When I ride home from physiotherapie in Germany, there's a ridge in Tannenkirch that gives the perfect view of the Swiss Alps off in the distance on a clear day with the hills covered in dense trees and pockets of quaint German houses tucked in the hillside. Every time I get a glimpse of it, I thank God that I live in such a beautiful place. I haven't seen that view for nearly eight months now, but in the mean time, I'm living in this new place with new beautiful wonders. I'll head back to my corner of Germany later this year, but I won't miss out on the adventure of a lifetime in this country.
This past week, as I mentioned in my last post, I took off on an epic road trip to enjoy some of the scenery of this beautiful island country. I even remembered to take some pictures (mostly I was reminded to) of the amazing things I got to see and do. Amanda and I hit the road Monday afternoon after the car rental company found the lost car we'd reserved last week. We somehow snagged a nice Mini Cooper that fit my wheelchair and our small bags, and we drove up the east coast of the south island to make it to Picton for the night. After a short sleep, we hopped on the inter-islander ferry and spent the rest of the day in Wellington.
Amanda indulged my nerdy little heart with the Weta Workshop tour where we got to listen to one of the chain mail experts from the Hobbit tell us all about the movie magic that happened in their studio. We couldn't take pictures on the majority of the first half of the tour, but then we snapped away all kinds of stuff from the set of Thunderbirds which none of you have heard of. You'd recognize a lot of the gear we saw up close and couldn't photograph though.
Wednesday, my nerdy adventure continued as we drove through the national park and found the iconic mountain amidst stretches of untouched nature. We spent the night in Rotorua and got up to go to a local zoo where we met up with my friend Chrissy's sister and some of her family which was such a delight. One of the joys of the body of Christ is finding friends like that anywhere in the world.
I can't really be embarrassed that I was most excited about this birthday trip being centered on Hobbiton because my little ten year old self could never have dreamed of a life that let me see the place I was reading about in Tolkien's books in reality. When I first arrived in Kandern, I wrote about how I had moved from my Shire-like Hillsboro to the Shire-like village in Germany. Then last year when I realized I'd have the opportunity to move to New Zealand, I knew I'd have to visit the actual Shire. This was better than any dream, as my life so often is. Because of my disability, Amanda and I were allowed to follow the tour bus onto the private property and hop into a golf cart with our personal tour guide, Jordyn. She offered us loads of fun facts and details about the set and let us stop whenever we wanted to take some pictures or enjoy the view. She even took a picture of me with my birthday headband at the spot where Bilbo's birthday party was filmed.
After a night in a super quaint lodge with the friendliest hosts, we drove on to Auckland for the next two nights. Before returning the rental car, we drove half an hour north to Orewa to enjoy the Pacific Coast for a bit and have a nice lunch. While we sat and enjoyed the view, I watched an older man make his way onto the packed sand with his walker. He stopped half way to the water to take off his shoes and leave the mobility aid behind while he made his way to wet his feet and splash a little salt water on his arms. I snapped a picture of him thinking to myself that his mobility was my future goal. He happened to see me on his way back and stopped to chat with me for a bit.
David told me about his life living in several different countries, and he told me about his faith that kept him physically getting on his knees each night to talk to God. He talked about his wife and how much he misses her now that she's passed away from cancer. He encouraged me to retire in New Zealand because it's so beautiful (he has a good point). He offered insight into a life well lived, and I was most inspired by the fact that he was continuing to use what he had as he aged well. If you look in the photo below, you'll see my new friend a good distance from his walker, barefoot and enjoying creation. That's my goal.
I'm so fortunate for all of the places I'm able to go, and the wheelchair hasn't stopped me from enjoying the view of Orewa beach. I just can't be satisfied until I'm running on that beach though, so I'm praising God for getting me this far and still asking for the rest of my physical healing.