when life gives you lemons …

3:00pm on Tuesday, December 4th

It was a  G L O R I O U S  day. The sunshine streamed down from the sky and warmed us 47260162_1191452247688281_4847348876799115264_nto our toes. The sky was robin’s egg blue with bits of fluffy white. In light of the sporadic and sometimes constant rain that we have experienced since arriving in New Zealand, this abrupt shift in weather meant that we had to seize the moment, hop in the car, and head over for a spontaneous bush walk (Kiwi/Aussie speak for “hike”) to soak up every ounce of fresh air and clear sky that we could.

Rose took us to a popular trail for locals and tourists alike called the Hakarimatas, 47389026_1192768374223335_1906942278010667008_n.jpg
located in Ngaruawahia about a 15 or 20 minute drive from the farm. This trail is known for its many, many stairs: 1,500 to be exact. It is all straight up the mountain and takes about 45 minutes to an hour if you stop for breaks and photos. Which of course we did. Because let’s be honest, this girl is not an athlete. I have logged maybe an hour total in the gym this past year and avoid activities that involve excessive running, hills, sweating, etcetera. But I love nature and the outdoors so I am willing to tough out strenuous trails for the experience even though the struggle is sooo real. Hopefully by the end of this trip I will be much more in shape from all the hiking and able to confidently summit a mountain without extremely labored breathing and the constant fear of fainting. Ha. We’ll see what happens.

But friends, the view from the top and the feeling of accomplishment was oh-so worth it.

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The view from the top of the Hakarimatas overlooking Taupiri

I loved being able to experience God’s creation in such a tangible way.

I loved looking out over the sprawling farmland and the unending mountain ranges.

I loved seeing the variety in each unique plant He created for the well-being and enjoyment of the world.

I loved imagining Him looking over all the earth on each day of creation and smiling as I did in that moment, thinking, “Wow. I did good.”

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Me, Katie, and Rose after making it to the top

As we walked, I felt like I was trekking through a jungle in Jurassic World; its crazy to see how different the foliage is here compared to back home and to think that it was all so specifically created for its habitat to flourish and bear fruit (sometimes metaphorical, sometimes actual) for its surroundings. Rose was a great tour guide, as she seemed to know about a million and one fun facts about the plants, animals, and land we encountered.

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We saw a variety of fern plants which are iconic to New Zealand, especially the silver fern as it is the symbol for their national rugby union team, the All Blacks. Rose told us that these ferns can be used to mark a trail in the wild, because the silver is only on one side of the leaf and the leaf always falls naturally to the ground on the side without the silver. So it follows that if you lay them in a path facing silver side up, you can find your way out of the bush again.

It’s inspiring to see how valued the natural environment is here and how the people of New Zealand work together to preserve and honor their surroundings. In a world confronted with the realities of climate change and global warming, in so many ways they are living examples of what good stewardship of the world God entrusted to us looks like.

Flash back to 8 hours earlier.

Rain poured down. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed. The taillights of the cars ahead were barely visible. We crawled around the corners of the mountainside at a modest pace. And we began the trek back home to the farm.

We had woken up quite early that Tuesday morning. It was Katie’s 17th birthday!! We 47326471_1192769657556540_4323908082720571392_nhad a fun surprise adventure planned at Raglan beach with “a mysterious creature,” as Rose phrased it. Katie had spent days trying to figure out what this creature could possibly be, guessing everything from dolphins to stingrays with no one giving her any indication of what animal it actually was. We had to leave at 6:30am to be there by the scheduled 7:30am start time, so we groggily prepped to go despite the ominous looking skies and even more ominous weather forecast for the Raglan area.

As we drove, excited for the adventure ahead, we noticed the skies getting notably worse. Remember the sporadic rain that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, we were not strangers to those weather patterns at this point. So we planned to just do the activity rain or shine. But when the lightning started lighting up the darkened sky, we quickly reconsidered our plans.

Spoiler: We had been hoping to ride horses bareback into the ocean during low tide along the beach. Coincidentally, that is also not the greatest activity for a lightning storm and easily spooked animals.

So we returned home, regretting our lack of sleep and the poor start to Katie’s birthday celebration.

Being the improvising people that we are, however, we had a few chill hours at home before setting off for the shops (Kiwi/Aussie lingo for the “mall”) to get massages and have our nails done. We also stopped at the Chocolate Lounge, which is a beautiful and magical place filled with many beautiful and magical drinks and treats – all chocolate-based, of course, with real Belgium chocolate. We had a fondue and hot chocolates. All the heart eyes for real, guys. I’m convinced that food is my life’s greatest happiness.

We didn’t even manage to get our massages by the time that we realized it was sunny outside, though. That is when we seized the moment and decided to make the spontaneous trip to the mountain, because when life gives you lemons (aka the sun) you make lemonade (aka go hiking).

We ended the day with dinner at a new local favorite that Rose and Greg showed us this past Sunday following church called The Wayward Pigeon. Katie fell in love with their crispy chicken burgers, so of course we had to return for round two in honor of her big day. And let’s be honest, after that hike we were all so ready to down an enormous burger and chips (Kiwi/Aussie speak for “fries”).

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Being the reflective person I am, I couldn’t help considering how crazy it is when things can seemingly go so off track in life and yet still end up being exactly what you need. God is so like that though, redeeming the rainy moments with His own kind of sunshine. He is so faithful and just so good.

Now to get pumped for our next trek: Putaruru. It’s a 10k. I’m certain all my friends back home would kill to see me doing so many activities. Don’t worry guys, I’ll take photos as proof.

xoxo, Riss

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