New Zealand Adventures

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rotoura and Waitamo Bay

Allie, Diana, Kara getting ready for a sweet as adventure black water rafting through one of Waitamo's many caves.

Paddle Paddle

Some of us took a paddle boat out on the lake. I have to admit, my calves burned :)

Rotorua Museum in the center of the Old English town

Monday was our busiest and we explored for an hour around the Old English town and waterfront of Rotoura city. Here I am posing like a Kiwi with my tongue out and looking very ferocious

Posing on a deck that's situated on the 3rd lake we visited (I put my feet in this water and it was really cold, just like the Columbia river around April)

After visiting Te Puia and eating a quick lunch (we had roast beef, cheese, and lettuce on bread everyday) we took a drive to 3 great lakes. The first two were the Blue and Green Lake (can't remember the third). What's special about the Green Lake is that nobody is allowed to swim there since the Maori look at it as a sacred water source because of the minerals that make the lake green. Both lakes were gorgeous and even at one overlook you could look out and see both lakes (sadly I couldn't maneuver my camera right to get a picture)

As part of the Maori culture some make their food underground with hot stones-also known as a Hangi.

The stick game as part of the cultural performance we went to

Rubbing a jade rock for good luck

You can't tell but my eyes are closed in this picture

This is what the national park looks like around the geysers, it's amazing how fauna thrives with the sulfur. According to our tour guide Te Puia is way prettier than Yellowstone: I think I have to agree.

Chief Jacobs. As part of our visit to Te Puia we went to a marae (sacred gathering place) and a powhiri to be welcomed by the this Maori tribe and we needed a male to come forth and be a chief so that we would be welcomed into the marae peacefully. Dr. Jacobs was volunteered by 16 eager girls

Te Puia Maori Cultural Center and home of Rotorua's national geyser park that we visited on Monday

Walkway along Lake Taupo (before it rained) on Sunday after church (and yes, later on you'll see pictures of our flat tire we got the same day)

Baa, I'm cold!

What are you going to do on an early Saturday morning? Oh, you know, shear a sheep.

Okay so another funny story along with this picture...some of the girls were talking about the internship and I didn't really want to get too involved in the drama with that so I went on a little run just around the house we were by. Well, you don't get too far without smelling the sulfur in Rotorua and believe it or not there was a little geyser park right by the Bronson's house. So I thought it would be fun to go explore in that park, and it was until a rock and I collided. I was almost done and just running by some of the stinky foamy geysers when I noticed a cute boy walking past and of course I was checking him out and not looking at the ground, and then wham, I stumbled and crashed right on my right knee on the hard-packed gravel. I was so embarrassed, and the guy was going to help me up, but I bounced right up and sprinted off to find a way out of the park and back home. It wasn't until I got home that I really started to feel a bruise and swelling coming on, but man, my knee was bloody! This is a photo a day after it happened so the swelling went down a tiny bit, but it felt like a water balloon for a few days. Pretty gross. Moral of story: when running don't check out cute boys :)

Baby lamb! I love his face

Black sheep and Bessie-a cute sheep that took right to me

After the sheep show (Saturday) we all got on stage for a picture with the stars themselves!

Our excitement continued as some of us prepared dinner Sunday night for 18 hungry people. Sunday night was potato bar, Saturday was hamburgers, and Friday night was taco salad. It was a lot of cleaning up and cooking to do, but luckily each of the girls took turns and we all had a night where we cooked and cleaned. Well, Kara and I cleaned a lot, especially Friday and Saturday, but on Monday we took a break and let some other girls clean (also, Dr. Jacobs told everyone that the girls who clean constantly can't clean up dirty dishes for Monday or Tuesday morning). In this picture, Anna and I are stabbing potatoes.

