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Monday, 26 December 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”   ― Christopher Columbus

Wise words, Mr. Columbus. Wish I had heard those words before the hours leading up to Josh and I getting on the ferry.  I felt my courage had abandoned me the entire morning as we awaited our departure on the Interislander.  Josh and I did some last-minute errands like buying a cell phone and then killed some time until our ferry was to leave the North Island at 2 p.m.  I’ve never been on a cruise before and the only ferry I’ve ever been on was in Corpus Christie, Texas, I think it was, and that was just across like two feet of water!  But crossing an ocean? Ehhh, wasn’t feeling too confident about it and especially hearing the night before from one of our new friends how they got seasick and threw up the whole 4 hour ride.  My nerves can certainly get the best of me sometimes.  Just like waiting in the airport gives you time to worry, we then had to drive our car into the waiting area and just sit there . . . and think.  What if I get sick? And everybody sees me throwing up? How embarrassing.  What if a big storm comes up? That can definitely happen in a four-hour time span, I thought to myself.  And what if we hit an iceberg?  Are there enough lifeboats if something were to go wrong? What if a big whale jumps onto the boat?  Haha, your imagination can run wild with anticipation, at least mine has always been hyperactive.

We watched the Interislander ferry slowly come into the harbor, and then we finally drove our car onto it, parking underneath in the boat’s big belly.  “This is kind of cool,” I started thinking.  I’ve been on little boats before out on the lake, and a small little riverboat cruise on a river, but this was incredible.  We walked up the stairs and toured the ferry.  Woah!!! It was huge! I felt like we were on the Titanic.  I started feeling a lot better knowing there was lots of space to spread out and explore with four different levels and viewing decks.  A restaurant, movie theatre, lounge, shop, dining areas, and sleeping cabins . . . this might be all right after all.  I picked up some seasick throw-up bags they had hanging on the wall which also made me feel better too; just in case.  Josh and I had fun going up and down the stairs and out onto the decks.  I didn’t feel very nervous at all anymore, and then the boat started moving away from the dock.  That was a little weird feeling at first, but we stayed on the top deck, which was the best place to be I think.  Wow! What had I been scared about? This was amazing.  Wellington is so beautiful, I felt kind of sad to be leaving it behind.  It was a typical windy day, especially being out on the top deck, but the wind felt like freedom to our faces.  Not a cloud in the blue sky, which made me even happier for I love the sun. 

  We watched Wellington grow small in the distance and slowly crawled across the blue waters and out into the wide-open ocean.  We pulled out of the harbor and bays and began our journey out into the ocean, crossing the Cook Strait.  My imagination and dreaming came to life more than ever and I pulled out my little journal and started writing.  Talk about finding inspiration!  Here are some things I wrote in my journal:  “I love seeing the South Island getting closer, just waiting and begging for us to come explore and see every hill, valley, mountain, river, lake, and flower. Right now, at this moment, I really feel like an explorer . . . I bet this is what they felt like before me . . . Christopher Columbus, Captain Cook, Magellan, all those guys.  What would that have felt like . . . to be on the open sea for days knowing in your heart that there was something out there waiting for you to find it.  And how you would feel when your eyes saw land in the distance!”

I keep feeling like a little child here, haha, because my chest just felt so full it could burst with excitement as we saw the mountains of the South Island approaching closer every minute.  Wild, untamed land.  “You are now entering the land of the Lord of the Rings,” I said to myself.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that in here yet and those who know me already are aware, but I am obsessed with Lord of the Rings.  I’ve been dreaming of coming to New Zealand since the Fellowship of the Ring hit theatres when I was a sophomore in high school, and now I’m here!  Both the North and South Island were locations in the movies, but the South Island is known for its picturesque beauty and what I really imagined Middle Earth to look like.

We entered the Marlborough Sounds, and all the people gathered on the decks to view the breathtaking landscape and attempt to capture its beauty on their cameras.  The land was quiet . . . the hills and mountains and pine trees were silent as they watched us from both sides.  Houses were sparsely scattered along the mountains, reachable only by boat.  One could already sense the different feel between the North and South Island . . . this land was definitely more desolate.  After passing through the beautiful Sounds, we finally arrived at the South Island, into the little town called Picton.

