Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Tag: New Zealand

10 Things that Make New Zealand Unlike Anywhere Else in the World

By Elizabeth

We’re getting ready to host another group of American university students and sponsors in just over a week. The eight of them will be with us for three weeks, volunteering in local schools, playing with little people at our mums groups, and spending time at an after school program for refugee children. They’ll also get a feel of some of New Zealand’s diverse culture as they hang out with a group of teenagers from all over Auckland and then a group of young adults later in their trip.

With their arrival just around the corner, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to compile a list of a few of the things that make New Zealand unlike anywhere else in the world. Don’t get me wrong… some countries have one or two of these things, but when you put them all together, you get a country and a culture all its own.

#1 Beaches

Let’s start with the obvious. With 8,700 miles (14,000 km) of coastline (10th in the world), New Zealand is guaranteed to have a significant amount of beaches. I’ve heard people joke that if you feel a little too crowded at a beach (as in there are more than 20 people), just drive down to the next one. They’re a dime a dozen. However, it’s not just the quantity that makes New Zealand’s beaches so amazing. It’s the vast variety as well. Black sand. White sand. Large rocks. Small rocks. Driftwood. Calm, protected waters. Big surfing waves. Whatever you want in a beach, you can find in New Zealand… unless it’s warm water. That’s one request New Zealand simply can’t fulfill.

#2 Just a Few (Million) Folks

With a boom pushing the population up to 4.7 million people, New Zealand still ranks as the 127th country in the world in terms of population. It’s not the smallest in the world by any means, but it’s definitely towards the bottom in comparison to other first world Western countries. That translates to daily life in some interesting ways. Often, seemingly common things are a lot harder to come by. Those craft supplies you saw in a Pinterest project? There’s a good chance they’re not available. Things cost more. There’s not as much variety to choose from. It’s a much, much smaller market than the US or the UK or Canada or Australia. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

#3 East Meets West in Polynesia

Those 4.7 million people are really what make New Zealand unlike anywhere else in the world. I could write an entire book about it. It’s a case of Eastern culture meets Western culture on a Pacific Island. The Maori people first settled in New Zealand hundreds of years ago. The Europeans came next. However, most immigrants to New Zealand today come from India, China, and the Philippines. Toss in a large number of immigrants from other Pacific Islands like Samoa and the Cook Islands and you have a people group that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. It’s Western, but with an Eastern flair, and strong Pacific Island roots.

#4 Language

New Zealand has two national languages—not all that unusual. English is the obvious one to outsiders, but Maori, or Te Reo, is also a national language. It’s a Polynesian language not spoken anywhere else in the world. In New Zealand, it’s used on a daily basis for common items like kumara (sweet potato), names of places, greetings, karakia (prayers), and more. A beautiful language, it is known for its extensive use of vowels. Just take for example Aotearoa, the name for New Zealand, meaning land of the long white cloud.

#5 Treaty of Waitangi

When the Europeans were busy colonizing the rest of the world, they were notorious for taking over indigenous people groups by force, running them out, or killing them off, and most certainly subjecting them to the prowess of the white man. It’s a gruesome reality in the history of the Western word. Things went a little differently in New Zealand. Instead of being run off or killed off, the Maori demanded a treaty. I think they were just intimidating enough to get it. The treaty was written in Maori and in English and hundreds of Maori chiefs signed the treaty, known as the Treaty of Waitangi declaring British sovereignty in 1840. However, since the Maori chiefs couldn’t read English, they didn’t know that there was a disparity between the two versions. It wasn’t until more than 100 years later that the Maori people began holding the New Zealand government accountable to the version that their people had signed. As a result, the Maori culture has a much more significant impact on the lives of kiwis from every heritage than the culture of indigenous  people does in many other places, such as the United States.

#6 Youthfulness

Did you catch that in number 5? The British were just colonizing NZ in 1840. While there had been a handful of explorers and settlers in New Zealand for quite a while, New Zealand as we know it is a very young country—practically making the US look matronly.

#7 Location

Have you looked at New Zealand on a globe? It’s really one of my favorite things to do. New Zealand is practically on the bottom of the earth—the last stop before Antarctica. Auckland, the most populous city in NZ, is located at a latitude of 37 degrees south. There are only three other countries in the world that can claim that location! Australia, Argentina, and Chile all have narrow bits of land on the 37th parallel south, but if you account for New Zealand’s South Island, you will find it is only rivaled by Chile and Argentina in proximity to the South Pole.

