Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

Its New Year's Eve here. Its crazy to think I will live in another year for a day as the rest of you finish up 2009.  If you have any questions... about how 2010 is going to be, just ask. ha! Just kidding. Im looking forward to the upcoming year with anticipation and excitement. I know a great year is in store!.

Its hard to believe Christmas is over, already.

I got a new camera for Christmas from Mom and Dad so I have really enjoyed taking pictures when I can... and I know I will use it alot in the future!

I had a much warmer christmas than in past years and much different one as well. Christmas is not as commercial here, in New Zealand and you dont find lots of presents under the tree. Of course there will be presents, just not alot. Instead of saying "Merry Christmas" people exchange saying of "Happy Christmas". Traditional christmas hymns of growing up were sung to a different time and rhythm.... I found that to be very frustrating for me personally since I couldnt sing any favorites as I was used to singing them. I did learn some new Christmas carols though.... along with *new verses added to traditional carols. Hmmm....

One thing Will and I really enjoyed this year was decorating our christmas tree. Our lights were so bright. We actually decorated our house for Christmas before we left for the states. Everyone here thought we were crazy-- but we just got to enjoy it that much longer. The lights on our tree are so bright that you can not have them on any other setting other than "steady on."
This is what our Christmas Tree looks like at night. You should see it from the street!!!! Oh yes, even our front lawn is lit up.... its great!

This is the time and season for gardening, which I have never tried before. I am quite enjoying it, although over the past few days my garden have been neglected. YIKES. What you see here are my poppies and .... umm... something else! hehehe. Its still a work in progress but they are bright and sunny and very cheerful! :) I have planted more flowers of different kinds so I am waiting to see how those turn out! :)
These started out as little spuds... so I am quite excited about their growth and progress!
Dont think I stop with flowers... I have a small vegge patch too. I am waiting to see the results of my newest plant. I have already harvested 10 potatoes. How do you grow potatoes? Plant an almost rotten one!! hahaha. We dont let anything go to waste here!

Before  Christmas we had our Youth Christmas party. It was alot of fun. We just got together, ate some Yummy food and did the white elephant gift exchange along with some fun christmas games and the reading of the Christmas story. All the youth are so great here. We have an awesome youth group! We are currently on summer holiday until February :)
This is a picture taken in our church. You dont see alot of the youth because they are all jumping for Candy Canes in two single file lines! :)

Its been a fast, fun filled couple of weeks. It seems like people are doing more since the summer holiday is here.

I pray you each have a wonderful last couple of days in the year 2009.

2009, it might have been prime
but in 2010 I will live it for HIM.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Journey

Well, we finally arrived back in Otorohanga, safe and sound. Its now officially summer and the weather is gorgeous! Sunshine and warm!!! :)
Will and I are slowly getting over the effects of jet-lag. For some reason  it seemed to effect us both much harshly this time around. Hmmm. It must be our old age......

The visit home was wonderful. Seeing friends and family was so nice. I can only speak for myself in some aspects, but I know that emotionally, I needed to be with family again--- if only for a little while. The visit seemed all too short.

The wedding was simply beautiful with the bride (my new sister!!!) looking elegant and stunning in her gown. I never knew it was going to be so hard to watch my little bro get married....

I always knew in my heart that I would have to prepare myself for leaving Tallahassee again, I just didnt know how hard it would be. I think leaving this second time was harder than the first. When I left in June, I knew I was going to come back and see my family in 6 months as we celebrated the wedding of Barry and Dusti. As I left this time, I am leaving with the uncertainty of knowing when I will return or how long it will be until I can sit around the table with my family at family dinner, or just relax and sip coffee with my mother at the kitchen table.

I find myself in a stage of my life right now, where I am completely dependent.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am very independent and enjoy taking care of things myself. I have been forced out of every comfort zone I have ever known, connected to emotions that I did not realize I had ( I have become quite the sappy person lately) and grown in ways I can only attribute credit to  God.

 Its been a journey.

I enjoy being a wife and supporter of my husband's ministry. What a blessing!!! When I think of other couples in the ministry who are not *connected* in their ministry--it saddens me to think of what they are missing out on: the joy of ministering together, sharing as ONE!

