The Vacation

Well. We are home from our huge, long-awaited, too-good-to-be-true vacation (or, “holiday,” as the Kiwis say) to New Zealand! It was amazing…no, superb…no, fantastic…no, really, it was phenomenal. Actually, I don’t have the right adjectives to describe this trip. It was really the trip of a lifetime…

New Zealand, you say, whoooooaaaaa! Yeah, I know. And, this was actually our second trip to New Zealand.  Why New Zealand? Twice? Well, it’s really a pretty great story…

Once upon a time, we met Jeramy and Melissa Kenworthy – two native New Zealanders, living in the United States. They became the children’s pastors at our church at the time, and there was an instant connection. We began spending lots of time together – holidays, special occasions, weekend getaways, you name it. While they were in the US, they had two of their children. Then, came the year they decided it was time to move. Away. Far away. Different hemisphere, different continent, the whole enchilada. They moved about as far away as one can move: back to New Zealand.

Well, as you can imagine, there was the usual sobbing, wailing, gnashing of teeth, but in the end, we helped them to load all of their worldly belongings, including their HONDA VAN, into this ship container, and, just like that, they were gone.

End of the story, you ask? Not hardly!! It’s not easy, but we’re all determined to stay close. One of the ways, of course, is to actually visit New Zealand. Everyone with me so far? Good, moving on…

So, when I say that our trip was phenomenal, you have to imagine that with all caps – PHENOMENAL!. In case you don’t know much about New Zealand, let me be the first to tell you that it’s BEAUTIFUL! I mean, New Zealand has mountains, the ocean, lakes, forests, rivers, beaches, snow and low humidity. (And, lots of sheep everywhere, strangely enough…that’s just some free information for you…) I mean, Lord of the Rings was filmed there, for crying out loud! Get the picture? And, you know that’s awesome, it really is, but what’s even better is spending time with some of our favorite people.

From the moment we got off the plane and cried a few tears of joy, it was like we’d never been apart. We laughed, cut up, cooked together, watched movies, went to the grocery store and to dinner and constantly argued over who was to pay whatever bill we had at the moment. We also had 1 fall, 1 busted lip, 1 severely stubbed toe (all this was actually just with my mom), 6 different flights, 3 head colds, 3 luge rides, 2 buttermilk pies, 1 broken gondola, 1 snowman, 1 7-year-old falling into the lake while feeding the ducks and a partridge in a pear tree. OK, so no partridge in a pear tree, but everything else really happened. After 4 years of not seeing each other, these relationships are just the same.

Do you have people like that in your life? I hope so. I’m reminded of Paul the Apostle’s letters to the different early churches in the New Testament. In all of these letters, he routinely mentions by name people he loves and is thankful for. People who have made a difference in his life, and he in theirs. Relationships that can stand the test of time, no matter how long the test is. People who know you, the good, the bad and the ugly, and just choose to love you anyway; people who speak truth in love, cheer you on to be better and encourage you in your relationship with Christ. In my life, some of these people are my precious Kiwi friends.

In Phillipians 1:3-8, Paul says it best:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. -ESV

The bottom line, as I see it, is that when hearts are knit together BY God and IN God, there are no friendships any sweeter, more fun or more beneficial. And, these friends may literally be on the other side of the earth or 2 doors down, no matter: the relationships stay strong because God has created them.

So. The gondola really did break down, WITH PEOPLE ON IT AFTER DARK (not us, or I dare say I might not be here to tell you about it) and we had to wait on top of the mountain for about an extra hour or two for it to be repaired. We went to the gift shop…with the kids…for a very long time…much longer than necessary…and, finally we were treated to free hot chocolate or mulled wine while we waited…and waited. What more can you ask for, right? Except, no, it was boring and irritating and the free hot chocolate didn’t begin to make us any happier. The only thing worse that we could think of was if we’d actually been ON the gondola when it broke. Yeah, that would be so much worse…

When we finally heard the announcement that the gondola was up and running again and we all ran through the plan of salvation together again, confessed sin and prayed, you know…just in case…we got in a cart with another American, strangely enough! She was a teacher who taught at a school in Aspen that was a “sister school” to a school in New Zealand and was a chaperone for a group of 12 students. No, really, I promise that is true and I’m currently trying to get on some list to obtain said-type job. I’ll keep you posted…anyway, we talked some, in between taking deep, calming breaths and calling out Jesus’ name, and she asked if the people we were visiting were family or friends. I thought for a minute, then answered, “You know, sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference.”

 

 

 

 


6 thoughts on “The Vacation

    1. I know! We spent much of our time, 8 days, on the South Island with J&M and kids. We will definitely see you next time! ❤️

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  1. Oh this so sums it up, that’is truely how we feel too, kindred spirits to the core, no length of time will change the connection we have and I love that. You’re such a great writer! I’m going to read that out to the family tomorrow who are currently all sleeping. Love it and love you guys xxoo

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