#8 Holiday Destinations

New Zealand’s location in the South Pacific makes for some interesting and exotic holiday/vacation destinations. Life is pretty grand when your nearest neighbor is Australia and a trip over is roughly the equivalent of a US domestic flight. Other nearby destinations include Fiji, French Polynesia (including Bora Bora and Tahiti), and Rarotonga (a favorite wedding destination among kiwis). Such exotic neighbors, I tell ya! That said, many kiwis make an annual pilgrimage to the UK. By pilgrimage, I mean more than 30 hours of actual flight time, not including layovers. Yikes! Others opt for a 6-week tour of US hot spots like California and New York.

#9 No Native Land Predators

You can’t mention New Zealand without mentioning it’s flora and fauna. It’s truly stunning and one of a kind. The climate lends itself to rampant and varied plant growth and animal life. Home to a wide variety of unusual birds, New Zealand has (or had) many flightless species that thrived with no natural land predators. That’s right, not a lion, a tiger, or a bear to be found. Not even a fox or a snake. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for domesticated cats and dogs to take advantage of the wee birds roosting on the ground. Many flightless birds are endangered or extinct due in part to our pets!

#10 Direct Bank Transfers

I’ll confess. I don’t really know if other countries have this or not, but it was so foreign to me when we moved to New Zealand, I’d like to say only New Zealand could make it work. New Zealand banking is such that when you want to pay an individual (for, say, a used table they are selling), you acquire their bank details (as in, they give you their actual bank account number). You then enter their account number and the amount of the transaction into your phone app and click confirm. Nearly instantaneously, your money shows up in their account, and apparently, nothing is ever stolen this way. 4.7 million people participate in transactions like this all the time, and I haven’t read one news story about it going awry. It’s strange. It seems so risky, but it’s also awfully convenient.

 

Parting Shot

 

 

Play Cafe on Today

By Elizabeth

 

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so they say. I am certainly not above it. After all, why reinvent the wheel when someone else has a good thing going? Case in point: Play Café. A few months ago, missionaries Ted and Sarah Voigt described their school holiday Play Café in their weekly “Newsyletter,” a fun way they keep people informed of their goings-on. (You can find out more about Ted and Sarah’s ministry at wicklownazarene.com ). I immediately replied with an e-mail that said, “Tell me more.”

New Zealand and Ireland are in some ways similar ministry contexts. We have a strong café culture. I don’t mean a sit-alone-and-work-on-your-laptop-while-drinking-coffee type of café culture. I mean, a strong, “Let’s meet up at a café for a tea or coffee or lunch or any old reason and chat” café culture. Our cafés are more likely to have a play area (indoor or out) for children than wifi or extensive outlets.

New Zealand also has a strong mums group culture. As in, if you are a mum (or a caregiver) responsible for little people during the day, you will most certainly go to at least one play group or music group or mum meet-up every week. You’ll let the kiddos play while you chat with other adults and eat your caramel slice. If you can, you’ll participate in said groups 2 or 3 mornings a week. Through various formats, we have little people with mums or caregivers in our church building four mornings a week.

The exception is school holidays. Right now, our kiddos are on a two week break from school following the end of the first term of the year. The mums’ groups are on break too, but mums and caregivers everywhere are looking for things to keep their school kids and little ones occupied.

That’s where the Play Café comes in. Just like Ted and Sarah suggested, we’re using the school holiday time to switch things up a bit. We set up play areas for kids of all ages and recruited people to make and serve yummy morning tea items. (Note: Morning tea is the snack time that transpires sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 every morning. It typically involves a hot drink such as tea, coffee, or drinking chocolate, along with some type if delectable slice, scone, or snack to get you through to lunch time. Nearly every casual and professional establishment respects the need for morning tea. School kids drink milk and nibble something from their lunch boxes for morning tea.)

Today, more than 50 people played and sipped and nibbled and colored at our first ever Play Café. For us, it was a great time to connect with people we see every week and meet some new ones. For the mums and caregivers, it was a great, free excuse to leave the house and interact with other adults while letting the kids burn off some energy. We’ll do it all again tomorrow, and we can’t wait.

Thanks for sharing your great idea, Ted and Sarah.

