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From the moment we stepped off the plane when we emigrated, there was a settledness in my heart that I hadn’t experienced for the whole four years we lived in Christchurch. That feeling has stuck with me for the nearly three years we have lived here in the USA, however in recent months I started to experience a longing for home like I hadn’t up to this point. It was kind of kickstarted by watching “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (… “and through that door are all the nummiest treats you can imagine; Fanta, Dorritos, L&P, Burger Rings, Coke Zero…”). Something happened in my heart watching that movie. The familiarity and comforting homey feeling of seeing a Kiwi police car, the farmland, native bush, and the Auckland bungalows was almost overwhelming.

Over subsequent weeks that feeling grew. I felt restless. I’ve always had a thing where I feel like reaching my hands to the sky and yelling to passing aeroplanes, “Take me with you!” This intensified to the point where I was in mortal danger of walking into a lamppost as aircraft jetted overhead. And then something magic happened. I received an email from my boss at Thinkladder asking if Macie and I would be interested in being flown over to New Zealand to take part in a writing workshop. Macie was very interested.

From the very moment I received that email, it’s difficult to explain what happened, but all of the normal anxious feelings I would normally have had were quieted by a blanket of grace. It just felt like God was offering me the kindest gift, and he was allowing me the peace to go with it. And believe me, I had plenty to feel anxious about! The chronic migraines I had been battling for the better part of two years were rearing their ugly painful heads. How was I ever going to travel, let alone work? It was at this point that Caleb reminded me that I had now met the prerequisite requirements that the medical insurance required before they would approve the Botox treatment. I received the treatment about a week before my trip. It takes 7-10 days to work and after a course of steroids to break an intractable migraine, I experienced a predominantly pain-free trip. Ah-mazing.

As any parent can imagine, the thought of flying long haul solo with a 13-month old was also a cause for potential concern. But, contrary to what would be the norm, I genuinely felt pretty relaxed about it! (Macie turned out to be a total travel champ, despite a few ill-timed poonamis of epic proportions…I’m talking incinerate-the-clothing type explosions. Bless his good-natured, poopy adventuring soul.)

Arriving back in NZ was totally surreal. The humidity, the familiarity, the lush greenness and vibrant colours all hit me smack in the face (I swear, the colours are more vivid there…the hole in the ozone layer may be burning us all to a crisp, but I think it may be making everything brighter?).

We headed up north to Tutukaka (with a one-night stop in Mangawhai) for the writing retreat – a bunch of nine counsellors from around the country gathered to write content for the app. The specialist of special treats was that my good friend Kayla from the BTI days was also at the retreat, so we got to have a wee reunion with our wee bubbies. From there, Mace and I made the marathon mission back to Tauranga, basically in one shot…put it this way, by the time we had reached the service centre at the end of the Auckland motorway and I was desperate for the loo and a coffee, Mace had fallen fast asleep. So I had to keep driving. With a highly pressurised bladder. For three more hours. Kids.

Getting to see a bunch of my nearest and dearest in Tauranga was the biggest blessing. The week was jam-packed with catch-ups, and my only regret was that I didn’t get to see everyone that I wanted to. It was so special that my fam got to see Macie while he’s still small and super cute.

By the end of my two weeks, I was well reacquainted with Kiwi culture…the best bits (DAIRY!!, the people and the landscape) and the not-so-shining bits (hello, NZ drivers?). Somewhere in the last few days I even encountered the paragon of Kiwi passive-aggressive sarcasm in the form of a note left on my car in the K-Mart carpark. I had been having a little trouble parking due to being on the other side of the road and car again, and I when I came out of the shop to a note on my windscreen, I was gutted, thinking that someone had damaged my borrowed vehicle. It read, and I quote, “I’m super impressed with your parking, well done, keep it up ☹.” With sad face and all! God bless the Kiwis.

This trip was a surreal, beautiful, providential, outrageous blessing. When I was younger, I used to think that one day I’d get flown places because I would finally be important enough…and now I know that I get to do cool stuff simply because God is really kind.

I love you Aotearoa, you’re the best.

Deb xx

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