Kayaking with Dolphins!

Well everyone came to Kaikoura with this amazing dream of seeing all the sea life. Each of us had the wonderful opportunity to go kayaking. When we went out we went with the hopes of seeing dolphins. We went out over the course of a few days. The first group was Karoline, Matthew, Courtnay and myself. It was amazing. We went out at about 9:30am to Gooches Beach. When we got there it was a little overcast but it was beautiful. I was in a bright blue rain jacket and Karoline was in bright red. We got the yellow kayak which turned out for some pretty fun pictures.

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Honestly all we wanted was to be out on the water and taking in all the views of Kaikoura. The first sight we saw was some amazing jelly-fish! They were a spectacular orange and some were blue. We went right through a kelp forest which was so picturesque!

 

As we continued to paddle out we saw our first dorsal fin! It was a pod of Dusky Dolphins. They were so close it was amazing. When they finally swam away we had squealed and laughed at each one. We started to paddle back in to shore Karoline and I had a little bit of a hard time. We started to paddle and we went well…nowhere. We were not moving. Courtnay and Matthew were having the opposite problem they were motoring to shore. Karoline and I went in a bunch of circles. When we finally got going again we weren’t moving very fast but then we saw another fin! Well the squeals came and we started paddling harder. Fun fact about Karoline, when she gets excited her shoulders go up and her paddle just skims the water and the person in the back, me, takes a little shower! It was amazing! As we raced over the water we saw more and more dolphins! As we got closer we realized the dolphins were all around Court and Matthew. When Karoline and I finally caught up we were surrounded by happy playful dusky’s! I stretched my hand into the water and could feel the waves and the water move as the dolphins swam by. It was by far one of the coolest experiences ever.

 

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During our week of environmental literature with Amy she said to us, “knowing at this moment we are in a memory.” That stuck in the moment with the all of the dolphins jumping around us and the laughs of Karoline and smiles on Courtnay and Matthews faces. This was one of the many blessings from the Lord this semester. Now, the semester is over and we have returned to the states. Being back in Colorado is amazing but I will never forget the memories that were created in the moment with those dolphins and amazing friends.

 

 

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Journals from Kiwiland

Hey everyone!  I’m Annika Hindbjorgen, a junior from Sioux Falls, South Dakota studying biology and secondary education at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.   My semester with CCSP has been so amazing and fun filled that I am writing this blog post an entire month late (oops!).   I have been truly blessed to be here.  Originally when thinking about what I would write, I thought that I would write about the culture of New Zealand, or about the things that I’ve learned, or about the community here.  But, upon reflecting upon all the wonderful things happenings that are constantly happening here, I thought I would share thoughts from my journal.  No, no; I will not share all of my deepest and most riveting thoughts that are written in my orange fox-printed diary, but I will share with you a line here and there that will give you an idea about what living here in Kaikoura with CCSP is like: 

January 25:  “Today I stepped my feet into the cold ocean water (kind of symbolic of the ‘cold feet’ I have for this trip).”

January 26:  “The air doesn’t feel like this in South Dakota.  Somehow the salty waves make a different kind of humid.” 

January 27:  “MAN, I AM OUT OF SHAPE!”

January 29:  “Today I got up and went to the beach and watched the sunrise—it was, once again, phenomenal.”

January 31:  “I hope to love.  People. Creatures.  Places.  All of it.”

February 1:  “We say dusky dolphins off the dolphin lodge porch! Now I fully understand its namesake.” 

February 3:  “We went to a playground that had a three story high slide, waterpark, trampolines, zip lines, and so much more.  We were very happy to play—but these would never exist in America—NZ kids must be tougher.”

February 12:  “Our professor Mick Duncan blew my mind and challenged me in a spiritual and moral way.” “I got to ring the bell outside the Anglican Church—made my day!”

February 13:  “I never thought that scooping seaweed filled with maggots from the beach for the garden would be so much fun!”

February 20:  “I feel loved.  It’s a good feeling.  It’s not like the love that I feel at home, but it is love none the less.”

February 21:  “The North Island forests are a lot like Jurassic Park, just instead of dinosaurs, there are tuataras [endemic lizards].” 