After church on Sunday we took a drive to Lake Taupo to walk around and explore. It was rainy and cold, but the walk was nice. Well, we had a lot of adventures on the way home. First, it was rainy really hard and Jim hydroplaned the 13 seater van and after saying "Oh my gosh" 5 times and holding on to the seat in front of me for dear life, we got back on all 4 wheels. There was a moment when I really thought we were going to tip over. It was a little scary. Then, not even 20 minutes later we hear a huge pop and Kara noticed a hubcap fly down the road from our car. We stop and yes, our worries were right, we got a flat tire. James was ahead of us and didn't see it, so after calling him on the cell, he rushed back and for a good hour we got all the supplies and watched Jim, James, and Kara fix the tire. I was glad I got to see the action of changing a tire because now I know. One girl even asked me if I was scared to drive because I don't know how to change a tire, and I told her no, but at least I got to learn now. Kara was amazing during this trip and such a trooper! Even changing a tire in her dress! It was an exciting Sunday :)

Front row seats at the sheep show on Saturday!

Everyone at the dinner theater and the stage in the background

Our table at the dinner theater

Me, Heidi, Christine, and Jessica during the dinner theater we enjoyed Monday night. It was hosted by James's best friend's wife-Sister Bronson. The play was all about one of the villages in Rotoura that was buried after the 1867 volcanic eruption. Dinner was really fancy with muscles (didn't eat one because I've already tried one and they are disgusting), peas, carrots, salad, chicken, ham, potatoes, and Kumeri. Yum!

Us after zorbing...with the 3 guys who pushed us down the hill (good Saturday activity). Even though it was rainy and cold, the ride was awesome!

Zorbing-Kara and I went in one ball, and Katie and Hannah went in the other. It was awesome! We jumped superman style into the ball and then slid and rolled down the hill in freezing cold water :)

Our group that went on the Black Water Rafting experience in Waitamo Bay. I was nervous because I thought we were going to have to repel and do some crazy caving stuff that I have never done before, but it really wasn't that bad once I relaxed and listened to our guides. The hardest part was jumping backwards over waterfalls, but it got easier as time went on. It was so awesome to go into the caves and paddle and jump over little waterfalls and then look above you and see the lights from the glowworms. Funny fact: the glowworms aren't actually the worms, it's their poop. So really we paid money to see glowing poop :) I'm so glad I got to go and see all the lights inside this amazing cave.

All of us right before we went into the Hamilton, New Zealand temple one Friday afternoon. We got picked up at 6:30 am Friday and made it a little late to the 9:30 am baptism time. It was cold and rainy, but the temple was wonderful inside and the visitor's center was really cool to. We got to learn about Matthew Cowley, one of New Zealand's most influential LDS missionaries. It was gorgeous inside and it was only us with James and Jim in the baptismal font (and all the temple workers as well) so it was nice and cozy. I loved going to the temple again after not going for 3 months-the spirit was very strong there and I felt peaceful. Something I definitely need right now before the interns are decided for the upcoming school year.

Hello!! It's only 10 more days left for this lass and then she goes back to America! It's crazy how fast the time goes. This past weekend all 16 of us went with JJ and James to Rotorua and Hamilton for a temple trip and some fun. I found myself looking at the scenery more than the last trip to Hot Water Beach because I realized how soon this land is going to be part of my past. It really is so beautiful here, but home is gorgeous too, as long as I do my part to make it so. Soon, I'll find out if I was accepted for an internship in Nebo district for the 2011-2012 school year, and while I am waiting we are all going to head up North for a little trip to Northland: our final trip before it's goodbye New Zealand.

Sorry the pictures are all out of order.

Enjoy the video of Dr. Jacobs doing the Haka :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Last Day in Pomaria

Goodbye Pomaria: I'll miss you!

The amazing Room 9!!

The table spread of our shared lunch. I don't know if it is part of Maori culture, but I do know they love big feeds, but Jan gave out a notice earlier in the week for each student to bring a plate of goodies or lunch things for us all to share for lunchtime. It was amazing! The parents were so generous, and that really made me grateful because most of these parents are lower socioeconomic and their kids come to school without any lunches, and their parents found the time and money to give to the lunch. I have never met more generous people. It was a glorious lunch, heaps of food, and not enough for even our class to eat, so we invited another neighboring class and eventually all the delicious meat pies, cakes, chips, watermelon, and goodies were gone.

I'm ready to go!

Kara and me walking for the last time to school :) and :(

It was a bitter sweet day. Sweet because I loved being in Room 9 with all the children and Jan, eating a shared lunch, learning, singing, and enjoying our last day together, but bitter because I know that I won't be back to visit them and it really is goodbye. At the end of the day all the students got into a circle and Jan had Logan (who was my student I worked with for CPSE class) give me a book the class compiled together of their love for me. It was darling, and the writing is beautiful and the pages are filled with glitter and paper hearts (each paper is in a page protector, so it is not messy). Of course, I would have cried if I read the words right then, and I was already tearing up, so I waited to read the notes after school. Kids say the cutest things :) Their favorite thing about me was the dance I taught them about the angle of the axis (thanks Kara for the idea). It made me smile :) Then I gave them my love notes and lollies, but something horrible happened. Late last night while I was writing the notes I checked the class list to make sure I got every student covered, but I forgot that on the class list only 28 students were accounted for and not the 29 that are in the class. One sweet girl was not on the list, so of course, I forgot to write a note for her, and I was so ready to be done with writing by 1 am that I didn't think to make sure all were accounted for. So, disaster struck when all the students got a note, except for sweet Waiora. Lathan was kind enough to tap me on the knee and say, "Miss, what about Waiora?" Looking at her tear-stained face, I realized to my utter horror that I forgot to write her a note because her name was the one missing on the list!! I almost started to cry, but I got up, wrote her a quick note, and apologized and gave her a hug to let her know that I really do love her. Being such a sweet girl, she forgave me quickly and smiled at me right before all the students left. I'm actually really glad for the experience because it taught me two things. One, always make sure that all students are accounted for!! Two, Jesus loves the little children because they are meek, forgiving, humble, and submissive. I can learn a lot from Waiora and her willingness to forgive me so quickly, because I hurt her feelings really bad. Lessons can be learned everyday.

I have been so blessed to be part of Pomaria faculty, and while I've had some shaky days and some meltdowns, the staff and students are so forgiving and loving. I doubt myself too much, and that can sometimes affect how I perceive others. People are basically good like my dad says, and I shouldn't assume that others hate me, just because I don't like myself. Now, I really do like myself, but there was a few days this week when I didn't like what I was doing in the classroom or how I was treating the students. Jan was right-I need to check my emotions and separate them from the classroom and get to work to serve the students.

Jan said that my experience will have been a success if I have learnt things. She told me I have grown in confidence and management tremendously since I started 6 short weeks ago, but I want to believe it for myself. So, here are the things I have learnt while in Room 9:
1. I learned that teaching is not about me, it's about the students and the best I can do is to think of their needs.
2. Mistakes and bad days happen and there is nothing I can do about them when they come, but I can do something about how I react (I learned this the hard way and I still don't react the way I should, but I'm learning for future experiences).
3. I learned how to set up a classroom in the beginning of the year and how to teach routines
4. I learned that re-teaching is good and necessary in primary school.
5. Running records can be done while students are doing independent work.
6. Take one step at a time!
7. Not everything has to be done by me-what can be done by the students should be done by the students!
8. Take risks and learn from them!
9. There is no room for comparison-I have talents that others don't have or are developing, just as they have talents I am developing too.
10. Forgive myself and move on.
11. JJ and Jan taught me this one-look at the blossoms and beauties of my teaching and not just the thorns.

I've learned a lot and there are more, and I am grateful for the time I have spent working with the Pomaria staff and being supported. So many gave me their emails and want to keep in contact with me. One girl who teaches Mandarin was so kind and told me that I am really sweet and will make a great teacher. It made me feel so great! Also, being told by my students and other teachers that I am really pretty doesn't make me feel to bad either. Seriously though, I am grateful for Jan and Room 9 and the lessons they've taught me and her encouragement for me to be a more effective professional.