I am realizing that God is going to use me through this journey and make me stronger as a wife and person in the end.

I know one day (when Im old and gray), I will look back on these wonderful days and smile!  Everyone has their own journeys in life. This one is mine. I cant say this journey has been or is easy, but keeping in touch with good friends regularly through email and skype (love you Carrie) and family back home makes all the difference ( you just dont know!)

Besides, I live in New Zealand!!! I have a picture perfect scenery outside my window! Who can beat that?!?!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hall Family Vacation: First Edition

WOW! It seems like things have been going and going and going lately. Will and I just attended the Assembly (Baptist Conference of New Zealand), which was held in the South Island. We had such a wonderful, relaxing time together. I soon found out that the scenery on the South Island is much different than the North Island where Otorohanga is located. Traveling to the South Island together was a first for us, so although we went for *work*, we took a few days extra to allow ourselves some tourists fun and adventure...and enjoy our FIRST *Hall Family Vacation.* And we did just that!! 
We flew on a small (and I mean VERY small) plane. Would you believe the airport had no screening security? Does anyone remember the daytime show Wings? Remember that small Nantucket Airport that serviced only one or two flights at a time? That was the size of airport we departed from. A new adventure. I almost felt like a celebrity in hiding, leaving on my private jet.... ok ok , not really--- ! :) But you get the idea.

The views from the plane were simply gorgeous. Im sure some passengers thought Will and I were silly as we pressed firmly our little digital camera to the window trying to get the perfect picture! Oh, but little do they know what pictures we have! :) Would they still count us silly now?! 
This is Mt. Taranaki located in New Plymouth. Im not sure exactly the height of it, but this picture was taken at cruising altitude and you can see the picture! Not such a shabby mountain, aye? 

After landing in Christchurch (where we would soon return), we rented a car and drove MANY hours (ok so it was only 6, but thats alot of driving!) to Castle Rock. What a neat formation of Rocks, naturally placed on a hill in a gorgeous setting. I had only seen such beauty in magazines and on postcards, but to see it in person almost leaves you breathless. Speechless. In awe! 
Here is another picture of some views we saw while driving through the Southern Alps, mountain range(s). Good times, awesome views.

This one is actually a view of a river. The underbrush and sand make an awesome looking design. 
This is just a *country scene* of the mountains as we drove past. Will said I was asleep, I dont think so..... Ha! 

On our trip we stayed in Backpackers. Its common for travelers to stay in such places. This would be a place that might supply you with your own room and toilet and then have a common kitchen area to cook. I was in charge of the cooking and food for the trip. I was excited as I wanted to make sure my hubby ate well and stayed fed, even on vacation/holiday. I had all the meals planned out for the first part of the trip (spaghetti one night and homemade pizza the next) Easy yet filling, right! 
Wait, did I forget to tell you that sometimes they call their ingredients different names here? Lets keep that in mind! 
Im in the grocery and picking up what is needed to make the meals. I grab the things for a hawiian pizza (yummy) and then the spaghetti. I go to the sauce aisle and pick up the tomato sauce. Everything is in check. Ready to make dinner and spaghetti is up first.
Noodles are done and we are both hungry. Garlic bread is ready to be heated. After pouring the Tomato sauce on the noodles, I realize that I just poured Ketchup on them, not *pasta sauce*!! Tomato sauce =ketchup! I could have kicked myself a thousand times! I shredded cheese to try and *fix the mistake. Nope. It was the *sweetest spaghetti I ever had. Needless to say I didnt eat much of it, or any dinner that night. Thank goodness my sweet husband will eat whatever I fix him!

Dont think our journey ended with my horrible spaghetti flop! Will was able to spend a day on Fox Glacier while I was pampered watching TV (yes, I say pampered since I do not have a TV in my home)!  We both went on a walk later that day to see the face of Fox Glacier. To give you an idea exactly how big it is.... the black specks behind us are people.  It is truly an amazing sight to see. 
This is a picture of Will standing on Fox. He had the time of his life! :) 
Will and I far off from the face of Fox. Can you see the black specks (people) behind us? Imagine how big that glacier REALLY is! 

