Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm back...6 months ago.


Blog fail.

I didn't have the time to keep Blog updated in New Zealand because, well, I was busy having fun.
Then once I got home I was overwhelmed with trying to sum up my trip.
Now I'm in school and busy busy busy. But Blog has been pushing its way from the back of my mind to the front.
I can get rid of that with a frontal lobotomy, or I can just slowly get back into blogging.

It's still up in the air.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

DAY 21 - DAY 29

DAY 21: February 3, 2010 Wednesday
Today Group B went to the local pool with our kayaks! We practiced saving people who were rolled over in their kayaks as well as getting rescued. It was harder than I expected. Good thing I'm really great at holding my breath :) It made me excited to get out there in a real river. Afterwards, Alex and I were really tired so we napped. I ate dinner and did NOT shower before class ha. This Wednesday night class (History of the Church in NZ) is going to be taught by Sister Jenni Ngnahooro and she seems like a really interesting person. She complemented my pounamou, my greenstone.

DAY 22: February 4, 2010 Thursday
Sitting in another class. 8:00 a.m. Didn't pay attention at all really, but got lost in thinking about my weaknesses and how I can use my time here to work on making them strengths.
Went and looked around for service hours, bought some amazing earrings, then napped at Queen's Park. Later, we went with James and Isaac to Jame's parents and picked raspberries and tomatoes. Isaac was eating this thing that was like a GIANT pea pod and I asked him what it was. He said, "I don't know what it is but it's ripe and yummy!" Then he popped it into his front-toothless mouth and smiled :)

DAY 23: February 5, 2010 Friday
Oh my goodness. I went to the Velodrome today! It. Was. Awesome! The lady said I had talent! It was pretty hard to do and my legs were shot at the end of it. When we were done we ate our packed lunches then went to SIT. We went to a flax weaving exhibition and talked to this Maori guy for a while. Then we bought a hairdryer and straightener at this store called Farmers, and I went back to campus. I was going to read but I ended up talking to Eric on facebook for a long time instead, but it was much more worth my time than my homework. Then I rode my bike forever to get to the church and played volleyball. Fun day!

DAY 24: February 6, 2010 Saturday
Today was Waitangi Treaty day. It's kind of like the 4th of July but not quite, because the treaty was written by white people and the Maoris signed it not knowing exactly what the treaty entailed. Things are better now but it was kind of controversial. Anyway, there was a sunrise ritual at 6 a.m. that we went to. If you've seen Whale Rider, the part where the have a Mitai, or that thing where the woman sings out to the man/group of visitors. A woman (hostess) was singing out to us (visitors) and we walked slowly into some seats that were facing two rows of other seats, filled with the hosts (men only). Then each man on our side would get up and introduce his group to the chief, to the men we were facing. In the BOM where people always say I'm so-and-so, and my fathers were blah blah and so on, in Maori culture you tell what waka (boat) you came to the island on. Luckily, there was a man who could speak some Maori and knew how the ritual worked that spoke for all the SIT students. Then the corresponding women of the man introducing (the women sat behind the men) would stand and sing a song. It was all really cool. The food afterwards was nasty though. It was this fermented corn stuff that smelled like a mix between really bad morning breath and straight up vomit. Blah.
Alex and I went home and back to bed for a while. We headed to Queen's where the Buskers festival was going on haha. We'll never get away from that festival. We headed to this DELICIOUS icecream place and then to Tressa & Rachel's. Then to the park for frisbee and a movie. Got home at 1 a.m. Good day.

DAY 25: February 7, 2010 Sunday
James and Anna gave us a ride to church again today! Most wonderful thing EVER! It was raining hard today. Fast meeting was good. The hymns stand out to me lately, and the lyrics just speak to me. I love the hymns.
Alex and I went home, packed for tomorrows three day kayaking/camping trip, ate Anna's delicious food and biscuits. Then Alex grabbed her Zentai suit and we headed to Queen's Park again. The festival had ended and there wasn't really anyone there but the few encounters she did have were so funny! While she was doing that, Rachel, Tressa, and I taught some Shakespeare festival actors a cheer to do. It was two old guys and a young really good looking guy with pom poms :) "Prince William, Prince Henry, their parents got divorced. Charles married Kamilla but she looks like a horse!" Came home and raided the kitchen, oops. Cheese and apricot jam. Get this, the flavor of the cheese was "Tasty." It was called "Tasty Cheese."

