Dé hAoine, Meitheamh 03, 2005

the reason's I've been gone for a month

Well, now that my month of travel and adventure is over and I’m settling down to at least a few weeks of mundane frivolity here in Pennsylvania I thought that I would spend a little bit of time and chronicle some of the adventures that I’ve had.
Right after graduation I spent a long time in a car, driving with some friends, Jones, Morty, and Justin, out to Colorado. Our thoughts were that we would have a bit of a camping trip in the Rocky Mountains. I was absolutely spectacular. I had never seen the Rockies before and never expected to see what I saw. It was absolutely gorgeous, right up to the point it started to snow. I was driving us out of Denver and up to Estes Park, which is at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Dave Smith once said that it was probably the prettiest town in the world, and seeing as much of the world as I have I would have to agree with him. On the other hand, if you ever plan to go to Rocky Mountain National Park make sure you keep an eye on the road. More importantly keep an eye out for the elk that will most likely be on the road at the time. Back to the snow, the further we got up into the mountains the more snow there was on the ground. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all, but remember this is a camping trip. By the time we got to where we were going to camp there was about six inches of snow on the ground. We decided to tough it out and just sleep on the snow. WE ARE NOT EQUIPPED FOR THIS!!!! What the crap am I doing? Granted I was the last one out of the tent in the morning. I thought we were headed out for a morning hike, but no. Morton had been there since 3 or 4 in the morning. So we spent a few more hours in the car before packing everything up, exploring at 10,000 feet for a while, and then starting the drive north to the Grand Teton National Park.
We thought that it might be nicer up there, and it was for a while. We got there a sunset and for the second time we had to hurry to set up the tent before it was too dark. On the other hand we were determined to have a warm meal, that we cooked ourselves over an open fire. For all intensive purposes we did accomplish this, though none of us are willing to admit that we enjoyed said meal. The next day we went for a hike in the piedmont. We had been informed at the ranger station that all of the trails that lead any higher were still closed with the winter snow. We had a good hike, thought it was only about 5 miles total. It was a great little hike right in front of South Teton. The hike got a little rough about half way through, when the clouds that I had watched pour through the passes and down into the canyons of the mountains started to empty a rather cold rain.
The Teton’s are amazing, and I would have loved to spend more time there, but it rained, and then it got cold, and we woke up with frost on us, and we decided to once again move on after two nights. We ended up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and finally found good weather. We meet up with Nate Lail, camped out one more night and he showed us around the next day. We hiked, and then climbed (literally) to the top of old Baldy. I’ve never done any type of bouldering, free climbing, before and it really was a great experience. We later climbed down into a small cave in the rocks above Silvan Lake. It was just a really great day. We had dinner at the Alpine Inn in Hill City, and later that night the original four of us climbed back into the car and headed back. We spent sometime at Justin’s house before dropping Morty off at O’Hare and then heading back to Jones’ house for the night. Thus ended the great Road Trip O5’, as Morty was calling it. If you want too, Morty has a bit more detail on his site. The link is off to the side, Josh Morton.
So after a night at Jones’ house, I headed back to Marion. I crash there with Thorn for the night, went to church and then looked for things to do for the rest of the day. I found Ryan Miles and Jon Dodgril and played a little bit of campus golf. Spend the night at Umf. Lo’s house with other members of my New Zealand team and prepared ourselves for what would prove to be one of the best times of my life. We left mid morning on Monday the 9th for the Indianapolis Airport and spent the rest of the day/days, I’m not quite sure, in an airplane. This doesn’t include our layovers in Denver (hmm, familiar), LAX, and Tahiti (yes, Tahiti). Over all I think it was over 16 hours that wee spent in the air. After landing technically two days later on Wednesday afternoon, and being rather exhausted from the travel we loaded into our temporary transport and headed out to pick up the vans we would be driving the rest of the time. After that we headed to the Fussner’s house for a bit of rest, and to clean up for the evening meal at which we would meet the families that we would be staying with. This was the first time I meet Atu and Sam.
Phil Gormong and I were going to be staying with Sam for the next seven days or so, but first we would be meeting some of the people from the Streams Church. I hadn’t expected to need my guitar the first day I was in New Zealand; I was tired and thought I’d be just going to bed as soon as possible. To my great surprise I was introduced and handed a guitar and asked to provide the group with a song. I should have known that this would be my fate for the rest of the week. I don’t do well when I feel that I’m that under-prepared, not to mention not-fit-to-drive tired (though I did), and yet I provided the group with a few songs. And yes, I not being in the country a full 8 hours, I found myself behind the wheel of a van. This would be a normal spot for me to be in during the trip, driving not necessarily being tired all the time. Sam is a great guy. A bachelor living on his own, which automatically means that there was no food to be found in the house. Which was fine, I don’t eat much for breakfast anyway and that was the only time that we were there, except for at night once we got back. That first week was great, though like I said before I was constantly finding myself in the position of having to come up with music for different activities and for group meetings. We started our work at Papakura Wesleyan church. They’re in the middle of building an early childhood center. They have amazing plans, and I’m very excited about the work they are already doing as well as the things they are planning. They are so focused on their community, as are all of the Wesleyan churches there. Umf. kept saying it but I really do believe that we were working with a church that came as close to the early churches of Acts that is possible in today’s society. The Papakura church had us doing some different things. We helped around the work site cleaning up and arranging things, braking some blocks, helping with the kids club (to which I helped with the music), and canvassing the neighborhood with surveys and inviting people to the kids club and Sunday service. We worked there for two days.
