Update from Christchurch/New Zealand

It snowed in and around Christchurch a few days ago, and the locals talked about it being "the icing on the quake". I told our friend Lorraine, that we hope the people of Christchurch will not lose their wonderful sense of humor. See below what she wrote in reply. Christchurch has dropped from the news headlines, but the struggle continues:

We are all trying to maintain a healthy sense of humour (humor), but at times it's quite hard because there is no sense of it all ending! It's very much like wartime trauma and fatigue, because we never know when where or how bad the attacks will be. Our congregation, Linwood Avenue Union Church, is 47km from our home - we still are very involved there because of the fantastic caring attitudes of members for the surrounding community, but the congregation has only about 100 members, and many wonderful but quite 'needy' people.) The original fault line (where we live ourselves) has been experiencing further sizeable shaking, (up to 5.3) but we are very fortunate and our home remains virtually unsullied. Even those local shakes are much worth in Christchurch, 35-45km away, because their ground is now so unstable.

FYI, further examples of our local church leaders' and members' stress include these challenges.

1. Our children's program leader has been suffering greatly from continuing EQ trauma, and went with her husband to visit family in Britain 3 weeks ago for an 8-week break, but her husband died over there within 24 hours of contracting influenza - many individual's physical resistance is very low.

2. The couple who led our Seniors' outreach program (serving about 100 people from neighbouring rest homes/hospitals) were both injured in the February EQ, both suffered sever trauma with destroyed home and had to move to the North Island - both are now in full-time care themselves.

3. Our minister's wife and children been struggling and nearly returned to Australia , but have managed to stay so far. However they need regular respite breaks from the shaking - they are away for their fourth brief break at the moment.

4. Our minister's assistant (a widowed woman, a retired nurse), has been forced to take a respite break because she is exhausted.

5. Our church's office secretary (a 5-mornings weekly volunteer) has had to take her family away from Christchurch three times to help them cope.

6. Several families have already lost their homes or are likely to do so.

7. Two children have dropped out of school prematurely because of trauma.

8. Most of our youth have had to travel across the city to temporary school locations for the past 7 months. Next week some schools will reopen, but others will be demolished or be a further year or so -the task is soooo big!

9. A number of members have lost their jobs because so many businesses have been destroyed.

10. Several members have taken in family and others whose homes are unliveable.

11. Many supermarkets, shopping centres and malls are still not open - some never will be.

12. Many people still have no sewage system, reliable phone system, fresh clean water or adequate home heating. The continuing quakes keep bringing up fresh liquifaction and open cracked walls and floors even further every time.