Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back in LA

No pictures... I guess I could have taken a shot of my pile of laundry and pile of mail to sort through, but neither are a pretty picture!

We are back in Los Angeles, somewhat reluctantly - we had a great time in NZ and feel so blessed to have been able to go and spend quality time with so many of my old friends and family members. Thanks to all of you who prayed for us - it was an awesome trip!

For those of you who know how much I fear flying... the 12 hours each way were some of the best I've spent on a plane. I took a sleeping pill each time and was so drowsy and out of it I actually feel like I had fun up there!!

NZ: Ohinewai & Auckland

Our second to last day/night was spent on a farm near the town of Ohinewai with Liz & Fraser and their four kids. Liz & I went to high school and church together, I've known her for about 30 years!
This is their "backyard" where Bill went out for a spin on the motorbike and came back happy and very muddy (note the sheep watching him intently):
Last day/night were spent in Auckland with our cousins (on Dad's side) - here's Jon with Kenneth (Braydon & Georgia in background) :
Very nice walk around the coast below Robyn's home:
Farewell at the airport with Aunty Anne & Uncle Graham (Dad's brother) and George & Margaret (NZers who visited us in Colombia a few years ago):
Jon's last adventure in NZ - trying to eat a Weta:

Haere ra = goodbye (in Maori)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NZ: Rotorua, Tauranga & Nature

Rotorua: We spent one night in this city - famous for geothermal activity. We visited a Maori cultural village and they showed us some of their songs and games.
Tauranga: visited Great-Uncle Harry with my cousin Anthea.
We stayed with Tani & Anthea and their boys Dylan & Dior (not pictured) - went out for coffee and cake this morning.
Tui (bird) singing in a cherry blossom tree.
I was fascinated by the Ponga trees.
The famous NZ silver fern (green one side, white the other).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

NZ: Nan & her birthday

We took my Nan out to her favorite cafe for lunch last Friday:

Then Jon, Bill and I spent the afternoon playing games with her at the place where she lives. First it was about an hour's worth of a game called "Housie" - it's like Bingo. I won a dollar-fifty and then proceeded to lose it all playing the rest of the rounds! After that the four of us played Rummikub.

We had the family gathering for Nan's 90th birthday on Saturday. Here she is cutting her cake with Uncle Neil at her side:

Nan with five of her seven children (two other brothers were out of the country):

NZ: Visiting Family in the Waikato

We've spent most of the last week with Mum's side of the family. We stayed with Uncle David and Auntie Jean (Mum's sister) on their farm. Enjoyed lots of good food and got in touch with nature!My Auntie is very gifted in wool crafts and weaving... this is her workroom with the looms she uses. She gave me a beautiful sweater and scarf that she made.
They have a spa on their back veranda which we jumped in every night we were there. A couple of nights we were able to see the stars and located the Southern Cross.
My uncle is involved with a nature reserve where they have erradicated imported pests (like mice and rabbits and cats) and are reintroducing endangered native species in an effort to save them in their natural habitat. It was really cool to see it up close. We were really priviledged to see these birds below called Takahe. We also saw Kaka birds, which are like brown parrots - but I didn't get a picture. These birds roam wild but are tame enough that when their "keeper" calls them they show up for a snack.
A short hike through the Maungatautari Reserve:

We also visited my cousin, Pam, and her husband on their dairy farm. They raise Jersey cows. Here she is below with the calves that have been born in the past month. (Only the heifers are kept.)
Here's her husband and a helper getting ready to milk the cows.A cow with her new-born calf (only a few hours old here).
Dad - enjoying one of the many pets we've been meeting :)
We spent last night with Dad's cousin, Kevin, and wife, Trena, and enjoyed visiting their church in Matamata this morning.

NZ: Driving Around N.Z.

A couple of hours from Gisborne we stopped at Opotiki for lunch and then drove on to Ohope Beach for a walk on the beach plus cappuccino :) Someone had the bright idea of serving hot drinks etc from a mobile cafe!
Ohope Beach:
This is a typical view from the back seat of our little loaned Nissan! We've all "enjoyed" the challenge of learning to drive on the left side of the road and the right side of the car. I must confess I've been backseat driving :(
Another normal Waikato view:
On our wee road trip from Te Awamutu to Matamata we took the side road to at least drive by one of the places where Lord of the Rings was filmed. This is as close as Bill got to living like a hobbit.
And of course we eat too much junk food while driving around. This is jellytip icecream. Yum.
For those who haven't bought NZ takeaways (aka carryout fast food) this is how you bring fish and chips home to enjoy:
This order consisted of Kumara chips, regular chips, battered fish and crumbed fish.

Monday, August 04, 2008

NZ: More Gisborne Shots

A Maori meeting house near one of our old homes (at the foot of Kaiti Hill):
I spent two years at this school when I was 7 & 8 years old:
We walked around the river and along Waikanae Beach with the Watsons. Here's Lara, Leasa, me and Grace. (Leasa and I have known of each other for about 30 years, but have been good friends for the last 23 years!
Lara and Grace invited me to share about Colombia with their class (they are twins).
As of today Bill has had Fish and Chips three times in less than two weeks!
The view of Gisborne from Kaiti Hill.
Gladstone Road... Gisborne's main street.
Uncle Lyn and Auntie Margaret (Dad's sister) hosted us:
This is a fun shot of U. Lyn & A. Marg's caravan which they leave parked on a section of land at Wainui Beach. We went for a walk along the beach before enjoying yummy soup in the caravan.

(FYI: You can click on any of these photos to view a larger version!)