Thursday, May 11, 2017

Show Choir...Journey

Grace has been part of the school's Show Choir since last year.  Getting in to the school's top choir as a freshman was a feat in itself...but the benefits these last two years have been one of the most impactful pieces of high school.  She has made amazing friends, works with a fabulous, godly teacher, and it has pushed her artistically in ways nothing else has or would have.  It is time consuming, but so rewarding.  In Januray, every year, the Show Choir does a performance that benefits domestic helpers, but also chooses a theme to raise people's awareness.  This year it was refugees...and the show was called Journey.

The Choir did a number of songs that connected with the struggle of refugees and their story of difficulty and challenge...and perseverance.  This year, Grace had a huge solo in the song, "Overcomer" by Mandisa.  She was humbled to have been chosen for this role, and the girl rocked it!!  Talk about a proud mama and papa moment. The second half of the show was a medley of songs from Aladdin.  This part was just plain FUN.  The kids looked great and they did amazing!!

New Year's in Brisbane

So we ended 2016 in the same country that we started it. New Year's Eve was spent with dear friends that we made in Hong Kong.  When we were given the opportunity to have a long layover in Brisbane, we had to take it.  We love the Savonoff's and it's not everyday that we can get to Australia...especially after we move back to the US.  They were gracious to take us for a few nights, starting with New Year's Eve.

We began by renting a car and driving to the Savy's, just in time to get ready for their New Year's party.  They had invited some family and friends, most if not all we met the previous year.  It was a great time...the kids swam and sang, we ate lots of sweets and other goodies, and we laughed a lot as the adults played Telestrations.  It was hilarious.

The next day, was a laid back day...just hanging out,, recovering from a late night, more swimming (they have a great pool), more eating and simply enjoying each other's company. We went for a nature walk and was able to see more of the neighborhood. It was just so good to be with them and catch up from the last time we were together.

One of the highlights of the visit was our day trip to the Sunshine Coast and King's Beach, which is north of Brisbane.  Last year we went south of Brisbane to Gold Coast.  Both coasts are gorgeous and so beautiful, so vast.  When we arrived, we set up and found the kids in the water, pretty much the entire time.  They had a blast, as the water was much warmer than in NZ and the waves were perfect.  They boogie boarded, and we also investigated the tide pools and found some eels.  While the weather wasn't a perfect sunny day, it was still hot and it didn't rain...the clouds were a relief.

We are incredibly blessed to have these dear friends, and even though we don't do life with them like we used to, the Lord has created a bond between our families that we will have for a lifetime:) So we will keep in touch until our paths cross again...maybe on the east coast USA:)

These two...our Hong Kong babies

The boys and their toys

The Little girls had fun in the sand

Jenna is ready to ride!

Last ones in the water

One of my favorites:)

Older girls

The whole crew!!

Snack before having to say goodbye

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Zealand - Waihi Beach

We arrived at our house in Waihi Beach late afternoon on December 23rd.  Yes, it was hard for us to believe that Christmas was right around the 70 degree weather...but it was exciting for all of us to get settled for awhile and get ready for Christmas.

We were so pleasantly surprised by our home.  It was so spacious and beautiful...and while it wasn't considered ocean front, it might as well have been since there was nothing to impede our view...which was my favorite part!! The other cool thing, that went unnoticed as we were picking this home, was the lack of TV:)

After we figured out who was sleeping where, and got organized with some meals, we went to work with the cooking.  We absolutely LOVED eating every meal outdoors with the fireplace going and the wind shields down...since the beginning of the week was cooler and windy.

Smores were also a common occurance

The next day we explored the beach, relaxed, prepared meals, and figured out where we were going to church.  We found a little Presbyterian church in the town of Waihi, about 20 minutes away.  As we walked in to the "family service" we were a little inconspicuous, but people were very gracious and welcoming.  We sang Christmas carols we knew, talked about the birth of Jesus, and then sang some local Christmas carols (summer not winter)

Found out her two best friends were coming to visit Hong Kong

Finally got a smart phone

Matching Waihi Beach t-shirts

Lots of play in the "garden"

Instead of candles for Christmas Eve service, they gave out glow sticks

Pavlova for Christmas dinner!

Some more highlights of the week were:

Hiking to a beautiful bay around the corner from our beach.  Unfortunately we arrived at high tide and couldn't swim in the water as we would have wanted to...but we had the beach to ourselves and the view was gorgeous.

Bike riding trip from Hades.  We traveled about half-way and Andy's tire got a flat.  They did not send us with the correct sized tire, and after messing with it for over an hour, we barely made the train back.  Then, Rebecca and I tried to go to a petting farm with the kid while Andy and Ron finished the ride.  This was a fail because we didn't have the cash, and then two little girls were VERY unhappy.  So, Andy encouraged us to go to the tunnel that they just checked out on bikes...but we parked on the opposite end and had to hike 45 minutes to and from...another FAIL in the kids eyes (we almost "lost" Abby on that leg of the trip)

Andy toted the "littles"

Our new Dutch friend, Jeanette, was a big help

We saw lots of cattle on our bike ride

Look carefully and you see Abby sulking

Caught the last train back

Trip to Taraunga and Mt. Manganui.  This was about an hour's drive for us and a place that Liz had taken me before.  We started in Taraunga...hit a Starbucks and walked around town.  Then we made it to the beach at Mt. Manganui and absolutely LOVED it!! We didn't hike the mount like Liz and I did, but we just enjoyed the beautiful beach/ocean and weather that the Lord gave us that was fabulous!!!

One of the reasons we couldn't stay longer at Mt Manganui was becuase we had reservations for the Hobbiton tour...and it did not disappoint!!!  We had an absolutely beautiful day and thoroughly enjoyed touring the set of one of our favorite movie trilogies

The Shire

An ending drink at the Green Dragon

Back to Rotarua!  One of our goals was to find a natural hot spring.  Liz had taken me to Kerosene Creek near the Geothermal Wonderlands.  Since leaving Rotarua, we searched and searched but could not find what we were looking for.  So Ron, Rebecca, Abby, Grace, Emma and I decided to go and search for Kersosene Creek.  We also went to the town, since we had some souvenirs yet to purchase, and I thought it would be fun to check out the Redwood Forest.  It was a bummer that Andy hit his limit of day trips, but it was good that he stayed and chilled at home with Sarah and Josh...and we had a blast.  We found the hot spring...with 100 of our closest friends (couldn't believe how popular it was) and also enjoyed the Redwoods and more shopping!!

Merry Christmas in Rotarua

Redwood selfie

Me and my beautiful girls

Catch up, Ron!

We found Kerosene Creek

And finally, one of my biggest highlights was hosting our friends, Jon and Cath Widdifield...teachers at ICS!  They were nearby visiting family (Cath is a Kiwi) and we had them over for dinner.  They helped us grill some delicious lamb...Jon went shopping with the men while Cath played ball in the yard with the kids and Rebecca and I showered:) Then we played games into the night and laughed our heads off!!  It was such a sweet time of friendship!!

When our week was over, and thus our time with Ron and Rebecca in New Zealand, we were amazed at the memories we made with our dear friends. We loved exploring this incredible country...and God truly revealed His glory to us over and over and over again.