Here are some pictures of my adventures
The little bay we stopped at for a bit of kayak, lunch, and snorkeling fun-this is a view from a hill nearby
All of us BYU princesses got 5 plants and in little groups we got to plant our own trees on Cape Reinga
After running with Becca we saw the beautiful sunrise and had to take a photo. I found my sunrise for you Jillian!
This is a monument at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds-where Europeans and Maori came together for the signing of a treaty that granted the Maori independence in their land
Wow, it really is coming to the end guys-I only have 3 days left in New Zealand! The time has flown by, but I am grateful for all it all, even the hard days when all I wanted was to fly back to America. I’m glad though that I got to have another great 5 days traveling with the group to another exotic place in New Zealand: Northland. While there we visited some amazing sites, even the northernmost tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. To start the journey 8 of us were picked up by James and the other 8 were picked up by Jim and Linda in our trusty vans around 9 am on Thursday. It was a long 3 hour drive but reading Anne of Green Gables and listening to music passed the time off nicely. Soon after we arrived and set our bags down in the motel we headed to the Waitangi treaty grounds and walked around the site where the famous Waitangi Treaty was signed between the Europeans and the Maori. Dr. Jacobs said that it is the Philadelphia of New Zealand and I agree. Thursday night was spent buying food for each apartment so that we could eat our own cooking, and boy, it was good to cook again. Omelets, soup, salad, Hawaiian Haystacks, and chicken made the weekend tasty.
Friday was full of driving (literally, we drove all day) up to Cape Reinga and driving along 90 mile beach. It was amazing seeing how the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collided and became one--so breathtaking. I can’t really describe how it looked or what I felt and the pictures don’t do it justice, but it was amazing. Nature never ceases to amaze me. Oh, also I was feeling great because that morning some of us went to the internet café in town and looked at our emails to check if we got internships and I found out that I did!! I’m going to be a teacher this fall for Mapleton Elementary!! Yay!! My emotions were jumbled as I read my acceptance email, because some of the girls hadn’t found out yet, and I was excited but nervous and didn’t want to brag to those who didn’t know yet or got accepted. Nervous and wondering what grade I would get, I was glad to go to a calm place like Cape Reinga and just look out at the vast ocean and sea and lose my thoughts in beauty for a while. After, James and Jim took the big vans and drove us to eat near the sand dunes by 90 mile beach and some of us surfed down the sand. It was scary to think about, but I am glad I did it and faced yet another fear. The best sand dune surf was given by Becca when she biffed it at the end and landed in the river and mud: she is my hero for sure! Poor girl though, she had to sit wet and cold in the car while we drove along 90 mile beach (which is only 55 miles long). Man, it was awesome riding so close to the water, but we had to be careful not to get too close to the water. Actually, at one time James stopped to ask for directions and he got stuck in the sand so the 10 of us in his car had to get out and push. Together we achieved more and got the car free! The day was fun, but I was tired after being in a car all day. Not even amazing fish n chips could keep me alert that long. James was still wide awake that night though, because he came to our apartment (Whitney, Diana, Janet, Kara’s and mine) to play a few rounds of scum, speed, and integrity. We, the young ones, actually kicked him out so we could go to bed.
Saturday was a beach day in Russell, where we visited Ian and Lesley Milne at their large beach house. Ian was our science lecturer in January and was kind enough to open up his home to loud BYU princesses. And oh, how lovely his house was! The sun just came through the glass windows and you could see the glistening beach perfectly! The warmth of the sun reminded me of being home in Riverside on Promenade Circle lying in the sun spots on the living room carpet waiting for Daddy to come home. It was nice just to relax on the beach too, which was literally across the street from the Milne’s house and I even touched a fish as we saved some from the little rocky wharf they were caught in. Sunday was great too, the church members were so friendly and charitable and willing to let us participate in their Relief Society lesson. I love the people of New Zealand!
Monday was by far the best day because Kara and I got to go sailing on a boat with 6 other people and the captain. We went kayaking, ate lunch on the beach, went swimming, snorkeled (I tried but didn’t like it), and hiked up to a peak to look out on the various islands of Pahiha. Then, going back to the wharf we were allowed to help steer the boat, and it was awesome! So much power, but at the same time, nerve wracking because you worried that other people’s stomachs were going to hurl since you were swaying the boat back and forth as you tried to get the boat in the right direction. Yes, that would have been me who was worried and learning how to steer straight instead of swaying like a fish. My favorite part though-when the dolphins swam alongside our boat and jumped around in the water just smiling and making their little dolphin noises. It was incredible! That night we all met together for a final New Zealand FHE and it was emotional, just like testimony meeting at Girls Camp. Katie gave a wonderful lesson on faith and how we should live with faith for the rest of our lives, and not just leave it here in New Zealand. We all reflected on how faith, faith in the future, and living with faith, has been the theme of our 2011 trip, and it’s all thanks to the one lesson Dr. Jacobs gave when we read Faith versus Fear for homework (an amazing BYU devotional address by Gregory Clark). Girls shared experiences that fortified their faith, and I realized how grateful I am that other people like me have insecurities. That’s been a hard thing for me to understand, that all people have trials, and I really am not alone. Perhaps it’s me being selfish, but I loved the idea that I was suffering and everyone else had perfect lives that were so easy, so that's way I could be pitied. But that’s stupid and not Christlike. No matter how pretty, popular, fun, boy wanted, teaching talented, or smart a girl is, they each have sorrows and insecurities. Heavenly Father taught me the hard way that I need to stop being so selfish and instead of think the whole world is doing so much better than me, that we are all perfecting at our own pace. As I go home, I need to keep that insight with me, and as Katie challenged all 16 of us, to live with faith and not fear.
Goodbye’s happened this morning before we left to head back to our homestays in Auckland, and most everyone cried as we sang “Lean on Me” and “Te Aroha” for James, Jim, and Linda. I wasn’t one of them, and I think it’s because I don’t cry when saying goodbye and also, my major bonds I made in New Zealand didn’t happen with many of the girls. Half of us are going to say our goodbyes Friday night when we fly back to America, and those are the ones I feel closer too, but the others who are going off to Australia or staying in New Zealand with their parents, and who I said goodbye to for real I didn’t feel as close to, so the tears didn’t flow. My worry is that I didn’t gain the most from these girls or my experiences with them. I’ve loved New Zealand and Kara so much, and I do care about the girls, and there will always be a special place in my heart for them, but the unity Dr. Jacobs testifies of among all of us is hard for me to feel. It must be my fault for not feeling that unity. Looking back, I did care too much if they liked me, and I thought little of what would be best for the 15 girls surrounding me. It’s a mistake I need to learn from. Looking back now, I was paranoid and really, the girls did love me; it was my fear that kept them at bay. Next time when I am around people who I don’t feel like me or that I have little in common with and don’t click with them, I just need to let it roll off my back like a duck as my friend Danielle says, and think less of myself.
Sorry for the long blog post and my confessions, but I know those who read this love me and will understand. I wanted to thank all of you for taking them time to read this blog. I love you all!