Enjoy the pictures of my last day in a practicum experience; next time I'm in the classroom I'll be a real teacher!

Miss Mills

Monday, March 21, 2011

And It All Comes to an End

Well guys and gals, this is it, my last Pomaria :) He he, hoped I would have tricked you. No, we lucky BYU Princesses as JJ likes to call us, are going to travel more of this beautiful country and head up North for a week and then it really will be over. But for now Miss Mills is stressed. Kara is right I really do need to live with Hakuna Matata not only in NZ but in the USA too. Knowing me though, it's going to take a life time and perhaps longer for me ever to slow down and have no worries. At least I'm getting a little closer because of the laid back atmosphere here.

The reason why I am so stressed is that this is the last week for all assignments to be completed, and yes, I shouldn't be blogging, or watching Boy Meets World with Kara, but I've been at school all day, then planning lessons and reading for my online class, and I am just done. JJ still has a paper for me to write, and I need to get that finalized, and a final project started, but I'm ready to call it a night. Today also wasn't the most emotionally happy day-the students were mocking me, and I know I shouldn't care, but when I saw one of my favorite students pretending to be a mean teacher (and Mrs. Scott and I assumed she was mocking me), it hurt just a little. I almost broke down in class, but I remembered that I am going to be a lead teacher soon and there is no room or time for me to walk out on a class then, so why now? After having a little chit chat with her, and two other boys who weren't showing the most respect, it got a little better. I think reminding the kids I loved and respected them, and oh yeah, tearing up, really got to them. No, we aren't friends, but we should respect each other. Actually, after that chat, we had fun starting self-portraits and then playing a variation of Monkey in the Middle. Yes, I was the monkey (or the bad lady who took the ball away if a student didn't pass it on fast enough). It was so fun! I loved hearing their squeals, and pretending to grab the ball from them, but I wasn't fast enough because they passed it in the nick of time :) So, the ending of the school day made the beginning worth it.

I'll miss the kiddies, especially their goodbye hugs and pictures. Already I got some coming up to me saying, "Miss, I'll miss you when you go back to your country." That's what is so precious, and that is one of the things that makes teaching worth it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Poly Fest, Sky Tower, Sara and Dameon's Wedding...Oh MY!!

It was an exciting weekend:
Friday: Poly Fest
*Got to take a long bus trip with Kara to Poly Fest where thousands of intermediate and college aged school children performed various dances, speeches, and other forms of entertainment for the audience. I think I would have liked it better if we were able to stay longer and see some of the dances, especially the ones where our friends were performing, but due to the 1 long bus ride to and back, we didn't have much time to enjoy the atmosphere. Kara and I both agreed the best part of Poly Fest was getting our wood carvings for our future homes; mine says "Whanau" which means "Family" in Maori. The verdict from that Friday excursion: Pasifika was heaps better.

The Nieu Performing Group

Proof we were there :)

Saturday Part 1: Sky Tower
*Around 10 am Kara and I got picked up by a taxi service and then met up with all the girls and Dr. Jacobs, Linda, and his sister Alberta in the famous Sky Tower. Katie wrote on our facebook wall that we should all dress up nicely (and I am so glad we did because we went to a very expensive restaurant up top). Everyone looked so pretty. Our first stop in the Sky Tower was the observation deck where we were able to look out across Auckland City and see One Tree Hill, Rangitoto (the volcano I hiked a few weeks back), Devonport, the city's largest buildings, little cars, the beautiful ocean, and other historic buildings like the Museum, all from a different perspective. It was such a cool feeling to walk around the observation deck and see the city from up top. Also, there were sky jumpers (like bungy jumpers) free falling for our entertainment. After the observation deck we all headed up one level to the Orbit Restaurant. My goodness it was a treat! The first and definitely last gourmet food I will have in Auckland. Dr. Jacobs told us that our money was already going to be used for this meal, but man, it was expensive ($50 per person). The food was divine though-I even liked the vegetables! I decided to eat waffles, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit (which was divine), and then share a chocolate delicacy with Kara. Mom and Dad, this dessert was very similar to the one we have at Anthony's, but I'll be honest, it was not as delicious. So, when we get home, I really want to go to Anthony's again and have that amazing dessert :)

