Friday, December 31, 2010
Waking up in Dallas at 3am, then getting on an airplane, then spending an 11-hour layover in San Francisco isn’t so bad really. All you have to do is find a good piece of carpet, or a long seat to lay down on and take a nap. It’s really quite simple. Wrap your purse around your legs, then tuck the opening under you. Take the zipper part of the backpack and squash your head down on it. Cover up in your yak blanket, and you’re set for a good 2-hour deep sleep. Eat lots of granola and fruit to keep your energy up afterwards, then spend the rest of the day reading and talking to old friends and family that you are probably already missing.
Saying goodbye to momma and dad was hard, and I expected to get on the other side of security, sit down and bawl like a little girl. But I didn’t. The whole day had been filled with peace and anticipation. This was the feeling for which I have prayed, and I am sure others are praying the same. It wasn’t until right before boarding Air New Zealand that I cried a bit, but then a nice couple that had flown with me from Dallas talked to me and I felt better.
Maybe the idea of leaving home to cross the ocean and live overseas for a while hit me enough times before I got on the plane that morning. It hit me hard when I said goodbye to my brother a few days ago. It hit me hard each time I had to say goodbye to my wonderful girls at church.
This excitement, though, had turned an idea of something great into a genuine anticipation to meet my new family. The two girls seem a perfect fit and perfect ages and perfect personalities for me, and I was getting quite anxious to meet them.
So in San Francisco, I boarded a 12 and a half hour flight. There was a Kiwi (New Zealand) cowboy that talked to me on the way in, then I sat beside a man travelling to Perth, Australia for a doctorate program in Bio-Chemistry. He respected that I have an English degree, and I stood in awe of his field of study. His wife and two little girls would be joining him in Perth after he got settled there.
Right off, this smart fellow helped me get my backpack into the bin (because I couldn’t reach it – surprising, huh?), then I shared my Orbit Sweet Mint gum with him, and we were instant friends. Later I shared my dinner roll with him because I like to do that with Gunnar and Ryan (but they were unavailable), and he hadn’t had money to eat at the airport all day. After dinner, I took a NyQuil, and fell asleep watching Nanny McPhee.
A woman’s voice came across the speaker, waking us up seven hours later by wishing us a happy new year. We had passed the International Date Line, skipping December 31 entirely, and I had slept through the last bit of the old year. Breakfast came, and we all watched the sun rise over Auckland City before our landing. Customs was a lot simpler than I had anticipated, so soon I rolled through the gate and met my smiling New Zealand family.
Trying to sum the past three (four, if you count the 19-hour time change) into one blog post is immensely difficult, especially if I were to include all I have done and felt and seen today. Shall we suffice it to say that the beaches here are more blue than the beach at South Padre Island, and that the coffee and tea are the greatest even an idealist could imagine? Would it also be safe to say that Kiwi accents are spectacularly beautiful (and my 3-year-old actually corrected me today on the proper way to say “cupboard”) and that the trees here are more green than any other green I have ever known?
They brought me to my bedroom first, and they had worked hard on it to make it beautiful and cozy. There was a “Where the Wild Things Are” stuffed animal on my pillow, and a beautiful traditional NZ jewelry box, a framed photo of Peter Pan, two mugs, a NZ guide, a bag of NZ candy, an alarm clock, and a lovely calendar with bird art. While the girls went for a walk, I took a shower and unpacked, then we all went for coffee and to the beach to play on the playground. A few slides and a couple swings later, we were on our way to the supermarket where they stocked me up on muesli (granola), fruit, yogurt, and dark chocolate. For lunch, I met the family’s old au pair and another friend of the family who are both close to my age. I heard through the grapevine later that they approve of me. 🙂
We journeyed on to the grandparents’ house for tea. The word scone now has a whole new meaning. Oh my gracious! It was heavenly with jam and cream – the way the English county from which they came eats their scones. Everyone is so very nice here, and they haven’t stopped smiling, which makes me feel right at home.
At the end of my first day in New Zealand, New Year’s Day, I have gone from thinking I would love these two little girls to knowing that I love them already. They are precious, and tomorrow we all get to spend the day together at the Zoo. I think I will definitely “live” here.
I have jumped straight from December 30, 2010 into January 1, 2011 today. I have jumped from the old into the new, and I have a God that is jumping with me, calming my anxieties as they come up and conquering the thoughts inside me that tell me I can’t do this. You can praise and continue to pray for these things. New Year’s Day – the beginning of living in this paradise called New Zealand.