Thursday, January 9, 2014

I'm in a really good mood today. I think it's because I got out of the house. :) lol..
I've gotten out of the house the past few days too… but only for walks during the day and then going to church for our church wide fast evening services.

This morning Peter had his 4mo wellness check with Dr. Dillon. 70th percentile for his head and weight. 96th percentile for his height. "Picture of health." "Obviously isn't missing any meals."
Peter received remarks about his strength - ability to hold his head well, hold himself up, strong grip…. received comments about being such a happy baby, seeming adventurous, attentive, taking it all in, and being a good listener.
He got two shots today… One was a crazy big combination of vaccines… Dtap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) combined with the polio vaccine and hib (5 vaccines in 1 shot!) and the other shot he got was for … dang what was that called… PCV (pneumococcal). We opted out of the Rotavirus and the Hep B. I wouldn't have gotten the polio for him either if we could have isolated it.
He did so well.
He cried hard as he received the shots - big gummy cries with a tight, red face and big rolling tears. But he'd open his eyes every few seconds and look between JP and my faces as we tried to comfort him and I could see that he was accepting it in increments. He calmed down a lot faster than he did after his 2 month vaccinations. Part of it could be that after his 2mo, I was with him alone, and I was scared of the vaccines - which I'm sure he could pick up on. This time I wasn't, and I had back up. JP offers amazing comfort that Peter readily absorbs - as do I.
I'm so thankful for my 2 men.
I'm also thankful for Peter's pediatrician, Dr. Dillon. Man, she's so great. I'm so thankful to have a doc that we trust and look forward to seeing. Thank you, Lord.

Well, I just got Peter down for a nap and this is the time that I should be doing bookkeeping for True Gorge… especially since I've been putting it off ALL week… but I had that feeling in me - that I needed to write. A sort of welling up in my chest. So I'll allow myself to write a bit longer.

That welling up in me had a strange effect…. I had this fleeting thought and a bit of an impulse that what I wanted to do was to sit out on the rocks under the big trees outside - the ones that hang over the cliff - and to look out contemplatively at the river and the hills and the mountain, while smoking a cigarette. Why do I get this impulse at times? I have never once smoke a single thing in my life :) and yet sometimes I think, "I need a cigarette."
It must be advertising. Cigarette = looking cool and chill and pensive. I would also need to wear sunglasses (even though it's a dark, cloudy day outside) and an indie haircut.
When I recognized that it was ridiculous to think I needed a cigarette to process and unwind, I tried to think of something else that could have the same effect. I realized that one of the only other things I could think of - that the media tells me is self-medicating and helps one relax - is a bubble bath.
Well, not only do I not have a bathtub, but I've always found bubble baths to be overrated. Because I usually have such high expectations for them, I try to sit them out, though from the moment I get in them, I start thinking about how ready I am to be done.
I believe cigarettes are also similarly overrated. I would like it very much if tv shows such as madmen, and all musicians would please stop smoking so I can stop unconsciously thinking that there's something cool about it.
I never should have watched that show madmen. I don't think it has anything positive to offer… and I never had this desire for cigarettes before watching it… :/

I just got off the phone with Doree. Grandma Post had an injury yesterday. While she was dusting the house, a platter on the wall fell on her head. She wasn't knocked out, but she did have to go to the hospital and get stitches. She's back home and is doing ok. I imagine this is terrifying for Grandpa - and frustrating for her. I so wish we lived close enough so we could swing over to their home to be with them. They are the sweetest, dearest people. It's kind of painful for me that we live so far away from them - from all our family. I love where we are and do think I would want to move, but I don't know that we can live our whole lives this way - being away from all our family.

Well apparently that's all I have to say for now...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dreaming. JP and I are considering going away again for a year.. this time to South Korea to teach English. Tommy and Cynthia intend to do the same and we envision it being quite an adventure for the 4 of us to enjoy together. Now this would mean being very far away from home again - far from family, far from friends, gone again for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Easter, gone again for all the birthdays. Further estranged from what we call home and from those we call dear to our hearts. Further still from advancing towards our careers and the schooling and interning that may lead up to it. 

We ARE growing here... and as we propositioned, we're learning to become more dependent on each other and less dependent on our parents and the mercies of those who love us. 

Every decision a person makes, whether to stay or to go, determines a very purposeful course for our lives. Sometimes I think of how different things would be for us now had we stayed where we were. It's impossible to predict. But this is what we chose, and the effects and all the potential effects exponentiate before us _ in my minds-eye... especially if we go to Korea.

