This chapter was originally scheduled for uploading on 12/12/05 (slight delay with a technical problem).
24. Highway of trust
Four days after paying a stranger’s $ 16 parking fine I spotted another infringement notice on the ground. It came during a walk with Becky, my little Fox Terrier. I didn’t look for it, believe me. It may just be that I have a larger field of peripheral vision, and see more. To search out and pay for other people's debts is something normal people don't do.
This time the ticket was for $ 48. I assumed it was planted by someone who knew the path I take walking Becky. I could not recall to ever have picked up somebody else's parking ticket. This was the second one in four days! What should I do with it?
In the newspaper I read about an Open Day at a Catholic School, located in the center of Adelaide. The numbers in the announcement, plus the date of the event attracted my attention. That morning, Thursday August 18th, I had briefly woken and looked at the clock at 2.14 am. The address of the school was 214 Wake …. Street.
The date of the open day was 25/8/2005. I remembered another school’s open day I visited, where the numbers 2 & 5 played a huge role.
The data was overwhelming to visit the Catholic College's Open Day. To do so, however, I would have missed the the football match in Newcastle, unless I drove virtually 24 hours non-stop. I still wanted to show that I had seen the Open Day invitation and would have loved to be there.
Then I had an idea. It resolved the issue of the traffic ticket. I composed a letter to the school, explaining that I had already paid for someone else's parking ticket a few days earlier. Here was an opportunity for the school to apply the Christian principles they were teaching their students? Would they sacrifice $ 48 out of their budget to pay for someone else's debt?
My letter was rather tongue-in-cheek. If the college indeed paid for the parking ticket, I wondered, how the accountant categorized it? I may sound something like this – Payment for traffic infringement notice sent for payment by a stranger to gave us opportunity to put our Christian teachings into practice.
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Another lost & found parking ticket 3 months later:
Parking ticket hat-trick: On 18/11/05 I found this notice in North-Adelaide's parkland, walking from the inaugural meeting of the Careworkers Coalition to a fundraising Quiznight in Collinswood.
The ticket was issued on 10/11/05, 12.30 PM. ID No. 077. The very next morning I noticed car rego 351... it matched above rego BB 35...prefectly, no co-incidence.
That eventful day, Nov 19/11, I sent a brief email to the agent of US actress Meg Ryan. It was her birthday, which I found out via an incredible chain of events. (Another classic yarn to be told at a future time, God willing).
Yes, you guessed correctly, I sent above ticket to a small firm in Salisbury, giving them opportunity for a RAOK (Random act of kindness). Any volunteers, if I find another one?
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The day before leaving for the long journey to Newcastle on Australia’s East Coast, I attended a Wednesday night church meeting. A special visitor from the UK was the main speaker. He was the founder of a worldwide evangelistic organisation with the motto: 3000 people, 82 countries, 2 ships. Just doing it ... Can you see why I liked the numbers?
During his talk the colourful speaker referred to the book by Chinese Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man. (In my writing, Chapter 52 Mind, I had doubted the accuracy of the author's claim - that he lived without food and water for 74 days).
At the end of the meeting I spotted a face I recognized vaguely. We had met at a home fellowship group a year or two earlier. The lady, approx. my age, had come to tell us about her work as missionary in the Philippines. Then I recalled her surname – Ryan. (How fitting! I just mentioned that name a few paragraphs earlier, under above picture. I don't plan such detail, they just happen).
Something clicked – minus R her name reads - why an N? Was there a hint of a connection to brother Yun – why you N? It would make sense, because the church, where the meeting was held, was the very one, which birthed the phrase - See love, see rest - if I removed an R from its name.
But there was more. Only seven hours before that Wednesday night meeting I had uploaded Chapter 8 of this book. It includes one account of my experience at an open-air meeting in Santa Monica, California. The singers had changed the words and sang: Open the eyes of their hearts, Lord!
Either I am totally selfish and arrogant, to think the world revolves around me, or it was pure co-incident, seven hours later I was attending a meeting, where they sang just this song, but correct way - Open the eyes of my heart, Lord!
(Only a few hours ago, during a conversation with a family member, I was accused of exactly that – arrogance, because I believed God can reveal himself to a human being).
