Nicole and I attended church on Easter Sunday. We stood in the empty wooden building, light shining through the windows above the altar. Just as we were wondering if anybody would attend, an elderly lady entered, walked past us with a fistful of dahlias, plonked them in a vase at the front, lit two candles and sat down.
We were quickly joined by others, our numbers swelling to 11. Two guitars were produced and a lady who was busy handing out printed papers, locked eyes with me and asked if I was good at reading.
She thrust three pages into my hand. I immediately passed them onto Nicole.
The service started with us singing “The Rugged Cross”, before moving onto the folk who had been handed pieces of paper. These consisted of Bible verses relating to Easter.
“Now is the time for the sermon!” The lady pointed to Nicole. My wife strode to the front and proceeded to give the week’s sermon.
We ended with another rendition of The Rugged Cross, before retiring to the manse for wine biscuits layered with crushed apples.
We packed in a trip to Pitt Island, timing our trip to witness the annual cattle muster. It was a noisy exercise involving every single dog on the island and all 35 inhabitants funnelling bellowing livestock down to Flower Pot Bay and onto a tender boat.
By week’s end the weather had turned from Icelandic to gently tropical as Nicole and I flew out of the Chathams, turning our watches back and taking a last glimpse of the golden beaches of Waitangi West.