From there we made our two-hour drive to our first destination and potential place of living, Nelson.  Josh has never ceased to amaze me with his driving here! He has done so great! That was one of the prettiest drives, Ever! We passed by vineyard after vineyard as we made our way across the wine country; a beautiful foreground with the majestic mountains as the backdrop.  The land felt alive and I honestly felt intimidated by the towering mountains.  Not used to seeing mountains in Texas!  Josh drove up the mountains on curvy, winding roads, on the left side of the road by the way, giving me a nice view of the sheer drop-off below.  Scary!  At last, though, we saw the ocean again (Josh and I were beginning to notice that we like to see the ocean) as we drove into Nelson as the sun was getting lower in the sky.  Nelson was a smaller city, around 50,000 people, and very cute with shops and palm trees and flowers on hanging baskets lining the streets.  We were exhausted and hungry so we found a nice place to eat by the outside cafés and then checked in to a hotel for the night.  What a long, adventurous day!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Today was a great day.  We went to church in Wellington at the Wellington church of Christ in the morning and met all the people we had been talking to via e-mail or Facebook the months leading up to moving here.  Met Carl and Adeline, as well as Keith and Elsa, two couples our age…they were really cool.  The singing was amazing…there weren’t that many people but they were singing loud and with their heart and it was neat to hear the New Zealand accent.  The lesson was really good and Josh and I just both felt really comfortable.  Jeanette and Antony took Josh and I out for lunch and we ate at a café.  I had a yummy bacon and egg toasted sandwich.  The day was beautiful again, which we were told we must have brought the sunny weather with us, because Wellington is known for its cloudy, wet, windy days.  They say Wellington can experience all four seasons in one day. 

The Raines drove us to the coast.  The water was the bluest I had seen it yet in our time here, and I smelled the salty air and felt the ocean breeze. I love that feeling.  I could almost see Antarctica from where we stood on the beach.  Not really, but it was neat to know we were looking in the direction of where it was.  We drove all along the coast and saw a couple lighthouses in the distance. I could only imagine what it would be like to live in one of the houses on the cliff sides.  You can stare out at the ocean and dream and await the ships returning home.  There’s something about seeing the open horizon that, at least for me, brings my imagination to life. I feel better inside, like I am able to dream more and the limits to what I can do are as endless as the ocean stretched out before me.  Maybe it’s a comfort to me, a feeling of home, from growing up in Midland…West Texas.  There are no trees to block your view there (I mean really, no trees! Ha) and you can see the horizon for miles.  You can see the great big thunderhead cloud as the summer storms slowly crawled across the flat lands to rain on us, or pass us by usually.  There was a park on the edge of town I loved going to, that had bleachers I would sit on and with my friends sometimes, and watch the fire red, golden, pink and purple hued sunsets that always captivated me and that I felt were God’s gift to me.  The wind would blow in my face and that’s how I felt there…like I could dream and there was nothing holding me back.

But anyways, haha, I digress…so we drove along the coast then went back to the Raine’s house for a little break before evening service.  The Raines were so gracious to us and helped us out by giving us a big tent of theirs that we could use for when we go camping.  Antony gave Josh a backpack he can take when we go hiking, and gave us walking sticks, and a gas cooking stove and pots and pans.  How nice!  We were so thankful to them for that.  We stuffed those things in our already full car, haha…our little red Nissan Sentra was loaded like a baked potato from Texas Roadhouse (Mmmm, that sounds good to me right now, actually the loaded sweet potato!)

Then we went to the evening service which was held at the new church plant in the suburb where Kevin lived, in Porirua.  That was a great lesson and class from Kevin, and I was amazed again by the beautiful, heartfelt singing.  Afterwards, we rode with Carl and Adeline and her sister Abigail to go to the Malaysian restaurant that Adeline and Abigail’s family owned in Wellington.  One of my best friends Beverly is from Malaysia, and she has cooked traditional food for me before.  I was excited to eat there, and hoping also it wouldn’t be too spicy for my weak stomach.  Josh lives to eat spicy food (he misses Wingstop, a LOT!) and I can take small doses of it, though much more than I used to since meeting him.  We went to the restaurant, Istana Malaysia, and it was really nice…loved the atmosphere and there were paintings and photographs taken mainly by the church members.  We had a large table for the group of us that included me, Josh, Abigail, Staci who was studying abroad from Oklahoma, Keith, Elsa, Chris, Kevin, Carl and Adeline.  That was so much fun…I felt really comfortable with all of them and we were all around the same age.  We had made friends with New Zealanders! Awesome! Keith and Elsa were actually from the States and had moved to NZ and we had been e-mailing with them for quite a while before we got here. In fact, I think they were our very first contact so that was neat to finally meet them.  Every one was giving us advice and telling us about the South Island.  They said the South Island is less populated than the North and the people were different down there…sounding like once we left Wellington we were basically leaving civilization.  That made me feel a little nervous, but that’s what we were hoping to go to…see the more rugged terrain like you imagine New Zealand to be like.  Still, we both were wondering about leaving Wellington and our new friends who we really liked and had been helping us out.  But it also made us even more excited because this was truly an adventure we were about to go on J