DAY 26: February 8, 2010 Monday
Got up, headed to SIT, drove to Borland with the group for our Kayaking trip. Took the entire drive to think about starting my own Swim and Tennis club someday. We'll see. Arrived, set up camp, split into Group A and B.  A went Kayaking and B went for a walk. It was actually super amazing. We headed into an enchanted forest. It was like Fanghorn, seriously. Thick, green, squishy. The forest floor was dry but it was spongy and bouncy. Trippiest place I've ever been in. After that, we went to the pond to practice kayaking. Came back, ate, sat around, frisbee. Then a de-breifing with Toni, Dave, and John (instructors.) Then a few of us headed into Fanghorn in the dead of night. We walked around and tried playing tricks on each other. It was PITCH black and pretty creepy. But we found a clearing near the river and looked at the stars for a while. They were so bright and clear. It was amazing.

DAY 27: February 9, 2010 Tuesday
Oh. My. Goodness. I woke up this morning with NO LEGS! The bugs ate them. HUGE bites all up my left leg and bites all around the pant leg line of my right. GAHHH! These sand flies are awful. Anyway, headed to the river and found out that kayaking rapids was much harder then I anticipated. You think, "bah, kayaking is easy," but it was a constant struggle. Despite the frustration, the river was beautiful and I can see why people love it. I just need LOTS of practice. I flipped over twice but I never bailed! I held my breath for EVER and John rescued me. Yessss!
Thought a lot today about my personality. I decided I'm not an extremely fun creative person. That's alright. I also decided I wasn't a malicious person. Thought a lot about small choices leading to bigger choices, either good or bad. Lot's of time to think about what ever I want these days. It's great.

DAY 28: February 10, 2010 Wednesday
Woke up to a big *SMACK by Julianne. "There was a bug!" Yeah right ;)
Ate, packed up everything and took off for the river. It was cold and cloudy and no one really wanted to get in. But slowly, many people got in the kayaks and just worked around this little eddie we were at. I didn't get in the kayaks but I DID jump off a cliff. However, I only did it once because it hurt my ear really bad. Shivered, changed, ate, de-briefed, drove home, got ice cream on the way, ate Anna's delicious taco salad type thing, showered, went to class, went to a friends' for toast, went home. Fun filled day number 28.

DAY 29: February 11, 2010 Thursday
SFL 100 is a love/hate relationship. I want to spit when I'm in there but then, I WANT to believe the teachings. I hate the teachings and the way the class is laid out...etc. but I'm TRYING to soften my heart. I don't want to be a hard-A with a closed mind and heart. The Lord is helping me through this class and I'm so thankful. I want to be teachable.

I went to the old folks home to do some service. We just organized a huge nasty closet and I loved it :) We got ice cream on the way home and the same place I got some the other day. HUGE scoops dipped in chocolate for only $2.50. Went home, relaxed, went to Queen's, had a sleepover at our place, downed two bags of chips, two bags of popcorn, a 2 litre coke, and two slabs of chocolate. So fun

Saturday, February 27, 2010

DAY ELEVEN: Christchurch - DAY TWENTY: Invercargill

 Going to church in Christchurch haha. Funny. Put on make-up and staightened my hair today. Went to church. The church is the same all over the world. After church went to the Botanical Gardens for a few hours. Listened to a band "The Unfaithful Ways." How Sabbath appropriate ha. Alex put on her Zentai suit when we got back to camp and ran around. It was hilarious. Watched Nacho Libre in the van. It was a good day. Happy Birthday Robert..

DAY TWELVE: Christchurch to Greymouth
Driving through beautiful land, as usual. We lost some bags out the back of the cheap trailer. Driving around looking for them listening to Weezer and Jack's Mannequin.
Didn't find the bags :( Made it to the Top Ten Holiday Park. It's RIGHT on the beach. Sun bathed, swam, played a beach rugby game. Went to the jade store and saw some amazing jewelry. Went to the beach for the sunset. Experimented using other senses to remember where I am. Closed my eyes, felt the moon on my face, the wave breeze in my nose, the rocks under my hands and feet. It smells good here.

