Thursday, January 5, 2012

Forget the bling-bling; do the whanau thing!

"Forget the bling-bling; do the whanau thing!" was the exhortation from the local Salvation Army this Christmas.  Whanau (pronounced, "fawn-oh") is the Maori word for family.  The encouragement this year was to lay aside the trappings of expensive gifts and earthly treasures in order to spend intentional time with family and friends. Offer the gift of presence.
So. . .as a result, I received a handmade voucher for a free afternoon at the beach from my volunteer coordinator and her husband!

Yesterday was a glorious Kiwi summer day- sunny (which hasn't happened much lately) and 85'.  Who wouldn't take advantage of such perfect weather and hit the beach for a little sun and surf?  After food bank responsibilities ceased for the day, we headed out on a spontaneous trip to Pataua, about 40 minute drive from Whangarei. Perfect weather, great company, and the endless ebb and flow of the ocean tide- FANTASTIC!

After settling under the shade of a large Puhutukawa for a picnic, we hit the water for a little boogie-boarding, swimming, and hunting for the evening's dinner.  For the first time in my life I collected fresh pipis (like little clams) and steamed them right there on the shore.  I'm not a seafood fan, but these really weren't too bad.  (Even though I look a bit frightened in the photo!)

In the 3 hours of swimming and surfing, I managed to dodge rather large stingrays. . . twice! I encountered one while swimming in the calm bay/lagoon area, but then headed out to the open sea where the surf was a bit wild for some boogie-boarding.  I assumed they liked calmer water, and had a false sense of security when heading to the ocean side, when alas another one swam by! Whew!

It really was one of those memorable days where you say, "Ahhh thanks, Lord.  I didn't expect that at all."  Sometimes the most spontaneous, unplanned excursions are the best! 

There is something very healing about a day at the beach.  I love the clean feeling of being utterly exhausted in body, yet energized in spirit,  knowing you've spent all your energy enjoying God's creation. With a few tired muscles and salty sun-kissed skin, I had the best sleep I've had in months! Thank you, Lord, for a day at the beach! 

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