It was a lovely February day, ten years ago that I arrived in New Zealand for the very first time. Little did I know that the six months I was planning on attending Capernwray Bible School would change the course of my life forever!
These are the dorms that we called home
I expected to thoroughly enjoy living there for a while - learning new things, and having fun adventures. I expected to be challenged and grow in various areas of my life. I expected to see some amazing places and meet some nice people. But, there were quite a few things that happened that I didn't quite expect.
I didn't expect to build deep friendships with some of the greatest people I have ever known - friendships that are still going strong today - ten years later.
This is the extraordinary group of people that I spent a majority of my time with. Growing. Learning. Laughing.
I didn't expect to be able to drive a short distance to see places like this...90 Mile Beach at the tip of the North Island
Or to take a ferry to the South Island and come across scenes like this...Lake Tekapo with Mt. Cook in the background
Able Tasman National Park
And I sure didn't expect to enjoy wearing a kayak skirt!
I never expected to be among the first in the world to see the sunset on March 10, 2001 and among the first to see the sunrise on March 11th at East Cape.
East Cape is the Eastern most point in New Zealand and one of the first places in the world to see the sun rise each new day.
I didn't expect to spend my 25th birthday skydiving...
But I am SO glad I did!
Falling towards the earth at 200km/hour is windy folks. That is not a vein on my arm, it is my skin flapping in the wind!
I didn't expect to see New Zealand from 12,000 feet in the air!
This really is me...the profile gives it away!
I didn't expect that I would climb a glacier in the middle of a NZ summer.
In a little ice hole on the Franz Josef Glacier
I didn't expect that one of the very first beaches we visited after arriving in New Zealand would forever hold a special place in my heart.
You see, between all of the expectations I took with me to New Zealand, and the amazing unexpected things that I was able to experience, nothing could have prepared me for the twists and turns my life would take after arriving in that tiny country ten years ago.
Arriving at school, meeting amazing people, skydiving, beach trips, kayaking, rappelling next to 200 foot high waterfalls, seeing thousands upon thousands of glow worms deep in the Waitomo Caves, the breathtaking scenery of Milford Sound, hiking the Tongariro Crossing, growing leaps and bounds in my faith - all of these fun excursions and life changing experiences were preparation for the next great adventure in my life.
After my six months was up at school, I was asked to stay on and join the staff. I initially declined and returned to Santa Cruz for a year and a half, only to return and join the Capernwray staff in January 2003. But, that is another story for another time.
All of this is to say that had I not ventured out and gone to New Zealand ten years ago, had these experiences, met these amazing people and trusted that I was where God wanted me to be at the time, even when it didn't seem to make sense, there is a very good chance that I wouldn't have gone back there in 2003. And if I hadn't gone back in 2003, there is a very good chance that I wouldn't have met him...And because of this adventure that began to unfold ten years ago, my life was changed forever. Remember the picture of Raglan Beach up above? Here is another picture of the same beach taken exactly three years later.
What God had known all along, I didn't know. I didn't know that this beach would be the very place that Markus and I would begin our adventures together three years after the first time I set foot on the sand - ten years ago.
Where were you ten years ago?