Sweet home Alabama

So I've been back in the States for about 2 weeks now and thought it was probably about time to update my blog. The flight home was horrendous, just so you know. Think long and hard before you decide to fly to the other side of the world. Turns out planet Earth is frickin huge. And then you have to fly back. Sweet mercy. 30 hours. I don't wanna talk about it any more.

Since I've been home I have been able to indulge in the beatiful things that make home so good. The food: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, fried okra, cornbread, Dr. pepper, sweet tea, Southwestern Cobb salad from Chilis, THE THANKSGIVING MEAL - need I say more? And then of course there's mommy and daddy and cuddles and kisses and my friends and Dawson's Creek. *sigh*

My 21st birthday was last Monday. My mommy and daddy threw me a tea party. It was so cute. And I got a diamond necklace - my first real diamond necklace. yay.

Right now my parents are in the process of moving out of the Olive Tree, a coffee house/bookstore, their place of business for the last three years, the place that their ministry began. The end of another era. The end of free double vanilla lattes. Wow the sadness of that reality just hit me like a ton of bricks. Ouch. But I will always remember the day that I faced my fear of the espresso machine and steamer and made my very first latte. It was a beautiful moment. Now what God has in store for them next I have no idea, and neither do they. I admire their trust in Him.

I'll be coming up to Auburn on Thursday. Woo hoo! I'm excited to see all of my old friends, and make some new ones hopefully. Although the thought of meeting a bajillion people whom I've never met and who may or may not refer to me as "the kiwi" (so I've heard) scares me a bit. But I am pretty excited to meet some new people and hear their stories of the past year.

But, alas, now I must go and move more boxes. Fun times, fun times.


Aussie pics

The beach at Surfer's paradise, AUS

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Koala Bears...so cute...I got to cuddle with one!




Kangaroos...lazy bums...most of them were just laying aound on the ground waiting for someone to come and scratch their tummies.

Tasmanian Devil...to my dismay, he did not travel by cyclone as I was led to believe by the usually accurate Looney Toons.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

The Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Can anyone guess why they're called the Pancake Rocks?

See the mist on the left hand side? That's called a blowhole. At high tide, the waves crash on the rocks and the spray comes up through a hole making it look like a blowhole.

The coast of Punakaiki.

Pictures from snow day in NZ

This was the view from my bedroom window when I woke up that glorious Monday morning...I was so excited that I called my mommy...then I went and played in the snow.

Justin, Laura, and Josh tried to slide down the hill on sleeping mats...it didn't quite work out.

Here we are walking back from our adventure on the hillside.

In the distance is Ilam fields...where people usually have rugby practice...it became the perfect location for snowball fights.


My last New Zealand post

So here it is guys...my last post from New Zealand. I can't believe it. It's time to come home.

The last week has been pretty difficult. I've had to say goodbye to all of the people I've shared the last 4 1/2 months with. I really miss them. They were such good people, such good friends. And they taught me a lot...they taught me about new perspectives, about love, about friendship, and even about God - which is crazy because most of them didn't believe in God.

When you aren't around Christians every second of every day (which I practically was before I came here) you begin to see things and understand things in a new light. It is actually very scary. Because the truth is not everyone knows about Jesus. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone will. And it's hard, because you see these people, these truly good people who you love and cherish and they want nothing to do with God. They think he is silly, that he is some man-made insanity in the sky scaring people into doing crazy things and saying even crazier things. And that makes me angry. And that makes me sad. But at the same time, they have respect for this thing that they don't believe in. They respect me because I believe in him. They love me unconditionally. And this made me really sad, because I know that Christians don't love people unconditionally. I know Christians who would be uncomfortable around my friend Justin becasue he is gay. And that really pisses me off. And then some Christians would want to be his friend, but it would only be because they wanted to see him get saved, because they had this hidden agenda, and not because they genuinely loved him like Jesus does, like Jesus told us to do - he would just be another name on the list.

Honestly I don't blame some of these people for not beliving in Jesus because the only example they have of him is what they see from the Christians around them and the Christians they see on TV. And let me tell you, some of the people who claim to be "Christians," who claim to be followers of Christ do nothing but embarrass him, shame him, and nullify the real reason he died for us in the first place.

I'm obviously not saying this of all Christians, but being here, seeing it from the outside looking in, I can understand how it looks that way. Generalizations are evil, but they happen and they are killing us. They are killing the love that was meant for everyone, not just the people raised in the Bible Belt.