February 22:  “At the Ngatiawa River Monastery—this place is kind of magical.  I feel like forest fairies must come here to live.  Yes, this place definitely has a Tinker Bell vibe.”

February 24:  “I feel like I walked across the Bridge to Terabithia.  Looking at the stars—a different night sky than the one at home.  Amazing.”

February 26:  “4 cups of coffee (so far).”

March 2:  “My tan lines and freckles are getting serious.” “I have trained the bottom of my feet to walk on gravel barefoot.” “Ketchup in New Zealand tastes funny.  So does salsa.  Really sweet.”  “I’m feeling fitter—I’m no longer dead when I walk up the steep hill from town to the Dolphin Lodge.”

March 7:  “Our homestay was fantastic with a wonderful couple right across the street—we helped with a conservation project and saw baby water buffalo!  Not to mention chocolate cake from scratch.” 

March 11:  “I SAW A WHALE.  I smelled whale breath, and then the juvenile humpback, that we named Moana, BREAHED.  It was definitely the highlight of my life.  I was so sea sick, but I didn’t care—I would get sea sick every day of my life to see things like this.” 

March 12:  “Pastor Kevin sheared a sheep during church the old fashioned way.  I went to go pet it afterwards, and found it casually chilling in the trunk of the pastor’s tiny SUV.”

March 23: “Biking Alps2Ocean—The 80 km from Mt. Cook to Twizel was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Ever.” “Gasp! I’m actually reading a book for fun! (The Magician’s Nephew).” “Biking the 900 meter altitude gain was literally the hardest physical thing that I have ever done but when we went down we FLEW and I felt FREE and it was FUN.” “We saw 3 dead wallabies. What the heck.  Do these even exist in NZ?!”  (apparently they are invasive in only one little town) 

April 13:  “Oh my goodness.  I didn’t even finish my sentence from 3 weeks ago.  So much can distract you from journaling:  so much fun and beauty and conversation and frustrations and homework and new experiences and people that need you and times that you need people… and now we have less than a month left and I am so sad to leave and so happy to go home all at once.”  “Extreme levels of trust in Marae bathrooms late at night with friends and first aid scissors lead to short, short haircuts. “

April 16:  “It slept last night from 11:30 to 3:30 to wake up and participate in 24 hours of prayer at the Presbyterian church.  It was amazing to pray so intentionally.” “God painted the sunrise with Easter in mind:  pastels of pink and purple, blue and yellow, danced across the sky, over the ocean, and bounced off the ocean.”

April 18:  “Only 24 days left.  So many feelings of sad and happy.  Happy.  Yup—that’s me. Happy.”

 

Despite the Earthquake, God is Here

On November 14th, 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Kaikoura. Given the strength of the earthquake it was a miracle that only two people lost their lives. A holiday weekend with lots of tourists visiting here had just ended, and most people were at home instead of the hotels or other common areas that were among the most damaged. Nevertheless there was a lot of damage: particularly in the commercial district that was gearing up for what would usually be a peak tourist season. But the road northward was blocked, and few tourists came.

This was the setting that my cohort of CCSP entered. I, for one, was largely naïve of the impact of the earthquake. Our program was relocated, but it was to a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean and close to town. I had nothing to compare it to, and thus no sense of the loss that occurred. The loss first began to hit me when I biked out to see the old convent with Kelly, one of my friends from the program. As we carefully walked around the outside of the building, I saw what a beautiful place it was. It was large with balconies and porches, and surrounded by flowers and fields. Sanctuary seems like the only word to describe it: it was a place set aside for the work of God, a place of peace, healing, and contemplation. Even in its brokenness it was beautiful; there were still vegetables growing in the garden and at a distance through the windows we could see artwork on the walls and a bowl of fruit sitting in the living room. But now there was glass on the ground and caution tape surrounding the parameter. Like the pictures you see on TV, I saw a perfect place frozen in time by a natural disaster. I started to understand the deep impact of this event on those around me, and saw how deep the hurt ran.

I see God in the eyes of the Christians of Kaikoura. Their eyes sparkle and glow as they talk about the work of God in this town and in their lives. They talk about how fear tried to enter their lives with the earthquake, but how they know that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power. Therefore, they refuse to let fear enter their lives.