DAY THIRTEEN: Greymouth to Cromwell
Great day today. Nine hour drive in store but my van was able to hit Franz Josef glacier AND Fox glacier. Only hiked to the first one but that's ok. Fox was pretty much the same...amazing. Worked on making an anklet in the van but got car sick. Spent the rest of the BEAUTIFUL drive with my head out the window, camera ready, music on, smile wide, drool flying, cheeks flapping. Drove by some hay fields and I kept my eyes open for some cribs because I saw a haying tractor that I've driven in Wyoming. Didn't see any cribs but saw a bunch of other cool stuff. Most beautiful drive EVER.

Woke up to Julianne coming INTO the tent. She opened the flap and I told her she smelled good. She hadn't showered or put lotion was the outside air! It smells like tropical, flowery goodness.
FINALLY AT INVERCARGILL! We're here in our "sleep-out." Yes, we have our own little apartment detached from the main house. Our own bathroom and everything. Our host parents are young and have three adorable kids, 6 1/2, 5, and 3 1/2. They are adorable.

DAY 15: January 28, 2010
I think it's clinically proven you drool a million times more during a nap then during the night. It's a quarter to 6 and I just woke from a nap. We went to a friends of Anna's and James' (host parents) for lunch. We drove out of town through unnamed streets to a farm. I walked into the old, mismatched house and had to pause for a sec. I was sure I was at the ranch. It was wonderful :)
Got our bikes today! Rode to the beach, stayed for a few minutes, rode back. Ate a wonderful dinner, observed Anna. She is such a great mom and I'm trying to soak in her mannerisms.
We all met up at a park and played some rugby. Bought some chocolate on the way home. YUMMY!

DAY 16: January 29, 2010 Friday
Just rode our bikes around town today, getting to know the little town of Invercargill. We went to Queen's Park and it was fantastic! I have a feeling we'll be spending most of our free time here. We saw an ostrich, llamas, and reindeer,  (all caged in, of course.) Came home and played "New Zealand Monopoly" with the kids. It was awesome! Same game but the places on the board are places in New Zealand. "Waitomo Caves," "Picton Ferry," "Mount Maunganui," and the pieces were flip flops, a laptop, a cell phone, a dog, a SHEEP, a plane, a jar of VEGEMITE, haha. I was on Isaac's team (6 1/2 year old) and we dominated. Jumped on the trampoline a little bit. I love it here. *smile and sigh.

DAY 17: January 30, 2010 Saturday
It's been a good long day. Got up at like 8, got ready for the day, rode 40 mins to Donevan park for a branch bbq that started at 11...but we were the first ones there. It was scheduled from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. We didn't even eat until 2:00. Welcome to Maori culture I guess. We had plenty of games of volleyball and cricket in the mean time ha. After that, I went to a park and lost my all-time favorite article of clothing; my black quarter zip polyester jacket. :( Oh well.
At 6 some people met to get Fish n' Chips at a Takeaway. Yes, they give it to you in newspaper...well, the same type of paper. Just no print. I have hated fish my entire life but I'm determined to learn to like it here. I'll do it.
Went to a park with a ZIPLINE! It was so cool. The parks here are a lot cooler than the ones in the states because no one sues anyone here.

DAY 18: January 31, 2010 Sunday
Anna and james drove us to church today! We were a little ahead of schedule so we stopped by the sunday Farmer's market. It was so fun! Church was rough. Sacrament consisted of a lot of cliches and mormon parables that circulated the U.S. a year or so ago. BUT, it also consisted of the sacrament, blessed and passed the same way it is blessed and passed throughout the world. The Lord's way.
After church, Alex and I went to Bluff with the family and ate at a friend's. We had smoked flounder and I didn't mind it at all! I would almost say I liked it! Then we went  around to the touristy stuff and it was fun. Pictures on facebook. Skyped with the fam and saw little Charlotte. I miss her :) Alex and I stayed up and talked about the group drama going on. Another wonderful day ha.

DAY 19: February 1, 2010 Monday
First day of school! It was a joke. Went to the beach with a ton of people. Hard first day ;) Met the fam's next door neighbor, Kathrena! Cutest little old lady ever. She was awesome. Watched a movie at Carly, Ariel's, and Sarah's. Just a chill day.

