On January 1st, 2010, I kicked off the New Year with a story about my good friend, and tennis buddy, Leland Rolling. Click here to see the story. Since that story was posted, Leland has climbed to the top of his age group, earning a top ten national ranking in his age group. He and his family were invited to represent the United States in an international tennis competition in New Zealand.
During the competition, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the town where Leland was staying, destroying buildings and wiping out the tennis court he had just practiced on four hours before the quake struck.
I spoke with Leland on Saturday evening just after he returned to Ramona and he described the horror he, his wife, and two boys witnessed while they were there. The pictures you see below were taken by Leland before he was evacuated.
Leland and his family will be our guests at our church on Sunday as they are looking for a church community they can call home. They are great witnesses for Jesus already. I hope we show some great hospitality and that they decide to return permanently.
Leland is also interested in checking out a few of our practices on Wednesday night. Slowly, my tennis buddies and I are improving. It will be nice to have a player of Leland's caliber to get us to a higher level, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Thanks, Leland, for giving me permission to share your story about New Zealand on my blog. Leland and his doubles partner defeated Japan 6-0, 6-1 prior to the quake. The players were sent home early due to the destruction of the tennis courts and surrounding towns. Look for Leland on the courts and wish him well as he goes for a national number one ranking. Welcome home. And thanks for sharing these pictures you shot in New Zealand just outside your hotel room.