This past break I had the opportunity to stay local for a part of it and get to know the people here. One woman, Fiona, learned that we were staying out of town and welcomed us to stay at her home since it was closer to church and town. I’ve seen a lot of homes and businesses that are still in disarray, but her home was filled with peace. For a while she didn’t put back up the fragile decorations hanging on the wall in case an aftershock knocked them off again. But she decided that she wanted her home to be a place of healing and of peace, so she decided to hang up her decorations anyways. Her warm welcome to us and the peace of her home was such a blessing. As she talked her eyes glowed about God’s provision during the earthquake, the Holy Spirit’s work in her family, and how God has brought her beautiful, full household together. There is life here, and new beginnings despite the pain.

You know that feeling of excitement you get when someone’s eyes light up when they talk about their passions? I’ve never met a group of people so alive that they bring Jesus into every conversation, and found so many people with sparkling eyes. So if you ask me where I see God here: He’s so clearly living in people who see hope amid chaos, and the Sprit working within pain. I see a people who are passionate about how God has redeemed their lives and their pasts, and who desire for others to find the same joy that they have discovered. It’s contagious really, and so far beyond what would be expected given the circumstances. This contagious joy and peace might just be the most beautiful thing I have experienced in New Zealand so far.

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Me with Lisa, one of my favorite faith-filled Kiwis! This post is dedicated to Lisa, Fiona, and Dawn. 

~Christine

This Place is Different! (in a good way)

Kaikoura, New Zealand is very different from where I live near Boston, Massachusetts. But it’s also similar in smaller, more subtle ways. Something I’ve noticed is that even though the ocean looks so different from the ocean I live near back at home, it feels just the same. Near Boston, the ocean is a dark navy blue with bright sandy beaches. Here in Kaikoura, the beach is made up of small gray rocks, and the water is bright blue. However, it smells the same, and has the same peaceful and calming effect that I feel when I’m sitting on the beach back at home. It’s amazing to me how something so far across the world and so different can make you feel right at home.

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Something else interesting that I’ve noticed is that the culture here is so different. Where I live back at home, people are generally very independent and are always moving quickly from one thing to the next. However, here in Kaikoura, people are a bit more laid back, and things generally move a little bit slower. Nearly every person I’ve met has been so kind and welcoming towards me, even though at times it is clear I am not from around here. I had a particular encounter a few weeks ago that made me realize just how different that culture is. I was biking along Beach Road, and a woman in her car was driving behind me. I slowed down to let her pass around me, not realizing that she was also slowing down to turn. Eventually she turned and rolled down her window to say something. I was fully expecting her to reprimand me about not knowing what I was doing (you New Englanders know what I’m talking about). Instead, she rolled down her window, and with a smiling face she apologized and went on her way. I’m sure she could see the surprise on my face!  It’s clear to me now how each individual community member has the incredible power to change and define a community.

~ Heather Sweeney (Gordon College)

“Kekeno”

It’s a golden early September. The cool grey clouds still glaze over our heads, but the sun has been pressing closer day by day. Sunlight flickers off of the sea, just for pinpoints in time. Sara is already snug in her cockpit, her neoprene skirt stretched tight around the kayak seat’s protruding upper lip. I lean forward, knees bent, and push the hefty tandem boat from the stern into the softly crashing waves. My neoprene booties seem impenetrable only for a second. The chilled seawater finds its way through the opening at my ankles and seep around my toes. I jump into my cockpit. Stretch the skirt over the lip. Flatten the lever and lower my rudder. Finally, I pick the paddle up by its shaft and push the blade against sand and frothing surf.

We are like an unobtrusive intruder in this polyethylene, tiny red ship, both shooting through the water and bobbing like a top in this sheltered bay. The sea rolls underneath. I can imagine I’m riding atop a massive blue-backed leviathan. Its diaphragm rising and falling.

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Gull cries pierce the soft symphony of wind and waves. They peel off towards the Abel Tasman coast, hills cloaked in green and the dissolving morning haze. I watch them glide in circles, beat their wings, and swing back around. Gwen sits in his single-seat kayak, perks of being a guide. He detracts me from my gaze and tells us that Adele Island is our next stop. Straight ahead, it sits indifferently to our tiny presence, as small as it is itself.