Now, on to the Tasman Sea were we stayed in yet, another Backpackers (although each one is a little different I am learning). Oh the stories I have to tell dad---- hahaha! Off the Tasman Sea we went to Punataki (the Pancake Rocks). These formations were the coolest thing! Surrounding a portion of the sea were rock formations that looked like pancakes, along with blowholes. The waves from the ocean were fierce in certain areas-- which was even more awesome (almost like waves after a thunderstorm off the coast of Panama City Beach).  But the most breathtaking view was the Tasman Sea at sunset. The natural, rustic, untouched seaside cascaded with the glow of the setting sun! 
Leaving the Punataki area, we left to go to the Assembly for a few days in Rangiora. We stayed with the sweetest couple, the Edmeades. I learned alot from the way churches are handled in New Zealand compared to how they are in the states. Overall, I was greatly surprised at the welcome I received there. I was also excited about winning (for the first time) the Candy guess (where you guess how many candies are in a jar)-- I was off by 1!! 

No, our journey isnt over yet!! The assemby lasted 4 days. They were long but we ate well. Ok ok! Im a Baptist... we eat when we get together so we are supposed to say something about the food right? Oh, and the worship was good too! 

Arriving in Christchurch, again..... another backpackers! yay-- this one was once an old hotel back in the day, Im sure of it! It had class and style but no elevator and we were on the second floor (but two flights of stairs per floor)!! Its very hard to carry a rolling suitcase up two floors. Bell Hop anyone? Oh wait, this is New Zealand! 
Man did we ever act like tourist in Christchurch. Our accomadations were located behind the Christchurch Cathedral. The Cathedral was gorgeous, along with other structures surrounding the city. People were playing life size chess in the square and riding the trolly to their next location. We also road the trolly several times, mostly to stay warm for a few minutes before venturing out again.  You can see us here, huddled up in the cab of this trolly as it strolls through the city of Christchurch. 

Will and I loved the Cathedral. We went there twice, I think. I told Will they were really smart to make the only exit from the cathedral to be through their gift shop. Of course that worked on us. We bit the bait and bought something! No pictures are allowed inside the Cathedral. You can imagine my excitement when I saw my first REAL LIVE NUN walking around. I had to tell Will. Of course he was shocked that I hadnt seen one earlier. Umm, Hello... Im Baptist! :) 
I watched her walk to the back of the Cathedral and a bigger grin came to my face! 
"Will, she's leaving! She's leaving! Quick, give me the camera. I can take her picture now!!!"
I exited through the entrance since going through the gift shop would only take me to the other side of the church and I would miss my window of opportunity. The doors opened, I stepped through and *SNAP* my first picture of the first nun I ever saw. A moment of pure joy and pride. Why? I have no idea.... I guess I just liked the movie Sister Act!

Will and just really wanted to enjoy the surroundings of the city and relax. What better way to  do that than to go Punting on the Avalon River through the Park. It was a 30 minute Punt, just the two of us. A sunny, breezing, chilly (ok ok COLD) day but I have really come to enjoy doing the things that I would never get to do anywhere else and what better person to do them with than my sweet Will! 
This is a picture I took the first day in Christchurch of another group of people punting along the river. So peaceful!

Will and I are currently getting ready to come back to the states for a short visit. We are excited about Barry and Dusti's upcoming wedding and the joy and excitement it brings. Everyone here is excited for the opportunity that we have to go back and revisit family and for the upcoming wedding!! We cant wait. :) 

Sometimes when you are in a far away place or in another country, God can send the smallest thing (or animal) to remind you of home or your family and those who love you!    This is a little cat I saw at a coffee shop that looked just like Max, my dad's cat.  Of course Im a daddy's girl so anything that reminds me of my daddy makes me smile! 
 This concludes my wonderful first family vacation as a newly married wife! I cant wait to go on the next one and the many more to come! 
One more week! FAMILY and FLORIDA here we come!! Please keep us in your prayers as we travel many long hours and days (flying). 