DAY 20: February 2, 2019 Tuesday
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday are our SIT (Southern Institute of Technology) courses. Those are the kayaking, rock climbing, tramping, surfing classes. Then Wednesday night and Thursday are our BYU classes. You are in two of the three BYU classes (Wednesday night from 7-9:30, Thursday morning from 8-11:30, or Thursday from 1 to 4:30). I'm in the Wednesday night and Thursday morning classes; History of the church in NZ, and SFL. Today, Tuesday, is an SIT class. For the SIT classes, they split the 35 BYU student populous into Group A and Group B. Group A is doing something today and my group, Group B, has a "self directed learning day," aka do nothing.
A bunch of us went to Queen's park and Isaac set up his slackline. It's like walking on a loose tight rope. It was really hard but it comes quickly. Alex and I came home and found the kids on the trampoline with a sprinkler. Without missing a beat we hoped on. Another tough day at school :) Ate dinner then headed BACK to Queen's for a birthday party for Ann. Cake and games. Another great day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Yes, it's true. I'm super behind on my posts. Here's the thing; I have nearly all my photos up to this day posted on my facebook page. I do want to continue to update this blog but for now I don't have time to update facebook and a blog. Pictures upload a lot faster on facebook...sorry.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

DAY TEN: Kiakoura to Christchurch

My group was clean up for breakfast! So we were in charge of Thursday’s dinner, yesterday’s breakfast, lunch, and was clean-up crew for dinner. Plus we shopped twice and are cleanup today. Blah.

Got to camp in Christchurch, set up camp, and headed to the Institute building where a brother and sister Bourne (yes, as in my secret crush, Jason Bourne) had a lunch for us. I had three HUGE pieces of cake after a bunch of steak. Delish. Also, during this lunch through a series of events, I realized I didn’t want to be part of the only “clique” on the trip even though I was invited. I turned it down. It was a big learning experience.

After lunch we went to town and walked around. There was a carnival type thing going on called the Buskers Festival and there were street performers everywhere. It was here I learned another big life lesson. There is honor in succumbing to “The Man” and getting a real job. These street performers kept saying, “We CHOSE to do this as our living,” and proceed to shamelessly beg for money. I left with that sick, empty, sympathetic feeling you get when you see a beaten dog or something. So much for making people laugh. Bleh.

After that, history repeated itself and I found myself at yet another CRAPPY place for dinner. It wasn’t quite as bad as all you can eat Chinese buffet but it was a close second. Next time, I’m going somewhere nice.

We headed to a park where people split up to play rugby or soccer. I’m horrible at soccer but I figured I had more of a chance there than rugby. I ended up playing goalie, aka doing push ups and ab circuits at one end of the field so I felt like I was working off my 3 pieces of cake. When I wasn’t doing lunges I was drooling over the view. We were on a very large, very bright green field. The sky was a beautiful color as well with the spots of blue sky, the yellow sun, pink clouds, and orange mist. It was too gorgeous. Everyone got warm running around and took their sweaters off, so the bright green was dotted with bright coloured shirts of pretty much every color. It was so cute!

DAY NINE: Picton to Kaikoura

My group made breakfast today and I found myself at the grill yet again, making French toast and eggs. I didn’t do a very good job but whatever. Our fruit salad was amazing.

I love fields with bails or rolls of yellow hay, and the three dimensional dance they play on your eyes when you drive by. MMM love it. There are a lot of low lying clouds that move fast and make cool wave-like shadows on the golden fields. Ten minutes later we’re driving along a beautiful coast with black sand.

Ten minutes after that we got pulled over! Haha, apparently people had been complaining about us for miles because 4 big vans pulling trailers were caravanning and driving too close together, making passing really difficult. When the cop pulled us over, about 12 cars waiting to pass zoomed by.

Got into camp and my group made lunch. Tuna or chicken wraps. Good choice. We were going to go to the beach but it’s cold and rainy. We got a group together to take a van into town and see the sights. We ended up driving to possibly the most beautiful lookout point I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera.

We stood on top of a water tower on top of a hill on a peninsula and the beautiful view was looking back inland, with a bay at my left and right. The bay to my left was crisp and clear, dark blue water lined with deep green pine trees. It looked like I was up in the Uintas at home. The bay to my right had sun beams breaking through a storm and bouncing off the turquoise water. It looked more tropical than Midwestern. Both were so majestic and so different. I couldn’t take it all in.

