to walk past the Rydges Hotel, the place I had found out Adelaide United Football team was staying. I also had been contemplating, in preparation for the next day, to look out if I could see where the Central Christchurch Salvation Army Church was located.
To my surprise both places were right opposite each other, only a pedestrian walkway separating both. It was right there, where during my walk, I noticed a little sticker on the paved pathway. It was a peel-off type label with the name DAN on it. I simply peeled it off the pathway and glued it onto a post near the Salvation Army's front door. (The next morning I parked my bicycle right there. The sticker was still there).
That Saturday was my final full day in New Zealand. How better to top off our New Zealand adventure than a bike ride along Christchurch beautiful seaside and surrounding hills. I cycled through the suburbs to Sumner, continued to Scarborough Beach, where I afforded an ice cream. Climbing up the long, steep section up Evans Pass Road ensured the calories of the ice cream were burned up.
Apart from cyclists there were many hikers and joggers, who were enjoying the great scenery during a great midsummer weekend in their beautiful city.
From January 21-31 Christchurch hosted the World Busker Festival. The slogan was - 450 Amazing Life Shows, People of Christchurch prepare. There was not a day, where visitors did not cross paths with a juggler at Cathedral Square, or trapeze artists at Busker Park. Many acts were outdoors and free of charge, until the bucket came around at the end.
I was particularly taken by two acrobats on a ladder. David Graham and Tobin Renwick had come from the USA. They called themselves 'The Flash. The tricks they performed were astounding. They really deserved every penny of the five Dollars I placed into their bucket.
I noted that the name of the young lad they picked as 'assistant' was named Daniel. The location of their performance was only a short distance from where I had picked up the label DAN that morning. I was going to meet another Daniel later that night.
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Christchurch 30 Jan 2010 - AMI Stadium
If all numbers would have worked out that night, Adelaide United should have won this A-League match 6:0. That was my prediction the night before, when I accidentally had bumped into two Adelaide United players at Cathedral Square. Why had I predicted a most unlikely 6:0 result?
Some of you are thinking, because it was my 60 birthday, right? WRONG!
There was another reason, there always is: Wellington Phoenix had played their two previous matches in Australia the week before. On January 22nd they were defeated by Perth Glory 2:0. On January 26th they lost against Melbourne Victory 4:0. So 6:0 was the logical continuation. (I should have emailed the team. Maybe they would have understood and ... ?
There was another peculiarity during this match. In the 66th minute both teams made changes on the field. Phoenix took off player No.15 and replaced him with No.7. Adelaide United substituted No. 7 with No.15.
Whilst some numbers matched up, the only one that would have mattered didn't. Adelaide played well, but could not convert their chances. The visitors lost 1:0.
Later that night, my last night in New Zealand, I wandered across to the Hotel, where I knew the team was staying. After entering the foyer an Adelaide player walked along. We had a little chat. I was not just being nice when I told him that I really enjoyed the match. In my opinion they were the better side, just unlucky to not score. (Very similar to the Hiroshima game last night.)
The young player, who I was chatting to, happened to be No. 17. A few moments later, from a side door, emerged another player, who joined our friendly chat. It was player No. 5. His name was Daniel.
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The two nights before my departure I spent at the YHA in Manchester Street. On the morning of my birthday I received a very unusual 'gift' from a total stranger. At breakfast in the dining hall a lady offered a big red tomato to two young girls on her table. They politely declined. Next, this lady turned to me and, for whatever reason, offered the tomato to me. I accepted it gladly.
Let me tell you of my final morning in Christchurch, reporting as it was, from my notes written that afternoon. It was a cool morning, but fine and sunny. How could I miss my chance for a cycle along the Avon River, before having to say goodbye?
A 20 cent coin on the roadway made me stop. As I picked it up two numbers emerged - it was outside house No. 421, a vehicle parked there was registration plate 921. The difference is a D (500).
This 20 cent coin reminded me of another. I had seen it earlier that week, embedded in bitumen on the corner London/Bealey/Fitzgerald Avenue. I realized moment later I was not far from that corner. These two coin-incidences made me 40 cent richer.
In River Road I happened to spot a number on the roadway. It had fallen off a letterbox. I took it and placed it where it belonged, to nearby number 363.
No long afterwards on my right was LOIS PL. I could identify with PL, and my wife's middle name is Lois.
Map - Avonside / Dallington
Lois Place was a short No-Exit street. On the footpath was a white envelope. It looked clean, as if it had fallen out of a letterbox. I was right. It was an unopened letter, which belonged to the letterbox nearby. I dropped it where it belonged and continued my merry way. It wasn't long before I was gob smacked about a lady, called Lois.
All packed up, ready to return the bicycle, there was one place I wanted to visit first, the 10 AM church service at the Salvation Army Central, opposite the Rydges. As I locked my bicycle to the post outside, I noticed that the DAN sticker from the day before was still attached to it.
As always the music by the brass band was moving. It was more than music to my ears or ointment to my soul. I could have sat listening to the beautiful music all morning. I knew the lyrics:
But there was more during the church service, which blew my mind, making me think: I had not only been led to the right (Lois) place that morning, but come to the right church service!
The leader made a special point of asking: "Who had a birthday this week?" Two or three put up their hand and went out the front to receive a ... handshake and ... (a chocolate?)
Neither handshake nor chocolate made me own up to having had a birthday the day before, especially the big 6:0. (Now, if Adelaide United had scored a 6:0 victory I might have considered ...)
One lady around my age put up her hand and went out the front. She didn't give her age, only that she had a birthday - on the same day as mine. I could hardly believe it, when I heard her name: LOIS.
We exchanged a few words afterwards, but I resisted the temptation to ask, if she had also turned 60 and if they had a street named after her.
I cycled back to Opawa to return the bicycle. My mind was churning over the morning's incidences and marveled, how all this was possible. Was God behind all this or were men arranging things behind the scenes? I was either paranoid or Para Saint?
As if more numbers were invented and placed into my path to tease me, my bus back to the city left from bus stop 228. I noticed that is was right outside house No. 282.
My afternoon flight back to Australia on the 31st of January took me via Brisbane. I liked the idea of not having to rush, as we had to on the way over. There was even time for a snack at Brisbane Airport, before catching the domestic flight to Adelaide.
After exiting an airport toilet, walking toward my departure gate, I suddenly found myself walking beside two gentlemen, who were engaged in conversation. One face looked familiar, the voice I recognized also. I almost said something, but remembered how I had made a fool of myself in Queenstown 19 days earlier.
The man with the familiar looking face was Warren Truss, the Leader of the National Party and MP for Wide Bay. Only a few weeks before writing I was watching Parliament on TV while eating lunch. Both politicians I had seen on this trip, Chris and Warren appeared on the same screen.
As usual the Virgin plane touched down in Adelaide a few minutes ahead of schedule. My luggage was one of the first to roll out. Local time was 10.30 PM (My time showed 1 AM).
At first there was nobody to pick me up, even though I had confirmed the arrival time with my wife that afternoon. Waiting and waiting, I started to get worried. After 1/2 hour the green Suzuki rolled up.
There was a reason, there is a reason for everything.