As we've kept in contact with our friends and family back home, I sense almost a generous attitude of forgiveness and understanding on their part in anticipation of our return. "We miss you but we're so happy you're taking your year to explore and learn, see New Zealand, and grow together in the beginning of your marriage. We'll see you soon." I take so much comfort in that we have a home to return to. And it causes me to wonder how long that can last. In both the cases of when I left for college for 4 years, and this, as JP and I have left for this year, it has been my desire to freeze things as they were when I left them. :) I'm very selfish that way. I don't want people to change and grow and do different things while I'm gone because I don't want to miss a thing. I want to be there with them through it. I want to be part of it. And I feel as though we've graciously been allowed a year away that we can return from - but what about 2 years away. I feel that a great many things happen in 2 years. Is 2 years away enough time to make us 'those old friends who live far away' or 'that family who lives far away.' JP reminds me to not make decisions based on fear. And I am reminded that when you cling to something that once was, you soon realize it has slipped away between your fingers. Time always thrusts us forward and it's better for us to live in it.

We've heard such good things about Korea and about the community of foreigners teaching English there. We've heard of good pay and provided housing and exciting traveling opportunities. We're drawn by the lure of a foreign culture, the security of jobs and paying back loans, and the sweet thought of being with our dear friends Tommy and Cynthia - who will be keen, precious newlyweds. :) hmm. The thought of them marrying, building a life together, and raising their very own family has been such a sweet and welcome thought for me the past year and a half. Seeing them together is such a delight. I treasure both them individually and what they share between them.

There is another thing that has been stirring within me the past couple of months. As we've traveled, I've met about 3 different speech therapists and have enjoyed conversing with them about their careers. The last person was Kjersten Post's older sister, Kelsey. I think my initial curiosities were in regards to my brother Aaron, who though developmentally delayed already and having serious verbal constraints, has developed a stutter over the past couple of years. Katie, the first speech therapist I met, confirmed my hunch that stutters are commonly a repercussion of anxiety. And that confirmation has tormented my heart. I'm not a therapist and I cannot claim to understand my brother, though I wish I did, but I have observed over the past couple of years what has appeared to me to be a surrender and acceptance on his part to the fact that he's different and that people don't understand him and that he won't be able to do the same things as the people around him. It distressed me when I started to see him give up on trying to relay what was on his mind after a few attempts. And now it distresses me even more to see him refuse to even try to communicate. Often it is such a struggle to get a "yes" or simple "no" out of him. He used to be so resilient in expressing himself. 

When JP and I were in Hawaii this last month, Kelsey told me that a masters in speech therapy is an open door to endless career opportunities. And ok, so counseling has been my heart and my soul the past several years... but a particular interest of mine has been to help people cope with anxiety and to unveil the hidden triggers in peoples' pasts that hold them back from healthy minds, relationships, and perspectives. I could still do this as a speech therapist - and what a way to truly help a person. What are we without our ability to speak, our ability to express and communicate? 

Three days ago, JP and I met up with our friend Jonas in the beautiful Queens Gardens of Nelson, admiring breathtaking trees and flower beds. After that we walked through the Suter Gallery. It reminded me of the days when I went to School of the Arts and all we needed was our school i.d.s for free admission into any of the downtown art museums and how we'd often go during our lunch period and assimilate the shifting galleries we beheld. 
Refreshed, we continued JP's glorious day off and drove ourselves down to the Tahuna Beach to meet Laura, Luke, Elijah, Debbie, and Debbie's mom, Kathy (who has 10 kids!!!). Our friends hadn't arrived yet and the 3 of us situated ourselves in the sand. Immediately I observed a bit of a trench before us with two men sitting in it. One was probably in his 40s and the other, James, was probably about 17. James was digging with his Tonka toys - a backhoe and a bulldozer. It was as though James was in another world, fixed on his big excavation job. He was so graceful in the way he held the bucket of the backhoe - drawing it inward, filling it with sand, and then swinging it away on its hinge to dump the contents. James thoroughly shook the bucket empty with his long fingers in a motion that JP observed was just as Aaron's hands grip his digging tools. I was captivated. JP and Jonas stripped down in their swim trunks to go body surfing but I expressed that I'd like to stay where I was. So for the next 30 or 40 minutes I sat their transfixed, watching James - watching what James focused on, how he interacted with little boys who approached his digging toys, filled with wonderment, watched how he interacted with his engaging, proud father. 
I felt like crying. I missed Aaron so much. And I hated how circumstances have caused me to be so far from him these past 5 years. Five years. My brain was swimming with motives of what to do for Aaron - and I sat there feeling helpless and foolish. 

Eventually our friends came. The men preceded to engage themselves in foot races, push up, hand-stand, and wrestling competitions while the women sat and chit-chatted. We all ate fish and chips, fought off the intruding seagulls, and left. Jonas invited JP and I to go to the movies with him and his Scottish friend, Karen. It had been such a good day and we weren't ready for it to end - so we cheerfully accompanied them. We saw the Kings Speech - which had just come out in NZ. Wow. Such a good movie. And it continued to stir a lot of things up in me. It felt a bit ironic as well. 
Maybe I do need another year to think things through. 
I remember Elementary school and actually reflect quite often on how experiences I had during those years have shaped me - have shaped how I think and feel about myself in regards to my identity and in relation to the world of people around me. I remember feeling as though I really had survived much of the torment that afflicts this malleable age-group, and I remember witnessing many who didn't. I never really considered working with children before - maybe because I still don't know how to fix their circumstances... but I'm starting to consider it now. 

