April 30, 2009

homage to Chili

This is Flat Chili, with the pom pom frame, she reads with me every morning.

This is stuffed Chili, she is a webkin that Samuel brought on the trip, so that Chili is always with us.

This is real Chili eating my camera strap.

This is stuffed Chili and Flat Chili conferring.

This is stuffed Chili with Snowy.

We all miss Chili. These are some moments of reflection for her...

Samuel, as he holds stuffed Chili, "I've forgotten what it feels like to hold Chili."

William, "When we get home can I hold Chili first?"

April 28, 2009

i don't know...

it is Tuesday. we left the farm Sunday, two days ahead of schedule. Leighton asked me to write something about it. this is the first time, in a long time, that i have been in a situation where my freedom was controlled. last Tuesday a boat took us to the place, and we were told that the same boat was the only way back the following Tuesday.

it started out great. the place was beautiful, but primitive. we had the impression from the WWOOFer organization book that we worked half a day, and had half a day off. the people there did not subscribe to that belief. that part was not the main issue. we worked and ate and rested with the family. Saturday was our Sabbath.

in hindsight, Leighton and i both can see warning signs. the night before LC went to an internet cafe to get online to arrange our schedule. the guy at the cafe warned LC about the head woman. i had some unusual anxiety about it, but just thought i was nervous about doing something new.

i don't know what to say. we met some amazing people, and i don't want to harm their efforts there. but one person made our time there hell. she shamed our children in front of the other workers, our friends at this point. (ref: Matthew 18:15) she made a point of reminding me continually, that i was doing light work, while everyone else was doing hard work. she continually talked down to us. it was very clear that she was in controll of everything and everyone there.

Samuel's stomach was upset Saturday, from stress i think, she made sure that we were quarantined to our room, and used separate water facilities from everyone else as not to infect the rest of the camp. on Sunday we were asked to leave because of "the sickness", and waited in our room for a few hours while a taxi was called. we were not allowed to say goodbye to our friends. at our departure we were told that Samuel and William popped an inflatable seat worth $100 and she then proceeded to scold them and dictate to them their punishment once they got home to make up for the damage. unbelievable. she was not a reasonable person. LC and i promised to take care of the seat and quietly said goodbye.

Samuel and William did good work. i know that we are not farm people, but they really did work. Leighton went above and beyond, and I really tried to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. we left in tears. i don't want to talk about this anymore. a lot happened there that i don't want to talk about. our prayers are for their help, and healing and ours as well.

the brilliant spot is this. Saturday night i could not sleep. i spent the night crying out to God about our trouble there. the next morning, i told LC that i prayed through the night, and that this prayer would not left go of me until about 6 am. it was that morning, Sunday morning, that we were asked to leave. i really feel that God heard, and answered. as soon as we were asked to leave Samuel started to feel better.

we are now in Wellington. it is good here. we are in a YHA, youth hostel association, with lots of friendly people and it feels great. we have had dinner, and are regrouping. we went to the musuem Te Papa today. beautiful. they are showing Monet this month; one of my favorite impressionists. a gift from God. i am tired. i will catch up with you all again soon.

love love love.

April 20, 2009

Hi everyone. We have made our way to Havelock which is the gateway to Pelorous Sound. We had a good trip along the east coast of the South Island. We stayed for two days in Kaikouri and despite the never lifting fog, we explored the sea shore and got really close to a few sleeping fur seals. The boys enjoyed the big waves and spent hours seeing how far they could go out on the rocks without getting wet. Long story short, we were all soaked by the time we got back to our room.

Tomorrow we get on the mail boat to make our way to Tira Ora, our first WWOOF experience. The retreat/farm is 500 acres of remote farm and rain forest along the shores of the Pelorous Sound. You can check out the place we will be working at tira-ora-lodge.com. I know we will be helping with the normal to-dos around the place as well as helping plant a pomogranite orchard. I am looking forward to it. There will also be plenty of space for the boys to run which should really help Gina and I have some extended quiet time. We will be staying at least one week with the option of staying as long as we want. I don't know if we will have internet so you may not hear from us for a while.

Please continue to pray for us. We love you all.

April 18, 2009

more pictures...

From the Church of the Good Shepherd. This is a beautiful place.

Samuel and the Sheepdog sculpture, Lake Tekapo.

Friday at Lake Tekapo...

Friday morning we left Queenstown and headed to Lake Tekapo. It was only a couple hours north. My favorite part was the Church of the Good Shepherd. I painted it for William's kindergarten teacher Mrs. McNitt. It was an illustration for a nursery rhyme, and involved sheep. I think it was Little Bo Peep. We also visited the bronze sculpture of a sheep dog. It is a tribute to the service of these amazing animals. We have seen these dogs herd the sheep and cattle down a hill, and they do it all in obedience to their masters whistle. Justin tells us that they can respond to up to 82 different whistle commands.

