17 August 2013

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." -Oliver Wendell Holmes

At the beginning of 2009, after my Dad left his then-job at a law firm, he was given the opportunity to go to New Zealand and do legal work for the LDS church. Out of the twelve lawyers spread throughout the world, my dad was able to do legal work for the South Pacific islands. His regular "business trip" locations involved Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, and Australia... just to name a few. Needless to say he had a pretty sweet set-up. 

My parents lived in New Zealand for about four years, and with my four visits combined, I was able to live there for about a year. There are days that are especially hard, because I miss it there more than I can put into words. The beauty, the people, the culture, and the experience is more than I could have dreamed of. I miss the accents. I miss the lingo. I miss the terms jandals, and nappis, and kindi. I miss hearing heaps at the end of every sentence. I miss the five minute walk to Lake Pupuke. I miss the ten minute walk to Takapuna Beach. I miss the Takapuna library down the street. Oh, how I miss that library! I miss my best friend Eva. I miss her sweet and perfect soul. I miss Sissy, the beautiful polynesian woman who became one of our dearest friends. I miss her faith. I miss the faith of the people. I miss seeing bare feet left and right. I miss the perfect weather, and the temperamental rain. I miss Auckland. I miss that often-took ride under the Auckland bridge. Heaven forbid, I even miss the weekly doctor visits! I miss the short walk to the grocery store when I needed a quick Tim-Tam. I miss the little island boy in nursery, who had the most beautiful long surfer-looking-shaggy hair. I miss the most scenic most beautiful two hour ride to the temple. I miss every last thing about New Zealand, and I will always consider New Zealand my home. 

There was one particular night, we were having dinner as a family and my dear friend Eva was with us, (she qualifies as our family). As everyone was eating, I had my sprite. I was so sick when I was there - (stress can do a number on you). I walked to the bathroom, and couldn't even keep my sprite down. I sat on the bathroom floor, which I had to do far too often, and I cried. Eva came in and wrapped her arms around me, and cried right along with me. We talked about the gospel. We talked about trial. We talked about strength. The spirit was with us; and it was so evident. I have never felt so much love. I think about that experience often, and when I look back I feel that summed up the past year pretty accurately. It was so hard, it was so difficult, but the love that surrounded me was truly tangible. The spirit I always felt and continually feel has lifted me, supported me, and saved me. The friendships put in my life have changed me. That miserable but cherished night on the bathroom floor is one of my most favorite memories, as totally strange as that sounds. I will forever be grateful for the Lord and His hand in my life. I will forever be grateful for the people who have changed my life, and Eva will always be that person for me. I will forever be grateful for my time spent in New Zealand. New Zealand is a large part of who I am, and remembering my experiences there - so often - keeps me going. 

I always tell people, that if Christ came down to earth and had to choose a place to reside, it would be in Takapuna, New Zealand. I am convinced that it is the closest thing we have to heaven here on earth. It is my heaven on earth, and it brought me closer to heaven than I ever thought I could have been.