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Mountain minister feels at home when heavens open.

CHURCH pastor Jim Brooking has swapped a tropical paradise for a working holiday in the North-East - but one thing he doesn't mind is the recent rain.

Mr Brooking, 55, has travelled thousands of miles from his home parish on the mountainous Hawaiian island of Kauai to spend six weeks on an official exchange trip to Blyth, Northumberland.

He has been dodging summer showers this week, but that is nothing new for a man who hails from one of the wettest spots on earth.

Kauai has an annual average rainfall of 460 inches.

Over many years, the torrential rain has created canyons and numerous scenic waterfalls on the island, which is about 20 minutes by air from Honolulu.

Mr Brooking, who is originally from New York and has been a pastor with the Hawaiian United Methodist Churches for 17 years, is working at the Central Methodist Church in Beaconsfield Street, Blyth, where he has preached at a number of Sunday services.

Local minister, the Rev Catherine Minor, has made the reverse journey, to spend six weeks preaching in the communities of West Kauai, the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands.

Mr Brooking, who made his only other visit to the UK in Kent 30 years ago, said: "It rains almost every day in Kauai and there is a saying that if you don't like the weather, stick around because it will change in a few minutes.

"I have never been to the North-East of England before but I am really loving it here and the people are just wonderful and so friendly. I have visited Durham Cathedral, York Minister, Bamburgh Castle and Holy Island, and one of the things I truly love about England is its history.

"We have nothing comparable to it where I come from and my only complaint is that my time here is passing too quickly. I love Blyth as a town and I think Reverend Minor will feel like she is in a rural backwater in Kauai."

Central Methodist Church steward Alan Watson said: "Jim has slotted into Catherine's duties while he is here, preaching at Methodist churches in Blyth and Newbiggin and at the United Reformed Church in Blyth."

CAPTION(S):

THAT'S COOL: The Rev Jim Brooking has travelled from his home parish on the mountainous Hawaiian island of Kauai - to Blyth. Picture: Emily Barber www.icNewcastle.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 00973741
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2007
Words:397
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