With the move to NZ drawing ever nearer (we leave in July) a patriotism that I never thought was particularly strong in me has erupted. I have been thinking of our new life in Christchurch and about how all that is familiar and certain and loved to me will not be there anymore. They are just normal thoughts to think after talking to various people who have done something similar.
NZ is not a hard international move for an Aussie. It is, in fact, really easy – there are many things that Kiwi’s and Aussie’s have in common; you rock up at the airport and tick a box and you can stay as long as you want; they speak the same language and drive on the same side of the road. But there will be things that aren’t so easy and definitely will not be familiar.
I recently went out to visit Mum and Dad on their property. It backs up to a State forest. I sat outside listening to the sounds of the bush. I’ve always loved the bush. I find it quite beautiful, a place where I feel close to God. It warms my heart. The cicadas and crickets are roaring. Hundreds of bell birds are chiming away. I can smell the trees. Mozzies ring in my ears and I can hear the creek flowing healthily from the recent rain. Giant ants march across the patio. A kookaburra thinks something’s amusing, which is contagious, as others join in. Mum’s horses lazily swish away the flies with their tails and vacantly stare across the paddock as they chew mouthfuls of grass. It’s muggy. 98% humidity. Crazy. I thought about going inside and sitting in the aircon, but I couldn’t move from the seat. I didn’t want to leave that moment. The clouds are grey and low, almost begging God to allow them to release the rain. A slight breeze makes the humidity and heat just bearable so I stayed a little longer.
This is my country. And I love it.
I love our Aussie lifestyle, BBQ’s with friends out on the deck, our hot Queensland summers, swimming in a luke warm pool till late at night, our beaches, our music, camping any time of the year, a fire on a cool winters night with a mug of hot milo. I love how my family and extended family all live fairly close to one another, and there so much love from them.
It was getting late outside at Mum and Dad’s. The frogs had started and the last of the sun was straining through the grey clouds on the horizon. The trees, where the sun was hitting them, were framed in gold. Greys, dusty blues, pale greens and purples were washing the landscape full of trees. I know this place. I have been in plenty of places just like this. It’s familiar. I know my home, my corner of the world, how it sounds, what it feels and look like.
I will just have to be listening for and learning the familiar once we move. Find places that warm my heart. Find some adopted family. I am excited about making new friends. I am excited about learning from them. Visiting Christchurch a few weeks ago and feeling such incredible peace about moving, seeing the city, getting to know some really lovely people all give me hope and peace. I am excited about how God is going to use this new church we are going to be a part of. I am excited about what we can learn from being a part of this new beginning in this city.
My son has the most brilliant attitude. When asked whether he would miss his friends (which he no doubt will, very much, particularly his cousins) he shrugged his shoulders, took a breath, and said bravely, “That’s all right, I’ll make new ones”.