Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hey everyone! It’s Courtney, sorry it took me so long to write this. School has been crazy to get back into!!! But it is now my turn to tell y’all what I learned on our trip to New Zealand! And just so everyone knows, I did not read Trina’s latest blog. So if we happen to say some of the same things… then that’s just God.
Here are some things that I have learned:
Trina and I both, have amazing singing voices! I mean we would totally rock American Idol!
I do not want to marry a dairy farmer.
We are pretty good at cleaning up cow poo.
Bring a daypack as well as a big backpack on long trips; it is easier for day hikes.  
I would be ok having hazelnut trees, but maybe 2 at the most.
I am a cat lady. J
Look to the right and then the left before crossing the street in New Zealand, but when you get back to the States, left then right!
If you are going to climb a mountain, Chaco’s are probably not the best choice of footwear.
Even cold soup is better than no soup.
If a duck follows you, try to get it to bite you, its fun.
Skip rocks on every body of water you find!
Shop around before you decide on a rental car.
Movie nights are the best, especially when they include cookie dough!!!
I could go on and on…
But really… Besides all these amazing things, it was really the greatest experience ever. I would not trade our trip for anything!
These are the serious things that I have learned…

1. God is amazing! I am so glad that He saved me and I am forever His child!!! He provided for us while we were over there in ways that we didn’t even know that we needed providing in! He provided the greatest people for us to stay with and meet. I am so thankful for all the amazing people we met in New Zealand. God is so good! (I will never forget any of you and hope to see you again someday.) He provided rides for us while we hitchhiked, and the people that picked us up were super nice, even the ones whose names we never learned. J When we were low on money God provided money, when my camera fell in the ocean He placed it up on the beach, when we were walking at night in a deserted city He gave us a ride to our hostel. I mean, God knows what we need and He provides! And sometimes we don’t even have to ask Him for things and He still gives it to us! He is that good! I could go on and on about how He provided for us, but there’s more!

2. I learned that I am a pretty difficult person to live with. So I want to thank my parents, my extended family, Paige, and Trina for putting up with me for this long! Love you all!! While we were picking hazelnuts in Christchurch, I had time to think. I knew that I was a selfish person but it hit me how selfish I actually am. But I all of a sudden had this huge desire to just die to myself and live for Christ. It is not easy, and everyday is a struggle, but I am trying and only with God’s help can I succeed!

3. I learned how big communication is in a relationship. Trina and I lived together for 3 months straight; only at 2 houses did we have our own rooms… Of course we got on each other’s nerves! The thing that we learned was that we needed to talk about the things that bothered us. I am so glad that we had those talks, even though they were hard, they brought us closer and helped us learn about each other.

4. We worked with sheep while we were in NZ and… they are so stupid!!! We are the sheep in the Bible and its crazy to think that we are just like these really dumb animals! They run from something, no matter what it is, even if it is good for them. We are sheep!!

5. This world is not my home. I was not made for this world; I was made for heaven! I can’t wait to get there! As we were waiting to come home to the States, we were getting a little bit excited and anxious and we realized that this is the kind of excitement that we should be looking forward to heaven with! We need to live with heaven in view! One day I will be there to live forever and ever with Christ, and I am so excited!
Now we are back in the states and have gone our separate ways. I flew to Helena, MT from LA, and took the long way around to get back to MWSB! My friend Morgan flew to Montana from Michigan so we could drive back together. We had a great time sightseeing on the drive to Michigan. We stopped at Mount Rushmore and some other fun places on our road trip, and it was a great few days. Now I am going to school for nursing and am working at an assisted living home.  
            Well, those were the main things that I learned while in New Zealand. Thanks everyone for reading our blog and we hope you really enjoyed hearing about our experiences. And we hope that you saw the work of God throughout our travels. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Good day to yous! (kiwi accent) Courtney and I have now parted ways. She is back in Michigan and I am back in Oregon. So sad...But I am so glad we have the memories of this trip to share! So, in our three months of being in a different country, we learned a few things about ourselves, live and God. I wanted to share with you all some of what I have learned. Therefore, the following are three things I have learned from our three month adventure.