Love you all so much. God is so good!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Zealand: In Review

Life in New Zealand is such an awesome experience. I often think of my friends and family back home and wish they were here and able too all the wonderful sights of New Zealand! Its like no other country :)
Will and I often get to sneak away from Otorohanga for a day or so and explore part of New Zealand that he has not been to yet, or revisit places we both have been. Its always fun no matter what, and the people are super friendly.
Dare I say I have been spoiled by the hot pools. Its someplace we frequent when we go out of town. We always look for a hot pool or mineral spa. New Zealand is known for their natural geothermal mineral spas-- they are soo wonderful. If you ever try it, a regualar hot tub will disgust you! :)

Hot water beach is a favorite hot spot: When its low tide, bring your shovel and start digging! If you hit a thermal hot spot, Presto! You have your own *natural* hot pool of salt water on the beach. Watch out for the tide coming in though, that water will be COLD! :) First come, first serve--- this beach can get pretty crowded. How hot is HOT? Lets just say, I burned my feet on the "sand" on a hot spot that was dug....

Waterfalls are more than just a view! Tramping through the forest is one of Will's favorite things to do, and I enjoy doing it with him, especially when he holds my hand (haha)! We love finding waterfalls. Damper Falls is the North Island's tallest one, standing at 74 meters high. Photo's dont do it justice, seriously.  Waterfalls can also be seen on the side of the road, just rolling down the rocks, slightly--- amazing! I don't think I can ever see enough waterfalls in my lifetime, each one is unique and in a different setting. Breathtaking and surreal, capturing by their roaring water, yet gentle lush surroundings.

Has anyone found the pot of gold? I dont think it exists because I have seen the end of the rainbow, many times over. The brightest and biggest rainbows can be seen here. You don't see rainbows like the ones here, in Florida or anywhere else I have been. Watch closely and the rainbow will light up like a florescent lightbulb!! If you look at this picture to the right, you can see the double rainbow in it as well as the one below! Not uncommon to see here! I tried to capture one on film (a complete rainbow) but it wouldn't fit on the screen---- I had to video record the length of it--- Now THATS a big rainbow!

Obviously, this one looked so stunning, Will decided to eat it, or taste it..... "Skittles. Taste the Rainbow!"

One thing that I have really enjoyed doing here is learning to cook, New Zealand style. Cooking is alot different than back home. For example, there isn't alot of "pre boxed" foods. There are some, but not as much as in the States! Goodness.... I didnt know how easy cooking was back then! College students sure do have it easy (they shouldnt be eating out!) I have thoroughly enjoyed cooking lunch and dinner for the husband each day-- I partly experiment, partly know what I am doing. I dont think I have bottomed out as a cook yet! (He still asks me to cook for him, so thats a good sign : )

I made my very first homemade apple pie Monday night! No store bought apple pie filling-- chopped apples and ground cloves with sugar and flour and water! Yummm.  Tasty!
(Disclaimer: This picture was taken before I finished the top crust. I did make the steam holes!)

Gumboots! This is my new buy! Notice my shoes, the black ones with the flowers on them!! LOVE IT! So feminine and girly, yet practical in every way. Will even likes them. :) This way, I can go tramping and stomping around in the mud whenever I want--- no matter how old I am! :) Of course I am STILL bundled up because summer is slow in its arrival! 14C here today and a cold rain.
There is so much fun and adventure here in New Zealand! All of the above pictures are of this week (as of monday) with the exception of HOt Water Beach, which was taken in Later September!
Some parts aren't glamorous, such as using a Long Drop when you are out in the middle of no where-- or freezing against the bitter wind. But through it all, its all part of the great adventure.
I laugh to myself sometimes and think about the great things I am experiencing here and the JOY of living in another country. :)
 No regrets. No more homesickness (for a while now). No planning out MY future MY way--- God has it all under control. Its all good in this New Zealand neighborhood :)
Love you all! See you soon!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Understanding the lingo, continued

I thought of some more vocabulary words that can easily be misunderstood. :) Its always great learning new words, their meaning and how to use them in conversations everyday.

