You might have noticed my absence from this blog during these past couple of months. I've not disappeared completely - although I've disappeared from Sweden. I wrote sometime in early August or so that I would be leaving for New Zealand this autumn and that I would explain a bit more when it drew closer to my departure. Well, that didn't really happen since I was so busy the days before I left... Anyways. I'm here in New Zealand right now, in a village called Oxford which is located some 50k outside of Christchurch, South Island's biggest city. In Oxford I'm going to a school called Youth With A Mission, YWAM. It's a Christian Missions Organisation with focus on training youths to be disciples of Christ and then sending them out on a so called Outreach. The school is divided into two phases, the lecture phase and the outreach phase. During the lecture phase we focus on getting to know God and during the outreach phase making Him known which also is the motto of the school Know God and Make Him Known. I really love living here. The community is so loving and I'm learning so much about God and his love for us. I've grown up in a Christian home so I've always known about God but it's not until quite recently I've gotten a more personal relationship with Him. And to be able to have time to hang out with my Papa is so amazing. For me, this time at base is a huge growth period but I'm so excited for going out on Outreach and be able to give back because a life with just taking in and not giving isn't good - you'll end up like the Dead Sea.
So what have I've been up to when I'm not been in lecture? Before coming here I had a few days going around the Northen Island and yes, I had the opportunity to visit Hobbiton and The Weta Cave. Both things were amazing experiences. Hobbiton was so beautiful, I think actually it's one of the most wonderful places I've been to. You could really see how much effort Peter Jackson had put into making the set as perfect as possible. Going to Hobbiton was quite pricy, 75 NZD if you went from Matamata or drove to the visitor centre by Hobbiton by yourself. It's not allowed to trot around in Hobbiton yourself but a guide takes a huge group and take them around the holes. I was honestly not too impressed with the guiding part - my guide didn't say that many things that I didn't know prior to the tour but if you're quite new to Tolkien I suppose it was informative. However, the best thing for me was simply seeing all the holes, the Green Dragon (where you got a free drink) and the garden.
If I was slightly disappointed with the guide at Hobbiton I was more than impressed with the guide at Weta Cave. The guide I hade told us so much stuff that I was complitely in awe. And the things that they displayed there as well! I was in heaven. Unfortunatley you weren't allowed to take any photos from the guided tour since it was their workplace and they've had some legal issues of photos of unfinished work ending up on facebook but you won't be disappointed in what you'll see inside! And the shop at Weta Cave was amazing! I was slightly disappointed at the shop in Hobbiton, the stuff there weren't that exciting, but Weta Cave had some amazing souvenirs and collectibles. I wish that I could've bought the entire store.
Although I love living here in New Zealand I'm quite homesick. But I think that's good for me. Sometimes you need to get away to really realise how important some things are to you and I've gotten an entirely new appreciation for my family, Sweden and my upbringing. However, I've gotten a new family here aswell who I love so much. I can't understand that I've only been with them for two months. Here at base we are approximately 60 people, some twenty people staffing and the rest are students. I live in a house with 17 girls. They're all really lovely but since I come from a family of three - me, my mum and dad - it took some time to get used to having people around me all the time.
During the weekends we usually go tramping or for those who want to - climbing. One weekend we went to Queenstown and hiked up a mountain called Remarkables (the entrance into Mordor). It was really amazing, I can never get used to how beautiful New Zealand is. Wherever I go I feel like it's the most beautiful place I've ever been to. Another weekend we went to the West Coast to a place called Punakaiki where they have some really cool rock formations. One weekend we also climbed a mountain in the Lewis Pass - the view was really amazing. And yeah, this past week me and my Outreach team was serving a pastor's family and their church in Kaikoura - a town full of seals and hippie stuff.
The view from Lewis Pass.
The Remarkables with the city of Queenstown below.
The Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki.
Baby seals :D
So what's next? I've got three weeks left of lecture phase. These three weeks we're just continuing diving into the Word of God and His love for us and also developing deeper relationships with the members of our Outreach team. And yeah, on Outreach, my team will first go to Australia, Sunshine Coast and Byron Bay for one and a half months or so and then go back to New Zealand and go to Tauranga, Wellington and QueenstownSo I'm really excited for what new adventures these following weeks will bring.