1. Farm work
This trip has given me a diverse experience in farm work, of which I learned a thing or two about it all. I am not going to boast that I know everything there is to know about farming, because that is just not the case! But I did get a good idea about different types of farms, what I like and don't like and the hard work that goes into it.
Most of the people we worked with, had more of a hobby farm that made enough for the family with a little profit. This was great, because that is the kind of farm I would love to have! Also, most of them hadn't grown up on a farm and didn't really know much about it, but wanted to get involved. So they found a place, bought it and learned as they went, asking advice from professionals and their neighbors, then deciding what worked best for them. All the families were so different yet so happy to be farming! This made me realize that anyone who wanted to have a farm badly enough and were willing to learn and work hard, could do it! I was so encouraged by this, because I don't really know much about farming. This made me hopeful!
Also, I realized that I LOVE it!! I love working hard and being outside and there is so much satisfaction from farm work! Now it's not all hunky dory or go according to plan, but I know it is something I love and want to keep doing!!  I love living in the country much more than the city. It is much more laid back, however, there is always something to keep you busy! It's a different kind of buys than the city. Farming is more a lifestyle than a job. I definitely know it is the lifestyle for me.
Thirdly, Farm life is a wonderful setting for people to escape, pull away from their busy city schedule and take a breather. Not only am I passionate for farm work, but I want to make a place for others to come and take a break from life and find rest and encouragement. A farm environment is a great place to set aside your troubles for a bit and just enjoy being alive. One can step back and see their life from a different perspective and clear their minds.
So that is a little bit about Farm life I have learned and look forward to getting more involved in the future!

2. Hospitality
Something I am passionate about is to have a home of hospitality. As a follower of Christ, it is something we are encouraged to do; to have a heart of hospitality and to share what we have with others and to love our neighbor as ourselves. As we traveled New Zealand, we stayed in many people's homes and learned a thing or two about hospitality. We learned what kinds of things were helpful and some things that weren't so helpful. Also, as travelers, we gained a perspective of hospitality from the receiving side. The following are a few examples.
A good example of a form of hospitality is to have the mind set of welcoming my guests into my home as a part of the family and, instead of putting life on hold, inviting them to join in the activities of my life. To have a heart of hospitality, I must also have a genuine willingness to be flexible and ready to accept anyone who is in need at a moments notice. Also, having a traveler's perspective, I have gained an understanding of what a traveler needs and appreciates most, especially if the traveler has been living out of their car or camping. Even just a warm meal and a place to sleep is enough!

3. Confidence in the Lord's provision
Last but certainly not least, actually most important of all, I have gained from the experience a confidence and trust in my Lord's promise that He will provide for my needs. In times of financial need, or in need of transportation, or even just in encouragement, he faithfully provided for Courtney and I just in the moment of greatest need. He was active in our journey and in times of vulnerability or confusion, we were confident in our God and he came through for us. I have never actually been in need to the point that it was out of my control and to see the Lord work and provide when I was not in control gave me a peace, trust and confidence that I will never be without need, as long as I trust my God to provide. He truly is faithful. Not only did I gain a trust and confidence in him, but I also realized more fully that I can do anything that I set my mind to do, with the help of my God. He says in Scripture that whatever you do, commit it to the Lord and your plans will succeed (proverbs 16). I saw just that. Courtney and I continually committed our journey and the activities we did or decisions to our God, desiring to honor him in what we did and He made it possible. Shoot! We had a desire to go to New Zealand and He made it possible and took care of us the whole time!

Through the whole trip I have gained a new appreciation and respect for farmers, those who open their homes to strangers and my God who provides all my needs. I have discovered a new Joy for life and excitement to see what other adventures lie ahead and confidence that anything is possible when you trust the Lord.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The final Road Trip Part 2