Jasmyn and I both felt like we should have had some personal epiphany or at least should have been crying. I would have cried if I were there by myself but we had some loud, distracting people in our group, bless their rambuctious souls.

We headed to the beach which looked like just a bunch of sharp rocks from the parking lot. We walked out there and ended up spending hours exploring the coast. The rocks formed little pools that we scavenged for star fish, crabs, and any other little treasure we could find. I felt like a mix between a 5 year old kid (wonder, excitement, unfamiliarity) and a 60 year old seaman (damp hair, rain coat, rolled up pants, seaweed covered hands). 

Eventually the feelings of the 5 year old kid took over because I slipped and fell into the kinda nasty stagnant water. Eww. We headed into town after my little accident and to another beach with smooth, round, black rocks, the kind that look like they belong in an expensive spa to rejuvenate your chi or something.

DAY EIGHT: North Island to South Island

Woke up to rain, showered (yay), ate breakfast, was cleanup for breakfast, went to a free museum that was so cool, saw a giant squid there, hopped on the ferry and explored for a while, then had more than a barrel of monkeys. It was so windy on the ferry that if you opened up your rain jacket on deck, it would nearly blow you over! So of course half a dozen BYU students were making fools of themselves for a good two hours up on deck. It was memorable, to say the least.

Journal entry from the time we stopped playing on deck to getting into the harbor:
“The air blowing toward us was warm for a minute and then became cooler as we headed on. The air smells like pine trees and I’ve never seen Alaska but this is what I imagine it would look like. It’s so beautiful.  It looks like a country full to the brim with adventures! Haha Just made a bunch of British guys laugh really hard. We’re pulling in, and the fact that I’m in New Zealand has never felt so real. I’ve never felt so far from my family or so a part of New Zealand as I do on the ferry right now, but I’m not afraid or sad. I’m really here. I’m really doing this!”

We arrived at the top ten park in Picton. I went to the store for a few more things for dinner then slaved over a grill making like a bajillion hamburgers and grilled corn on the cob. It was a hit, and I felt pretty cool :) Ok, the hamburgers were questionable but the corn was delicious.

Jeff and I hoped in the pool and played with a couple of kiwi kids named Kyle and Shaquille…like Shaquille O’Neal. Literally. His dad was sitting right there. Jeff was in there first and when I hoped in Kyle said, “Me and Shaquille are on a team and you and your wife are on a team” haha. After killing at noodle basketball in the pool, Jeff and I were on our way out and I fell back into the pool by accident. Kyle yelled from over the fence, “Oy! Christina, there’s a pool there!” But with the accent it was more like, “Oy! Christaina, days a pooo deh!”

Finally broke down and bought one hour of Internet. It was 10 p.m. my time which meant it was 2 a.m. in Utah. Luckily my dad was out of town so of course mom was online, and we skyped for 6 minutes! It was heaven.

DAY SEVEN: Tongariro to Wellington

It’s summertime here, and what a summer it’s been for the past week. A lot of our time is spent in the vans but I would almost say it is my favorite part. My life is a music video. White v-neck tee, messy hair, no make up. The vans are very thin and open. The ceilings are so high I can nearly stand straight up and the sides are made almost entirely out of windows. The feeling I get on our road trips is the same feeling you have when you’re in a convertible. The combination of wind in your face, music, laughter, sunshine, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter lotion, journal writing.

This is kind of how I feel: Summer 2009

We got to Wellington and were given $20 to fend for ourselves for dinner. We were allotted three hours to walk around town and enjoy.

A small group of us stuck together and went to a food court for the cheaper prices where we ended up eating at a sick nasty Chinese buffet. You’d think I would have learned my lesson last year when Mel, Kevin, Allison, Herb, myself stopped at a $6 chinese buffet after the Festival of Colors at the Hare Krishna temple. I can’t think of a time in relatively normal circumstances when a cheap Chinese buffet is ever a good choice.

