Friday, November 25, 2005

Prepare yourself, it's a long post

Sorry it's been so long to post. You get off of a plane & hit the ground running don't you? As I said before (at least I think I did) Kaisara & I had a really neat time in New Zealand. As soon as my little computer Nazi helps me set up a photo album on line I'll post more pictures. Meanwhile, here's a breakdown of our week in NZ:

Monday: Arrived at Auckland airport at 8:00am their time. Auntie Vaisola picked us up & dropped us of at Auntie Siva's house. There we hung out most of the day seeing Grandma, meeting family never met before & basically just recouping from the 12 1/2 hour flight. (BTW: Air New Zealand is awesome! The people are super helpful, the food's great & their blanket & pillows are soft). After figuring out we all wouldn't be able to stay at Auntie's house we started hunting for a hotel. After calling around for prices, we decided on a place in the city for about $175 US. We pulled up & soon found out The Langham Hotel was ranked with 5 stars. SWEET!!!! They had the world's best shower head. Our doorman, Ross, was great. After settling in we headed back to Auntie's house for the evening Loku (short family worship service consisting of a hymn, a long prayer, another hymn). Even though it's all done in a language I can't understand, I love the Loku. Every time a sit through one, I tear up. Many of their hymns use the same tune as us so I just sing along in English.

Tuesday: Started the day with an AWESOME buffet at our hotel. Then walked down Queens Street (sort of like State St. in Santa Barbara. Shops, restaurants, repeat). Got a couple of neat things including a jade Maori hook for our awesome dog/house sitter Crista. We walked all the way to the water's edge & then back up (seriously steep hill) back to our hotel. We then headed back to Auntie's house for more family time & yes another Loku.

Wednesday: Kaisara's mom, sister & her 2 boys met us at the hotel for our second breakfast buffet. Kaisara & I tried Vegemite. NAAAAASTY! We've decided it tastes a lot like how we imagine used motor oil mixed with road tar would taste. His cousin told us this summer that it was "a beautiful flavor". Man, what would ugly taste like?! We then took our hotel's shuttle to the water front hopped onto a ferry for Devonport. We only walked up & down the main street as Kaisara's mom's back has been giving her trouble so she couldn't go far. I did buy some beautiful New Zealand wool yarn there though. As I'm just learning to knit I'm not sure what it'll become. After getting back to our hotel we had to check out. SIGH. It was just too far from the family. We had to get a place closer. Not that we planned this but, a little advice, never go from a 5 star hotel to a Best Western. It's just plain depressing. The Best Western was clean & quiet but come on, it's no 5 star joint. Auntie Vaisola picked us up from our new pad (SIGH) & took us to her house. Her ladies fellowship group from church was having a prayer meeting there for Grandma. About 15 ladies there signing hymns, the pastor giving a short message & lengthy prayer (these people mean business when they pray. None of our short & sweet stuff). Auntie Vaisola had me be a part of the Sua (kinda like a gift exchange ceremony). Everyone laughed at the quiet white girl not sure of what she was doing (yes, I'm known as quiet in some circles). I felt it an honor to be included in their cultural tradition & was quite overwhelmed by the whole thing.

Thursday: We reserved the whole day to be with the family. I taught Kaisara's mom to play solitaire, taught one of the Auntie's to knit. She was better at it than me. After declining a ride to the park, Kaisara's sister & her boys & I walked there. It was across the street & down a block. They were shocked we didn't want a lift there. Funny. They also offered to drive us to the corner market. I don't even think it was 100 yards. I thought we southern Californian's drove everywhere. Anyway, I had fun with Luanei & her boys playing on the monkey bars, slides & swings. Back to the house for dinner & Loku.

Friday: We took a tour to the Shire. We stopped at several places along the way bout our destination was definately the jewel. SO BEAUTIFUL. So green it hurts your eyes. 17 of the original 20 something Hobbit holes are left. The set is on a working sheep farm & as it was spring there were lots of lambs around. They are so cute. Sheep everywhere. The farm was 30,000 acres, an average size for a sheep farm & had about 12,000 sheep on it. Anyway, we saw the Hobbit holes, the party tree & lake, the tree where Gandolf sets off fire works from his cart for the kids, & the sites of several other moments of the movie that took place in or near the Shire. Back to Auntie's house for dinner & Loku.

