I had so much angst as a teenager, and Relient K sang about my feelings all the time. The song "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" was particularly poignant and is deeply embedded in my psyche. Full disclosure, the moment I learned I was moving to the East coast of a Pacific island, there were only two things necessary for me to do during my nine months - visit Hobbiton and see a Pacific coast sunrise.
The opening line of the song is "I watched the proverbial sunrise coming up over the Pacific end." I've spent my life watching Pacific coast sunsets, and it was a profound and beautiful moment this week to crawl out of bed and watch the sun rise with my friend Jenny while I compared Australia's Vegemite to New Zealand's Marmite (guys, I can't for the life of me tell any significant difference). I was incredibly happy in that moment, and I'd just seen little blue penguins waddle just two feet from my own feet the night before. The song is actually quite sad (and angsty), but for me I was delightfully happy to fulfil the dream I never knew I had to watch the sun rise up over the ocean I've seen it set on dozens if not hundreds of times in my formative years.
People have started asking me about when I'm going home, and were just around six weeks away from my departure from New Zealand which will be here in a blink. I've only got one blue penguin experience, one Pacific coast sunrise, and one visit to the base of the world's steepest street, but I've had dozens of spontaneous deep conversations with friends like Liz who let me process the things God is teaching me as well as handfuls of mini road trips and scenic drives across this tiny country with friends like Jenny who took me down to visit Oamaru and Dunedin this past week. I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had in this sabbatical that shaped me in profound ways preparing me for more years of loving students and teaching my content.
Tonight I also had the beautiful experience of participating fully in the youth leader quarterly meeting. The question of my departure came up a couple times, and many of my Kiwi friends were quick to suggest we find away to keep me in Christchurch longer. It's a bittersweet feeling to know I have to leave, but I love that I've been able to serve and learn alongside this awesome team. Unlike the sad song that laments, "I don't want you to know where I am 'cause then you'll see my heart in the saddest state it's ever been," I can boldly tell you how excited I am to have been brought to Christchurch because of how well my heart has been cared for here.
My body has not been forgotten as I still made it to the gym three times this week and worked hard to do my fifteen minutes on the treadmill only using one hand to balance and support myself. However, I also had the holistic soul care of good tacos and good discussions, long drives and long theological conversations, hearty laughter and hearty encouragement.
Next week might not have the same broad adventures (though it might because while this week had an impromptu drive through Gondor on the route home, next week might have an intentional plan to Rohan because I'm a giant nerd), but I know that I'm cared for in this place. Take a look at my heart, it's healthy and whole as I learn to run after Jesus. Next week's report will certainly be less abstract and esoteric, so you can probably look forward to some concrete awesomeness as I report on my physical progress.