The very next morning, Thursday 25th August 05, a link in both numbers and the timing of it all, made me ask – God, is that you or am I just hearing and seeing things. I woke at 4.44 am. Digital clocks don’t lie, at least not about the number that is displayed. As I tuned into the radio, the very first word spoken was the name Wanganeen, the Australian Rules football player, I had mentioned in a previous chapter.
He was the player who wore shirt No. 4, who scored 4 goals at the Grand Final in 04, giving Port Power a sensational 40-point win.
What a start to my trip! It was to continue for a week.
As I see it, God was not arranging these incidences for my benefit. I already knew from experiences years ago that HE was at work. It was for the benefit of those readers, who followed my journey. Those who had honest doubts would see that God really controls our minds and guides all our movements. This is the only explanation I can offer to make sense of what was happening every day. The trip to Newcastle was no exception, a week of holy adventure; plainly fun and games plus.
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Altogether my Suzuki clocked exactly 3533 kilometers on the trip between Adelaide and Newcastle. The fun started in the Riverland town of Loxton. It also ended there, in a way. After returning I posted a note to a business in Loxton. It was about a little find I made in the main street. The postcode - 5333.
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The shortest route from Adelaide to Sydney is via Tailem Bend, Lameroo, Ouyen across the Hay Plains to Wagga Wagga. Soon after the Sturt Highway joins the Hume Highway, which is main route to Sydney via Yass and Goulburn.
My Suzuki was very economical in gas consumption, plus I could sleep in it, by folding the seats back. The plan was to stay the first night in Balranald; the next day straight to the football match at Energy Stadium, Newcastle, followed by a few days with my daughter in Dee Why, on Sydney’s Northern beaches.
Driving through South Australia’s Riverland region I saw the turnoff sign to Loxton. It showed that it was considerably longer, so I continued on. But something stirred inside. Since I had not been there in a long time, I decided to turn back and make Loxton my lunch stop.
Within minutes of turning off the Sturt Highway, I heard on the radio news that a man had died in a fire in a caravan in Loxton-North. Was somebody following me – death, fires, accidents? It made me be extra careful with the gas cooker and bottle I had set up in the back of the Suzuki.
I parked on the banks of the Murray River and enjoyed my freshly brewed cups of coffee and Salami Sandwiches. I made sure I had many of these regular stops, both for a coffee fix and to keep alert behind the wheel on the mainly flat, straight, endless Australian country roads.
I just couldn't leave the pretty riverside town without a brisk walk up and down the main street. I noticed a piece of cardboard outside the pub on the footpath. I really didn’t want to pick up things off the road on this trip. It was going to be a break, so I walked past. On the opposite side of the wide main street I noticed a stall, organized by a local church. I bought some grapefruit. The lady in attendance said their stall was to raise funds for African refugees in the Congo.
I just couldn’t help myself reading – see a N, go! Playing my little game may have woken the Sherlock Holmes inside me. No harm checking out the piece of cardboard, I had passed by earlier. It was a coaster, the name we give a small piece of cardboard, used in hotels to place under beer glasses. The one I picked up advertised a local business.
I could read all the familiar codes, including Lot 5, plus the name ‘In the cross", plus the proprietor’s name “You En” (if I used the minus R code). It had to be a test by locals, how else could I view these events?
If there were people in Loxton, who had read about my strange exploits of picking up coded bits from off the pavement, I could understand that somebody would play my game, just for fun, even more so in this town. The name consists of little else than "L" and 'on cross". But please let nobody think, I purposely looked for clues, to show off or to overcome boredom.
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Not everything I saw was fun and games. How would you regard the offer we got for our Mitsubishi?
HO, HO, HO! A dead bird wasn't exactly the offer we were looking for! But as a lover of truth, formerly called whistle blower, I should not have been surprised at the reaction my public questioning of possible criminal activity may bring.
Great timing - on the day of editing this chapter we finalized the transaction to sell the beloved Magna. (Mag in German means 'to like, to enjoy'. I liked the car and a n. Sad to see it go.
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Approaching the large provincial town of Mildura I was listening to a song on the radio - Mississippi - a favourite I had not heard for a long time. (Adelaide’s new station ‘Radio Cruise 1323’ is introducing 60's style music again, thank God. My age group finds it easy to listen to).