 

Parting Shot

 

Milford Sound, South Island. January 2017

Putting it into Perspective

By Jaron

Mt. Ruapehu, NZ in the winter

Mt. Ruapehu, NZ in the winter

Perspective. It’s a funny thing.  It’s one of those things that comes by way of experience, impacted by relationships and circumstances. For a long time, I have said I wanted to have a broad worldview, and living in a different country is helping me do just that, which means my perspective is being shaped.

We often find ourselves grappling with conversations and experiences that challenge and shape our perspectives. This happens in so many ways, from the grocery store clerks asking me about the U.S. presidential race almost every week, to having to order books 3 weeks before I want to read them (no Amazon Prime here), to finally looking up the statistics for how many Americans have concealed carry permits (its 3%) so I can tell my Kiwi friends that “No, not everyone in America carries a handgun, and no, contrary to what you see on the news and in movies you are definitely not in major danger of getting shot there.”

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the American perspective on money. Whether we realize it or not we were raised in a land of plenty. Not only do most Americans have opportunity for high household income ($51,949/year on average), we enjoy a relatively cheap cost of living, freeing up more disposable income than much of the world’s population. New Zealand is also a fully developed western society. It too is wealthy by world standards. Healthcare and schools are good, and at $51,000/year, the medium income is essentially the same as the U.S.

On paper, the good ole US of A and NZ look about the same. But when the cost of living is taken into account, it doesn’t take long to see that the Kiwi dollar doesn’t go nearly as far. Here are a few perspective shaping examples.

Expense* United States Cost New Zealand Cost
Petrol (gasoline) $2.29/gallon $1.82/Liter ($6.92/gallon)
Electricity $0.12/kwh $0.26/kwh
1 capsicum (bell pepper) $1 $3
Hot water heater $450 $1,100
8’ 2×4 board $2.68 $12
Paslode Nails (2,000 ct) $59.98 $200
Postcard stamp (domestic) $0.34 $1.00

 

In the day in and day out, this boils down to living with less—smaller cars, a less updated house, fewer clothes…. It’s changing my perspective about what I need and want in what I think are really positive ways. But let’s face it, no matter how you slice it, the United States and New Zealand are both wealthy countries by the world’s standards, with plenty of resources and opportunities. I wonder how living with less, in both countries would allow our perspectives to shift from focusing on how much our dollars can buy for us to how much of an impact our dollars can have in the world around us for the building of the Kingdom of God?

We've enjoyed a few days of rest and winter as a family, skiing on Mt Ruapehu and hiking the Waitonga Falls Track.

We’ve enjoyed a few days of rest and winter as a family, skiing on Mt Ruapehu and hiking the Waitonga Falls Track.

 

* Note that U.S. prices are in US dollars and NZ prices are in NZ dollars. Just remember that the average income for the U.S. and NZ are about the same in their respective dollars, so this gives a pretty clear picture in terms of what the felt cost would be for a normal family. These are all things that we have actually purchased in both places.

 

Parting Shot

We caught a glimpse of winter this week, skiing Mt. Ruapehu and hiking the Waitonga Waterfall Walk.

Waitonga Fall Track… cold enough for bits of snow, warm enough for a hike and picnic, absolutely beautiful either way.

Meet Joan

By Elizabeth

This is our first installment in a series you may periodically see pop up on the blog over the next several months. We’re calling it “Meet New Zealand.” The goal is to intentionally gather and share some stories of the people who make up our church and New Zealand as a whole.   If you’re academic, you’d call it Appreciative Inquiry. If you’re not, you might call it story sharing. Either way it’s important. One thing we’ve learned in these past few months is that our newer people and our long-timers know very little of each others stories. We’re just learning all of them for the first time. These individual stories shape our collective identity as a church and will in many ways propel us into the future. Plus, they give some of the most fascinating insights into the culture in which we live. It seems fitting that the first installment is an energetic gal who has been around the Church of the Nazarene in New Zealand since some of its very earliest days.

 

Joan Ranger

Joan Ranger

We had been waiting in the car for nearly half an hour and were about to drive off when Joan Ranger (cue the Lone Ranger jokes… they’re unavoidable) sauntered around the house wearing a long apron and smelling of oil paints. “I thought… Surely, they must be here by now,” Joan exclaimed as she dried the bristles on her paintbrush. “No one ever comes to the front door and no one ever knocks,” she said. Now we know. Joan replaced her apron and paintbrush in the garage studio filled with paintings reminiscent of the one hanging in the dining room at our house before leading us inside.