Moving from deep beneath the surface - on to the exterior of things.... I'm aware that the last thing I wrote on was Thanksgiving... and oh dear, that was more than 2 months ago wasn't it?
Now I'm sorry if some of this has been unclear. I didn't begin it to be a blog entry but as I was writing, I recalled a few of my friends who have prompted me to UPDATE(!). 
Don't feel obligated to continue reading if you're tired. I've already written so much, and there's really so much more to cover.

How far did I get last time?
Did I mention that we met a woman named Christina at church who asked us to live with and WWOOF for her once we'd finished at Noa and Karl Parkers (the Hebrew, Yoga family)? Did I mention that we continued to get together with Laura Irish, Luke, and their son Elijah and that Laura and I (both quite homesick and disappointed by NZ's lack of Christmas Spirit) resolved to relive as many Christmas traditions as possible? 

Well, JP and I started living with and working for Christina Monday, the 6th of December. Christina lives alone. She has 3 daughters and 1 son, mostly all grown up, and is recently divorced, which has been a sad development in her life but has allowed her a new sense of freedom and individuality. Over the past 4 years she's explored the potential of this change by purchasing her own house on the very top of a steep hill with a view of the sea. And thus she's undertaken the enormous task of beautifying the place. She has quite a property surrounding her, half of which is too steep to even stand on. One must go on all fours. Single handedly she's freed her land of gorse, thistles, and blackberry bushes. And then she's planted over 200 native trees, most of which she received free from a nursery that had pronounced them dead. She says she prays over them as she plants them and babies them individually and they've re-sprouted, blossomed, and grown. She says this process has been extremely therapeutic for her and has grown in her a self confidence and self respect she's never known.
Additionally Christina went to university studying art. She says she's always been an artist but hasn't had the opportunity to develop this aspect of herself since high school. She's focused on both media and 2-D collages and has spent the past couple of years worth of projects, hashing out a lot of her feelings regarding her divorce and the particular role of wife she'd been playing half her life. She says she's come out a very different person and has healed immensely (though there's still more to go). Christina graduated just this past mid-December. And no longer a student, she's looking for a job. JP and I spent Christmas morning/day with Christina, and the next day she left us for 5 weeks to house-sit and keep her trees alive (a harder job than we may have realized), as she took the month of January to travel alone throughout the North island, to catch up with some friends and family, and to have a holiday from the stresses of her present life. We just received her back again 3 days ago. From this point we're going to rent our room from her on a weekly basis, until we return back to the US.

AND - (I know I mentioned Tommy and Cynthia getting married before) - we're returning back to the states 2 months earlier than planned because Thomas Castle and Cynthia Haan got ENGAGED!!!! And are getting married July 16th! Whoo! In California too, which is convenient because that's where we fly into and that's where JP's parents live, and that's where we'll be staying when we initially return (in Monterey... which is only 2 hours from Livermore... which is where Cynthia Haan originates).. we are so excited!
So if we do go to Korea, we'll probably spend most of July in CA, spend a good chunk of August in WA, return to CA at the end of August... and then leave before September. I think.  

December was a fun month, getting to know our new friends, growing closer with our new church body, joining an incredible weekly life-group, further exploring Nelson. 

to be continued...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nelson & Thanksgiving

JP and I live in Nelson. Here’s a picture of where we are on the map.

…and the weather forecast we had yesterday… 
Now we mentioned before that we’d come through Nelson already – and had to leave because we didn’t like our host. That brought us to Takaka – which is further West than Motueka (on the map). Then we spent some time backpacking in the Abel Tasman National Park, which is on the West side of the NW tip on the map. But after that we returned to Nelson again. We hoped to stay with and work for one of the places that had accepted us before – when we chose to go to Rainbow Valley – but absolutely every last one of them had WWOOFERs staying with them already.

But Nelson was where we wanted to be. We knew that from the first time we read about it in our travel book. We knew that with more certainty the first time we stepped foot in Nelson and had a look around.
And now that we’d returned again, we knew it even more.
There were farms on the North Island and further down South that needed WWOOFERs – just no one in Nelson – but we decided we were gonna wait this time until we found a place.
Nelson just seemed like our ideal place. It has a great little city feel. It’s not too big – you see the same faces again and again each day – and it’s not too small either. It’s nestled between the mountains and a beautiful bay, with the Able Tasman stretched out on one end, and the Marlboro Sounds on the other.  The town is adorable. There are a lot of Christians living here. And there are a lot of nearby outdoor activities.
Also… Nelson gets the most sun out of all the cities in New Zealand – fact.
We just had a good feeling about this place. :)

Haha… so this is a video that our friend Laura showed us. One of the kids in her theatre class made this. Now don’t you get a good feeling about Nelson too? :)

