So Long, Farewell
It's been a while since I've been late on posting, but I can make up for it with good photos of my weekend.
Before adventuring around for a weekend though, I started my New Zealand goodbyes as I realized I wasn't going to see several friends again before I left. My life group planned a dessert night celebration, and the restaurant gave me a delicious send off as well.
Last week, I also had to say goodbye to a few friends who left for Africa and won't be back before I leave for Europe. I'm really going to miss so many of these Kiwis, and I'm so grateful for the chance I've had to be prayed over and sent out from here. Since I'm in the midst of a season of leaving, that includes saying goodbye to the place in addition to people. I managed one last adventure with Jenny during the holiday weekend. Saturday morning, we drove out of the flooded streets of Christchurch and headed south west through the stunning snow covered mountains to see the breathtaking landscapes around Queenstown.
Major nerd that I am, Jenny humored me as we drove through Pelennor Fields, Isengard, and saw the view where the pillars of the kings stand on the River Anduin. I also enjoyed other unbelievable views not featured in Middle Earth.
Jenny is really helpful at reminding me to take pictures while I'm so amazed at all the things we're seeing. She's also willing to pull off at a turn out on the crest of the Crown Ridge after dark to stare at the stars for half an hour while I gush about how awesome the universe is. There are so many stars!
I never want to be un-amazed at the world around me. It's a wonder. I want to constantly be celebrating the beauty of nature, and part of that is celebrating the wonderful things my body can accomplish post-spinal cord injury.
I had my last session with Mike today, and I'm sitting with my feet up totally shattered after starting the workout doing insane leg press feats. I warmed up with what I'd been doing on my own - a solid eighty pounds. We were looking at the kilos side though and kept adding weight until I managed over one hundred kilos - two hundred and twenty-five pounds. I needed a little help to get my legs extended, but I managed to hold the weight and lower it down controlled.
My legs were total jelly after that though. Mike knew it would be rough walking, but he said we were focusing on quality over speed anyways. My quality was shaky, for sure, but I still managed the distance I'd practiced with him before, and today's record was ten steps with no assistance. I did have lots of near topples, but am incredibly proud of the accomplishment. It's a great start to the goal Mike set of me walking a 5k a year from now. Cindy already has the practice trail mapped out for us to train when we are both back in Germany.
Just a week from tomorrow, I'll be boarding a plane to Australia to begin that long journey back, and I'm so grateful to be sent out from here with lots of love from my Kiwi brothers and sisters in Christ. This church family has totally adopted me, and I'm blown away by the love they offered to me and the generosity they've expressed as they return me to my post in Germany. This morning the staff office held a special morning tea to give me a gift bag full of specially selected items to celebrate things about me and my time in New Zealand. Matt offered kind words about how he thought he was getting a sweet deal when we first skyped because I was going to be a bonus volunteer. The truth is, I feel far more blessed in this win/win situation where I've been so welcomed and poured into by this church family. For the rest of my life, I will not stop thanking God when I think of RCC.
With just one week left, I'm hoping to make the most of my New Zealand life and get a few more gym visits in between the remaining goodbyes (I'll call them 'see you laters' since I can't dream of not returning). I'm privileged to share some of my story with the youth group this Friday, and I'd love any extra prayers that it's a positive way to end my time with these awesome students. This Sunday will be my last service at RCC before leaving, and I'm delighted that I'll get to see four young people baptised before I go. That's also the day my traveling buddy from here to Australia arrives from Japan. Jorie is like my bonus sister since her family adopted me when I moved to Germany. I'm sure to have full days of my lasts in Christchurch, so my next post might come a few days late again, but it'll for sure be another update worth the wait.