New Zealand

Saturday, cont’d

Well, it’s almost 10 pm local on Saturday evening. We had a wonderful day!

Our group met together at Rod’s house for fish and chips for lunch. Probably am going to die a day or two younger now, but that’s okay. Then we left to go to a local rugby game. I think I am a little more understanding of Roman Gladiator battles now…but it sure was an interesting game. At the end of the first lower-level local game, Paavo ran out onto the field and got at the end of the “good game” line. He managed to get handshakes, slaps, and hugs from most of the opposition! He thinks most of them thought he was a trainer or something.

We went on to the next game, a more important game…and watched most of it. It really was an interesting game, and only one person got pulled off on a stretcher. There was a local couple that was rather…amorous…during the game, sitting on the sidelines on a hill. The girl was facing the man, a bit distracted, when she was hit square in the backside by an out of bounds kick. Now that was funny.

After the games, we drove down to the beach. [Come to find out, the house I’m staying in is only a few hundred yards away from a beach! Who knows what that is in metric…] We took pictures on a gorgeous scenic overlook, and then hiked down towards the black sand beach. A few of the guys braved running/skidding/sliding down the sand dune to the ocean. The rest of us took the stairs…

The beach was gorgeous, waves breaking against the rocks and cliffs. There was a tiny waterfall and neat inlets in the rock sea wall. You could see parts of large mountains all around and there were a few little islands in the water that were gorgeous. Of course, we all had fun daring the sea to see how close we could get to it without getting wet. You already know how that game turned out.

The climb back up the steps was something else-even Paavo and Leslie slowed down on the way up them. Something [unholy] inspired the “men” of the group to go climb the little hill/mountain Paratutu. It was a very steep climb with a steel cable as a hand hold for parts of it. Some parts were an easy walk, some were stairs, and some were near-vertical rock climbs. The climb left me feeling like my heart was going to explode-but the view was worth it. We could see Mt. Teranaki (i think), a huge snow-capped mountain on the horizon, as the clouds had lifted. I think that it is an 8,000 foot mountain. It was gorgeous. You could see most of New Plymouth from there as well as the ocean to the horizon. Absolutely breathtaking.

The climb back down was harrowing. Didn’t know whether to climb it backwards like a ladder, or slide down on my rear and pray for some sort of traction and hand-eye coordination. Somehow, we all survived. My legs still hurt.

After the climb, we enjoyed supper [“tea”] at the Jensen’s house, where Chris and Todd are staying. Fish and chips again. I’m going to die very soon, but it was worth it. Paavo and I got our first taste of New Zealand’s wonderful ice cream. It might be the death of us, but we’re okay with that…

After dinner we gathered at another home for watching Rugby on TV. I guess we’re hooked now. We watched the national British Lions barely edge out a divisonal NZ team. Quite entertaining. Only one got taken out on the golf cart, that time!

All in all, it was a great day, and our group had a great time getting some relaxation and taking in the sights. Rod said it was good for us to have our day off at this time during the trip, because today and tomorrow are when jet lag begins to nail us. We’ve all been waking up very early in the morning and getting tired pretty early, too. He described a lot of the work that is still ahead of us as “soul destroying” because of the response we will get. Even in letterboxing, we’ve begin to get a taste of it. I walked past a fellow on the street, we exchanged greetings, and I asked him if he’d like a flyer that I was handing out. His response was, “It better not be Jesus Christ!”

We’re certainly not in the Bible belt anymore. The friendly wave is met with a stare a lot of the time…and you can tell people want to know what’s wrong with these crazy Americans. All in all, people have been good to us, and there’s great work ahead. Tomorrow, Chris is preaching and we’re teaching the classes before we enjoy a fellowship meal with the entire congregation.

All for now–have a great night!

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