Seconds after, or it may even have been while the song Mississippi still played, I noticed a road sign MI 111, meaning it was 111 kilometers to Mildura. Amazing, the timing, the letters and the number.
On the day I wrote above lines the scripture for the day in Every Day with Jesus was Acts 1, 1-11. I did not know it until the next day, because I was a day behind - again!
Mildura is a large district centre in Northern Victoria, famous for growing grapes and citrus fruit. It is very popular with tourists, because of it’s sunny, mild climate. My legs and lungs were demanding some exercise. I took a brisk walk through the shopping centre, when my attention was drawn to a bakery.
It was a branch of a large chain of bakeries. A few day earlier I had heard a strange story of what took place in a branch in suburban Adelaide. A 15-year old girl had been underpaid. When she complained she was dismissed (if I remember the story correctly).
As I listened to her typical current-affairs hard-luck story, I could sense from comments she made that there was more behind her story. (I had paid a visit to the bakery in Adelaide's North-East and found out that a gorgeous girl with beautiful eyes and a Da Ninci name works there. Apart from that I did not follow the story any further).
All this came to mind as I walked past their Mildura franchise. Then I noticed a gift shop right next door. It’s name could not have been more Da Ninci – Envy. I took a photo:
The more I looked at this photo after developing, the more I saw of my code in the names. On the far left 'One for life' makes sense as well as I GO. It all looked distinctly me, distinctly it.
Before continuing to the next town, I parked my Suzuki opposite a block of toilets in the main street. On return I realized I had parked right outside the offices of the State Member of Parliament. I was reminded that this city was in the State of Victoria, the only state of Australia, where religious vilification laws were in place. (I have written extensively on this, Chapter 29, Found. I my opinion they do more harm than good, as far as religious harmony is concerned).
Why let this opportunity go by to pay this MP a visit and stir the pot on this issue? I was surprised that the gentleman himself was available for a brief talk. The MP agreed with my reservations about the state of affairs. Being a member of the opposition he had spoken out and voted against the bill. On the bright side, he said, moves were under way to remove the religious component from the bill, leaving only racial vilification as an offence.
His secretary gave me a copy of the MP’s speech to take with me. I didn't look at the document for days. When I did, it was at an interesting place (Details on the return journey).
I arrived in Balranald, New South Wales, around 6. 30 pm. At $10 the caravan park was cheaper than I had been told the day before over the telephone. I didn't protest. As I walked up to the town centre, I was conscious that I was on my own in these dark back- streets. Anyone wanting to teach me a lesson, a more serious one than a dead bird in the front yard, would have had ample opportunity.
But I had placed my trust in God's hand. I knew that anything crossing my path would only be with HIS permission.
Left: Sunrise on the Trust Hi-way.
Right: Warning! Visitors to Balranald may become overwhelmed by frogs. The region still has a large number of the rare and endangered Southern Bell Frog.
This piece of artwork in the main street was part of a $ 8810 frog-based arts project - What did this artist call his work? Southern Bell Frog reading book on survival while sitting on a mushroom.
Actually, Mr. Google gave me the proper name: 'Frog with attitude' by local panel-beater Roy Mann. Hey, this sounds like ...
In case you wonder - the rego of the car in the background is ...510.
The local Café was surprisingly busy for a country town. I sat down at a table near the refrigeration units, eating Dim Sims and chips. I was just occupying my mind, day dreaming and blowing on my hot chips to cool them. (When you are real hungry you still burn your mouth).
Thinking of nothing much in particular, my eyes came to rest inside the refrigeration unit. I counted the number of Iced Coffee cartons on the shelf. There were seven. Six of these were neatly placed, in formation, ready for a potential, thirsty buyer.
Iced Coffee container number 7, however, looked out of place, turned 45 degrees. The outstanding piece seemed to be saying - Hi, look at me, I'm different. I returned the greeting, but not very loudly. Who knows, who’s watching? My diary records the use-by-date as 31.8. Iced coffee and number 38 must have been the flavours of the month.
Before I left the Café I couldn’t stop myself taking action. I walked the few steps to the refrigerator, opened the door and moved carton number seven, so it was neatly stacked with the other six.
Now the world was again as it should be - tummy full, refrigerator stacked neatly and my mind at ease.
I don't know, if I would have slept well that night had I not put that show-off carton back in its place.