Now when we arrived we could have paid to stay in a backpacker’s hostel again, but the weather was incredible and ….we had begun to feel the urgency of our dwindling funds – so we decided to rough it. Now our mothers may not have been all too crazy about the idea.. but we had a car and each other and had spent our previous nights in a small tent - and we figured that if neither of us minded, then why not just stay in the car for a while?
We’d found an adorable park to stay by - with restrooms we could use - and we'd wake up to the sounds of children playing in the park with their parents. We'd dress in the restroom, come back out looking just as good as we would otherwise, and we'd walk into town for the day - TO THE LIBRARY - free internet - WHOO! then we'd walk back to the park when the library closed, pull out our portable stove, hook up our 2 person hammock between some trees, and relax. :) it was fun!

So we spent the whole of 3 days that way - emailing tons of WWOOFing hosts and applying for jobs - and it wasn't too bad. And walking through Nelson everyday, we were in love with the place. Finally we got a positive response back from Noa and Karl Parker on Thursday morning. They could take us for 1 week starting Saturday. awesome.  

Well, that Thursday also happened to be Thanksgiving. Sleeping in your car in a town where you don't know anybody isn't so bad, but on Thanksgiving, it can make a person pretty sad and homesick. And sadness and homesickness can be a pretty good motivator to change one's circumstances. So that morning I set out. JP went to the library to discover the good news from the Parkers, and I went to Nelson's iSite. What would we do without iSites?

I felt very silly when I got to the front of the line and asked the nice man if he knew of anywhere in town that would be holding an American Thanksgiving. He didn't seem too surprised by my question though - he must get all sorts of questions - and he earnestly tried to help. But after searching and asking around for a while, he'd found nothing - which is really what I'd expected. But in a last attempt of being helpful, he suggested that I try out walking a couple of blocks to the Nelson English Centre. He said that there are a couple of Americans working there and they might possibly know of something.

I think that's where I would normally have stopped and given up, but I though, "Meh.. why not?" I found the English Centre and met Marlene at the front desk. Marlene is an American woman from Minnesota - but I never would have guessed it because she grew up in a Polish community and does NOT sound American at all. But she was sooooooooo nice. Her and I talked for a while and she went back to her desk to see if the "Nelson American Society" was holding an event. Much to her dismay, they were not. And then she said, "Oh... well... you seem very nice, and normal, and can't guarantee anything, but I'll talk to my co-worker, Laura, who is also American to see if you might be able to have dinner with us." So she took my number and said she'd call at 12:30. 

Well.. it all worked out and that evening we showed up and Laura, and her partner, Luke's, house, where we met a wonderful combination of British and Kiwi folks. Laura's from Illinois and Luke's from Manchester, England. They met teaching English in South Korea and now have a sweet little 2 year old boy, Elijah - more often known as "Batman" or the velociraptor. 
We had the funnest time at their house that night. Laura and Luke are in a theatre group in town and we spent a lot of time talking with their friends Doug and Charlie - also from the group. It was actually a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner (besides the fact that we had chicken, not turkey) and JP and I got to introduce it to everyone. Except for Marlene and Laura, this was every one else's very first Thanksgiving dinner. So we had to share with them the original story of Thanksgiving and the meaning that it holds to us today. And everyone went around and shared what they were thankful for :)
And we had cranberry sauce
and candied yams
and green bean casserole
and we just had the best time getting to know everyone.
Laura and Luke, when they found out that we'd been sleeping in our car, insisted that we stay in their spare bedroom and forbade us from ever doing such a thing again.
And we set a date for the 4 of us to get together the next week to explore Cable Bay.

JP and I slept hard in that bed. 

The following Tuesday there was an interesting article in the newspaper.
Turns out that Charlie is one of the editor's for the local paper.... :)

...If you can't actually read this, I don't blame you... it's a blurry picture.
It reads:

"We were glad to see the holiday sharing spirit in full swing last week when two homesick American newlyweds felt the need to celebrate Thanksgiving.
       Jonathan and Ashley Post went to the most logical place to find out if Nelson was holding any celebrations - Nelson's i-SITE. Staff there directed the couple to the English Language Centre, where, to their delight, they met Laura Irish, and American who teaches at the school. Laura thought a last minute Thanksgiving was exactly what was needed, so she organized two large chickens (turkeys aren't in season) and a pile of Nelson friends to sit around the dining room table and share the American tradition. Let's see more of this, we say.
      The Posts are also looking for work so they can extend their stay in our fair city. If you have anything going, let us know."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Belated Post. 11/19-11/22

Tramping the Tasman.

After our lovely experience at Simon and Carol’s house in Rainbow Valley, Ashley and I we’re still trying to scrounge up some places for our next wwoofing house. But since we we’re already in Golden Bay and since Golden Bay is home to the glorious Abel Tasman National Park, we thought it would be perfectly appropriate for us to embark on a multi-day tramp! (Our first as a married couple and Ashley’s longest ever!)