The food was delicious! I loved it…especially the curry.  I love rice too, I could eat that all day.  We had a wonderful time just talking and laughing and learning more about NZ life and what to look out for.  The cost of living is quite expensive here, so that’s something we have to get used to.   Anyways, Josh and I were still having a rough time with the jet lag, and it was about 7 something there on Sunday night, when we would usually be in bed back home.  We were so tired.  We finally left, though we would have liked to chat some more if we felt better.  Rode back with Kevin to his house and then Josh and I got our bags ready for when we would be leaving civilization the next morning.  We were very excited to be on our own again!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We went to bed at a normal time the night before, and still woke early.  It was cloudy, cold and rainy today.  Josh drove us from Porirua all the way to Wellington, a fifteen-minute drive, all by himself.  I don’t know how he did it.  He drove into the big city and after directions from Kevin, we found the place to the Wellington cable car.  We got tickets and took the red cable car up the hill (which was fun!) to another lookout point.  Too bad for the weather that day…it was still pretty though.  Josh and I walked through the botanical gardens and felt like we were in a rainforest in South America.  It was so cool. I love that feeling of being out in the rugged with no other people around…just the natural world; the dirt path beneath your feet.  I’ve never seen so much plant life! Growing up in West Texas your entire life and going to college in Lubbock, the only plant life I knew was mesquite bushes.  The botanical gardens were fun and we took our time by taking lots of pictures.  The air was so clean and pure and just smelled like the earth. 

Arriving at the top of our cable car trip

We had round-trip tickets for the cable car but were at the bottom of the hill by the end of our walk in the gardens, so thought we would just walk the rest of the way to our car in the city.  Wrong move.  What should have taken like ten minutes was an hour of us getting lost, walking in the wrong direction, Uphill!  We were tired and hungry and weak and jet lagged, lost, and annoyed at each other. But we finally found the street our car was parked on, and back into the connect.  We ate lunch then walked back to our car and drove back to Kevin’s house.  We were worn out and had to resist the urge to take a nap and throw our bodies off again.  Later that night we found a KFC in town, which was nice to see something familiar.  They don’t have normal ketchup here though, so if someone wants to send me some ketchup packets, that would be great J  Here it is called Tomato sauce, and it’s very sweet.  I don’t like it.   

We bought our tickets that day to take the ferry on Monday to the South Island, where most of our job offers were.  Went to bed early that night, feeling pretty worn down and starting to feel ready to be on our own.   It’s nice having someone allow you to stay with them, it really helped us out a lot…just feeling ready to not impose on other people and also to find a place to live and get settled in.  Tomorrow was Sunday, though, and we were excited to meet more people that we had been talking to during our months of planning to get here that went to the church in Wellington.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our day began, as I was saying, at 2:00 in the morning.  I loved sitting out on the balcony seeing the lights reflecting in the water and the glowing moon above. Whenever I see the moon and stars, I really feel like God is there. That was comforting.

Wellington wakes when the rest of the world pushes the snooze button.  5:30 in the morning, and the city was alive.  People running, walking, riding their bikes, skateboarding, kayaking, rowing their boats in the bay…each of them welcoming the new day.  I would wake as early as possible too, living here. Felt like I didn’t want to waste a moment being asleep.  The sun came up orange and bright onto the water and the buildings of downtown.  And then we saw the sea…the ocean in the distance as far as our eyes could see and mountains.  I felt so alive that morning.  Ready to face the day and begin our adventure and explore the city.  My soul was awake.

Josh was ready to go! He is usually always patient with me as those who know me, it takes forever for me to get ready.  He had the camera, his backpack on…I thought he was about to run out the door without me. But he waited, and we finally left our hotel and crossed the street to the dock.  We slowly walked all along the harbor, taking in each moment. I just can’t even describe how great those moments felt.  Every one around us was walking…saw so many people walking to work.  Could be because petrol is so expensive here, but I like to think it’s because people are active here because they want to be.  The weather was perfect…barely a breeze and not a cloud in the sky, just the warm sun on my face. We walked slow and took pictures of every thing.  That is something I will always remember.  The world was slow and still, and I felt so alive and happy to be there. It was real and I was a little girl walking in a garden full of flowers for the first time.  We walked down to the beach and my heart felt like it was going to burst from my chest, full of joy.  