People are a little tired and grumpy today from the hike and from being together for a week. There was some murmuring tonight at dinner and a few snarls and tears since then. Nothing too awful but people’s real colors are beginning to show. Buck up, everyone! We’ll make it through :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

DAY SIX: Tongariro and Mount Doom

We got up at 5:45 a.m. and headed to Mount Doom in a big ol’ bus. It was this eerie, foggy, damp weather, exactly how the lands surrounding Mordor would be. The Dead Marshes. The Tongariro crossing is supposed to take about 6 hours without stopping. That does NOT include going off the trail to summet Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom). Piece of cake, right?
We got hiking and the fog was so thick we couldn’t really see a lot. 

We had a map and got to the point where we should turn off and climb Mt. Doom even though we couldn’t see it at all. I will say this: if we had been able to see the top of Mt. Nguaruhoe from the bottom, much fewer people would have attempted it. I think I would have still gone but our group had a lot of people that had to turn back halfway.

Now, I’ve said this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. “Let me ‘splain. No, it is too much. Let me sum up.”
  1. We couldn’t see our goal. With the heavy fog visibility was probably 25 meters. The end was nowhere in sight and as the hiking/sliding/slipping time wracked up we joked that this was hell. Doomed to hike forever without ever reaching the summit.
  2. The terrain seemed impossible. It started out as a firm sand and as we went up it only got harder with each step. It was like walking on a sandy/rocky beach…turned on a 45 degree angle, literally. It was supposed to take 2-2.5 hours return but it took our group 2 hours to get to the top. Near the upper part, for every one step taken (which took all your energy to do), you slid back two. We found out later that there was a more stable foundation on a nearby ridge but WE COULDN”T SEE IT, and we went up the “hardest way,” as people later told us.
  3. The elements. It was cold, windy, and wet up there. I was prepared with warm clothes but didn’t bring what I needed most. Gloves. My hands were freezing but the worst part was trying to use them on the sharp lava rocks. The slope was so steep that it was easier to put your hands down and crawl, but the rocks were sharp and my hands were cold. You know how it hurts to hit your fingers on something when they’re cold? That’s kind of how it felt.
  4. It was legitimately dangerous. Although most of our scrambling was on tennis ball sized volcanic rock and smaller, there were definitely bigger ones around. You’d think they would be good footing so many of us would step on them only to fall on our face and send a boulder barreling down the mountain. Not being able to see well or move very vast in the fog and sand made it difficult to dodge them as well. If you sent a rock flying you screamed “ROCK” and then every person behind you would have to pass along the message. There were a few people in our group that got hit by a rock and a few very close calls with huge, fast moving boulders. It. Was. Scary. 

Welcome to life, I suppose. Sometimes we can’t see our goal, the task seems impossible, the uncontrollable elements are brutal, and you are in some kind of danger. However, another huge thing I learned this day was that you can do more than you think you can.
We reached the top, which was not cool because you couldn’t see anything. You could hardly make out the crater’s edge. I ate nearly half my food up there since I had NO energy left and was losing calories fast to shivering. We started heading back down which was faster, yes, but still hard on the quads and lower back.
We were pretty much surfing down the mountain on a sea of rocks and sand. 

When we reached the bottom my gas tank was empty, I was dehydrated, tired, and there was still about 5 hours of hiking to go.  I ate a bit more of my food to get me going and began walking.
I kinda felt like this

After a long wasteland (to Mordor-esque) and another tall, steep climb, we were able to finally look back and get a clear view of the Mountain we had scaled.
It. Was. Huge. 

That moment was the first time all day I was kinda glad I had dominated it. Look at that thing. I made it to the top and I’m proud of myself for doing it.

The rest of the hike was amazing. Yes, it was foggy most of the time but it was cool. I was in tired, weak, and even in pain for the last 11 km of the hike (yes it was only 19.4 km without mt. doom) but I’m glad I did it. There were times I thought I may not be able to keep walking or keep stepping down these huge steps. Every step is rattling my bones. But we finally reached the end. I was looking awful, worn down, kind of grumpy from dehydration (even though I drank 4 liters of water throughout the 9 hours) and ready for a nap. Despite all that, I was still able stand, amazed, at the majesty and beauty of the Earth.

DAY FIVE: Hamilton to Waitomo

The weather was beautiful when we went to bed.

Julianne and I wanted to keep our rain fly off the tent because it’s been so hot and stuffy, but we put it on, staked it in, and got all our bags stacked under it.
It poured that night. 
Which made for a beautiful sunrise.