So we went to the I-site in Takaka (pronounced like ‘tAc-uh-kuh’, not ‘te-kaka’.  I hope that makes sense… we still have to think twice before saying it J) and booked our 4 day/3 night hike along the Coastal Track.  There were a few different options for hikes, but the Coastal Track sounded the most appealing.  As it happens, tramping in Abel Tasman isn’t cheap.  To book a site for a tent was $12.5 per person per night, which is better than the $30 or $35 per person per night that the Huts cost* (we passed by the 5 or 6 huts as we were hiking, and they were surprisingly nice, but not worth $35 a night). And since we were booking a one-way trip, we had to purchase bus fare to get us to the trailhead as well.

*Sometimes I forget to keep in mind the exchange rate from NZD to USD (which is currently bout .77NZD to one USD) but it’s actually nice, because we save more money that way J

After booking the trip and grocery shopping (purchasing some much needed items like: a pot, eating utensils, and Tupperware bowls), we spent our last night in sand fly heaven: Rainbow Valley.  With an early departure the next morning, we were on the bus driving to the trailhead. We met a nice girl named Claire on the bus, and we ended up hiking with her for the first 4 miles.  I can’t remember where she was from, but I’ll let you know later once Ashley gets back from her Yoga class.  (She’s from Ireland)

The hike was b-e-a-utiful. It was unlike any multi-day hike I had ever done, traversing amazing beaches and surprisingly high views of the surrounding country.  We would do about 8 miles a day (usually a little more because we would take all the scenic routes) and about a mile of that was walking on beaches or tide-sensitive estuaries.  The beaches we’re almost always picture-perfect and bathed in golden sun.  We went swimming twice (except Ashley didn’t go the first time, despite my articulate beseeching) and the water was quite pleasant.  I would say it was probably about slightly-uncomfortable-swimming-pool temperature.

We stayed the first night in Totaranui, which was a huge campground with road access and a huge beach.  The part of the campground reserved for Coastal Track hikers had room for a whopping 80 tents, and yet we were the only campers that night! Unfortunately, the sand flies knew we were the only ones staying the night, so they threw a big party right next to our campsite.   Right after we had set up camp, we went swimming in the cool water (or more accurately, I went swimming) to wash all the sweat and smell off after a long day’s hike.

I was worried when we first signed up to do the hike, that since it’s one of New Zealand’s most traveled trails it would seem too public and not enough like we were actually backpacking.  In some senses, this was true.  Water taps and bathrooms were in every campsite, and trails were ridiculously well groomed.  But to our fortune, there really weren’t that many people on the track.  We mostly ran into people either during a low tide crossing or in big campsites.  But other than that, we had a pretty people-free hike J. We did meet some sweet Christian girls though  (one from British Columbia and one from Idaho).  Apparently about 150,000 people do the hike every year...

The next night we camped in a much smaller site, room only for 20 tents, and it rained on us all night.  Fortunately I remembered to put our packs under the rain-fly before going to bed, but UNfortunately the water pooled under the tent and soaked my pack J.  Later the next day we were able to dry out a bunch of our gear while we lounged on a subtropical sandbar waiting to cross the beach at low tide.  Behind the sandbar we floated out to the ocean down this sweet little channel that was about 3-4 feet deep and had a remarkably fast current.

Other highlights: we missed the bus going back to our car, so we had to do a 2-part hitch hike (first time for both of us) and we met a nice kid and a nice but kinda weird hippie couple.

 just leaving!

 first cool view

sweet coastline... not many looked like this, most were filled with golden sand

hikin' on the beach! 

 holes in rocks

 our lonely tent :/

 long tidal crossing

 It's a trap!

 elizabethan sheep

 bustin' out the old Whisper-liteTM
 child's pose

 rainy tidal crossing, waiting for the low tide.

 sweet bridge


Saturday, November 13, 2010

"What if the Hippies are right?" ~ bumper sticker from our Host's car :)

So right now JP and I are in a commune that started in 1974.

It’s wedged within a mountain range and can only be accessed by 1 small windy road that goes on for ages.
It’s gorgeous. We’re in the Golden Bay region near Able Tasman National Park and have begun to see some of the most incredible sights yet. And I’m just giddy with joy when I look around me because only 3 days ago, we had a 2½ month plan that involved us remaining stationary in Nelson. But that changed.

When JP and I arrived at our next intended Work Away destination in Nelson, we were there for 2 hours – and within those 2 hours we felt very uncomfortable with our new home. We both felt extremely belittled and disrespected by our rude and eccentric host that the first chance we got alone together we confirmed that we wanted to leave, and with me at his side, JP took a deep breath, went into big, brave man mode, and went and told Mr. Amber that we had changed our minds and didn’t feel his home was a good fit for us. We took our bags back out to the car ---- and we were safe.
What a relief! Oh man, we didn’t have a place to go, didn’t know what we were going to do, but relief is a good feeling. That man was bad news.

