Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 20-February 9

Where has the time gone? Ken's 18 month internship with the Manawatu Parish is completed! Our final week of work was spent busy with writing and printing his world religions book for the parish (I did a whole read-through-edit...phew! Ken wrote a great book!) making a care package for the youth attending Parachute (the largest Christian music conference in the Southern Hemisphere), hanging out with Jen, Sam, Tony, and a few other church families, eating lots of yummy desserts at his youth farewell party, and having the the new pastor and his family over for tea.

Pastor Lee was installed on the 25th of January followed with a parish luncheon. We had him and his wife Anna and their son Owen over for tea earlier in the week to introduce ourselves. They are really excited to be here in the Manawatu beginning their ministry. We are so thankful for the way God orchestrated the whole event - Ken and I being in the Manawatu during a period of vacancy and then right before we leave, a new permanent pastor arrives! Woohoo!

The week of the 25th was busy cleaning our house out so that by the 1st we could be moved completely out of the flat. On the 30th we enjoyed spending the night out with the LaGrow's at their fishing cottage. It was fun to have Steve teach us how to spot fish in their crystal clear creek. When we got back to Palmy and finished cleaning the flat, we moved in with the Satherley's, who were kind enough to open their home to us for our final week in New Zealand.

Ken and I were formally done with work on the 1st of Feb. We spent the next few days tramping at Tongariro completing one of New Zealand's "Great Walks," the Northern Circuit. It was great to enjoy New Zealand's wild and rugged beauty once more and experience a hard long backpacking adventure together over an active volcano! The rest of that week was spent saying final farewells to various families and our formal farewell/de-installation was on the 8th with a parish wide lunch at the park. We then played music one last time with Trinity for their evening service and enjoyed the potluck that followed (we were really full by the end of the day with two potlucks!!)

Monday we left New Zealand. We left home to head home. The Lord has been good to us and we thank you for your constant support and prayers for us while we have served in the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aoetearoa.

p.s. I will do a final upload of pictures once we are back and settled in the States...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

December 30, 2008-January 19, 2009

Happy New Year! The past few weeks have been full to the brim for the Chitwoods. On the 31st the movers came to pack up all our stuff. That meant the 30th we were busy as getting things organized and trying to determine what items we need in the next 18 months and what items we don't need. We don't plan to open our boxed until after South Africa in July 2010.
Goodbye boxes

Once the movers came (they were fast! 4 hours tops...) we hit the road for Riversdale to bring in the new year with the Satherley's and Jurgen's. It was a great few days with them, relaxing in the sunshine, reading books, walking on the beach, playing golf...what a way to bring in 2009.
New Year's pig

The Satherley Clan

Happy New Year 2009!

Enjoying sunny days with Butch

Ken teeing off

Lovin the sunshine

Castle Point (not far from Riversdale)

We got back to Palmy late on the 2nd. On the 3rd we had Tony and Rachel Cuttle over (Rachel left for an internship in Australia on the 7th, so this would be our last hoorah together). It was fun playing card games, eating pizza and hanging out together. Then we packed up our car and on the 4th we were on the road for our two week summer holiday!
The first week (the 4th-9th), I was busy in Hamilton attending a summer choral conductors conference with distinguished choral leaders from around the world (America and Australia). It was an honor to work with David Childs, who will soon be conducting his own piece at Carnegie Hall, as well as Jerry Blackstone from U of Michigan. I left the conference feeling 100% more equipped to conduct and 110% on fire to teach music in Dirkiesdorp come March.

Fun signs in Hamilton

The New Zealand flag reflecting in Hamilton

Waiketo University where the conference was held

While I was at that, Ken took Pepper to Raglan, a beach town with the best surf beaches in NZ. He also worked a lot on his world religions book and stopped in to the Mormon Temple to speak to some elders for more info for his book.

Mormon Temple in Hamilton

Raglan Beach

For the first part of that week we stayed at a campground in Hamilton, and then we moved to Pastor Warren's backyard for the latter part of the week. He made us a great bbq on Thursday evening and we had a great time chatting with his family. Friday night the conference ended with a performance - it was great to sing in a choir again.
Pastor Warren, BBQ master

The closing choral production

Saturday we enjoyed Hamilton gardens before hitting the road to Auckland. That evening we met up with Patsy and Mark, friends we made back in October at Segue. We had dinner together and then went to Botany Chinese Lutheran Church to attend their prayer meet. It was really awesome to be a part of it (Mark translated the whole time). Sunday morning we attended worship with them too, and afterwards Pastor David and Annie Chang took us out to an authentic "Beijing meal." That afternoon we headed out for Bailey's Beach. We made it at sunset. On the way to Bailey's, we went through Dargaville, the kumara capital of NZ. yum!
Flowers from the "English gardens"
Our "campsite" in Auckland
Enjoying lunch with Botany members