That Friday night the group split up to go to two different youth groups, just to spend time and fellowship with them. The other group had a great time doing this, or so I’ve heard. My group on the other hand arrived at our meeting, and was subsequently given the rest of the time to do what ever we had planned on doing. Which wasn’t much considering we hadn’t planned anything. I jumped up there really quickly, introduced our team and had the group introduce themselves individually, then grabbed the guitar I had seen in the crowed and started playing. Sarah and I went through a few songs, enough to make my fingers bleed in any case, while the rest of the team gather in the back creating some sort of plan for was we were going to do. Steve gave us a game, followed by Steph and Andrea giving their testimonies, then Steve came back up and gave his and a short message. It was a fun night over all, though it was a very nerve racking night. Things went well, and it was the first time that I realized that Andrea and I had a bit more in common that I had originally thought.
Saturday was blast. We spent time with the Streams church, watched a bit of the rugby match, learned some of the games intricacies, and had a worship service that was very much God filled. I was asked to lead some music for the group, I was rather uncomfortable with this, again because I was caught off my guard and hadn’t expected to do this, but god work just the same. It was a great time of fellowship and worship. We later meet with the Fijian Church for our evening feast. We soon learned that when the Island churches feed their guests they go all out, and we felt bad for not being able to eat more. This happened again on Tuesday when we went to meet with the Tongan Congregation, the singing that night was amazing. I’ve never heard such harmony or such sound, absolutely breathtaking. I could have listened to it all night. At some point I would love to write it all down for them. Just so they can keep it for records and posterity sake. It would be an awesome undertaking, one that I would gladly give years of my life to accomplish.
Sunday was a great day, a long day, but great. Three different services each with their own different little pleasures. Streams church in the morning, Pastor Atu made more comments about me coming to New Zealand to be a music pastor, then to East City Wesleyan for the Mandarin service, we got to sing “You are my All in All” in English while they sang in Mandarin, then cession/community church for their service. The last one was good because we didn’t have to do much of anything to do. I got to have a good discussion with Umf. on the type of service it was and whether or not I though it would prosper and last.
Monday we started at the Habitat for Humanity headquarters. We worked there for two days, doing all sort of work, from mowing the lawn, moving and cleaning the workspace, to moving several tons of bricks, and cleaning up there display at the performing arts center. That night a vanload of us went with lupeti on his bread run. We had a lot of fun in the van, just talking and laughing with was the norm for us. I drove and Andrea sat up front with me. We had a good conversation and talked about different things, there was quiet between us, but it wasn’t overly awkward. We we’re both tired and the quiet was nice.
The week went on; Wednesday we started work on the Redoubt Wesleyan Church. We would be there for most of the next week. The greater part of our trip was spent with this church and it was surely a great time. We worked at the different peoples houses cleaning, and doing yard work. At the church we started digging trenches and prepping the garage to be painted. The trenches probably wouldn’t have taken as long as they did except that we we’re digging through almost pure clay. I say this knowing that we accomplished more work than they expected us too.
Thursday we were supposed to go back to Papakura, but instead we helped out several families in the area. Those of us who had helped with the kids club the week before went back and had a blast with the kids. We also moved all of our stuff to the Lee’s house where we all stayed for the rest of our time there.
Friday we were all back at it at Redoubt North, where I tried to prepare a bit of something for us to do at the Penrose High School that afternoon. We had a great time of sharing testimonies and singing. Back to Redoubt North for more work, then clean up and a meal at Chas and Gloria’s. My group from the Friday before stayed there for their youth group and the other group went to the Chinese youth group.
Saturday was a fun day, doing yard work for and Elizabeth and then spending the rest of the day with some of the leadership from North Shore Wesleyan. We spent time on the black sand beaches of the north shore and I got some time just to be quiet and let everything sink in. A meal with everyone at the Lee’s house and then a bit earlier of a bedtime. Sunday wasn’t as rushed or busy as the week before. Many of us skipped out on the middle service so we could just relax. I was one of them. I got my Starbucks coffee and walked the mall there and just spent some more time. That night we traveled out to North Shore where I got to plan the service, kind of on the spot, and played with the worship team. It was great up until the point I snapped a string, my g-string, and had to play with 5 the rest of the night. Cindy and Cami gave their testimonies, Joe gave a greeting, we had a skit, and Umf. gave the message. It was a great night
Monday, we spent out on Auckland. We just went around and saw things. Spent the morning at the Auckland Museum with was fun. We had the Maori experience, saw them do the Haka and many other dances and songs. We then caught the ferry to North Head, where they had the first gun emplacements to protect the Auckland harbor. We made it back in time for fish and chips with the Lee’s and others that we had meet along the way. Tuesday we were at redoubt again and the Lee’s made us the best meal we had had the entire time we were there. It was wonderful. We had a great time of just fellowship with one another, and some of us watched Star Trek First Contact. Wednesday was more of the same work at Redoubt, and again at Elizabeth’s house. Then we all met at the Lee’s for our farewell dinner. I got to see Sam again and talk with him a bit more. The next day started on my journey back to PA, and to be completely honest…I haven’t stopped looking for reasons and ways of getting myself back to New Zealand. In the next few years, I really do hope to go back. Their graduate school in Auckland looks really good, and they have a musicology major. Who knows, maybe this was the start of something I never expected.

1 comment:

Cami Miller said...

Hey Aaron...
Thanks for writing all that! I enjoyed reading your perspective of our trip! It was a blessing getting to know you and I'm glad that God touched your life. I cannot even begin to imagine the amazing things He will do through you!