A view of the city

A view of the sea

Steamed vegetables-the zucchini was really good :)

Standing on the glass-it was really freaking looking down and feeling that you were going to fall through that glass. This is mine and Katie's foot

After 3 hours of being in the Sky Tower, and then quickly visiting the gift shop, JJ, Linda, and Alberta took Kara and I to our next destination....

Mini in her flower girl dress

Pascal and me-she is in our ward here in Auckland, and Monique is her Auntie.

Sara looked beautiful in her dress, and it fit her perfectly. I love this sweet girl. Honestly, I feel rude that I didn't get a picture of Sara and Dameon, but I didn't just want to ask; he looked very handsome and happy. Actually, in the background off to the side, the man with the gray suit on is the lucky groom :)

Another part of the arrangement

Kara with her beautiful arrangement (before Monique's other sister took some for the cake). Even after that, Kara still did a great job-she has such a talent with arrangements.

This was where Dameon and Sara were married-what a beautiful view. I loved the sailboats

The Lollie table before the kids ate everything, he he. By kids, I mean everyone (which didn't please Sara so much)

Clyne-Monique's second daughter, mixing ingredients for the cake-Sara had German Chocolate Cake for her wedding :)

Saturday Part 2: Sara and Dameon's Wedding
*From 2:45 pm to 10:30 pm was all spent in Monique's cousin's house for Sara and Dameon's wedding. As soon as we got there, Monique put us to work, but it wasn't too bad, since we got there so late, so that Monique had most everything done. Kara was in charge of the flower arrangements and I was asked to pull some weeds from the front garden. What was weird was just throwing the weeds in another part of the garden that couldn't be seen as well-but that's what Monique told me to do. After weed pulling I helped Kara with the flowers and I must say they looked amazing :) Our next job was to usher those guests who were trickling in and then alert the photographer and the guests when Sara and her bridal party drove in. At one time we were sure it was Sara in a car, but nope, out popped another guest, but unfortunatly, all the guests thought Sara was there and the poor photographer actually came up the steep driveway with us since he thought Sara was here too. I felt like the Girl Who Cried Wolf. Luckily, nobody was too put off, and Kara and I had a fun time talking with the photographer.

Eventually Sara, her dad, and bridesmaids got to the house and it was beautiful. Dameon was so happy waiting up in the front for her, and as she walked down the "aisle" with her dad, she teared up, and Dameon was all tears. It was gorgeous. Lebron, their son, looked so happy and everyone was just smiles. Farran performed the service and it was over very quick. It was a beautiful service because of the love you could feel from Dameon and Sara for each other, especially when they promised to be faithful to each other for life and live with the spirit. The only sad part was hearing that they will be married for life; it made it so much more important for me to choose marriage for eternity.

After the ceremony was more work. We helped with the food preparation (mostly just putting the food on the tables since the meat was already cooked and ready to eat). There were heaps of food: lobster, nasty seafood I can't remember the name of, chicken, coleslaw, rolls, salad, applesauce, and yummy potatoes. Brigham-Sara and Monique's brother-made the potatoes, which were so good with the sour cream, mayo, and other spices on it. The potatoes of New Zealand are always served with eggs or something else all mashed in. I have not had a naked potato yet. Dinner was served, Sara and Dameon had their pictures taken, and then came the talking with everyone. What was hilarious was that most of the guys watched rugby and boxing during the reception, so this was a super casual wedding. The place was beautiful, and the family was so nice, and I love weddings, but I was glad to go home.

A new week will begin-the last week in the schools-wow, time flies.