Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Month: November 2016

Quake, Rattle, and Roll

By Elizabeth

Jaron was in Australia the night the creaking and banging woke me. The intruder, it turns out, was seismic activity that began 445 km (275 mi) away as the crow flies. Many others in our mid-sized city of Hamilton, NZ said that it was the rolling sensation and resulting sea sick feeling—as if they were on a boat—that disturbed their sleep. However, in our community on New Zealand’s North Island, sleep was about all that was disturbed by the November 14 magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

It was a different story for the South Island. The community of Kaikoura (population 2,000) and the rural areas to the north experienced complete upheaval. The seabed near Kaikoura was raised about 7 ft (2m). The earthquake changed the landscape above and below the water, crumbled houses, broke sewage systems, fractured water pipes, destroyed road beds, and shifted railroad tracks. Essentially, the infrastructure was destroyed along fault lines stretching past the rural community of Seddon, nearly 1oo miles north of Kaikoura, where the most energy was released in the multi-fault quake. Prime Minister John Key estimates rebuilding costs may exceed $2 billion.

As a result, more than 1,000 people had to be evacuated by helicopter. Over 900 chemical portaloos were brought in by ship. And dairy farmers with no way of exporting milk were forced to dump fresh milk down the drain. However, human inhabitants weren’t the only ones affected. Landslides caused by the initial quake and the continued aftershocks destroyed the popular seal pup habitat where seal pups are often spotted playing under a waterfall. In addition, many adult seals were killed. Bird colonies, such as the threatened population of Hutton’s Shearwater, were drastically affected when half of a colony was buried in landslides. Scientists suspect that the dolphins and whales that frequent the waters around Kaikoura were also affected. However, when researchers were able to get back in the boat on November 24, they spotted more than 300 dolphins off the coast, an encouraging sign that wildlife is indeed resilient.

On the Southern tip of the North island, the capital city of Wellington also experienced a shakeup. While no buildings collapsed immediately, the earthquake has compromised the stability of more than two dozen buildings, some of which are among Wellington’s largest office buildings. Buildings like a 10-story building on Molesworth street require demolition, which began this week, while others will require structural reinforcement before they can be used again. Wellington’s port also suffered significant damage.

Two weeks after the earthquake, residents of the northern Canturbury region of New Zealand remain largely isolated and are still experiencing significant aftershocks. The primary road and railway between Christchurch and Kaikoura may take a year or more to repair. Convoys of military grade vehicles are delivering food for those who cannot evacuate. Certainly, the 2011 Christchurch earthquake (magnitude 7.1) caused significantly more damage to buildings and livelihood due to its proximity to a more densely populated area. However, it will take months or even years for life to return to normal for the latest earthquake victims, most of whom rely on the dairy industry and tourism for their livelihood. Sociologists predict that as much as 18% of the population could leave the area permanently in search of housing and other employment opportunities.


Parting Shot:

It's spring and the roses are in bloom. Photo taken at Hamilton Gardens.

It’s spring and the roses are in bloom. Photo taken at Hamilton Gardens.

Dear America, The World is Watching

By Elizabeth

This week's supermoon in Australia.

This week’s supermoon in Australia.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that when Q and I greeted Jaron as we walked through airport security in Auckland International Airport, laden in luggage and overnight flight fogginess, the day after the US presidential election that we were quickly intercepted by a woman…And a cameraman…With a microphone.

“Are you American?”

“What do you think of the election?”

“Who did you vote for?”

“Will lots of Americans be trying to move to New Zealand now?”

Since we first arrived a year ago, the conversations have gone like this, “Hi I’m so and so. Glad to meet you. Are you from America? What do you think of the presidential race?” At the grocery store and the playground and church and in lines at New Zealand’s tourism hot spots.” My kiwi neighbor kids told me they were having a mock US election at their school.

America, in case you were wondering, the world is watching. The world is holding its collective breath on economics and trade agreements and civil rights and immigration and refugee policies and all the things that have been front and center during this election cycle. Truly, the impact is more far reaching than American borders. And the world is wondering, “America, are you really the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

What the world needs to see is Jesus.

So, American Christians, while you have the world’s eye, you have an incredible opportunity. Church, don’t miss this. Fellow Jesus followers, don’t take it lightly. We have an opportunity to model for the world how a great and diverse people works through conflict. We have an opportunity to demonstrate what it means to be gracious and merciful and compassionate and Christ-like. Church in America: we have the opportunity to show Jesus to the world.

In the way we…

Offer words of grace to family members who voted differently


Shake hands with the neighbor who rooted for the other side


Offer hospitality to those who come from a different tribe, creed, culture, or context


Stand up for those who fear


Sit with those who grieve


Lend a hand to a stranger


Have compassion for those who lack


Facilitate peace through words and actions


Build bridges


Ask questions



Whether your candidate won or lost. Whether you are on the right or the left or neither. Whether the President does or does not do these things. Why? Because mercy and compassion, humility and grace have always been the way of Christ. Every day. For 2,000+ years. In times of peace. In times of turmoil. Whether anyone is watching or not. Church, do we remember how Jesus loved? Can we live how Jesus lived?

When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he told a story about a Samaritan man who helped a Jewish man. They couldn’t have been more different in race or religion. They couldn’t have come from more opposite sides of the tracks. They couldn’t have had a bigger cultural divide to cross. This kind of thing… it’s not new to Jesus. He has been here before.

So, American church, the world is watching. And the world wants to know if America is a place where hate is harbored or where love is unconditional; where rioters have the last say or peaceful conversations abound; where lines are drawn or bridges are built. The world wants to know what we are going to do in the face of turmoil. The world needs to see how our God and our faith stand up to chaos. The world needs to see if we have anything of value to offer after all.


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