Real life in New Zealand
We have been in an undeniable honeymoon phase for about a month. I love adventure and change. This move has been filled with a lot of both. There is a dose of familiarity being back in the same New Zealand town – but we are seeing it from a beautiful new perspective.
New Zealand is like America in a lot of ways. It’s an English-speaking country with most of the same amenities. Everything feels a bit smaller and slower – which is what we love about it. Some people compare New Zealand to America in the 50’s. I am not sure that is accurate – but it does feel safe, quaint and simple (in all the best ways).
That being said, there has also been a lot of hard, stressful, real life stuff. Relocating a family of six to the other side of the world isn’t a walk in the park. The trials of daily life don’t change with the scenery. If you are following along on Instagram, you’ve seen the best snapshots of our life and the ridiculous beauty of this country. I have always taken pictures to encourage myself at the end of the day. I need to remember that what I do is important. It’s worth the trouble to make beautiful memories..
Ben went back to work on Monday and we are all struggling to adjust. My kids have been off school (and in close proximity) for a month. They don’t start back for another forty days (I think there is something Biblically significant about forty days – you should pray for me). No one is fighting, no one is whining, no one is hitting, no one is teasing, no one is hungry, no one is angry, no one has a bad attitude. I am not irritable, I do not need a little (lot) more time to myself, I haven’t lost my temper, I haven’t threatened to drop my kids on the side of the road… and none of that is true.
There are a few practical challenges that I am working out. We are renting a house from a couple that don’t have four hungry, dirty children. The fridge is small, there’s not a dryer and there are no locks on the doors. Coincidently two of these “hardships” align with goals that I have for myself. I want to cook more fresh seasonal food and I want to hang my laundry out to dry. I don’t know how I will live in a house with no rooms where I can hide from my children.
Food is more expensive, I don’t have space in the fridge to “stock up” and our kids are burning more calories. I feel like I have been to the grocery store a million times since we arrived and everyone is still hungry. As for the laundry, I really do enjoy hanging it out to dry – but there SO much and I don’t have any wiggle room if I get off schedule.
I had a heavy dose of real life yesterday, when I attended the funeral of a great father and husband (someone we knew from our old neighborhood here in Rotorua). He died suddenly a few days after we arrived in New Zealand. His youngest daughter was our favorite babysitter and his wife runs a vacation Bible School program that our kids attended several times.
I have been to funerals for a few special people in the past three years. Recounting the unique legacy of each loss, helped me clarify my own purpose in life. The service I attended yesterday, was particularly moving for me - another reminder of life’s fragility and my responsibility to steward the gift of being here on earth.
I only knew John through his wife, kids and the photos I saw of their quintessential kiwi adventures. What I heard at his memorial service confirmed what I suspected about him. John was a family man. He had a wicked sense of humor, a strong work ethic, a love for the outdoors and a really noble character. But what people (including his kids) said over and over again was “John was a really great dad. He invested the best part of himself in his family.”
Cultivating a family, doesn’t always mean having kids. You can probably think of someone, right off the top of your head, that made a difference in your life. Loving other people is a worth while effort. It really can change the trajectory of a life. The investment you make in other people, will probably be the most noteworthy thing about you. When you die, what do you hope people will talk about?