One of the blessings I never expected when we came on our mission is that at Senior Missionaries we are allowed to have visitors from home. My friend Patricia Valentine has traveled much of the world, but had never before seen New Zealand, although it had long been on her bucket list. Once she knew we would be living here for two years she decided this would be a good time to come.
She spent most her time here traveling on her own. Knowing we have a busy work schedule as full time missionaries, she did not want to interrupt our reason for being here. So one week she rented a car and went up North to see Cape Reinga and hike among the giant Kauri trees. The second week she took a bus south to visit Hobbiton and then go on to Rotorua.
On our weekends between those trips, however, we got to enjoy showing her some of the lovely scenery round here. We took a day to go to Murewei Beach and then from there went on to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. It was fun to see the beauty of New Zealand through fresh eyes. We have gotten so accustomed to the lush tropical bush and gorgeous beaches that we have unfortunately lost some of our wonder and amazement. We still appreciate it all very much, but not with the sheer awe we felt when we first arrived.
I hope she had a good visit. I think she did. However, two weeks goes by mighty fast. It made me realize all over again what a priceless opportunity we have to actually live in this magical place, to get to know the people and to explore so many of the nooks and crannies.
We've had the time to fully experience the North Island from the Northlands and Bay of Islands all the way down to Wellington. We've savored the Taranaki District, the Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel. From the busy city life of Auckland to the sleepy rural towns tucked along the twisty, winding roads that we travel for our mission assignments, we've embraced it all.
There is so much stunning beauty in this country. Beyond that, the kindness of the people, the harmony and peace that I feel here is something hard to capture in words. It truly has been the adventure of a lifetime to have these experiences. We've learned a lot.
Now that we are past the half way mark in our mission our thoughts do wander to home more often. As much as we love it here, it will be good to get home when our time comes. In the mean time though, we want to keep taking every opportunity we can to get out and enjoy this place while we are here. We want to relish as much of it as we can. There is much about living in New Zealand I know I will surely miss.