I’ve never felt more like a boy scout in my life. “Be Prepared.” It felt good. Since we were prepared, we could enjoy the rain rather than curse it’s name. . I’ve been thinking about Steven and what our family is going through. There isn’t a lot of happiness in the situation but there are things to be enjoyed. I enjoy how much closer our family has become. I enjoy applying the Plan of Salvation to our lives. I enjoy remembering that, although we do not know all things, we know that God loveth his children.

With those thoughts in my mind, we drove to Waitomo where we went to the Waitomo glow worm caves. We got fitted in thick wetsuits that smelled like urine, a helmet with a light on it, gogo boots, and an inner tube. We then climbed through a small opening in the mountain and began floating through the dark caves. At times we had to walk and the footing was unsure. Also, my group of 15 was the only group that they made turn of our head lamps and walk. It was terrifying and I didn’t like it but I'm sure there was a lesson to be learned there. Make one up.
Anyway, we got into the caves and turned our torches out. If you’ve ever watched the Planet Earth about caves and those nasty glow worms, that’s what we did. It may be the coolest thing I’ve ever done. The light is one of the purest lights, like a star, and that’s what it looked like. It looked like we were looking at stars. (I also had the “jenny” song by Flight of the Conchords stuck in my head. The part where he talks about the lights from the buildings and cars looked like reflections of the stars…) It. Was. Amazing. Can’t put words to it.

DAY FOUR: Hamilton

We slept in today! 7:30 a.m.! I rubbed my eyes and forgot that two days ago I burned my eye lids. Ouch. I take great pride in the fact that I HAVE been wearing sunscreen daily and don’t have any weird red tan lines and burns but for my eye lids. I fell asleep outside after sledging while waiting for the rafting part of our group to be done and my eyelids got too much sun ha.

Went to church at a singles ward today. Sang a duet with Julianne. Don’t know how I got talked into that. A member of the bishopbric shamelessly pushed the opportunity for a free green card. “If you see something you like, go for it.” Church was good, it’s the same wherever you go. Afterwards there was a little mix and mingle (to be said like Deverll in The Singles Ward) and one particularly awkward yet forward guy got about ten girls email address. I’ll be excited to see how this all plays out.

We went to the temple again today but got to spend time walking the grounds and visiting the visitors center, and appropriate thing to do to a visitor’s center; visit it. Anyway, I was keeping an eye out for Blake since his mission is nearby when a mission president came right up to me and asked, “Is there a Christina Naegle in your group?” It was NOT a message from Blake, but something better...a “hello” from my Aunt Cristy! He, President Marion, is the President at the MTC there and had spoken to her just a few days before! It was so good to get that little hello since I had not spoken to or heard anything from my family yet. We stayed there and watch a really good documentary on Matthew Cowley.

Got back and I headed our dinner group, barking orders at everyone ;) Then we watched some LOTR because our holiday park had a tv! Rusty talked about the preferred chest size of his future wife and then we all went to bed on that happy note!

DAY THREE: Rotorua to Hamilton

Up, fed, packed, and on the road by 8:00 a.m.
Drove to Hamilton and hiked Mount Maungarui. It was very similar to hiking the Y; steep, rocks and dirt, switchbacks (kind of sounding like any other hike but you know what I mean). We ran when we could breathe, walked when we couldn’t, and took pictures moments before cardiac arrest. Nah it wasn’t that hard, but steeper than the Y… and like one thousand times more beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I love Utah, everyone knows I’ll always back Utah up, but that just shows how beautiful it was here.

After the hike we hit the beach for about an hour and it was glorious. Made sandwiches for lunch and hurried to camp where we had 15 minutes before we needed to get back on the road to go to the temple. Let me tell you, I don’t like feeling dirty when I go to the temple (odd, I know) but I was one of the few who was lucky enough to rinse off in the shower…without washing my hair. Bleh. That font had better be heavily chlorinated.

My group (4) is in charge of food for tomorrow so we went to the grocery store and took Carly to the hospital while we were at it. Poor Carly woke up with swollen legs and it’s spreading to her arms haha. I laugh because she’s ok and it’s funny to tell about now but it was kinda scary then. Also, when we got back to the temple, I set up mine and Julianne’s tent in my Sunday clothes. I’m so cool.