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As we paddle closer, my shoulder burns. Gwen tells me to swing more, but I reckon to myself it’s because I have to contend to the waves pushing back. My suspicions are confirmed when we near the sheltered Adele coast. The water calms, but still shatters and foams against the coarse, beaten granite boulders. I navigate the shoreline with forced confidence, emulating Gwen who slips unflinchingly between sharp protruding pillars. Suddenly I realize that the rocks, which once appeared empty, were dotted with New Zealand fur seals. Properly, as Gwen explained, sea lions. Many slumber on, either unaware or indifferent to our minute, quiet presence. However, as we press on, a small dark shape flounces ungainly, enthusiastically off a granite shear into the water. Suddenly transformed into a graceful smooth-spinner, it flows and cuts through the water at the same time towards Gwen’s kayak.

Like a little black Labrador pup, the young seal follows closely at Gwen’s heals. He flicks his tail, nose dives, twists, as though dancing with the kayak’s rudder. Eventually Gwen slides away, and I find myself gingerly pressing my foot against the left pedal towards the shore. Sara is quiet, but I sense her excitement vibrating into the air as much as mine. The seal pup is relatively still now, treading, with its head peering above the shallow, bright turquoise water. I can only identify its feeling as curiosity. Then, it decides. Our kayak teeters lightly above small ripples, waiting. Breath. Held. In.

Kekeno. It is the name the Maori people give the New Zealand fur seal. Gwen told us the name means “large eyes”. Rightly so. Between his jovial swim-dance, he would stop to watch us. Watching us watch him. Gwen watches us watch each other. He has the biggest brown black eyes, the white yellow sun glinting off his wide, curious orbs. His fur is slick, brown black too. A pup’s fur is usually darker. The sunlight defines the smoothed, thick hairs which groove together, linear crevasses and ridgelines, basin and range topography.

The pup dives into the water from its outpost. He twists, spins, flows like a swift river’s current. Straight to us he glides. I think I let out a small squeak – the balloon in my chest was so filled with excitement, I couldn’t help let a small bit escape. I twist my torso, limited to the skirt hugging my waist, to see the pup prance at our stern. He could best an Olympic synchronized swimmer. My fibers wish to transform into this furry, joyful body. Slide ungainly from polyethylene into salty, living, seawater. And be free.

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A Different Sort of Life

Hi! I’m Sara Warmuth. I am a junior Business Administration major at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, and now call Kauai, Hawaii home. I love being here in New Zealand. Kaikoura is a wonderful place, one where you can swim with snowcapped mountains in view.

Our wonderful blog-running fairy, Essie, asked me if I could write a post about what is different here at CCSP in comparison to home. The first thing I noticed in Kaikoura was how similar it was to other places I had been. On the drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura, the homes reminded me of Hawaii, and the cutting and burning happening on the drive felt familiar, and sad. The forests were unique in some ways, but still felt fairly similar to the forests in Hawaii. Even the people were sarcastic, and had a similar humor to that of the Massachusetts area I have come to know and love. As I grow more accustomed to being here at The Old Convent, living in community, I begin to notice little things that are different. First, The Old Convent is a place where people drop in. So many locals have connections with it, so they come randomly throughout the day, and sometimes stay for a meal. This is a great way to get to know the locals and the culture of the area, but it can also be frustrating when I am in the middle of homework and then suddenly have a visitor show up. However, the main differences about living here have nothing to do with the Kiwi (New Zealander) culture or the land we live on. Our community of North Americans (the two Canadians make it so I can’t just say Americans) is an eclectic group that often dances through doing the dishes, the laundry, the weeding, and through life. Whether it is Amy sending “real life snapchats”, which is really just her making weird faces towards someone, or Joey saying “Sara help me” whenever the slightest thing happens, we always interact in ways unique to us and to our experience here. This can also lead to some frustration, as we are always together. Victoria last night, when unable to find a staff member, exclaimed, “I didn’t want to tell any of you my problem because it has to do with my secret homework spot!” A part of her needed to protect that one space of privacy, and I respect that. Yet part of me is going to miss the feeling of being cramped when I go back. We are so close here, physically and emotionally, because we don’t have the opportunities to be apart. That creates a community unlike one I have ever been a part of before. And it is still only half way through the semester! Here’s to a second half of loving nature, loving God, and loving each other here in beautiful Kaikoura.