At Lake Tekapo we stayed in a small cottage on the lake. It was new, clean and neat. We were visited by a whole team of ducks, which of course we fed. A neighbor at the cottage commented that we would have friends for life. He was right; they were waiting at our porch first thing in the morning. The lake is beautiful, and restful. Friday night the boys swan in a heated natural spring pool, while Leighton and I watched and enjoyed a quiet evening together.

a day without music, and good books, is a sad day...

The boys are waiting for the waves to splash over the wall. We got a few little sprinkles, and then one really big spray. We were all really wet for dinner.

Thursday night was our last night in Queenstown. We had an amazing night out, starting with dinner at The Cow. It is one of the original restaurants of Queenstown, it is very small and busy. We had pizza and fresh baked bread with lots of butter. Justin joined us and we had a great time chatting, and eating.

Leighton and Justin met twenty years ago when Justin came to the states as an exchange student. He has had an adventure of a life. The boys especially loved hearing about his time as an extra on the Lord of the Rings movies. The movie was filmed in New Zealand. Justin was an Elf, and an Ork. He told us that the Ork costume was worth $12,000, and the face piece was $2,000 alone. He also met his future bride Rebekah during this time. The Lord of the Rings is big business here. Tours are offered for anyone wanting to visit movie locations. I met a couple from Poland who carried the official LOTR tour book, and eagerly shared it with me.

After the Cow, we went over to the wharf area and got some sorbet. As we were eating and strolling a bagpipe band started playing in a courtyard by the water. There were five bagpipes and two snare drums. Maybe it's the Scotch-Irish in me, but hearing that music always make me feel at home. After that we said goodbye to Justin, went back to our room and packed up to leave in the morning.

April 16, 2009

random, miscelaneous, whatever...

When Dad shuts the car door it sounds like a car crash.

William- "Everyone here (in NZ) is wearing clothes, except the people taking a shower."

When Mom refused to utilize a certain road side restroom William inquired about it. "Why won't you use That restroom?" Before Mom could answer Samuel wisely replied, "William, you don't know the secret ways of women."

When Mom and Dad decided to ditch the "home pillows" at the hotel, William cried and lamented "That was the only pillow I ever had!" He continued to talk about his pillow for the next few days, but we think he is over it now. He saw an infomercial for a $200 pillow that he would accept as a replacement.

It is Thursday, almost dinner time. This is our last night in Queenstown. We will be leaving tomorrow sometime. We have a few days to move north to our next spot. We will be WWOOFing somewhere really remote. Justin is familiar with the place, he called it paradise and said we would never want to leave.

All I know is that we are staying with a family, who have children close in age to ours, on their farm. And that his place is only reached by boat. I think we are taking the "mail boat" out. Leighton is the detail guy, and he is good at it.

We are off to dinner now with Justin and his family. This has been a great stop. Hugs for everyone.

April 15, 2009

the interviews...

These are interviews of the boys Gina recorded at the SF Airport. They are 18 days old but still worth watching.

April 14, 2009

a special flora and fauna section...

These sheep ran away from GC too. They let LC pet them.

Ponies across the street from the hotel, close to the beach.

Red and pink flowers from the road side.

Yellow flowers from the beach.

These photos are from the little town of Haast. It is on the west coast of NZ. Our introduction to the town could have been a warning of things to come here. At the visitor center Leighton looked at the maps and area info, while the boys and I were outside walking around the reflecting ponds.

The boys where enjoying playing on the stepping stones when William fell in. Samuel ran out calling for "Mom", and explained what happened. William was cold and crying. I responded without surprise, and little emphathy. I was tired. Samuel stepped up and made a plan. Per his request, I gathered extra clothes and he took William into the visitors center to change. He is my hero! Everyone emerged happy and ready for Haast, the beach, and our first scarry hotel experience for the trip.

The vase of Hydrangeas are the best part of the suite the stayed in, so it is all you will see of that place. I picked the flowers from outside the room. I hope they don't mind, but it really did help.

Roses from the gardens in Queenstown.

They have Queen Ann's Lace too! The road side on a drive through the mountains.

It is a moss with lots of very small orange berries. These last three are from the walk out to the Fran-Josef glacier.

These two, I can't remember.

At Rabbit beach near Nelson.

These are from a vineyard on the way to the beach. We stopped for a really good lunch. Can you see the bee? http://www.seifried.co.nz/

la la hey

A small slice of downtown.

Roaming the downtown park and beach area of Queenstown. My boys do not prefer to walk on the bridge, but almost always the on rails.

Playing near the river that flows to the bay.

The boys are fascinated with this game. They first watched a woman play the game and applauded her efforts as she played. She smiled and thanked them.

This is the garden area. Disk Golf is big here, and a course is set up in the park. It made us wish Bubba were here. The boys have also enjoyed playing at the skate park.

The Poplars are starting to change.

No rock is too big.