DAY TWO: Rotorua

Woke up cozy and warm at 5:00 a.m. Julianne and I went to the lake to watch the sun rise but she ended up leaving before it came up. Breakfast duty. Luckily Monica stayed till about 6:15 and watched it with me. It was pretty good. Kinda trippy, the sun rises in the west…

Today I did a thing called Sledging, which is pretty much white water rafting on a heavy duty boogie board. I banged my knees up on the first rapid but made sure not to do it again, since I’ve been sporting some pretty sweet bruises on my knees for it. We were on old battle grounds where people’s bodies had been buried, so our guides chanted a prayer to the ancestors before we started. After that it was a lot of kicking, screaming, choking, blinking, and F.U.N. !

Later that day we went to something called Mitai. It was kind of like a luau but more focused on history. We saw a lot of cool stuff but more importantly ate a lot of good food!

DAY ONE: Auckland to Rotorua

The plane ride over was horrendous.
Ok, it wasn’t that bad. I was on a Boeing 747 (aka a small building) sitting in the middle of a row with elderly folk on either side of me. I started watching The Surrogates on my individual tv but the screen was way too dark. The funny thing is I watched it for a good 15 minutes thinking it was just a dark scene ha. The food was good and the conversation invigorating. Ok, that’s not true either. I guess I slept a lot because before I knew it there was only 45 minutes of the flight left. And that’s when I figured out how to change the lighting of my tv. Ironic.
A big plus side, I was able to get my sticky hands on something I really needed; a mess kit. Yeah, I didn’t pack a mess kit but when we got our dinners on the plane they also gave us some heavy duty plastic ware. The second I laid my eyes on the plastic, yet durable knife, fork, and spoon, I knew I would be sneaking them away with me. They’ve served me well…no pun intended.

This was the longest day of my life. Sleeping on the plane didn’t really help my body think it had been another day so it still felt like January 12th, although it was now the 14th. We got out of the airport at sunrise and into the vans. Drove across beautiful country from Auckland to Rotorua.

We got into camp by noon after being lost for a few hours and ate pizza before heading to the lake. I kayaked from the tire swing at camp to the lake and back before lunch then walked back out after lunch where we all played Frisbee in the long shallow lake (which we later found out was contaminated because a dead cow had been found in the water haha. No one got sick, don’t worry). 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Week and Counting

Well, the time has come. I am officially in Panic Mode.
I will be leaving in less than one week and I wouldn't say I'm completely ready. In fact, I'm not really anywhere near ready. And to top it off I kind of have a cold so I don't really feel like bustling about getting packed and what not. But look at this, it'll all be worth it.

Apart from preparing for my Adventure (yes, Adventure with a capital "A") I've had a Christmas break filled with family, heartache, friends, fun, laughing, crying, traditions, new experiences...everything.

Before I took my last final on Friday evening, I got a phone call from my sister letting me know that one of my cousins had gone missing. The next few days were a blur of private investigators, family, police, shopping, muddy buddies, and prayers.  Read about my cousin  here.
On top of that, the father of a good friend of mine passed away tragically on Christmas Eve. I didn't know you could cry so much during the happiest time of the year. 

Christmas came and went with my parents, younger brother, sister, brother-in-law, and niece all in tow. It was a great day to remember Christ and spend together. The next day we headed up to Aspen Grove to spend a few days with my dad's side of the family. Despite our missing cousin and all the heartache it was bringing, EVERY Naegle, Simmons, Koecher, Bennett, Benson, Stagg (am I missing anyone?) was in attendance, save Stevie. I learned more about what family means and what the plan of salvation entails during those few days then I ever have before. It's a good day to be a member of the Church.

I've sort of picked up the phrase "Thank goodness for the the Church" in the last month. It comes in handy, even when your water turns off the night before a Sunday...AFTER you worked out and absolutely NEED a shower, and then turns on 23 hours earlier than expected. Yes, that happened.

Got home on Saturday and headed to Charlotte's baby blessing Sunday. I have the cutest niece ever!

And here we are. Crunch time. The past few days I've just been getting ready, buying chacos, trying not to let my head cold get out of control (unsuccessfully, I might add.) As soon as I get there January 14th I'm pretty sure I'll be cut off from computer access for a few weeks. Guess we'll see.