So we then spent the next 24 hours looking for a plan B. We officially joined WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), because it has a lot more host options than Work Away. We went through host after host and that night emailed around 30, and much to our excitement, immediately started receiving responses: “No, no, no, sorry we have someone, no, no, no, no….” We went to bed hopeful and woke up to a yes! –accompanied with many more nos. Wonderful! A yes!
3 hours later when we finally got a hold of the woman, we were informed that she’d backed out and just become another No. awesome.
 JP and I headed into town to look for an internet spot to start emailing more options, trying our hardest not to get too discouraged though we felt the weight of not belonging anywhere quite greatly.
We were about to walk into a coffee shop when Aha! We had an amazing idea. Maybe we could actually ask God for some help…
Wow, we felt so foolish as we thought back and realized that we hadn’t prayed at all for our new place in Nelson, and that when our plans fell through, we still didn’t pray.
Right away we found a bench, sat down together, and submitted to God.
And then guess what happened. The second we started emailing hosts, we once again got instant responses: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…….
It was like the disciples when Jesus told them to put their nets on the other side of the boat after spending a day catching no fish. They caught so many that their boat started to sink. That was us. We suddenly became overwhelmed with too many options – but were very grateful. About 3½ hours later we’d crossed over into Golden Bay and slowly drove our way down a long road composed of two tire tracks in the grass making our way into Rainbow Valley. :)
It’s really very beautiful here.
My mom’s no hippie but I’m convinced that if she had it her way, she’d be living very similarly to these people. I’m overwhelmed with how to even begin describing this place.
JP and I are staying with Simon and Carol Jones. They live on the hillside in the commune in a house made up of 3 very small rooms: the living room/dining room, the kitchen/laundry room, and their bedroom/shower and sink. The “bathroom” is outside with two pieces of corrugated iron leaning together in an “A” shape and has a bucket – with a toilet seat on it. This is just for solids though. You go in, pull the cloth curtain that covers pretty much none of you, uh – use the bucket, cover the solids with sawdust, and put your used toilet paper in a burn pile.

JP and I are staying in a little cabin just a bit over the hill. :) We have no electricity, but we have candles and our headlamps. It’s SO cool. – at least I think it is. You go to sleep surrounded by awesome artwork and a window of the star-filled night sky, and you wake up to Taylor – the horse – spying in on you, hoping JP will wake up and give him another apple. “Now when you need to use the restroom (liquid form), just go on back behind your cabin.” Although they gave us a bucket yesterday and asked that if we wouldn’t mind, they’d like us to collect our urine because it’s quite good for the lemon trees. Ha.

Carol is 59 – but you’d never know it. She’s gorgeous and thin and feels perfectly comfortable walking around the neighborhood in nothing but a little blanket… Simon is 53 and is also in excellent health. They have 5 kids, the youngest being 21, and I believe 10 grandchildren. There were many children raised in the commune who are all now spread out throughout the world, travelling, studying, and working.

I have found myself very fortunate to be with them because like myself, Simon is gluten-intolerant, and we’re finally at a place that offers a diet I can really appreciate – and the food is SO good. Everything is organic. Most of what they provide is from their own garden or from someone else’s in the community.

For our first two days, we worked 6 hours each day instead of the required 4 so that we could have today off.
Friday JP built a fenced-in in area for the chickens they had just purchased and made his own stakes. I think he really enjoyed designing the whole thing and putting it together and introducing the chickens to their new home.
I started off by making a raised garden bed, creating a pathway that would go between this new vegetable garden, and planting corn. Then I went on to weed around their green house.
After lunch JP and I went down the hill to create a vegetable patch and plant potatoes. While JP weeded the area, I dug furrows, filled them with fresh horse manure, covered them with dirt, making the ground level again, and then JP and I set the sprouting spuds atop the rows I created and covered them with pieces of sod that JP had overturned.  Lastly we piled hay between the rows.

And we were done. And we were HOT. From pretty early in the day it hit 29 degrees Celsius (about 85 degrees Fahrenheit) with constant sun beating down on us. We were covered in dirt, sweat, and sand flies (despite our efforts to repel them with the Jones’ homemade ointment). And so we headed towards the sounds of rushing water and found an awesome water hole in a river going past the commune. It was exactly what we needed. At one part of the river, the water was several inches above JP’s head. And the water was so perfectly clear and wonderful. It was such a great reward for a hard days work.
On our trek back we almost fully dried off in the sun, and made friends with a family of goats and a kitten that followed us everywhere we went.
After dinner, we had the evening to ourselves, while Carol went to an art exhibition opening in town and Simon went deer hunting with a friend.
Yesterday was another very hot and sunny day. JP spent it painting stain onto their house.
I started out by planting beans and tomatoes. Next Carol brought me down to meet their goats Linda and Mollie and their three kids. We led Mollie across the field to finish milking her (because the kids don’t manage to get all her milk) and I GOT TO MILK A GOAT!  Woo. And it was hard. I couldn’t get much out at a time, but Mollie was very patient with me. After that Carol led me to THE coolest little structure that was built for milking goats. It’s been built with cement, the windows from an old truck, and colorful bottles (which allow light through and are like double paned windows). The built in bench was covered in tar, goat droppings, dirt, and hay and needed to be cleaned so that the kids could be weaned off their moms and the locals could again have a place to milk them. That was a fun job J but I got it spotless.