Becoming a ‘Slow Activist’

Hi, my name is Amie, and I’m a senior Writing & Rhetoric major and Religion minor at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. I am currently learning and living at The Old Convent in Kaikoura, New Zealand with a community of pretty cool people, if I do say so myself. In this post, I’d like to share some thoughts with you all about life here at CCSP and what I’m learning about the joy of work. Enjoy!

“Become a slow activist” was one piece of advice that our Professor, Mick Duncan, gave us during our second week of class on Sustainable Community Development.

“Hurry,” he told us, “will damage your most important relationships in life.”

Now six weeks into my time at CCSP, I can clearly see how hurry damages our relationship to the joy of work. In my daily life as a college student in North America, it is all too common for me to feel like I am constantly rushing from one activity to the next—from class to lunch to a meeting—leaving my dishes in the sink in my apartment and telling myself that I’ll wash them later tonight when I have more time. And I’ll confess that I often put off doing my laundry, wearing some articles of clothing probably a few more times than I should, just so I don’t have to sacrifice the few hours it takes to oversee the washer and dryer.

For the average American, this hurried pace of life trains us to see activities such as cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry as inconvenient chores rather than dignified work. We turn to dishwashers and washing machines in order to maximize efficiency and purchase processed or premade foods at the grocery store, rarely giving any of these choices a second thought because it’s so easy to consider them all normal and even indispensable parts of life. But I’d like to raise the question, “Are they?”

Life at The Old Convent has given me the opportunity to reconsider the pace of life and the value of work both individually and communally. Whether we are throwing dance parties in kitchen while doing dishes or playful moaning about pulling weeds in the rain, when we share the responsibility of work, we also share the joy of work—the tangible results of our actions and the time spent together. When I do my laundry by hand in the wash table outside, I spend my time engaged in the process instead of waiting for a machine to do the work for me, and I can use both my hands and my mind throughout the duration of the activity. Doing laundry by hand teaches me to appreciate the whole host of factors which have to align in order to make the process possible. The weather — not too cold, no rain, hopefully some sun to aid the drying process. The time of day — morning or early afternoon so I have daylight. The tools — a relatively small amount of water, some powered laundry soap, and a brush — no electricity required. Surprisingly, I’ve found that despite the fact this process requires more effort on my part, I always seem to have time for it. Because I live my entire life at a slower pace, I can appreciate the time I spend doing laundry as time to reflect on the day or meditate on deeper thoughts which surface in the quiet.

Baking is another way in which I have experienced the joy of work. In my daily life at school, sliced, store-bought bread in a plastic bag is the norm. That’s not to say that we don’t eat the same kind of bread here at CCSP (anyone living here this semester knows just how much we love peanut butter on toast and how quickly we go through it), but we also have the opportunity to bake and eat our own bread. Learning this ‘homemaking skill’ has been one of my favorite things this semester and is a practice I’m very excited to bring back to North America. Turns out, baking bread isn’t hard and has a ton of benefits. Through making my own bread, I am able to control what goes into it. I can reduce the amount of packaging and energy that result from my personal food consumption. Also, I get to enjoy the smell and warmth of baking bread on a cold day. How great is that?  It’s unfortunate that the need for speed and convenience has stripped away these simple joys from many people, especially when I consider how that mindset affects many of our fundamental relationships.

For me, recovering the joy of work and the sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing a process through to completion is a key part of what it means to be a slow activist. Transforming my mindset toward ‘chores’ such as laundry, cleaning, or cooking from one of annoyance and inconvenience to one of enjoyment spills over into my attitude toward academics and community. When I can see listening to a lecture or developing a relationship with someone on the margins of my life as an opportunity to do good work, I am able to take joy in these activities as well, and my life becomes oriented toward a greater goal—the dignified work of ushering in the Kingdom of God.