We are, once again, sitting on an Airport – waiting to depart to yet another country. What a privilege! We've been in Auckland, New Zealand now for the past 10 days (after once again lengthening our stay with 2 days. Auckland, the city of sails, where every 3rd person owns a boat of some kind, is built on 2 sides of the north island, with the Harbour Bridge the only connection between the 2 sides!
I want to try to describe New Zealand in a few paragraphs – not an easy job. What a beautiful and unique country (and we've only been on the north island!) NZ is green hills, with lots of water. It's almost like the Western Cape at places, but with much more water. It's also a winter rainfall region, and we had lots of it.
We went, with a ferry, to an island called Rangitoto. This island is an erupted volcano and ONLY 600 years old. To put it in perspective: When the church in Trier in Germany was already 1000 years old, this island did not exist! Creation is awesome and still continuing. We walked up to the summit, from where you have a spectacular view of Auckland and the sea. The walk took us 1 hour up the volcano and another 1.5 hours down, because of a detour to the lava caves. The island has "all-black" rocks and rainforest type vegetation in between. Where did this come from?? Remember, there was nothing, then a volcano erupted from under the sea and the lava settled as a piece of land! It was a unique day, with the extra bonus of a good workout!
We also went to the beaches on the east and west coast. (It takes you 1 hrs drive from east to west!) The unique thing here is: the western beaches are black! (I mean the sand) Its sand formed from the black volcano rock. This is also the place where the garnet bird breeds, before it takes its long and challenging journey to Australia, coming back to the very same rock some years later. Nature is amazing and we know so little!
Tinus and Dawie accompanied Laura, our hosts' lovely daughter, to visit the Auckland Zoo. They saw lots of animals, but the unique thing was a Kiwi bird. You will find the kiwi ONLY in NZ.
Another place we went was Rotorua. It was a 3 hours drive through the most beautiful, puzzle picture beautiful, scenery. Lots of sheep and cattle on hills covered with green grass. Rotorua is built on a boiling pot of water, or so it seems. There is hot water springs, boiling mud or simply smoke coming from the earth, almost everywhere. And this is not "High I" creativity. It's amazing: you walk in a park, with areas fenced off because of hot water or boiling mud coming from underneath. But the next moment, in the path (which is safe area) you see smoke coming up, yet another pot is boiling over! Rotorua is a tourist paradise, with multiple walks, hot water resorts, spas, Maori villages and adrenaline driven activities. Obviously almost everything cost a lot of NZ $. Because of previous experience in different places, we opted for the "locals" swimming pool, which is equal fun (also with hot water), but MUCH cheaper. We confirmed for ourselves: you can have fun, without it costing you an arm and a leg.
Once again, the people we met played a big role into making New Zealand as memorable and special as all the other places we've been. People in New Zealand also love rugby, but not half as much as in South Africa or Namibia, but more than in Australia. They also braai (or BBQ), but on gas. NZ has many New Zealanders, but almost as much ex-South Africans! Most places we went, we were not the only people speaking Afrikaans.
We went to the City Impact Church, where we not only received a good message on healthy living and healing, but also met special people, true brothers and sisters in Christ. We spent a few hours at church on Sunday, just fellowshipping with new friends: Jaco and Mari, former South Africans with a ministry specifically to shepherd "new ex-SA immigrants" and Gregg, the youth pastor. Jaco and his wife are doing a great job and will be an asset to any church. Gregg gave Dawie J a prophetic word about God using him in future in a healing ministry. May Dawie be faithful… Gregg is a humble and true servant of City Impact Church. He is a man who is ready to be powerfully used by God. Hopefully we will see him in Namibia in years to come. The unique thing at church was that we were greeted in Afrikaans and spoke a lot of it too!
"A feast" will be the correct description for what we had at the Van Wyk's. We had a wonderful Namibian meal and New Zealand ice cream. We talked and talked, asked and answered a lot of each other's questions. The boys played rugby. We shared Communion and prayed together. We each received a gift from NZ! It was such a blessed day. Enid, Vernon and the boys are well, adapting very good and get the balance between "trusting God" and "doing their part" in job, house and church search. We have peace in our hearts about them.
Yet another BIG blessing and unique ingredient in NZ, was the Harper family: Peter, Dawn and their daughter Laura as well as Dawn's parents: Ralph and Margaret. We stayed in the barn-house on their farm and used Ralph's car. This was simply as a gift, an act of mercy: talk about blessings!! Dawn is Lynn's, (our travel agent at Trip Travel in Windhoek), sister. We enjoyed a "potjiekos" as well as a BBQ with them. The unique thing of the braai was that Peter used Etosha Brickets to BBQ the meat on!! We attended their eldest daughter, Jacqueline's wedding in the DR Church, Moedergemeente Windhoek (that's via Skype!) on Saturday 18 April 2009.What a privilege to share it with them. Hopefully we will be able to bless the Harpers also one day… May God shower them daily with His blessings.
In a brochure of a Maori traditional village is an old Maori quote, which translated to English says: "If you ask me what the greatest thing in the world is, the answer will be: It is people, it is people". I couldn't agree more.
The last unique experience was that we had to nail my suitcase close, to enable us to fly to America. Closing all the bags when the packing was finished, I discovered that the 1 clasp on my case was broken! There was no time (and also no money) to go buy a new one, so we had to improvise. The saying goes: " n Boer maak n plan". We hammered the bag together and closed with 2 nails. You see, where there is a will, there is a way!!
New Zealand surely has been a unique and special experience. I am so glad that it was part of our world tour. If I was the deciding one on the tour plan, we would not have gone there. It would have been a mistake… Another proof that " teamwork makes the dream work."
Psa 8:1-9 CEV
(A psalm by David for the music leader.) Our LORD and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth! You let your glory be seen in the heavens above. (2) With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress. It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless. (3) I often think of the heavens your hands have made, and of the moon and stars you put in place. (4) Then I ask, "Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?" (5) You made us a little lower than you yourself, and you have crowned us with glory and honor. (6) You let us rule everything your hands have made. And you put all of it under our power-- (7) the sheep and the cattle, and every wild animal, (8) the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and all ocean creatures. (9) Our LORD and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth!