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Monday, 1 April 2013

Our Mission Comes to a Surprising End - March 2013

As most of you know, we had to bring our 23-month mission to and early end.  The last week of February we learned that our youngest grandson Blake, whom we had not seen, had contracted a rare form of Epilepsy and in addition he had a condition that would require surgery as soon as possible called Chiari Malformation.

After much prayer and contemplation we determined that our family at home needed our assistance as soon as possible.  Ann packed and was headed home within 48 hours of that decision.  Tom followed three weeks later after getting replacements trained at the archives that could carry on .

We have not second guessed that decision since it was arrived at.  We hated to leave early having a long "Bucket List" of things remaining to do with YSA, Missionaries, Travels, etc.

There will always be a special place in our hearts for all our friends in New Zealand.  We loved serving there and hope that our efforts brought and will bring happiness to those we touched in equal portion to the happiness their contact brought into our lives.

An update on Blake...he's had surgery and the seizures seem to be under control.  It's a day to day experience with most good.  He's had one major seizure in the past week that had us wondering if we were going to lose the little guy, but today he's hanging in there and getting better daily.  Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts!

These last few photos are of us at the airport...

Here we are at Ann's departure on Sunday the 24th of February

With dear friends Lorraine and Roy Ditchburn

With President and Sister Kezerian our great
Mission President and wife Sandy

Here's Ann with just a few of the YSA young ladies

Here we both are with the YSA that came
to the airport for Ann's departure

Here are some photos from Tom's March 16th departure

Elder & Sister Nom from Hamilton came to Tom's departure

Of course Lorraine and Roy came by

And a great group of YSA came to send me off...thanks!

Seems that Sisters Paki and Kennach were left out of the photo array.  Thanks for your support being there!
We Love you all!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Intro to our Christmas 2012 Trip South

For our Christmas Trip in 2012 we chose to return to the South Island and go up the East Coast starting at Dunedin touring all the way north to Picton where we'd catch the ferry back to Wellington.  You can track our trek from the:
Red at Dunedin and the southern area to Gore
Green from Gore to Oamaru
Yellow from Oamaru to Christchurch
Blue from Christchurch to Kaikoura
Red from Kaikoura to Picton

The light blue represents the two previous trips
 we made to the south island so you can see that we pretty much covered all the bases!

Below will be six separate posts for each segment of our trip...
Hope you all enjoy the scenery as much as we did!

Dunedin and the Surrounding Area

We'd been told that Dunedin was not picturesque 
but we'd disagree for sure!  We found it most beautiful
and full of sites to explore and things to do.

Let's start with the beautiful setting right in Dunedin!  It was
rainy and overcast when we arrived but you can see below the
full picture!  Dunedin is at the far right with the Pacific off
in the distance.  Cruise ships come to the port in the middle
of the picture and disembark passengers who catch a train for
the ride into Dunedin.

Here you can see the city and it's setting from the north

Here's the setting from the south

The little piece of land in the middle of the
 photo is where the ships come to dock

You should be able to make out the lighthouse on the head of
land to the left.  At the top of that area is where the
National Albatross Center is located.  We'll see it a little later.
There were two cruise ships in port while we were there
The inner city is full of fun.  Below you see Ann 
pointing  not at the truck, but at the
 CADBURY CHOCOLATE the truck represents! 

Near the train station was this skateboard park

One of the attractions in the area is "Baldwin Street"
known as the World's Steepest Street.

Dunedin is full of gothic style buildings

This is the world renowned train station

Here's a sampling of the other buildings around town.

One of the interesting places to visit in town
 is the "Settler's Museum".

One of the attractions around Dunedin is the Larnach Castle.
It's actually about 30 minutes outside Dunedin on the hills south
 of town.  They call it a castle, but it's really just a large beautiful home that looks like a castle on the outside.

The views of the grounds from atop the castle are very picturesque

The above & below views are looking from the castle top to the
 northwest and entrance to the Dunedin harbor

The views below are around the castle grounds

Then a little further out from the Larnach Castle is the 
Royal Albatross Centre.  It offers a tremendous study of one of the largest birds in the world with a wingspan 
approaching 8 feet or 2 meters.

There's a beautiful lighthouse that overlooks the entrance to the harbor.  You can't visit the lighthouse because you'd 
tramp through the Albatross nesting fields.

The view is amazing from atop the Albatross Centre.
If you look closely you can see about 8 white spots in the green
grass of this photo.  Each of them is an Albatross.

If you were wondering, the photo below gives you 
a representation of the size of an Albatross

This is a seagull chick, not an Albatross

And you thought you'd see all the seal photos we had...
there were some at the base of the Albatross Centre

A little seal slobber isn't too bad
The last thing we did based out of Dunedin was to take the Taieri Gorge Train.  It's a 4-hour ride that takes you though an
 amazing gorge that offers great views.

Going over large bridges was one of the attractions
At the end of the first 2 hours, the train stopped and the locomotive was moved the the end of the train for the return trip
Here and in the photo below you can see wild goats

Who is that cuttie hanging out the train?

The views up the gorge were amazing

Then out of the gorge and onto the plains west of Dunedin

The train sitting at the station in Dunedin after our trip