|with my main supervisor (EmProf James Bade) outside the graduate centre after passing my defence|
My life as I've known it for the past 3.6 years is over. It's time to start a new chapter.
There are so many things I am looking forward to about moving back home:
Proximity to family
Betos and Cafe Rio
Old friends <3 div="">3>
LIFE is a great reason to rejoice.
Summer roadtrips, hiking, and camping
Country music on the radio
Moving on with my life!!!!!!!!!!!
Getting a smart phone, and then being able to text my siblings/cousins (see #1)
Being at family events (again, see #1)
Spending time with my grandpa
There are also many, many things I am going to miss about New Zealand. This beautiful country is my country--it has been my home for the past several years, and I can't imagine parting from it. I will miss:
The humidity (but actually, my hair won't miss it)
Bacon and Egg pies
All my friends and family
Kai moana (seafood)
Temple trips--the Hamilton Temple itself
Running into people I know everywhere--Pak'nSave, markets, in the city, firesides, etc
Proximity to the islands (fie foki ki Tonga)
Struggling and growing
The rain (only sometimes)
The culture (pasifika, maori)
My young women and youth--seeing what they become, running into them in the Temple, being there for their endowments
Pokeno ice cream stops
Driving on the left side of the road (it's the true side)
Stubbies with gum boots
Carrots and apples
The peace, calm, and serenity
Maori names, words, language
Number 1 pancake
Snowman mango dessert
And so much more.
I have a love/hate relationship with my emotions. On one hand, I'm glad I feel so much--it is easy for me to love people and places, and I think people see my sincerity because my emotions are all right out there on my sleeve and rolling down my face. But sometimes, my feelings are too much. Farewells are some of those times. Right now I am on a roller coaster. Life has been so stressful for so many months that sometimes I just can't wait to leave everything behind and get away. But then there are the moments of peace, when my mind reflects on precious people and memories and experiences and tender moments. It is then that I can't help crying, and I cry a little bit for sadness at everyone and everything I'll miss, but more so with gratitude at all I've been given, and how much it means to me.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to do a PhD, and to do it in New Zealand. I am so grateful for all the hard things, because the work of my Father in Heaven in my life during those times is now precious to me. I'm so grateful for all those who have reached out to me over the years--who have been my friend, believed in me, supported me, shared with me, invited me, welcomed me, taught me, hugged me, prayed for me, picked me up, blessed me, and otherwise been a beautiful part of my life.
I didn't expect that this is where I would be at 28 years old, or that these would be the experiences I would have. There's a lot I had hoped for that hasn't happened, and so much I never imagined that has. It has been a great ride.
Today in Sacrament meeting we sang Hymn #97: "Lead, Kindly Light." Coincidence? I don't think so.
The lyrics give voice to my current personal pleadings with the Lord:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom; Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene--one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that thou Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears, Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.
So long thy pow'r hath blest me, sure it still Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile, Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
The good news is that there is much good to come--mexican food and Zion's park hikes and cross-country roadtrips and jobs (I hope!) and new dreams and family time and a new world of navigating life back in my home country. I'm excited. I'm grateful. I'm humbled. I'm happy. I thank God.
LIFE is a great reason to rejoice.