Until this summer my connection with Australia and New Zealand has been through random views over facetime, when Rich has given me a quick peek out of the window, or a tour of the house he’s been staying in.
And my connection with the friends he’s made over there has been similar – hurried ‘hellos’ as various faces have popped in and out of the facetime tour.
For the last four years Rich has visited both countries for two weeks every six months.
And now, after a three-week family trip which included holiday and leading two retreats, I can verify that both the places and the people exist. In real life.
We saw wide open skies and the land of the long white cloud.
We saw fresh blue rivers, mirroring rainbows in their glistening reflection.
We bathed in steaming thermal pools under rain, hail and sunshine, and we walked through crunchy snow under dazzling blue sky.
We fished for prawns and ate them fresh.
We gazed up at skyscrapers and ate (too much) fast food.
We shamelessly wandered round both town and country with our cameras clicking and our mouths gaping.
We shared something of ourselves, and hopefully something of Jesus, as leaders retreated together.
And we made new friends. Lots of them. We ate in their homes, and became part of their family. Home from home, we shared in family life: meals, walks, laughter, chewing the cud, wine, beer, tonnes of coffee and numerous episodes of Dude Perfect.
Making new friends and seeing new places: the best way to travel.