Actually, it wouldn’t have surprised us one bit if Joan had been held up at her morning engagement. Her days are filled with visits with friends, speaking engagements about her army experiences that open doors for her to share the ways God has worked in her life, pulpit supply at various churches of many different denominations, children’s Bible classes, prayer meetings, and gospel singing groups. We were glad she had been able to work us in.

“My friends and I all go to functions at each other’s churches. They’re mostly Anglican and Methodist. One time about four years ago a new vicar had just come to the Anglican church. I went to the 8:00 service so I could meet him before driving down to Hamilton for our 10:30 service. They served communion. I took it and then I looked up at the vicar sputtering and coughing and said, ‘I wasn’t expecting real wine,’” Joan recalled with laughter.

We had made the drive to Joan’s house in just under an hour and now it was time for afternoon tea. It was a warm day and the autumn sun was streaming through the window as Joan served us steaming hot tea—black at our request, though Kiwis find it strange for us to drink it without milk and sugar—and date scones she’d made fresh that morning. Quentin played with a basket of army figures and blocks on the floor of the nearby living room.

We hadn’t been to Joan’s house before, and the view of the mountain at Te Aroha was breathtaking. We were there to take in the view and to dip our feet in the hot soda water that comes up from the ground, but mostly we were there to hear pieces of Joan’s story. For Joan’s story holds some pieces of the past; some tales of our own story as part of the Church of the Nazarene in New Zealand.

Joan moved to New Zealand as a single young English woman enlisted in the New Zealand Women’s Army Corps in 1952. She’d come to know Jesus as a 15-year-old as a part of the International Holiness Mission in England, but army life and the death of a fiancé later, she felt far from God and any faith she had claimed as a teenager by the time she moved to New Zealand. She just wanted to get away and live it up.

But God hadn’t forgotten Joan. In one of those strange and winding ways, pastor friends in England knew missionary friends in Africa who had heard that the work of the Church of the Nazarene was just being begun in New Zealand by Reverend Roland Griffith. Along with his wife and his young daughter, Connie, Griffith had moved to New Zealand in 1951. When he learned of the English woman named Joan in the military, he didn’t miss a beat. Joan’s base was a 12 hour drive from Griffith’s home in Auckland, but when Griffith passed through Wellington on his way to look into planting a church in Christchurch, he stopped in to visit Joan.

“He didn’t know me from Adam,” Joan said. “He must have gone through the military to find me, and there he was showing up at my work. He said, ‘You were a part of the International Holiness Mission in England, weren’t you? We are starting the Church of the Nazarene in New Zealand, and we want you to be a part of it.’ The rest is another story, but that’s how I gave my life back to God.”

One of Joan's beloved pictures of Rev. Roland Griffith

One of Joan’s beloved pictures of Rev. Roland Griffith

Within months, Joan was transferred to a base near Auckland where she could ride her bike 35 kilometers (23 miles) each way to the site of the new Dominion Road Church of the Nazarene (now known as All Nations Church). She helped with the back-breaking labor of removing rock to dig the church’s basement and began worshiping with the budding congregation.

Frank Ranger was a handsome military man who had his eye on Joan. As a young man in 1955, Frank didn’t think church or faith held much value at all. The only problem was, Joan wouldn’t go out with him unless he was a church going man. Frank decided to trade some church attendance for a date and ended up experiencing the hope of Jesus for himself. Three months later, they were married.

Frank and Joan were active members of the Dominion Road church. Their lives together were wrapped up in the church and the community that it provided. Once they were married, they began saving diligently for a trip to England so Joan’s parents could meet her husband and the baby that was soon on the way. Their first son was about one year old when they finally sailed off. They returned to New Zealand seven years and two more kids later. God was not finished using Frank and Joan in New Zealand. In the years that followed, they had three more kids, studied theology through Nazarene Theological College in Brisbane, Australia and became church planters—planting five churches around New Zealand’s North Island.

It wasn’t until after their church planting years were winding down in the 1990s that Frank and Joan began driving to Hamilton Crossroads Church, first from the south end of Auckland and then from the scenic town of Te Aroha. After 54 years of marriage, Frank went to be with Jesus. Joan lives in the little gray cottage at the foot of the mountains by herself now, but God is not finished with her yet.