We have finished the quest of destroying the ring and made it back to the Shire! Now what do we do, except make our way to the sea to catch the last boat/plane across to the "West" (you LOTR people will understand this). Therefore, we started off. There is this beautiful peninsula on the north east of NZ called the Coromandel Peninsula. On this peninsula, there is a cove named Cathedral Cove, where the two sons of Adam and the two daughters of Eve re-entered the land of Narnia when Prince Caspian blew the horn for help. It was this train tunnel that turned into a cave to the beach that we drove to. It was a 40 minute hike to the cove, but worth is! It was like a little secret beach hidden from the rest of the world. As we stood there in the tunnel, it was almost like we really had ventured into the world of Aslan and talking animals. As we made our way to the city of Coromandel on the north tip of the peninsula, we noticed how the beach was a gorgeous bright green, with lots of island rocks jutting out sporadically. It was a rainy day, so we didn't get to really play in the water, but treated ourselves to a hot drink and yummy lunch in a cafe in Coromandel and read a Sherlock Holmes mystery (We have been reading a lot of those this trip). It was nice to escape the rain and eat some fresh food after dwelling in our car for the past few days.

Back on the south side of the peninsula, we had heard of a hot water beach that was there. This is made from a hot spring that is right under the beach sand, so when the tide goes out, you can dig to it and hot water will ooze from the ground, creating your own little make shift hot tub. :) We wanted to try it especially since it was a colder day. There was quite a crowd of enthusiastic travelers all with spade in hand. We all stood around for a bit not knowing for sure where to dig. It was like we were all hunting for gold and wanted to be the first to find it as shovels and hands started digging anywhere their feet took them. You would here some shout with glee as they discovered a hot spot on the surface, while others determinedly kept digging on a cold spot, convinced that they would strike gold at any moment! A bit later, as new comers joined our little group all dressed in togs (swim suits), they would come across a collection of cold puddles of water where diggers gave up, small groups of people who were content to just dig their feet into a warmer section of the sand, and a great crowd of people all digging together making a huge trench, where it was discover one of the bigger springs was located! With everyone working together, it wasn't long until there was a shallow pool full of people young and old enjoying the hot water. It was so neat to stand there and observe how water really brings people happily together. :) It was such a comical site! Here was a huge group of people dressed down to their togs, sitting in close quarters, sharing the hot water they had all worked to find with complete strangers; people who, otherwise would probably have never talked to each other or even met. Brought a smile to our faces as we joined them in the hot springs.

After our wonderful experience on the hot water beach, we drove the rest of the way to Auckland, where were stayed with Elijah and Kristen (such fun!!) before making our way up to Whangarei, where we visited with our New Zealand Grandparents, Keith and Jill, the first farm we stayed at. It was so great to see old friends again and neat to look back to when we first started our travels to now, as we were nearing the end, and what adventures lay in the middle. We told them stories of our experiences and things we had only dreamed of before this trip that were now a part of our past and a part of us. All these experiences have added to what we have become. It was neat to realize this as we talked with our friends in Auckland and Whangarei. But our trip wasn't over quite yet. We still had to make it up to Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand.

We left Whangarei after breakfast on Wednesday and made our way up to Kaitaia. Along the way we stopped at the big Kauri trees that were mostly likely around in the time of Christ. We met a rooster, who likes peanuts, at a lookout in Northland Forest Park. Then that night we went to 90 mile beach and witnessed the most beautiful sunset we ever did saw! :) The next morning we woke up early and headed up to Cape Reinga. It was a lovely drive and when we got there we had our breakfast and walked out to the lighthouse. It was very cool to see the place where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. There were these great whirlpools at the spot where they colided. On our way back south, we had to stop at every bay that we could find and we went swimming in the ocean! So now we can say that we have swam in the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea in the same day! There were even these great big sand dunes that people can climb and slide down, the cardboard that we took was too wet by the time we reached the top of the dune (because it was raining) so we sat on it and pretended like we were flying down the sand at crazy speeds, complete with sound effects. We also built a sand castle and Mickey Mouse ears. There was just too much sand around us to not build something with it, plus because of the rain the sand had just the right amount of water in it to be able to keep its form. Since that night was to be the last we would have on our own, we decided to splurge and stay in a cabin at a Holiday Park, so romantic! :) We had a hot meal, hot drinks, and hot showers, it was a nice last night. In the morning we started our trek back to Whangarei, stopping at some amazing toilets, Rainbow Falls, Haruru Falls, and some lovely rain that we drove through, making it back to Whangarei in time for tea. That night we talked to the McLays and it brought tears to our eyes. We miss them so much! In the morning we started cleaning their house with their nine year old granddaughter, Ella, who we had met on our first visit. We spent the day cleaning and at tea time Keith and Jill surprised us with going out for a chinese food picnic that we ate in a park by the bay. It was so good to see them again, they will be missed so much! Sunday morning we went to church with Keith and Jill and their family. It was a commemoration of Anzac Day, which is their version of Memorial Day. Pretty cool to learn some of the history of New Zealand, rugby is a very big part of this country. After lunch with their family, we said good-bye to Keith and Jill for the last time this trip, and drove back to Auckland. We stopped for ice cream along the way and made it in time for church with the Peters' family. So good to see everyone there.