I know I'm going off a bit, but I've been thinking about this for a long time and I need to get it out. I am angry. It's not fair. And it hurts me. And then I get a glimpse into the world of God. How much more does it hurt for him? He is perfect and wonderful and amazing and he wants to offer us everything, but some people won't take what he is offering because they look at what other people are doing with it and they don't want to be a part of it. Oh if only we were capable of loving other people the way God loves us. Then everything would be ok.

So here is a list of the things I have learned in NZ:


--> So remember my gorgeous flatmate Greg? Yeah, he's an ass. Utterly useless. I'll just leave it at that. I am willing to provide evidence for those who need proof. (I realize that this is not being very loving, and I apologize, but really, some people are a waste of lifeform)

In addition, a couple of guys who I assumed would turn out to be asses were actually two of the most caring and good-hearted people that I have ever met. So really, take a good long look at someone and spend time with them before you create a personality for them.


--> This doesn't need much explaining. Come to New Zealand or Australia and eat them - lots of them. Yummy yummy for the tummy. Just imagine - chocolate coated chocolate wafer with chocolate cream filling. Amazing.


--> So before I came here I thought that I needed this trip, this adventure, to refuel. I needed to step away from monotony and routine and "find myself." I wanted to get closer to God, I wanted to meet new people, I wanted to firgure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to be inspired. But things didn't really turn out the way I expected - and that's a good thing. I did find out new things about myself - like I'm not a total scaredy cat - and I did meet new people who taought me a lot, and I did get closer to God in ways that I had never noticed before.

But I was wrong in thinking that coming here would show me how to see a different side of God. Because no matter where I go, I will always be there, and better yet God will always be there. And he does not change. No part of him changes. He is the same in New Zealand as he is in the United States, all I have to do is look. If I seek then I shall find. And really I don't need beautiful scenery to inspire me into looking.

But then again I did have to come here to realize that I already had what I needed the entire time.

Ok so now that I've lost about 2/3 of the people who originally began reading this, I'm going to stop the list here and finish it later, when I've had more time to ponder.

I'll have my cell phone with me on Tuesday if you want to give me a ring - I'd love to hear from you!! See you soon!


Aussie Land

Hey guys, I'm back from Australia! It was amazing. The beach was beautiful and the weather was perfect - hot and sunny every day I was there.

Of course, not everything was perfect. Once I finally got to the hostel I was staying at, I realized that it wasn't going to be the nice relaxing week I had envisioned. There were people everywhere and music was blaring all day every day, not to mention the fact that the "hot and sunny" weather made the un-airconditioned rooms nearly unbearable- not really my cup o tea...at least not when I'm by myself. So the first couple of days weren't too fun to be honest. I mean the mornings were great - I would go down to the beach (which was right across the street) and lay out for about 3 hours and then I would walk around town, get some lunch, and maybe do some reading. But then I would run out of things to do and have to go back to the room I was sharing with 3 crazy guys.

So I ended up leaving the hostel and going to a place that rented out one bedroom apartments - my own full size bed, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. Good stuff. I felt so much better from then on out. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the beach and walking around and then coming back to a nice quiet place with an amazing view.

My fourth day there I went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Definately the highlight of my stay. I walked around that place for hours looking at the exotic birds, dingoes, tasmanian devils, echidnas, wombats, crocodiles, and, of course, the koala bears and kangaroos. Such amazing creatures. The best part was that they had the kangaroos free to roam around ( within a certain boundary) so you could walk right up to them and pet them or sit with them. It was so awesome. There was a big group of them lying around and I just walked right into the middle of them and took pictures and pet them. They were almost like dogs, rolling around on their backs so that you could scratch their bellies. I was all smiles.

And then if that weren't enough, I got to cuddle with a koala. Oh yes, thats right, we cuddled. Ok so I had to pay $15 to be able to, but I'd say it was worth it. And I got a professional picture. We were so cute. He had his little arms around me and his little head was on my shoulder. I thought I was going to cry.

But, alas, now I am back in New Zealand. Well, to be honest, I'm glad to be back. I was craving some social contact. Not that there aren't people in Australia - there are actually too many of them - but I wanted my friends. Also, I can finally say that I am truly glad I came to NZ instead of Australia (which you may or may not remember I was having an extrememly difficult time deciding between the two). I mean I liked it, but I think I would have gotten bored because I would only have the city and the outback would be really hard to get to without a car...Australia is just too big to be able to do as much travelling as I have been able to do here.

So there it is...my last big adventure for a while. I'll be back in the States in 9 days! Woo hoo!!