Te Aroha, NZ

Te Aroha, NZ

Joan’s waiting on back surgery. She’s hoping they’ll call sometime soon because she can’t play golf with her back in its current condition. It doesn’t appear to be slowing her down at all otherwise. John called to make sure she’ll be stopping in for her weekly visit on Wednesday and she has an engagement at the Anglican church at 1 p.m. the same day. Anzac Day is coming up, which is a big deal for the former military gal. She’ll share the fruit that is ripening on her trees with her neighbors and squeeze in time to bake a cake for tea after church on Sunday.

“Take a whole bunch. There are bags in the mailbox,” Joan hollered to two teenage girls stopping to take a couple of feijoas from the bowl she has set out near the sidewalk. She loaded our car up too—with fresh red apples and green feijoas, as if the tea and the scones, and the conversation weren’t enough of a gift.

“We’re so glad we didn’t miss you!” we exclaimed.

“Next time you’ll know. Just come around back and don’t bother knocking. Only salesmen use the front door around here.”

Parting Shot

The Anglican church, Te Aroha, NZ

The Anglican church, Te Aroha, NZ

Test-Driving Tourism

By Elizabeth

 

We just put our first guests on the plane back to the States. While they were here, we stepped out of our day-to-day lives for a couple of days and played tourist. We parked our almost-minivan among tour buses and brightly painted camper vans before queuing up with throngs of Asian tour groups led by guides with tall poles topped by brightly colored pom poms, 20-something American backpackers, and 50-year-old couples on holiday from the United Kingdom.

Tourism is a big deal around here. It’s an $81.6 million per day industry in New Zealand, second only to dairy in terms of foreign export earnings. Hobbiton alone employs nearly 200 people. While the vast majority of tourists come from nearby Australia, China, the U.S., the U.K.,  and other Asia Pacific countries also send their fair share of scouts.

We had fun checking out a few things commonly on New Zealand vacation itineraries. We figured we were just doing our research for various groups, families, and individuals that we’ll get to host in the future. You can go ahead and bookmark this now for your own future visit. 😉 Here are a few things we learned along the way:

  1. Make a wish list: I hope you are making a list of things to do on your dream trip. Actually, we are very well situated for day trips of all kinds—an hour and a half south of Auckland, an hour from Hobbiton, 45 minutes to one coast, an hour and a half to the other, an hour to glow worm caves, two hours to Rotorua… you get the idea. Skydiving, bungee jumping, stand up paddle boarding, surf lessons… you name it New Zealand’s probably got it.
    The Hobbit Holes are just so cute!!

    The Hobbit Holes are just so cute!!

    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

  2. Pick and Choose and Plan Ahead: I’m a planner so this is perfect for me. But seriously, there is so much to do, it’s hard (read: impossible) to fit it all in. Without a strategic plan, it would be easy to miss out. Even still, I tried my best for over a week to get Trip Advisor’s highest rated glow worm cave tour booked for our family. When it came down to it, they were one seat short on the boat the day we had available for the tour so we couldn’t join. Oh well… there’s always next time. 😉 The redwood forest (planted from seeds brought as a gift from California 110 years ago), made for an excellent Plan B.
    Rotorua's redwood forest

    Rotorua’s redwood forest

    IMG_1692

  3. Save your money… or not: Scratch that. Definitely save your money. New Zealand is expensive. The food, the petrol, the stuff… it’s all expensive. The really touristy stuff is no different. Hello $79.00 NZ/per person to venture into Middle Earth or $150.00 NZ/per person to swim with dolphins. It adds up. But there’s tons to do that is absolutely free, as well… amazing hikes, beautiful beaches, freezing cold swims, waterfalls abounding… Those have been some of our most favorite things of all, which brings us to #4.

    Blue Springs has been one of our favorite places since we first visited in December. It probably always will be.... and it's FREE!!

    Blue Springs has been one of our favorite places since we first visited in December. It probably always will be…. and it’s FREE!!

  4. Stop at the “Scenic Lookouts”: To be truthful, there are so many scenic lookouts, you can’t always stop at every one of them. But when you do, expect something good. Oh, that looks like every other hilly pasture in New Zealand? Take a gander back in there… you might just find some of the purest water in the world… or something else altogether unexpected. We talked Jaron into stopping at one and found these fantastic waterfalls.