Sunset as we went to Bailey's Beach

Ken in Kumara heaven

Monday morning we took a look at Bailey's beach and decided to move on (it smelled and wasn't so great looking either.) We went up to see the Kauri forests and Tane Mahuta (the god of the forest). It was really neat to see some of these huge ancient giants! We also saw Hokianga Harbour, which took our breath away as we turned the corner of the road and saw it. Pepper enjoyed running on the beaches there. We stayed that night up the road at a off-the-path campout. It was a beautiful location. Before the sun set, we went to Koutu beach to see some boulders that looked a lot like the Moreki boulders on the south island. When we got back to our camp, we met an Israeli couple and ended up talking with them late into the evening (or should I say early morning??!) They gave us a really neat keychain before we parted ways.
Tane Mahuta

Ellie hanging out with the "god of the forest"

Besides big Kauri trees, there's some huge ferns!

The road turned and this was our view!

Hokianga Harbour

The night we stayed off the beaten path at a farmer's backyard turned campground with this view...

Moreki-like boulders on Koutu Beach

Tuesday we got a nice cup of coffee in Rawena and took a walk through the mangroves (trees that grow in salt water!). It was neat to see some jellyfish living in the waters too. After that we took the car ferry over and worked our way up to Kaitaia, stopping at Shipwreck Cove (where Captain Cook ran aground) as well as enjoying some tastings at a winery. In Kaitaia we ran into Pastor Warren and his family who were also on holiday in northland as well as a family from CA there - small world! Then we went to Lake Ngutu for a dinner (cheese, crackers and wine) before watching the sunset on 90-mile beach and camping off a road out there. 90-mile beach is fun because it's considered a highway, so the speed limit is 100kms, although you don't want to get caught out there in high tide.

Ellie in the mangroves

Our car ferry transport

Sunset at 90-mile beach

Wednesday we went up to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of NZ where the tasman meets the pacific. After that we enjoyed sledding down sand dunes at Te Paki (including one called Psyco - it was huge!) Then we drove down to Kerikeri where we stayed for two nights. The first night rained, so we stayed in our car (ugh). But Thursday was a beautiful sunny day that dried everything out. We went on a few hikes that day - to see Rainbow Falls and to see Marsden Cross where the first sermon was preached in NZ on Christmas Day 1814. Also in Kerikeri we saw the oldest buildings in NZ, from 1822 and 1832!

Cape Reinga

Which way to where?

Close up of the lighthouse

Te Paki sand dunes (Ken way up there!)

Good times

In Kerikeri, the two oldest buildings in NZ

Rainbow Falls

Marsden Cross

Pepper enjoying the trip

Friday we went to Waitangi and saw the grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Pakeha and Maori people stating that both could live together in this land of Aeoteroa. After that, we went sea kayaking out to an island. It was really neat to have the whole island to ourselves! We ended the day with some fish and chips before heading over to Sandy Bay where we found a place on the beach to camp.

Waitangi grounds

The Marae

This Waka was made to commemorate the Treaty of Waitangi

That island behind us is where we kayaked to/around

The Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa

Sandy Beach - free camping on the waterfront!

Saturday we made our way to Whangarei to see the Whangarei Falls. Then we went to Leigh to snorkel at Goat Island. The waters were really clear and we saw a sting ray! That night we decided to splurge and stay at a B&B.

Whangarei Falls

Getting ready to go snorkeling

Amazing brew pub in Leigh

Sunday we began the long trek home to Palmy, stopping one last time in Auckland for a beer at NZ's first microbrewery. On the ride home in Taupo, we saw the brightest rainbow and then saw the beginning of a funnel cloud! Talk about an exciting trip! We got safely home late around 1030pm.
NZ's first microbrew

Monday we spent the day cleaning house, laundry, the car, catching up with our families, and making plans to hang out with the new pastor and his family this week, as well as some friends. These next three weeks in New Zealand are going to fly by! This trip made us realize just how much we will miss the country and people is a gorgeous place.

Thanks for your prayers - we were very thankful for safe passage around northland for our summer holiday. Other than a few bug bites and two rainy nights, the trip was amazing! We are just amazed at the beauty of God's country and in Him allowing us to see it. What a blessing...