“Did you get pictures of the backyard, too?” I asked Emma as she toured the house, camera in hand. We were moments from leaving forever the house that had been our home for the past three months. As we said good-bye to the trampoline, the clothesline that we put to use every sunny day, the yard full of purple flowers, the tree out front with the Tui nests, and the house itself still echoing memories, we heaved a collective sigh. Somehow, in the past few weeks, our longing for New Hampshire had turned into mourning over all that we were leaving.
In a valiant attempt to fit in all our “lasts,” we stuffed our duffle bags, and our days, to bursting. We got in a team jump at Leap, the trampoline park, and had dinner with our Kiwi loved ones every night.
Jeremy, one of the student leaders, taught our kids and the Lovejoy boys how to build lightsabers, and we snuck in a final game night with the student women whose flat we occupied when we first arrived in Dunedin. We even stalled our packing long enough to accompany Mic and Dre to the Farmer’s Market for homemade hummus and honey.
Finally, on Sunday, we locked the door and folded ourselves into the van for our last church service. The elders invited us up front for an interview and a prayer over our family and then we were hugging everyone good-bye. On the way out of town we stopped in for lunch at Dre and Mic’s, the campus director and his wife, which was the very place that our Dunedin adventures began. Lounging in their back yard and chatting over chips and sandwiches felt so natural that I could tease myself into believing we were staying. It was only when we were calling and waving out the van windows at their shrinking forms, that it hit me. We were leaving.
Cam and Gracie, Terena, Lauren, Peter, Stuart—are all just names to you, but to us they represent the faces and heart of New Zealand and the part of our hearts that we are leaving behind. I cannot bear to think that we may never see these beloved people again. Dan and I agree that it would be easy to return if God were to call us back to New Zealand.
For now we have a week and a half of “holiday” as we make our back toward Aukland and the plane that will carry us away.