These last couple of days we have spent with Alice and Liz, having sleepovers and vegging out after our crazy travels. We baked so many sweets, vacuumed the house, and organized our bags for the trip home. It is crazy to think that today is our last in the fine country that we have called home for the last 82 days, a sobering thought, but we have things to do back home that we are excited to get started on. Once we get back to LA we will fill you in on the wisdom we have gained on this trip and tell you all about where the Lord is leading us next. Look forward to seeing ya "in the west" (LOTR term). Farewell, New Zealand, or in Moari, Aotearoa. We are grateful for the honor of sharing these past moments with you. Hopefully, someday we may meet again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Final Road Trip

Cheers mates! We made it back to Auckland! Of course, there were many events, places and people along the way. The following is our story of the final road trip....our last two-three weeks in the beautiful paradise known to the world as New Zealand.
The beginning of this great voyage began in the small town of Picton, where we said farewell to the South Island. Unknown to those around us, who were taking the three hour ferry home from work, seeing family members, or also traveling, that this would be the last time we would gaze upon the majestic southern land of New Zealand. The ride was a little rocky, but they did well to distract us by providing entertainment through the means of "Mr. Bean's holiday" and "Total Recall". It was 10pm when we stepped onto the North side in Wellington. the City was dead and as we walked the lonely streets to our hostel, dreading having to carry our bags the whole way a kind stranger, who was a couch surfer host, pulled over and offered us a ride. He had seen us get off the ferry, where he had picked up his guest and noticed we were traveling on foot. Having compassion on us, he lent us a hand, which we gratefully accepted after learning who he was, of course. We were already tired from the days travels and weren't looking forward to the long walk to our destination, so we were relieved and very thankful! The Lord is good to those who love him. :) Reaching our hostel, we found our room, threw our turtle shells to the floor and plopped on the bed with a deep sigh, knowing that tomorrow we would be picking up our fellow travel mate, our home, our shelter from the rain, our freedom to explore as we wish, our car. Needless to say, we slept well that night naive to the cost that would come with this freedom.

In the morning, we looked for the bus stop that would take us to the airport, where our car awaited us. Sadly, we didn't have internet at that time so we had to figure out on our own what bus to take. The maps at the bus stops were no help. So we just started walking in the direction of the airport, hoping we would come across the right stop. We never did find the bus stop and ended up walking the whole 5 Km to the airport, which took us 2hrs, with all of our possessions on our back. We weren't too excited about walking the whole distance, however, this walk did make us appreciate our car even more and we got a perspective of Wellington we wouldn't have got before. We wouldn't have noticed the Mt. Victoria tunnel and how long it really is, or the colorful, interactive wind art along the bay. Therefore, we made the best of it! Like we always say, it's not really an adventure unless you get lost! :)

Relieved to have our car, after taking a gander at the giant Gollum fishing in the airport (so cool!) we drove over to inspect the Weta Cave located at the Weta Workshop, where most of the props, prosthetics, costumes, armor, weapons and special effects were created for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit! They also helped create other movies such as: Avatar, Narnia, Tin tin, Jane and the Dragon, King Kong, etc. There are a lot of sites around Wellington where they filmed scenes for LOTR, so we drove around and checked them out. The following are the places we checked out, the path where Frodo yells for the other Hobbits to get of the road, the spot along the river where the Fellowship launched from Lothlorien, the gardens of Isengard, and Rivendell.