Saturday: We went to the flea market. I got a purse (of course), a picture frame, a few necklaces, earrings for my sister, a sheep for my mom (she collects them), Kaisara got a t-shirt & the most bizarre looking corn dog you've ever seen. Uncle Fred then took us site seeing. He took us to their equivalent of Crystal Cove or Newport Coast. Tony, Kaisara's brother noticed there wasn't a Samoan anywhere. Which is odd because there are more Samoan's in New Zealand than there are in Samoa. We then went to an aquarium with an underwater tunnel to look at shark, stingray & fish up close. Super cool. He then took us to Sky Tower. It's sorta like The Stratosphere. A hotel with a big giant needle. The observation deck is 64 floors up & part of the floor is glass so you're standing on what seems nothing between you & the concrete, which is a long way down. We bought a couple souvenirs & then headed to the top of a dormant volcano which had cattle grazing in it. Then over to 1 tree hill, which as of 4 years ago doesn't have a tree. They had to cut it down for some reason. Gorgeous views though. Very cold & windy up there. Uncle Fred & Auntie Vaisola then took the entire family out to dinner. There were 24 of us. That had to be scary for the restaurant. A group of 24 Samoans at an all you can eat buffet. Wow!

Sunday: We went to church. A little of it was in English so that was a nice surprise. Kaisara's cousin & aunt are on the worship team & Uncle Fred gave the "notices". We then went to Auntie Vaisola & Uncle Fred's house to hang out & say goodbye. Grandma had to leave to go rest before it was time for us to head to the airport. She told me that she knew she'd see me again. I told her that I knew she would too. Just think, the next time Kaisara & I will see her will be in Glory. She'll have a brand new body & we'll be able to talk with her without any language barrier. That'll be cool.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Well we're back. Sorry for the lack of updates while we were gone. Access to the internet is not so easy in New Zealand. We are so glad we went, we are so glad to be home & we have so much laundry to do. More to follow soon. Thanks for all of your prayers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Real Quick

Almost outta time for being online. we're here safe. grandma's good. here's a picture of us with her. we even got her to smile for a photo. almost unheard of. more to post later.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Hi, my name is Tootsie Lickinhump"

The following in excerpted from a children's book, "Captain Underpants And the Perilous Plot Professor Poopypants" by Dave Pilkey, in which the evil Professor forces everyone to assume new names...

1. Use the third letter of your first name to determine your new first name:

a = snickle
b = doombah
c = goober
d = cheesey
e = crusty
f = greasy
g = dumbo
h = farcus
i =dorky
j = doofus
k = funky
l = boobie
m = sleezy
n = sloppy
o = fluffy
p = stinky
q = slimy
r = dorfus
s = snooty
t = tootsie
u = dipsy
v = sneezy
w = liver
x = skippy
y = dinky
z = zippy

2. Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half of your new last name:

a = dippin
b = feather
c = batty
d = burger
e = chicken
f = barffy
g = lizard
h =waffle
i = farkle
j = monkey
k = flippin
l = fricken
m = bubble
n = rhino
o = potty
p = hamster
q = buckle
r = gizzard
s = lickin
t = snickle
u = chuckle
v = pickle
w = hubble
x = dingle
y = gorilla
z = girdle

3. Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half of your new last name:

a = butt
b = boob
c = face
d = nose
e = hump
f = breath
g =pants
h = shorts
i = lips
j = honker
k = head
l = tush
m = chunks
n = dunkin
o = brains
p = biscuits
q = toes
r = doodle
s = fanny
t = sniffer
u = sprinkles
v = frack
w = squirt
x = humperdinck
y = hiney
z = juice

Thus, for example, Abraham Lincoln's new name would be Dorfus Lipsdunkin.

Comment & let me know what your new name is!