I have completed four cycles around the sun here in the Land of the Long White Cloud and in twenty-three days I will find myself saying good-bye. Good-bye to Christmas at the beach. Good-bye to meat pies and pavlova. Good-bye to pohutukawa trees and pipis. Good-bye to fejoas and fish 'n chips. Good-bye to a small church in small town in a small country. Good-bye to friends with big love and big hospitality, flowing from even bigger hearts.
It's the end of an era, really.
As you might imagine, I've been reflecting a fair bit on my last four years here in New Zealand. In doing so I have come to the conclusion that, by the grace of God, what I have is no ordinary life!
The quirky characters that play leading roles in my New Zealand story are nothing short of unique and extra-ordinary, hailing from nearly every corner of the planet and representing nearly every walk of life and religious conviction. During any given "normal" week, I love, laugh and work with friends representing a dozen different nationalities from Brazillian to Indian to English to Chinese to Dutch to South African. . . and the list goes on.
This is no ordinary life.
Privileges are afforded to me of which I would have never dreamed! I get to coach gymnastics, pastor a church, volunteer at the food bank, teach Bible in the public schools, get goofy with teens on Tuesdays, learn from indviduals with disabilities, travel the country, organize camps, hike mountains, swim with dolphins, kayak rivers, surf in the sea, eat fresh from gardens I didn't plant, care for a sick friend, preach the Word of God, learn hard lessons, be humbled, make mistakes, look like a fool. . . and have a blast doing it all. (Well, most of the time!)
This is no ordinary life.
What was once foreign and frightening to me is now familiar. That which I used to despise I now prefer. Who would have thought that I'd actually grow fond of three minute hot showers and hanging my laundry on the line in the rain? Driving on the left-hand side of the road is natural and normal, and the high price of eating out keeps me eating more home-cooked meals. These are all good things I have come to love and appreciate about life here in Whangarei, New Zealand.
Now, as I say good-bye to this place and these people whom God has used to challenge and shape me, I am keenly aware that by His grace, I have no ordinary life. I sure don't deserve any of this, but I'll do nothing but receive all of it!
This era may be ending, but a new one is beginning. In just over four months my "mission field" will widen trememdously to include that of marriage to the godliest man I know and motherhood to four rather incredible step children! I could not be more thrilled and thankful at the Lord's kindness to me.
This is truly no ordinary life!