After that we ate lunch with Simon and Carol quite quickly before they left for a peace seminar being held at a nearby lighthouse. Apparently they themselves set up the local peace group back in the early 80’s and were excited to be hosting a well known pacifist from WWII. They advised JP and I to take a couple hours off, as it was the hottest part of the day – so JP took a nap with his head in my lap while I read to him from the biography of C.G. Jung.
Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned yet, both Simon and Carol are therapists! They’re drama psychotherapists and have their own rehabilitation center in town. So cool. Their shelves are stocked with psychology books and they have a giant painting of C.G. Jung on the focal point of their living room wall. J Therapy was pretty much all we talked about the first night.

After some time JP couldn’t nap any longer because of the heat, so we tramped back down and found a different watering hole that Simon and Carol had suggested to us and went swimming in the cold river until we couldn’t bear the sand flies any longer – then got back to work.
That evening Simon went out to a “mens only” barbeque in the valley and Carol went to join some of her friends for dinner, and to their suggestion, JP and I cuddled up in the living room and watched: Lord of the Rings. :) yup. Pretty great.

We generally sleep really well in our cabin, but last night was really hot – and my sand fly bites kept me up a lot.  I gotta say while NZ is awesome, I think the sand flies are unbearable. I’ve probably complained about this already, but they’re EVERYWHERE and their bites itch like crazy for a good 9-14 days, and if you scratch them, they leave red scars. :( The kiwis are immune to them. I am not.

This morning JP and I drove into town and found ourselves a sweet little community church. God has really blessed us thus far with the churches we found ourselves in. Every town has at least 1 Anglican church and at least 1 Catholic church, but not all have anything more. But we’ve found some great non-denominational churches where we have found people who know the word of God and are passionate about encouraging each other and raising their children in the way.
I’m really thankful for God’s leading in that way because most people in NZ are not at all religious. And when I say most, that’s 97%. And what we do find quite a lot of are enlightened – guru-seeking-spiritual people. And while I enjoy the peace they try to encourage, their yoga, the way they dress :), their organic/self-sustainable/non-consumerism/caring for the Earth (as we all should do) – ways, the widely accepted Hindu-influenced spiritualism I see here saddens me. And yes, I’m surprised to so easily find true followers of Christ. Because really! The fact that JP and I are married surprises EVERYONE. They say, “wow, we didn’t know that your generation was still interested in marriage.” Everyone asks us if we knew each other before we began travelling in NZ. Hmmm. No, I don’t think I’m blind to this world, but I didn’t expect such shock and demands for explanation for our life choices that I still considered traditional at least.

But enough of my ranting.
I’m going to ask JP if there’s anything he wants me to include…

Haha – nope!

(He’s reading Jurassic Park)

Well, once we leave this (freaking) sweet vegan café that’s been converted from an old theatre :), we’re gonna make a few calls and head over to Whaririki (sp?!) Beach, which is supposed to be the ultimate. And we’ll try our best to include some of those pictures on this here blog.

Big love to all of you out there. We miss and frequently reflect on our family and friends. Please pray for our travels, for open doors, and for our young marriage. You guys are sweet to read this. Much thanks! J

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Good morning everyone, this is JP speaking.

So first I want to apologize to all of you lovely people who've been waiting, fruitlessly, over a month for our next blog entry to appear.  As most of you know, we have very limited internet here in New Zealand and during this past month at Hopewell Lodge in Kenepuru Sound we've been using up most of our 100MB download limit per week of internet to look up fun things like: butter volume conversion (cups to grams), horrible-for-you-filled-with-butter-and-sugar baked goods, facebook (of course), ipod apps, and whether Keira Knightly really is Natalie Portman's (or Queen Amidala's) double in Star Wars.

The good news is, we're finally in Nelson.

We arrived yesterday (11/9) around 5pm  at "The Bug" Backpackers lodge and checked into our dorm room. Ashley had mentioned a few times that she wanted to experience the New Zealand dorm life, so instead of paying an extra $15 for our own room, we booked a bunk bed in a conglomerate of 6 international travelers.  Ashley and I shared a bunk bed (she was on the top bunk) and we went to sleep after watching an episode of Arrested Development on her laptop. Anyoung (안녕). I just woke up after a night of hot restless sleep that reminded me of my freshman year in an all-boys dorm  at SPU.  Now I'm sitting outside enjoying a nice luke-warm cup of instant coffee (for those of you who don't know what instant coffee is, you make it by filling your cup about 50% with sugar, 3 or 4% instant coffee powder, and 25%  hot or luke-warm water)  Side note: Harry Potter 7 episode 1 comes out on the 17th here, and we're pretty excited about that. When does it come out in the states?

