As most of you know, it's summer here right now and this is the big school summer break as well, so the atmosphere is very laid back. I think "kiwis" (as New Zealanders are called) are more laid back than most in general, but summer here in Taupo has really been the definition of that. A lot of people grill out and swim in the lake on Christmas. Most workers also experience a big holiday break over Christmas, so lots of gatherings and people out and about. Taupo is a central destination that people like to vacation or "holiday" at, so it's been busier than usual with all the "tourists" :)
We kicked off our Christmas fun on Christmas eve with a family that has become dear to us, the Goddards. They are an energetic, kind, and giving family with eight kids! We carried on Jared's family tradition by eating Mexican food on Christmas eve with these friends. We also sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus over some Pavlova (popular NZ dessert, basically a yummy cream puff) topped with strawberries and cream. Then they took us to an off the beaten path cove to watch the sunset. The kids hopped in the water and paddled around and we experienced a beautiful gift in the sky that night!
We had a low key Christmas morning enjoying the boys opening presents and got to Skype with family which wasn't quite the same, but special to feel like they were close anyway. That afternoon another family that have become friends, the Gummers, invited us to Christmas lunch. They had a wonderful spread complete with roast turkey and Christmas pudding! We ate and chatted, and ate some more. They were so kind to include us in their family celebration.
The following day we took off for Gisborne to visit our good American friends, the Didiers. We stayed with them four nights and it really felt like a family visit. The kids have really hit it off, and Tom and Jared got some more surfing in. They also took us to a beautiful waterfall/natural rock water slide that the dads had to try out. We cooked together and stayed up late playing games.
Then this past week we went on a camping trip with another family that has graciously welcomed us into their lives, the Russells. They have two young boys as well, James is Cohen's age and George is four. Louise is very modest, but she was a chef for awhile and we have enjoyed some of her wonderful creations! We were camping in style with her in the "kitchen."
We are very grateful for all of your prayers and for the God who graciously gives us so much more than we deserve. We hope you had a wonderful holiday too. Thank you so much to all the friends and family who mailed Christmas cards all this way too, all of your smiling faces light up our kitchen hanging around the door frame. It's so appreciated, we miss you!