Later that morning, we checked out of our hotel and waited for Kevin Moore to pick us up.  He was the preacher at the church in Porirua, a suburb of Wellington, and one of our first contacts we made here before we came.  He had kindly offered for us to stay at his house for a few days while we got settled in with our paperwork and banking before we moved on else where to where our jobs were.  He picked us up and then drove us to the famous look-out point, a hill overlooking all of Wellington.  Wow, that view took your breath away.  The day was beautiful and the colors were vibrant. The blue sea, the green land, the colorful boats and houses and flowers every where.

We drove to his house and I sat in the backseat listening to Kevin talk about New Zealand life and gazing at the green hills covered in flowers, and saying to myself “This is New Zealand. I’m in New Zealand!” I have to keep telling myself that over and over again because it doesn’t seem real sometimes.  We arrived at his house and unloaded all our bags to what would be our home for the next few days.  The view from his house was incredible!

We did a lot that day, and were exhausted from the jet lag.  Kevin told us that for some people it takes two weeks to get over jet lag, which surprised me but that is certainly no stretch of the truth.  Everything worked out, because one of our contacts we had made with a missionary from NZ my home church had supported, his daughter was selling her car to move to Australia. So we had bought it from her while still in the states, at a very reasonable price.  Our car was waiting for us in the driveway at Kevin’s house!  Kevin had lunch for us at the house, and then he helped us get all the paperwork ready for that and drove us to town to register the car, and we also got a banking account set up! That’s big people stuff! Haha. I’m glad I was with Josh and that he was in control of it all; he sure knew what he was doing.  It’s funny because when we were planning for this trip, which Josh did all of that….we joked how he focuses on all the financial, practical logistics of it all (the boring stuff) and I just wanted to look at the pretty pictures of New Zealand.

Then we drove our car around…well Josh drove us around as Kevin was the Driver’s Ed teacher.  That is something very foreign, since driving is complete opposite over here! They drive on the wrong side of the road! And roundabouts, roundabouts…what a mess.  Thank goodness Josh was driving; which he did amazing! It came so natural for him, I was very impressed.  “Well, looks like I won’t be driving for a year” I said to myself.  Looked too scary and complicated. 

That night we met up with friends we had made while making contacts through the church before coming here.  Antony and Jeanette Raine had Josh, me and Kevin over to their house for fish and chips.  The Raines were so nice; they had really kept up with us before coming over and given advice and really helping us out.  It was neat to finally meet them.  Jeanette took Josh and I for a walk in her neighborhood to the dog park, which used to be the city dump, but looked like a paradise. The panoramic views of the ocean and emerald green landscape just kept stunning both of us.  We had a great time and were gracious of their hospitality.  I’d never had fish and chips before (not a big seafood fan) but I actually loved it.  After a long, tiring, eventful first day…we headed home and went to bed.    

Tuesday, November 8, 2011: D-Day

“Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  ~Anais Nin

The reality finally sunk in today. We were leaving.  Not leaving just this city I had lived in for two years and where I met my husband, and where he had lived his entire life, and not leaving just the state of Texas. Nope. We were leaving the country! And not just for a short two week vacay, but we were MOVING to New Zealand.  I told Josh the night before as we lay in our empty house without our beloved pets, “Are we sure about this?” and then, “This is nuts! This is crazy!” Both of our stomachs felt quite queasy, I thought I was going to hurl, but I kept trying to not to think about it. I’m a worry wart if there ever was one, oh my!

Our lives were packed into two suitcases.  Well, and a duffle bag, two backpacks, my purse, and after jumping up and down on my suitcase, Josh finally managed to close it.  That was a chore…picking my clothes out to take. And shoes?! Haha…pretty difficult for a girl like me. I gave away pretty much every outfit I had.

We met both of our parents at Cracker Barrel as well as Josh’s grandparents for our last meal together. Then we hit the road for Dallas. Josh rode with his parents, and I drove with mine.  My mom was quite emotional, I was too, but nervous about the plane rides and about what we were doing.  We finally arrived at DFW airport and walked in with our parents.

Now that was hard. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done I think.  It was sad seeing Josh’s mom crying as she hugged him goodbye and seeing the sad look on his face.  So very difficult hugging my mommy and daddy goodbye. The longest I’ve been apart from them at a time is probably like 3 months…maybe more. But just the idea that we were moving across the globe…as far away from Tyler, Texas as you could possibly get, yeah that’ll make the tears run down your cheek.  Our parents have been so supportive and encouraging of Josh and I doing this, and that has been such a blessing. We are so thankful to them for that…they want us to pursue our dreams, even knowing how difficult it is to let us go.

