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Archive for December, 2012


I’ve got another two comparisons ready for Miss! or THIS!

First is the water situation that I have noticed in New Zealand. In the States, you can count on their being a drinking fountain in just about every public venue. Not the case in New Zealand. If you want water, you better bring your own, or bring money to buy your own. Finding a drinking fountain out side a bathroom is a rare and glorious thing here. Strangely, I have yet to buy a proper drink bottle to carry my needed hydration and try to fill up before I leave the house. Oh yes, and reusable water bottles are called ‘drink bottles’ quite often here.

The thing that I’ve noticed that they do have though is nearly every single toilet I have seen during my month stay in New Zealand has two buttons on it. No handle, but a duo button. If you have traveled through Chicago and stopped at one of the Oasis rest stops you may be familiar with the function. Press the special handle up and you get half a flush; press the handle down, and you get a full flush. Same function here. There is a half flush and full flush button.

Both of these differences probably save the country a lot of water. New Zealand is rather environmentally conscious. I personally don’t think I could choose between these two things. I would want both.

One thing I found kind of awkward at first, and still stumble over it sometimes, is that if you need to relieve yourself, it isn’t very common that people will say, ‘I need to use the restroom, or bathroom’, They will say, ‘I need to use the toilet’, or ‘Where is the toilet?’ Personally, I find this a bit blunt. Of course what I really want when I go to the restroom, is the toilet. But, I don’t want to announce to the world that I will actually be using one. I like to keep it a bit more ambiguous. But, if you say restroom or bathroom here, it will be taken as such, a bathroom is for taking a bath, and a restroom, is well… it doesn’t really may sense.

drinking fountain vs two flush toilet

Another difference here is the fashion of how Christmas is celebrated. I am accustomed to having Christmas with snow, and cold, and early evenings. This can be very beautiful, but I’m usually ready for the snow to be gone after New Years. So, I kind of like the difference found here. Last week I went with some friends to see some houses lit up for the holidays and got to walk through their twinkly garden in full bloom. It does seem a bit strange to have the iconic Christmas decorations strewn about with their snow-ready gear, amidst the greenery and warm weather. I don’t really like the commercial aspect of this, but I do greatly appreciate the nice weather.

New Zealanders associate Christmas with having a Barbie (Barbecue) and going to the beach, swimming, and spending time out in the sun with shades and sun hats. It’s summer after all. I even saw some wrapping paper that had the words, ‘Christmas, Summer, Beach, Fun,’ written all over it. It’s kind of interesting. We’ll see how much I like this difference when winter comes around and there is nothing to celebrate during the deary darkness and cold. I will have my birthday at least.

christmas in winter versus summer

We also have what is called the New Zealand Christmas tree, or Pohutukawa tree, which is an actual living tree that is native to New Zealand. It blooms in December and people often will say something like, “The Pohutukawa’s are blooming early this year. We’re going to have a nice summer.” When in full bloom the tree is absolutely gorgeous!

Pohutukawa Tree

Pohutukawa Flower

I’ve been taking full advantage of the nice weather and the holidays. Last weekend I went up with friends to see the wind farm that is iconic for Palmy. Also, Yesterday I went swimming at a river near here with some friends and had so much fun. I even tried some cliff jumping. 🙂 As last time, be sure to click the lower right hand corner to view the video as full screen and then press escape to return to normal once it’s finished.

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This Tuesday was the last day of school. Most of the students had already gone as the Seniors (year 11-13) finish early to take exams. So, we had prize giving for the Juniors and Intermediates (year 7-12). The speaker opened with the following motivational story. I thought it was a really good message, so I’ll share it here:

There once was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a climbing competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.
A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. The race began. No one in the crowd really believed the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower.
Heard throughout the race were statements such as, “Oh, way too difficult”, “They will never make it to the top”, “Not a chance they will succeed”, and “The tower is too high”.
The tiny frogs began collapsing, one by one – except for those who, in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher. The crowd continued to yell, “It is too difficult! No one will make it”!
More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But one continued to climb higher and higher. This one refused to give up!
At the end of the race, all had given up climbing the tower except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!
All of the other tiny frogs wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it. They asked him how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal.
It turned out that the winning frog was deaf!

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I like this story because it demonstrates how important it is to be deaf to the discouraging things that others will say about what you know you are capable of and about what you believe. We should be listening to God for our value and for what we can do through Him.

It’s been really great to be here even for the last 3 weeks of school as it’s given me a chance to ask questions and get to know the other teachers a bit. Last week I went on the year 9 camping trip to Tolaga Bay on the East Coast. It was a great experience and helped me to feel a bit more confident around the students. I was in charge of taking role and making sure everyone was accounted for. I also confiscated a cell phone, which were not allowed during the week.

During the trip we had several activities to try to teach the students about service and being unselfish. We paired them up with other students that they didn’t usually hang out with and had them feed each other a piece of cake. It was interesting to watch. Some of them did very well, and others didn’t. Some of the students practically shoved the cake in their partners mouth and it was obvious that they only really cared about how they didn’t really want to be doing the activity. We gave them a chance to try again the next day during a rest stop on our tramp (hike in NZ) They did much better, with some of the worst offenders the day before excelling to be much more caring. The last evening we discussed footwashing and what it means. 80% of the students at the school are not Adventist and so this was something brand new for them to do. It wasn’t a mandatory activity, but even though many had said they weren’t going to do it, all of them did come and participate. It was a really cool to see them growing.

I’ve posted some new pictures of the trip on Flickr. You can click here to see them, or click ‘More Photos’ on the right of the blog. Be sure to click the title of this blog if you are reading this in an email so you can see the link. I’m still working on finding a car. But, overall feel pretty good about being here. I had a bit of culture shock during the first week. It surprised me because it happened so fast. I was doubting everything and felt very alone. But, thankfully that was over in a few days.

I’ve also put together a video of some footage I took when I flew to New Zealand, as well as from the Tolaga Bay trip. Enjoy! And be sure to click the bottom right corner of the video for full screen. Then press escape to return to normal after it’s over.

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