Today, we start our first day "wwoofing"at the Amber House in Nelson.  More on that once it happens.  I don't want to frighten anyone, but apparently the guy that runs the place has been legally banned from the Nelson i-site (visitor center) for verbally abusing one of the receptionists whom we talked to :/ But I talked to him on the phone, and I didn't feel abused.  Go figure.

So regarding the past month at Hopewell, it was a complete blast.  It's crazy to think that we haven't mentioned ANY of it on our blog, so ill spend a few lines summarizing it and add some funny stories.

People we met at Hopwell that are worth mentioning (in order of appearance):

Mike - owner & manager of all farming & manly things at Hopewell, including but not limited to: tractors, 4WD trucks, chainsaws, butchering sheep, driving boats, smoking fish, playing guitar, cooking, and lighting fires.
Lynnley - Mike's Fiancee and owner & manager of everything else at Hopewell, including but not limited to: cleaning, cooking, hospitality, being in charge, weeding, being really nice and awesome.
Blacky (cat) - sheds a lot, very friendly and likes to sleep by the fireplace.  We became good friends.
Honey (cat) - Not as sociable, tries to steal food from your plate with paw, lots of long fur.
Weka (flightless bird) - relative to the kiwi, easily explains why kiwis/wekas are endangered. Not afraid of humans, diet of mainly bread and food scraps, female only has one foot (Stumpy), make's weird and annoying sounds and its droppings are very pungent.
Jill - previous wwoofer at Hopewell, intended to stay 3 weeks and actually stayed 5 months.  Close friend of Mike & Lynnley, back-up manager of Hopewell.  Very clever, witty, and sarcastic.  Intelligent and fun to be around (when not working).

Funny stories and interesting people, to be continued. Here are some pictures!

on the 2.5 hour drive to Hopewell... ridiculously curvy roads.

 JP, Ashley, Anne

 Fishing @ 6am 

Ashley's first fish!!

 Weka - cousin to the kiwi

 getting ready for dinner.

 Ashley makes some new friends.

View from the top of Mt. Stokes, 1200ft, it's supposed to be beautiful and you can see about 50% of NZ... we saw lots of fog.

 But it was still cool :)

 Love on Mt. Stokes

 Yeah, purple mushrooms... trippy

 Inside our last-night fort, playing liars dice.

Outside our fort :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sunday 10-3

Sunday began with Ashley and I writing in the Jury’s guestbook.  We happily reviewed all the awesome experiences we had at the farm, and reluctantly expressed our parting feelings.  We decided to leave my set of Buckyballs with the family.  While I was definitely attached to them, Ashley and I both felt that the little magnetic balls would be enjoyed significantly more by the Jury family (as we had seen the previous few weeks)

The family, and us, spent about 45 min hanging out with the farm animals: CJ, Milly, and the $15,000 pregnant Alpacas.  Lambchops (the smaller lamb) wasn’t as cool as CJ, so we didn’t really hang out with him.  Jesse rode on the goat, Milly, but not for very long because she was a speedy goat.

For brunch, Sharyn made pancakes (we would more accurately call them crepes), with whipped cream/jam/syrup/ and other very delicious and healthy materials J. They were supreme.

Ashley and I packed and cleaned, and then Sharyn Tony and I recorded 5 or 6 of their songs.  It was a pretty awesome run through, we only had to redo 3 or 4 songs, and they burnt the songs on a CD for Ashley and I to listen to on the car ride to Wellington. Sweet!

It was an emotional goodbye. We really didn’t want to go. The experience at the Jury farm was a great one and we will be hard-pressed to meet a more welcoming, fun, loving, and hospitable bunch of folks.  Thanks so much to Tony, Sharyn, Jesse, and Corban for everything! We love you guys J 

And thus our drive to Wellington began.  We hadn’t gone 10 miles before realizing we had left a pair of sunglasses in Tony’s ute :/ so we spun around and Sharyn graciously met us at the main road and handed them off.  The drive from the Jury’s house to our couch in Wellington took us about 5 hours, not bad for a bunch of tourists.

We were welcomed into Jon and Rebecca’s home by Eric, the other couch surfer, at about 8pm.  It just so happened that Eric was from Puyallup, WA and Jon was from Connecticut and had lived in Seattle and Alaska for 4 or 5 years…  Weird coincidence?  Since we got there pretty late, we just spent a few hours getting to know each other before we headed off to sleep.  Jon showed us some of his flying lessons that he had videotaped, and also a recording of him hang gliding (so cool!!!). 

We welcomed sleep gladly after a very draining day; unfortunately the hard floor only had a very thin layer carpet to cushion our bodies…