We said our last goodbyes, then got in line to check our bags and get our tickets to go to New Zealand.  Whew! After waving one more time to our parents, we left their sight and were now on our own, about to enter a brave new world.

“THIS is crazy!” I said to Josh as we waited for our plane to fly to San Francisco.  I hate the waiting part…ahhh! Josh and I both felt pretty anxious as flying is not our favorite thing to do.

Our plane arrived and we flew the three hours to California. I’ve never been there before. I said again on the plane as I looked at my husband, feeling excited and still nervous, and hundreds of other emotions, “This is CRAZY!” But I felt more excited at that moment, especially after the goodbye part was over.  We arrived in Cali, which was fun as we flew in over the bay. I like busy airports and seeing the people run around like mad men.  People of every nationality going to and coming from all corners of the world. What is their story? I always wonder to myself. Airports are places where people’s hearts are broken and where people fall in love all over again.

We had a long layover in San Fran.  Which I don’t think was really a good thing, haha. Now we had time to think . . . and time to back out.  I’d been having a few little panic attacks over the past couple days, and this one was a doozy.  We were about to get on the plane for thirteen hours and forever far away from those we love and all that we know.  It had come down to, “No…Josh, this IS crazy” with fear and panic in my voice.  Josh comforted me with his optimistic attitude…something I loved from the very beginning about him; how positive he is. He believes in me and sees the good in this world and in people. I know he was feeling the same way and feeling sad about leaving home, but his words brought comfort and we prayed about it. God had led us this far…He would continue to be with us.

I finally felt better and then we saw what made my heart feel so happy and made the moment real…looking out the window and seeing the huge, Air New Zealand plane.  That was awesome.  I had seen that in ads on the internet for years, and just dreamed of getting to go there one day. Well what do ya know? It was happening!

Our plane left San Francisco and began its journey across the Pacific Ocean at 7 p.m., Tuesday.  What do you do for thirteen hours in a plane? Fidget.  One time I had restless legs and arms so bad I thought I would just have to risk being arrested and run up and down the aisles screaming at the top of my lungs.  I slept a little…very little.  The old little Chinese lady behind me kept putting her toes (yes, she had no shoes on) on MY armrests and my elbows kept touching this stranger’s toes. That’s always my luck.  The New Zealand guy across the aisle found our situation quite amusing and said to just knock her feet off.  So I did, with my elbows, and then got cussed out in a different language.  Oh well, those were my armrests. haha

Finally…thirteen hours later, we arrived in Auckland. It was early in the morning and a cold and cloudy day.  We had to walk outside to the other terminal, a fifteen minute walk and the wind was blowing fierce. We had all our bags too, that was weird to have to recheck them.  We went through customs, which they asked a lot of questions and I was scared, but we passed. I didn’t think we were going to get in, haha.  We barely made our next flight…the short one hour flight to Wellington.  We were tired, but super excited; the adrenaline was still kickin’.  That was one of the best flights ever…and flying into Wellington was like a dream.  It was cloudy and as we got out of the clouds I finally saw the land of New Zealand for the first time…well the view like I had imagined it would look like.  The mountains and hills were greener than the greenest lawn in Texas I’d ever seen. It looked just like the Shire in the Lord of the Rings.  We had been hearing the NZ accent on the plane rides, which was awesome; I definitely want to talk like that. 

We made it! We had arrived!!! We were in NEW ZEALAND! That was soooo exciting…we held hands walking through the airport and felt so happy.  We found a taxi and the driver was so nice and proud telling about his country. He gave a lot of advice.  It was cloudy and rainy, but still beautiful.  We drove along the coast to our hotel, soaking it all in. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

We drove up to the Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay, and couldn’t have been more happy.  We had requested a room with a view, which thankfully we did. It was perfect…a balcony overlooking the bay with the boats anchored in the harbor. What a view.  It was Thursday, 8:00 a.m. (Wellington time) when we arrived.  We were pooped!  We ate lunch at the hotel then went back to our room. You are supposed to stay up late to avoid jet lag so bad, but we couldn’t help it and went to bed at 4:00 in the afternoon. I thought I had slept for just a couple hours but awoke to the dark and Josh standing on the balcony taking pictures of the harbor.  It was 2 in the morning! Couldn’t go back to sleep after that, which worked out, because we got to watch the sun rise and start a new day in a new country.