Tuesday, July 26, 2011

YES! We made it!

Hi all

We are very happy to report that the Lord has brought us safely to our new "home" in California, and our travels went smoothly.  Because a lot has happened, this post will have a few sections - sorry it's so long!

Starting with the farewell: After leaving our church family at Riverbend on Sunday, 10 July, we were farewelled at the Napier airport later that afternoon.  Thank you so much for coming out to show your love and support, we really appreciate you making the effort to come out.  It seemed like we were the last passengers to board the plane, but a few minutes after we boarded another male passenger came and sat in front of us.  He was dressed very casually, but I noticed the air hostess looked a little nervous when he came in.  When we arrived in Auckland we saw an entourage of black cars and security guards for this man... and realized it was John Key, our Prime Minister who was sitting in front of us in the plane!  How funny, we had both recognized his face but didn't say anything because we didn't think it would really be him.  I have a funny feeling that this occurance was one of those "only in New Zealand" things, and the president probably travels a little differently in America :)

We had a lovely farewell dessert evening with the Pickering side of the family.  Reuben's sisters organized an extended family gathering, which was a real blessing to us.  Gluten-free brownies were on the menu, both dark and white chocolate ones, thanks to cousin Katie.  I'll have to get the recipe, they were delicious.  Check out the cute cake Ja and Kirstie made! 

Jet planes around the outside to show the direction of our travels... from Kiwi land to Fiji palm trees, to the USA

Some of the family at the dessert evening.  Ja and Kirst made the house look awesome with red, white and blue decorations

Ja and Kirst waving goodbye from the upstairs, after we went through International Departures.  Our niece and nephew were also waving us off (the older two were at school).

After some "baggage issues" we made it to Fiji, with all our luggage... thanks to the Lord's help.  Fiji was very fun!  It was hot and humid, just as expected, and we really enjoying having a day to relax and enjoy a tropical climate with all the different sights and sounds and smells.  We knew our hotel was close to the airport, but when we got there we were surprised to find it was actually right across the street!  (Talk about location...very convenient if we ever need to fly somewhere one day, ha ha- The Castle)

Dinner at our hotel right after we flew in.  Reuben had something with shrimp, and I went for a fish and coconut milk curry with cassava root.  Very unique, but tasty!

This was the pool view out of our window.  We enjoyed swimming there, and using the waterslide!!

We definitely ate our fill of fresh papaya with lime juice.  mmmmm!

Here's us having lunch at a nice restaurant at Port Denerau.  In Fiji it will often start out sunny then pour with rain for a while in the afternoon, hence the foreboding clouds in the background!
 LA has been cooler than Fiji, and drier which makes it more bearable.  We took a FlyAway bus from LAX to where our dear, dear friend Stephanie picked us up.  We have been amazed by her love and hospitality.  Our setup here is ideal, her house is in Burbank which is such a nice neighbourhood and very close to church/seminary.  She is in the middle of renovations in the kitchen and bathroom, which is going to look great when it's all done.  Reuben has a dedicated study area downstairs which we have nicknamed "the man cave" and Stephanie and I need to say the password before we enter (just kidding!).  It stays nice and cool down there which will be very helpful for Rube to stay alert during these hot days. 

A huge blessing to us has been that our dear friends from NZ (the Shailers and the Majors) have been in LA at the same time as us, both for different reasons.  It's made it such an easy transition because we feel like we're still at home when they're around!  We've been "busy holidaying" with the Majors - it's been a blast.  We've gone to Disneyland, California Adventure, Universal Studios, San Francisco Zoo, outlet shopping, mixed in with much swimming to try and stay cool.  Somehow my camera stayed in the backpack for most of those days - sorry!  Such a shame :(

We still have a number of logistical things to get organized before we feel like we're really settled here, but we are thankful to the Lord that He provided a car for us to help us get around!  A family at GCC has offered for us to borrow this car for as long as we need it, which is a great help.  It's a standard (manual) so I'm not confident to drive it, so we may have to look out for an automatic... unless I miraculously improve! 

We have also got phone numbers now - email us if you'd like to get them, we'd love to hear from you.  We can receive international calls for free :)

We would really appreciate your prayers as we start to make a home in this new place.  Pray for Reuben to find a job, and for mental clarity and focus for his studies.  An introduction class for Hebrew starts on August 8th, and Orientation starts on August 22nd. 

Lord willing, more to come!