As all of you know, Christchurch has gone through one of New Zealands most disastrous events in our small but colourful history. To many other countries, a death toll of 113, and rapidly rising doesn't make much of a mark but let me tell you in a country this size, it doesn't just hit those people directly - our nation takes a stake to its heart.
For many people, they are thankful they are alive, able to hug and kiss their loved ones and able to stay in their homes. For others, many others, they have simply fled to more stable ground and will deal with the mess in their own time. For a lot of people, including a lot of my family and friends, have lost their homes, livelihood, income, businesses and are relying on Civil Defence welfare centres to provide their basic needs. For the friends and family that have been fortunate enough to be able to stay in their homes - a lot still, going into the 4th night, don't have water, sanitation, electricity and are very quickly running out of gas for their barbecues which have provided for their needs such as water boiling and cooking.
I say this out of basic reality check rather than to pull at your heart strings. The real deal is that the almost 500,000 strong people in this city have been absolutely brought to a halt and to its knees. In what ever sense of the term - out of desperation, out of need, out of fear, and out of prayer.
We are known for our strength, our fighting spirit, our ability to move on and to rebuild (especially after the last quake), our hospitality, our comradeship and the way that we just 'muck in'.
Among the sad and gut wrenching stories, come amazing miracles and tales of people risking their lives for others. Student volunteers getting out into the streets numbering in the 000s caring for the elderly, cleaning up streets, shoveling silt from roads and driveways and generally just doing what they can. Amazing stories of survival, of how they waited and had faith, of how others rescued co-workers and used their strength such as mountaineering skills to lower their colleagues out of buildings. Its truly amazing the things that you hear and the strength of the human spirit.
I know that the people of Christchurch will be stronger and better in the years to come. I know that there will always be a hole and a missing part in all of us, and I know that we can't do it without the strength and support of this nation - New Zealand, and the nations of the world.
Thank you nations of the world that have come to our aid. The outcome would have been much more grim if you didn't come...at least with your efforts, it has enabled us to carry hope and thankfulness.
Tomorrow I'm going to share a story of an incredibly strong woman who I cherish. She needs your support and prayer.
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