From North Riding to the Arctic Circle and back

On meeting Rodney and Johanna Martheze, it would be easy to categorise them as a regular retired couple.  A neat Picture 025BergenBergenSteinsdalWaterfalltownhouse in North Riding, tea served with cake in the lounge, pictures of children and grandchildren adorning walls and tables.

But that impression only lasts a short while.  A deeper look uncovers a couple whose lives are anything but quiet.  Driven by a deep spiritual calling and a three-child, seven-grandchild family virtually on the doorstep, Rodney and Johanna continue to pack in activities that would exhaust people half their age.

Rodney elaborates, “I retired formally in 2010 from my formal job as a data warehousing architect.  My other work, my life’s passion for more than twenty years, continues.  I am a pastor in the Coastal Assemblies of God ministry in Hartbeespoort.  Now that I can focus my full attention on this important work, life has so much more meaning.”

Johanna sits quietly by as Rodney tells his story.  Then it’s her turn.  “My life has been very much a support role.  I never had a full-time job and concentrated on raising our three children.  Now I enjoy spending time with our seven grandchildren, all of whom live in Gauteng.  Apart from that, I have been a pastor’s wife for two decades.  This has meant years of pastoral care for people who need it, in reality, a full-time job.  And, of course, it continues even now.”

Johanna is also a highly creative person, making clothes and designing mosaics not out in the garden.

In July this year, in between everything else, Rodney and Johanna went on a twenty-one day dream cruise around

Scandinavia and Russia.  “We had done a couple of cruises over the years and absolutely loved them.  This one was a big reward after years of work and saving.  We never stop learning and read a lot on a variety of subjects ranging from the Holocaust to Russian history.  We also love beautiful scenery so this trip was an ideal way to study an amazing part of the world.”

The Oceania Cruises ship Nautica departed Copenhagen on 19 July and arrived in Oslo on 8 August.  In between was a range of scenic experiences that piled one highlight on another.

Rodney listed a few.  “We crossed the Arctic circle, so there was no sunset at all.  At Honningsvaag, Norway, we went on a 4×4 all-terrain drive to the top of a mountain.  We popped into Hammerfest, apparently the most northern city in the world.  We visited commercial salmon farms and at Geiranger in Norway we moored offshore and took a tender onto the fjord, known as one of the most beautiful in the world.”

Picture 220HonningsvaagWhat did they learn?  “Apart from discovering new places and wonderful scenery, we learned two things,” explains Johanna with a smile.  “The first is: never take summer for granted.  Those folks have such a long winter it’s frightening; and secondly, remember that you can do things far longer than you thought.  On the cruise there were people twenty-five years older than us in wheelchairs and quite disabled.  But did they enjoy themselves? You bet!”

Looking at the Marthezes, it is clear that they are taking their own advice and by so doing, are an example to all of us.

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