In Blenheim, we made friends with someone who had friends near Bulls, which is two hours north of Wellington, that he got in contact with for us to visit. We called them up and they were happy to have us stay. They were celebrating the Passover that night and invited us to come up that day to celebrate with them. We graciously accepted and made our way up, weaving through a narrow, steep "detour" through a mountain pass. Thankfully, we made it alive! They were a home school family with five children of which four were still at home. Helen and Phil and their children were very welcoming and their oldest son, David, offered to take us to Mt. Egmont the next day to explore different waterfalls and such (side note: this is the mountain that acted as Mt. Fuji in "the Last Samarai"). We pleasantly woke up that day to breakfast in bed, which Helen had prepared for us. This was quite the treat, for neither of us have ever been given breakfast in bed! Helen was so understanding of the life of travelers and how much one needs to take the time to rest and she made sure we took our time. After enjoying 2 wonderful nights with this family, we woke up before the sun and headed to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is where Mt. Doom is located, the real name of the mountain is Mt. Ngauruhoe, but even the locals know it as Mt. Doom. Looking at the mountain, Trina said that it was the most volcanic looking volcano she had ever seen. We hiked for a couple of hours to the base of the mountain, it was a beautiful view of the valley from that point. Mount Tongariro had blown its top in November and half of the 19 km crossing was closed due to the volcanic activity. We could even see smoke coming from the dome, pretty crazy stuff there!

The next day we went to this really cool museum depicting the history of New Zealand, it was the creative design of... Weta Workshop!! There was a boat ride and everything. Then we visited the town of Stratford, where they have a glockenspiel clock, and 4 times a day Romeo and Juliet come out on the balcony and perform a scene from Shakespeare's play. The next day we drove to Taupo and picked up a hitch hiker along the way. After dropping her off at the bus station, we went to a thermal park in Taupo and soaked in the hot spring, basically all day. It was amazing! The water was so hot and then it joined the big river, which was cold, so where the two met was a nice mixture of hot water on the surface and cold underneath. We treated ourselves to some ice cream and made our way to Rotorua where we saw some more hot springs, but these smelled horrible! It reminded us of the Labyrinth and the Land Before Time, with this big, muddy, bubbly soup looking thing. That night we made our way to Cambridge, where we stayed at a Torchbearer School, which is a Christian College. We met them through a teacher from MWSB, the Bible college we attended in Montana. He was from Ravencrest, another Torchbearer School located in Colorado. They were lovely and because the next day was Sunday we attended church with them at a little country church. After saying our good-byes, we headed to Matamata, where Hobbiton is located. We were finally nearing the end of our adventure. Looking back on our trip thus far, we realized that we had journeyed through Rivendell on our quest to destroy the Ring at Mt. Doom, and finally made our way back to the Shire. It was pretty cool how the order of our travels went. Hobbiton was everything we expected and so much more! It was great to experience the Shire for ourselves, and can't wait to watch the movies again and be able to say that we have been there!

This marks the halfway point of our final road trip. In one week we made it from Blenheim to Matamata. Tune in next time for the second portion of our road trip.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Milking Experience