shrapnel: most would probably assume this to be used as a *shrapnel* or pieces of a bullet. Here it is referred to in slang referencing coins or change (money).
Meals: Not just breakfast, lunch and dinner here. No sir!  We have... Breakfast, Morning tea, Lunch, Afternoon tea, dinner (also known as tea) with pudding ( pudding =dessert), and supper (evening tea). So, I guess you could say we like Tea and socializing  ALOT! With our *teas * there is usually a snack or something to eat served... so we don't have the traditional BIG southern meals like I'm used to.
Wop Wops: What americans refer to as THE BOONIES. Otorohanga is the Wop Wops, well.. close enough.
Fringe: This term I thought was VERY interesting. It took me a while to understand what this term meant in a convo. Commonly referred to as *bangs*.  You wouldn't go into a Barber her e and ask them to cut your bangs-- you might get some interesting looks. You simply ask for a *fringe*. This is a universal term for both males and females.
Plat: our everyday braid
Braids: What we would call *dreads* (if you get these confused and ask for your hair braided.... you might end up looking like Whoopi Goldberg, on a good hair day.
Motorway: The interstate
Footpath:  a sidewalk
Tramp/ bush-walk : hike or walk on a path or  along a natural trail.
Hot pools: Pools of natural thermal heated mineral water ( like a natural hot tub). Water can reach up to 42 celcius! I have to admit that I have become quite spoiled by the hot pools. there is nothing like it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How do you say it and what does it mean?

One of the first things you notice when you arrive in New Zealand is the lovely, but thick accent of the people. Its quite different than the lingo of everyday American. I like it. Secretly I am hoping to pick up a little bit of the accent! Wouldn't that be nice-- although I worry what it would sound like mixed with my natural southern twang. Oh, Boy! 
There are many things that I have had to keep myself in check with as I have learned to custom and culture here. One is the difference in our talk/language. I guess I took it for granted when I came here, knowing I was coming to an English speaking country-- I just expected all the sayings and wording to be understood in the same manner. No Sir! 
This blog comes at a special request, as I have shared stories of embarrassment and humor as I have learned (and still learning) how to speak the daily language of the Kiwis. Its a fun experience. :) 
Boot: This not referred to as a shoe, but rather the *trunk* of the car. I learned this when someone asked me to "Put that in the boot!" .... Um, yeah...where exactly is the boot when Im looking at the car!?"
Bonnet: Not typically something you see on a women's head. This is the "hood" of the car or vehicle. 
Jandals: most commonly known as flip flops. I have yet to hear the word *flip flop* used or written anywhere... or even spoken. I must be a rebel! 
Dairy: this would be a Convenience store or corner store 
Togs: a swimsuit. I am still unsure how a swimsuit gets named a tog... but I go with the flow. :) 
Hot chips: american french fries. Not many places have "french fries" on their menu- you have to be in the know that *chips* or *hot chips* mean french fries. 
Jelly: Jell-0
Jam: common American jelly (like what you put on toast). You dont want to ask for a Peanut  butter and Jelly sandwich--- you will end up with a Peanut Butter and Jell-o sandwich. You might also have some pretty strange looks. 
Biscuit: any kind of cookie. This is NOT a kind of bread you but butter or jam on. 
Lollies: any form of candy. 
Candy Floss: Cotton Candy. ( I dont quite understand the ... Floss?) 
Chilly bin: Ice chest or cooler.
My shout: if you are paying for someone's meal.. "My treat!" 
Sammy: referring to any kind of sandwich. 
Sweet As: Used instead of awesome or cool. Most people put the word *as* after any kind of word to emphasize the effects of something. I personally don't care for it-- when said really fast it sounds much like anther word. YIKES! 
Mate: a friend or buddy
Flat: an apartment
Aye: most commonly used at the end of a sentence. "It was a nice day today, aye." 

