A lot has happened in the last month. I am no longer in New Zealand, but have returned to the United States. I landed in Portland, OR, on April 15, and spent the next three weeks on a family tour to all the cities us Koepke’s have moved to. I won’t lie, it was rough at first. Two days of the worst jet lag I’ve ever experienced led to sickness, which led to sitting/laying on the couch for most of the first week. Thanks Jeremy and Lori for taking care of me! Week two was better, bringing some improvement from the tiredness, headaches, and occasional nausea that plagued me the first week. After a quick stop in the Tacoma area (great to see you Camp Seymour and friends nearby!) I flew to see more family. It was so good to see my two other brothers and their families in Boise, ID, and Colorado Springs, CO, and be a bit more active. Week three I spent in my hometown of Missoula, MT, and I finally started to feel normal again. Then last week I took my last of the 7 flights involved in my tour and arrived in Boston. I have since started working at the Berkshire Outdoor Center again, which will take me into my second summer at Camp Becket. Every day I feel good I’m just so thankful for it! Don’t take those days when you’re able to get after it for granted!
Since being back folks have asked me a lot about New Zealand. Telling the story multiple times has helped draw the major themes to the surface. So if you haven’t heard them already, here they are:
1.) It Was Short – Wow, time flies. I remember waking up one morning during the last week I was in NZ and thinking, Have I really been here for 4 months? Have I really gone to all those places, done all those things? Obviously, I had, but there seemed to be a mismatch between all the experiences I had and the time in which they happened. We worked during the week and adventured on the weekends. The two combined gave time no opportunity to slow down. We did everything we hoped to and more, but man, life is short. I’m happy to say we made the most of the opportunity and I left NZ with no regrets, I just can’t believe how quickly it was over! My brain hurts thinking about it. I now recognize the value of finding ways to take life a bit slower let things sink in and solidify in your heart and mind. That being said, sometimes you just have to go for it. Where’s the balance? I’m not sure. What do you think?
2.) I Did It – New Zealand has held the #1 spot on my list of places to go for over a decade, and now I’ve been. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but it’s a strange thing to check off such a significant item on my list. Sometimes I think, Now what? It’s hard for me to believe it actually happened. Was I really there for 4.5 months? I keep replaying it all in my mind and I’m left in wonder and amazement that the answer’s yes. In the end no thought or feeling seems appropriate except thankfulness. One of my greatest dreams came true. Who am I to deserve such an opportunity? Knowing what if feels like, I now find myself more confident than ever that dreams are for real and are given to us to be pursued. What are yours?
4.) No Disappointments – Not a single place in NZ disappointed. I never regretted any use of our time. Everywhere we went, everyone we spent time with, it was all worthwhile. It’s pretty special when you find a place and people that have that quality. There were some surprises for sure, but it I came to love it. I wish I could do it all over again! I already miss the friends I have there; some I don’t know if I’ll ever see again. Not a very happy thought I know, but it gives me all the more reason to be filled with a spirit of gratefulness for the time I had in the places I went and the people I was with.
Now a new season starts. The opportunity to go to New Zealand is what drew me to Massachusetts in the first place, and now it’s in the rear view mirror. There’s another summer coming, my third in a row. I’m not sure what’s next, so I continue to look at options and seek the Lord for direction. Nothing’s come up yet (let me know if you see/hear about anything cool!) which makes me wonder about the future, but I’m also excited to see what happens. I was talking with some friends recently and we all had the unknown in common. None of us knew what was going to happen in the next six months of life. I realized while talking about it that I think it’s actually a pretty cool thing, to have no clue what you’ll be doing in 6 months time. I’d much rather have that than a predictable, repetitive future! Yes it’s kinda scary, but the assurance of my Heavenly Father’s provision gives me peace. I’ll be sure to share as things progress, but as I look ahead and move on from New Zealand, I can feel how it’s changed, lifted, and brought me along to where I’m at now.
Thanks for everything New Zealand. I hope to see you again someday!