Our lovely friend, Sandra, picked us up from the Whataroa store just in time for the rain to hit. We grabbed some dinner from the local hotel, took it to her dairy farm of 350 dairy cows and got to know each other over some yummy burgers! Sandra and her husband have two dairy farms. One here and another near Nelson. Her brother in-law Brian was helping her down at this farm while her husband was running the other. On a dairy farm, you have to milk the cows twice a day at the same time everyday, 4am and 4pm. Thankfully, we didn't have to get up for the am shift but we helped with the afternoon one. Boy is that an experience! You are down in this long pit, surrounded on both sides by the backsides of about 60 cows, knowing that at any moment you could be hit with a warm, green shower....One must always be on guard. Boy, does it make you put those milkers on the utters fast! :) We got pretty good and had a couple close calls, but thankfully never actually got hit by that green shower! Not directly, anyway. :) 
Along with the milking, we stacked fire wood, helped move the cattle, and bring the dairy cows in using a truck one day, a 4-wheeler the next and, yes, even horses. :)  We really felt like cowgirls then! On our day off, we drove over to the Franz Joseph Glacier listening to a good ol' classic country cassette tape. :) The glacier was beautifully tucked away surrounded by plenty of waterfalls and luscious green brush. The West coast is so beautiful! It's a whole new world over there! It is completely different from the rest of New Zealand! Once we hit the west side of the mountain pass, our jaws dropped in amazement! It is spectacular! We had a great time on the dairy farm! Brian even took us spot lighting one night in hopes to kill a deer. We didn't see any deer, but Trina did shoot a rabbit! booyah! 
After our lovely stay, we took a 9 hour bus ride to Nelson, driving the west coastline the whole way. That was the most gorgeous 9 hours! The bus driver stopped at the Pancake rocks for us to take a gander. Pretty cool to see huge towers of rocks shaped like a stack of pancakes! Once in Nelson, we stayed at our first backpackers called Paradiso. We treated ourselves to some yummy pizza and a movie! :) such fun! The next morning, the 6th of April, we hiked to the top of the Centre of New Zealand, overlooking all of Nelson, with a breathtaking view of the mountains surrounding the area! After our lovely hike, we checked out the sites of Nelson, stopping at the cathedral, the goldsmith shop where the One Ring of Middle Earth was made, and the Saturday market before hitchhiking our way to Blenheim. Two wonderful German ladies, who were on vacation while their husbands were back home making the money, picked us up. :) They were the jolliest ladies, blasting their happy German music as we wound our way around the mountains. They even offered a place to stay at their holiday home, but we already had a place for the night with Sandra's niece. After dropping us off right at the door, we said farewell to our German mothers, as they called themselves. :) 
Here in Blenheim, today, we found a baptist church close by that we walked to for some worship. We haven't seen so much joy in a group of people in quite a while! It was so refreshing to see people so full of the Holy Spirit and just glad to be alive! They were so welcoming and even invited us to join them for lunch, which, of course, we accepted! Our new friends, Rosemary and Steve, took us to the potluck, where we met so many lovely people and were spiritually encouraged in so many ways! We are so thankful for their warm hospitality! It was such a good way to spend the day! 
And now, here we are, about to head out to catch the ferry up to the North Island, where we will stay the night in a backpackers in Wellington and pick up our rental, which will be our home for the last two weeks of our travel here in New Zealand! phew! wow! two more weeks! Has it come to this already? How the time has flown! Two more weeks of playing in the beautiful countryside of New Zealand, maybe spotting some hobbits along the way, and then it's back to the states! See you all soon!!!