There are a few words that you don't use, I have learned (some by mistake) as they have a very different meaning. 
You must use the term Mowing the lawn in reference to Yard work. I have had several people laugh when making reference to us use the term "Yard work" .... "what is that?" You can also just use the terms: gardening, etc. 
The term professional has gotten me in a couple of embarrassing situations once or twice. Using the term Professional is like referring to Julia Roberts in the beginning of Pretty Woman. I have used it as a compliment (or so I thought) a time or two--- that didnt turn out in my favor. 
This is just a short vocabulary list of some commonly used words in the Kiwi/ New Zealand culture. 
As I learn more words, I look forward to sharing them with you.... Its exciting learning a new culture and mixing it with what I have already instilled in me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

MILK MAID: A Dairy Farming Experience

WOW! There is so much to do here in the small town of Otorohanga. I thought I would really miss the hussle and bussle of the city life, but I find that I haven't missed it as much as I thought. Ok, ok... I do have to admit I do miss Chik-fil-A and Wendy's Frosty's!! YUMMY!

Since Otorohanga is a *dairy farming community,* I have had the opportunity to visit many church members dairy farms and see the action first hand! What an experience! :)

Once a city gal, now experiencing the country life for what it really is. I LOVE IT!

My first day on the farm, I thought the cows were going to be friendly enough and let me feed them the hay off the ground. Ummm, yeah, that didn't happen. They must have been too hungry for chit chat, I guess! :)

The baby calves are really cute. Will didn't think so though. I think he secretly liked the experience, he is just too afraid to say it! :) The calves like to suck on your fingers since they are still milking--- if you aren't too careful-- they will keep sucking and can suck all your fingers until your whole hand is slimy! yeah, its gross-- but still neat as can be!

This was the day I went to the Phillips farm- I saw my first calves born just twenty minutes or so before we arrived at the paddock to feed the cows. It was kinda gross and kinda neat at the same time. It's all business in dairy farming-- the calves are quickly taken from their mothers-- I felt bad for them, honestly. I don't think I could handle some stranger taking my newborn baby away from me just minutes after they were born. But here, its strickly business... so I helped round up the mothers.

You don't see alot of mud in Tallahassee, but here you do; especially on the farms! My opportunity to stomp around in the mud. Slimy, icky and sticky! It's alot of fun.

My next farm I visited was the Anderson's farm. We arrived for lunch and then went out for the afternoon milking. Of course I had to get all suited up the appropriate gear!
What you never see in the movies, is how farmers travel in STYLE! No horse and buggy here... we rode the *motorbike* (AKA: four-wheeler) down to the shed.
In rounding up the newborn calves, I decided to try and get one myself. Oh boy, those calves are HEAVY. I actually dropped in on the ground right as I was putting it in the crate. Yeah, they are really heavy. The calf dropped, I stumbled over-- luckily neither one of us fell completely over. It was quite funny though.

On to feed the calves!
Calves, calves and more baby calves!! They just keep sucking on your fingers!!! hahaha!
We had to feed the little ones milk--- It was great fun. After we finished with the calves--- it was time to milk the cows!

The milking shed is like a big turn table that spins as the cows are being milked. They step off as the milk straps are released. Its quite an impressive process. When I realized that THIS was the milking for the day, I was quite disappointed. I had practiced over and over in my head, exactly how I was going to physically milk a cow. "Does this mean I am not going to be able to MILK a cow?" I asked my husband.
"This is how they do it," he replied back.

In just a few short minutes I was being shown how to milk a cow and *I* was able to quirt a few drops of milk out of the utter, myself. Although I did not milk enough to fill a glass-- just knowing that I actually knew the process of milking and squeezed milk from a cows utter like Laura Ingles Wilder-- I went home happy as could be! I milked a cow!

I can't wait to go back. Summer time is coming and I love the experiences the farm life has to offer. There are still so many more farms I have yet to explore. I think Will likes it more and more as he goes. We have fun. He goofs off with the animals too-- although he would never admit it :)

I hope to keep you posted on my upcoming farming adventures. There is so much left to do! I really admire the farmers and their lifestyle. They work hard, but their attitude is relaxed and fun loving. Every farmer that I have been around (including their working environment), despite the pressures of their workload, they remain consistent in their attitude, actions and are ever joyful to be around.

Thank you my friends for showing me the joys of farm life! I look forward to more :)