    "Scenic Lookout"

    “Scenic Lookout”

  5. Enjoy the journey: The roads are often narrow, hilly, and winding. The speed limits are necessarily slow. It takes longer to get places than we’re used to, but there’s always a bit of the ever-changing landscape to admire out the car window.
  6. Never leave home without a rain jacket and a pair of jeans: Don’t be fooled by days that dawn bright and sunny (or by the ones that start out shrouded in a dense fog), the weather changes frequently down under. I, for one, like to be prepared when things can quickly become cool and wet. I was under-prepared when we went to Tauranga on the east coast earlier this year and have learned my lesson. We had nearly perfect weather while our guests were here, but the next week-and-a-half look to be full of moisture. In New Zealand, you just never know, and neither do the meteorologists.
  7. Talk to people: People are excited to share their stories… where they’re from, what they do, what they have planned on their adventure. At one table, the five of us in our group were seated with two different middle-aged couples from the U.K. and a young television writer from Los Angeles. Fascinating.

At times it felt really odd to be lumped in with the rest of the “foreign tourist crowd,” particularly in light of the fact that we’ve spent the past three months working so hard to assimilate into the culture. There were those awkward “I’m not really sure how to answer your question” moments when people asked the proverbial, “Where are you from?” Uhhh… The United States… the southwestern part… but we live in Hamilton. We’re not really tourists. Plus, we’re always building relationships along the way… like the tour guide from Wales who spent 6 months working in orphanages in Uganda, but is now hoping to play for a legit rugby team in New Zealand someday. At the end of the tour Jaron handed him a slip of paper with his phone number and used his newly acquired Kiwi language skills to say “Next time you’re in Hamilton give me a ring and we’ll have you over for tea or we’ll go to lunch, my shout.” To which he simply replied “Ah legend, thanks mate!”

Parting Shot

Real life includes checking out the hot air balloons at 7 a.m. Balloons over Waikato is on this week. No, it's not the Albuquerque balloon festival. But hot air balloons are always fun... even on foggy mornings when they have to stay tethered.

Real life includes checking out the hot air balloons at 7 a.m. Balloons over Waikato is on this week. Hot air balloons are always fun… even on foggy mornings when they have to stay tethered.

 

The Eagle Has Landed

I am writing this on Friday at 9:45 p.m., but my computer thinks it is Friday at 1:45 a.m. It’s a little confused. Understandably so. On Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. we blew our last good-bye kisses through the window glass and walked outside to the small commuter plane that would take us from Hobbs, NM to Houston, TX. We turned and waved at the beloved faces peeking through the concrete architectural forms separating them from the runway we were walking across. It was real. Very real. Suddenly, all of the months of planning, preparation, travel, speaking, selling, packing, support raising, and Skype meetings were being realized as we walked up the steps to our small plane. We said good bye to all we had known before as we crossed the threshold anticipating the time we’d start saying “Hello” to all of the new.

An hour and 45 minutes in the air to Houston.

Super rushed layover.

4.5 hours in the air from Houston to San Francisco.

Super long layover. (4.5 hours)

14 hours in the air from San Francisco to Auckland, NZ.

2 hours collecting bags, navigating the airport with four luggage carts, setting up phones, and passing through customs.

30-minute stop for breakfast.

1 hour 30-minute drive to our house.

27 hours from door to door.

And a day. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean after we passed Hawaii crossed the international dateline and lost a day. The computer still hasn’t caught up.

That said, it all went as smoothly as it possibly could have. We checked 11 bags with relative ease (No, they were not free. Yes, they did cost significantly less than shipping.) We made every single flight on time. Quentin napped part of the way to San Francisco, walked a traveling cat on a leash in the airport, was thrilled to watch a couple of movies, and played happily with his toys. Then, we propped up the foot rest on our Sky Couch (a real thing you can see here, but don’t be fooled…it’s not that much space ;)) and slept our way across the Pacific Ocean.

All 11 checked bags, the stroller bag, the car seat bag, the guitar, the two carry-on roller bags, and our carry-ons all made it, and so did we.

We were greeted warmly by Neville and Joyce Bartle, our District Superintendents, and Jim and Nancy Clayton, the interim pastors who have been simultaneously preparing the way and holding down the fort for us. Quentin, in turn, doled out hugs readily, delighted with the grandparent-esque attention.

The grass is green, the hills are rolling, the plant-life is diverse, the guys in Santa costumes are sweating, and the people are driving on the left side of the road—but more on all of that later. For now, our bodies think it’s 2:20 a.m. and we should go to bed. Saturday is almost here. 😉

 

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