It has been a while since my last blog. Due to the crazy time difference between America and the other side of the world, I am still trying to get back on schedule. My habits have been completely out of whack and I have lacked little motivation to do more than sleep and eat. New Zealand was without a doubt the most BEAUTIFUL country I have ever seen. We only spent a week in NZ, but it left a lasting imprint on my mind. Everything around the countryside was green. There were sheep farms galore, but the landscape was breathtaking and of course, I loved the clouds :) Clouds on the other side of the hemisphere are different than they are at home. In New Zealand they looked like big marshmallows sitting perfectly on the sky. There was one cloud in particular that I think God put in the sky just for me. It was big and puffy and isolated from all the other clouds. Do not ask me why I am so fascinated with the sky, but it might be my FAVORITE thing to look at!
While in New Zealand, we got a crash course in Maori culture. We stayed at a Marae one night. This is a sacred space that serves both religious and social purposes. They explained to us the deep spiritual beliefs that the Marae represents. It was very honoring to sleep in a sacred space. While I felt very privileged, I also could not get over the fact that funerals are held in the Marae- including the one we were staying in that night. In fact, we were leaving in the middle of the week and then the following Friday there would be a funeral in the very room I was supposed to get a good nights rest in! The room was rather small, so I slept very close to the people beside me. Because of sheer exhaustion, I fell asleep and stayed asleep even though it was extremely cold. Sometime in the morning (when it was still dark outside), I woke to a strange sound. As I awakened from my slumber I realized that there was a figure standing in the front of the Marae speaking in a foreign language. I looked around the room (still half asleep) and no one else was stirring. Everyone was DEAD ASLEEP. At this point I panicked. I have always been a scared-y cat and this was a little too much for me to handle. Here I was in a foreign place that is used occasionally as a funeral home and there was a figure at the front of the room speaking in another language. I was scared out of my mind. Eventually, more people started waking up and I later realized that the strange figure I saw was actually a man who welcomed us onto the Marae. Then when I turned over, I realized that I was pretty much staring the girl sleeping beside me right in the face- I know my breath must have stunk! Needless to say, it was quite an eventful morning for me. HAHA!
The next day we visited another Marae and a cultural show. The second Marae we went to was not as family oriented, but the beauty of the building certainly captured my attention. I was awe struck at the intricacy of the craftsmanship. The cultural show was just as appealing (even though it was freezing outside!) Maori culture is incredible.
I cannot possibly sum up the trip in one blog, aside from the Maori experience, we also saw geysers, hot springs, volcanoes and even passed through the town where "The Lord of the Rings" was filmed. It was an experience that was truly beyond words!