· As of Saturday night at 9:30pm, all my papers and exams for this 15 week Semester 1 have were completed!....not to mention the readings; Wow! That was quite a mountain to climb. Sunday saw the completion of the various church ministry Christmas functions, culminating in the most fantastic paean of praise in concert I have ever witnessed. Some of the lyrics and music were actually composed for the Boston Pops Orchestra. I went on the last night of 5, which saw about 4-5000 inch their way in.
· Monday was the day to tidy up, emailing, mowing lawns and cleaning a pool – a special deal I have with the gracious APMT owners Bob and Teri White, where I now live - 8830 Newcastle Ave, Northridge, CA 91325 USA; which is about 15 mins from church and seminary.
· Whilst the work has been voluminous and tough, it demands a very high quality, as are the professors, who do their job as of a single accord. Basically if you get behind you cannot catch up. One saviour for us was the week break for Thanks Giving from 23rdNovember, the end of which marks the beginning of the Christmas Period.
· I have had the privilege of being one of five who served as Interns at the Grace Life Fellowship, which meets on Sunday mornings at 8:30am in the Gymnasium, and various fortnightly home Bible Study and Prayer and Praise Groups.
· There are 500 students, so this makes for a full chapel twice a week, where we get tear both faculty and visitors speak, indispersed by a couple of seasoned Q & A’s with our President, John MacArthur. There are 3 class days and excepting Sundays, another 3 days of homework . All good stuff.
· Next semester starts 9th Jan with a special week on Christian Ethics by Dr John Feinberg, a visiting lecturer. I will try not to do a repeat performance of “The Tie” in the picture, which was the product of good Kiwi Ingenuity. Yes I had forgotten to wear my tie (running late), so could not turn up twice without it, so unhooked the computer case strap, and Bob’s Your Uncle, there it was. To avoid the gang member approach I simply tucked the metal clip ends under a short button…no one would ever know, so I thought. I think by now it has gone around the globe, to say nothing of the Kiwi reputation!
· Apart from the odd reverberating head from doing unfamiliar memorisation, a couple of crowns (before their spiritual, or was that physical time) the body is going well; being acceptive of a generous helping Vitamin C and similar. Ouch, that was a bit expensive. Really, secular Masters Degrees do not quite cut this standard.
· Social Scene: 13 Kiwis and others (note the Kiwis outnumber the Aussies on a number of count s as per normal) made a pilgrimage one Thanksgiving night to the Staples Centre, where Professional Ice Hockey was turned on for 2.5 hours. This was not just sport, this was a event with not one spare moment. Unfortunately the LA Kings lost 2:1 to the Chicago Black Hawks. On Friday night the seminary hosted a special Christmas time for the international students and wives – rather nice, but we did miss our Christmas Cake and mince tarts! They do make great egg nog and cinnamon and apple cider here though!
· I am on the way north to Verity’s folks for Christmas in Vernon, BC, Canada, then over to the Halcyon Hot Springs at the western foot of the Canadian Rockies for a couple of days. Reuben and Verity + the bonus of Jillian joining us for some 2 weeks from Auckland! This will be my first white Christmas…..after singing all the songs of Winter Wonderland etc for years, then going to the beach at home!
· Winter has hit LA, with temperatures cooler at night than Auckland – more like the Waikato or Hawks Bay in winter. Yes it does rain in Southern California, but when it does, it doesn’t really pour as the song says; just a good wetting rain. And yet their drivers can’t handle it and people stay away from work / functions because ”it is forecast to rain today”!
Watch this space on my return from Canada for an update on what’s happening in Semester 2. Meantime, I extend a very warm and blessed Christmas to you all.