Hazelnuts and Hitchhiking

Hey y'all!! Courtney and Trina speaking to yous from Blenheim, New Zealand! How did we get here, you ask? Well, you are about to find out! You are in for the ride of your life! Let me tell you! Have we got a show for you! Hold on to your magic carpets! Get on the edge of your seat! We have lift off!
Well last stop, on our voyage we were in Balclutha. After saying farewell to our lovely New Zealand family (the McLays) we stayed with their lovely friends and relatives, Roger and Joy, in Dunedin. Joy took us to the Albatross nesting grounds on the opposite side of the bay in Dunedin. At the same place that we saw the graceful soaring albatross, we also saw the world's smallest Penguin, the Blue Penguin. They were the cutest little things! As we were watching them waddle up the beach, Trina thought it would be neat to see some live action and hoped a seal would show up. Well, friends, be careful what you wish for....the seal made an appearance! To Trina's disappointment, all the penguins were already on the shore. Ok, she was relieved, too. We were going to hitchhike to Christchurch that next day (Monday the 17th of March) but it was finally raining so we decided to take Roger and Joy's invite and stay one more night.
The next morning, Joy dropped us off on the outskirts of town at a popular hitchhiking spot. Feeling a little vulnerable out there on the side of the highway, we prayed a little prayer of protection. Wouldn't you know it, God is so faithful! Within fifteen minutes, a lovely lady named Andrea picked us up and was headed the whole 3 hours to Christchurch! We shared lovely traveling stories, as she is a teacher and has traveled to India and Australia teaching primary students. It was a wonderful visit and the time seemed to fly by.
We met our next host, Nikki, at the local McDonalds in Christchurch and headed out to her quaint hazelnut farm. Nikki, her husband Bill and their 8 year old son, Luca live on 9 acres of land with some sheep, chuks, a horse named Bailey, and their faithful pup, Tahi. They also have a couple paddocks full of hazelnut trees and these were the main focus of our time there. We spent at least 5 hours a day under the trees, picking up the fallen hazelnuts so they could be bagged and sold to a local factory. During our free time, we played soccer, rode Bailey, made desserts, visited the cutest little country church, and got lost on the way home. Don't worry we're still in one piece! Our last day with the family, we went to the city of Christchurch and explored. It was really interesting to see the city after the major earthquakes that happened about 2 years ago. There was so much damage that they are still cleaning up the debri and not many of the buildings have been rebuilt. We also went to the Antarctic Centre and experienced the cold, icy lifestyle of Antarctica. Christchurch is the last place that the Antarctic explorers stopped to replenish their supplies before heading to the icy wilderness of Antarctica. We were able to experience a summer storm, saw more little blue penguins, and learned so much more than we could ever have imagined. Our week in Christchurch was a blast and we were sad to be moving on, but happy to have been able to be a short chapter in the lives of the Coleman family.
Nikki dropped us off at yet another great hitchhiking spot, where we got a ride with Sue from Christchurch to Springfield. Then we were picked up by two German travelers who took us as far as Arthur's Pass, but not before stopping at Castle Hill, the location of the final battle in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. After a lunch break, a kind gentleman, on his way to the West Coast, took us to the Kumara Junction, where the family in the caravan behind us stopped and picked us up. They were a nice family headed to the West Coast for their Easter vacation. We stopped in Hokitika for a short break before arriving in Whataroa, our next destination. God has really provided great people to pick us up whenever we hitchhike, it is so encouraging to know He has everything taken care of.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wherever the Wind Blows Part 2

