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Victory and Survival Lies In the Hearts of People

Sadly, I didn't stop in the Christchurch city centre for long. I honestly found it a little nerve racking driving around there with the motorhome. I could see the roof of the transitional cathedral, but was parked very precariously and couldn't go in. All I could say at that stage was that it was not at all the Christchurch I remembered. The devastation of an earthquake almost a decade ago is still so very visible. Yes, the CTV-site has been turned into a beautiful garden, the transitional church is a beacon of hope and there is a very modern library, but in spite of all that, the still vast, empty spaces in the middle of the city.... it's just sad. Thankfully I stayed in New Brighton a little longer than intended and decided to take an Uber to the city centre on Sunday to attend a communion service in the transitional cathedral.

The first driver, a youngish Chinese guy by the name of Jing was friendly and we had a good conversation. I attended the service and was astonished by all the ritual and symbolism, but also happy that the message of acceptance and love came through strongly. I used communion with a leap of faith that no one in the church (or at least no one who used the chalice before me) was covid-positive. The message was about stereotyping with regards to a news headline that America is expecting a backlash from "white evangelists".

That being an evangelist actually mean bringing the good news, but not any good news, the heavenly good news.

After the service, which to my surprise only went a little over an hour, I ordered another Uber. So the driver (Tarik) and I started talking. He is from Algeria, he has been in Christchurch for about 18 years now. "So you lived through the earthquake, the mosque shooting.... " and then he said: "Yes, it is one of the survivors of the mosque shooting that is your driver today." And he went on to explain that the gunman was at the exit and the only way to escape was to break the window with his head and jump.

This man met his wife here, married and had four children, two girls (one 6 and one just over a year) and two boys of which the oldest is 13. New Zealand and Christchurch in particular is now his home.

We went on to talk about the corruption of governments in a wealthy African continent and about how lucky we are to live in this country. We talked about culture and how in Algeria it is a shame to put your elderly parent in a rest-home. When I got back to the motorhome I started googling and found this link about Tarik Chenafa, one of the survivors of the Al Noor Mosque shooting and my Uber driver. What a privilege to have met him.

In the end it is not the buildings in the city (or lack thereof) or what the place looks like, in the end it is about what lies in the hearts of the people living there.

Inside the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.

Outside the cathedral

The area behind the cathedral

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