After cruising through Mildford Sound we took our time driving back down to Te Anau, stopping here and there to get out for a walk or see some beautiful landmarks such as: a Mt Tutoko hike, the Mirror lakes, Lake Gunn, Deer flat Creek and other places where we could skip rocks in water. J This took us a few hours and we arrived in Te Anau at 7:30pm giving us time to catch the last cruise across Lake Manapouri to a glowworm cave at 8:15pm. They took us a few minutes into the cave walking on a metal path over the rushing water to a place where we climbed into a boat for a peaceful ride to the dome where the glowworms lived. It was so beautiful and almost mesmerizing. Back at the entrance to the cave, they showed us a presentation about the glowworms and we found out they really aren’t worms, but larva…..but no one really wants to see a maggot cave so they call them glowworms, thank you to our new friend Vedant, who was one of the tour guides at the glowworm cave. The next day we invited Vedant to join us on a walk to a bay where we skipped more rocks. It was a beautiful day for a stroll and visit with new friends.
Once we said goodbye and stocked up on some groceries we headed back up to Wanaka to catch another friend of ours, Susan McLay, on her day off. On our way out of Te Anau, we noticed two travelers who were hitch hiking and decided to give them a ride. Their names were Kai (Pronounced kye) and Marcus. They are from Germany and also traveling and working on farms. They were quite grateful for the lift as they had been waiting for three hours for a ride! We were able to help them on their way and it was neat to meet fellow travelers and exchange advice and stories. We took the scenic route through Queenstown stopping for breaks wherever there was water to skip rocks! Yay! (This has become our thing. We stop at every body of water and skip rocks. We didn’t intentionally do this, it just kind of happened. Good times!) Finally, in Wanaka after a half a day of traveling, we were really looking forward to spending the night NOT in the back of a car!!!! Don’t get me wrong, Stella was a life saver! But we were kind of ready to sleep on something a little softer than a folded up car seat and eat food other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which we had been living on for the last week. Robyn, Susan’s host, greeted us at the door and helped us take our luggage to our own room where we would sleep the next two nights. We would have been happy with the floor or a couch and were not expecting two lovely, white fluffy beds and a hot meal of yummy stir fry awaiting us!!! After our grand hardcore adventure, that meal tasted sooo good and those beds felt like fluffy clouds! The next morning we almost expected to wake up in Rivendell where Gandalf would greet us with a “well done, Frodo.”
We spent the next day exploring Wanaka with Susan. First at Puzzling World, we faced all sorts of trippin’ illusions in the illusion room and got lost in the labyrinth of a maze under the blazing hot sun.  We almost didn’t make it, but we overcame and found all four corners in order, plus we found the exit. Then we decided ice cream was a must and all three of us had a nice big scoop of mochaccino (kiwis pronounce it mockaccino) while window shopping in downtown Wanaka (or at least the few blocks that made up the entire town of Wanaka).  Since it was still such a beautiful hot day, after stalking Susan’s work, we donned our togs (swimsuits) and headed for the lake.  Of course, once we arrived, the clouds joined us making it too cool to actually swim, so…. We skipped more rocks!! Yay! Lake Wanaka was absolutely, hands down, definitely, affirmatively, totally the best rock skipping collection of H2O we had found thus far! All three of us, Susan being a rookie, were able to skip rocks halfway across the lake with no problem whatsoever. It was the best rock skipping experience of Trina’s life! Our adventure at the lake ended with a good old-fashioned water fight. Back at Robyn’s house, she had another wonderful hot meal just waiting for us to dig in. It was a wonderful, relaxing visit; spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
The next day as we drove toward Invercargill, taking the scenic route along the Fiordlands, we saw more beautiful mountains, ocean, caves, air shows, and wetlands, where the scene of the dead marshes from the LOTR was filmed. We spent the night in another campsite near Clifden, where the stars were breathtaking. The morning found us on Thursday the 7th of March, as we took our final road trip with faithful Stella. We drove through Invercargill to Bluff, close enough to the southernmost point of New Zealand. We found this hill in the middle of the town that had a lookout at the top where one could see for miles. There was a map showing us a bunch of different landmarks that could be seen from that point. They had all sorts of unique names that sparked our interest as to the stories behind them such as; Dog Island- where the dogs were eaten, Woman Island, and the Point where (some name we couldn’t pronounce) valiantly stood. Then we headed back to Invercargill, but first stopped at a little inlet, called Ships Graveyard, where we, of course, skipped rocks. Susan put us in touch with a friend of hers in Invercargill where we could stay for the night. After some good company and a restful sleep, we drove Stella to the rental company where we parted ways from our beloved, dear rental car who had become a special addition to our trip. Catching our bus back to Balclutha, we were excited to once again be with our New Zealand family, the McLays! They have become family to us and it was so good to see them once again!! We were grateful for our trip to the Milford Sound but so happy to stay in once place for a wee bit.
This past week with the McLays was full of more laughter, another visit from Susan, a Thanksgiving feast (where we introduced them to yams with marshmallows and pumpkin pie!), more games on the hay bales, church fellowship, rugby games, wave jumping and sand fights at the beach! Along with the fun, we helped with the chores and did some additional work like sweeping the drive way, deep cleaning the bathroom, laundry, babysitting, etc. During our visit, an Israeli couple also stayed with the McLays and invited us to go sightseeing with them for a day. Accepting the offer, we explored the Catlins national park and learned about a new culture as well! It was neat to share our different lifestyles with one another while climbing through Cathedral Cave (where Aslan, from Narnia, walked on the beach in the end of the first movie!), the McLean Falls and the Purakanui Falls.
Much to our dismay, we will be parting from the McLays tomorrow after a potluck at their church and staying with family friends of the McLays in Dunedin, where we hope to see an Albatross or two before hitch hiking our way to Christchurch! We are so grateful for all the friends we have made on this trip thus far and plan to keep in touch as much as possible; encouraging them to come and visit our homes back in the states! Hopefully we may see each other again in this lifetime and, if not, look forward with expectation, that we will see them in the next life. Throughout this trip, we have been striving to show the love of Christ to all we meet and encourage them to also love others by serving willingly, going out of our way and giving of our time with a joyful heart. We have truly been blessed by having love centered attitudes and have really seen inspiring results. I want to encourage all you who are presently reading this, to remember to take the opportunity today, to express love to those you meet through your actions and words. You may not see the result, but it does make a difference. Love never fails.