We had such a hard time saying goodbye to friends and family in the States, but we knew we would be back. It was so much more difficult on this end because there's a good chance we'll never see most of these friends again. I think we all surprised ourselves with how attached we became to the people here. We never expected to form such deep friendships in such a short amount of time. Each of these people have touched our lives in different ways and we'll never be the same. Here's what the last week and the last good byes looked like.... So I met my cute friend, Megan, when she found me on instagram. She wanted to meet up and Jason was leary, which we totally laugh about now. We met in a public park just in case she turned out to be a crazy person, but thankfully she turned out to be one of my dearest friends. It was hard finding girls my age that I could really relate to, and we clicked immediately. Our boys really hit it off and we had a standing lunch date where we would take turns hosting and letting our boys play while we talked non stop about life, motherhood, family, travel, cooking, decorating, goals and everything in between. Love this girl and her adorable kids. She was a difficult one to say good bye to.
I let the kids have one last get together with friends. Sadly this is the only picture I have from when Kylie's friends came over for a late night party. They are such a genuinely sweet and thoughtful group of girls. I will be forever thankful for their friendships to Kylie. They threw here a surprise sleepover as well, complete with a homemade pineapple shaped cake because they know she has a thing for pineapples.
For Jayden's party Jason took him and a few friends to see Avengers (I think? That seems like forever ago). He has made such great friends as well, all of them so polite and well behaved. Just a good group of boys.
I would consider Christchurch to be a little behind on the times, but I'll tell you what, their McDonald's is pretty top of the line. Coming here was such a treat when we first moved here and were wallowing in our depression at the motel. Right before moving we decided on a whim to take the kids souvenir shopping then end with dinner at "our" McDonalds. I loved seeing the little trinkets and memorabilia that they picked out. Flags, key chains, socks, glass displays, t-shirts, globes...fun to have little reminders of their incredible time here.
We spent several weekends fixing up the wear and tear in the house from the past two years. Maybe Judy's realtor was right in recommending that she not rent her house to a family of six, but we are beyond grateful that she ignored his advice. Broken window panes, chipped paint and drywall holes can all be fixed, but our relationship with her will always last,
An evening spent in the beautiful country with friends and homemade pizza. I have never been that cold in my life (okay, actually I have), but then we moved the party inside around the roaring fire. Good conversation and good friends. It was a good evening.
A couple days were spent baking cookies for teachers, friends and neighbors. I wish there was more I could do to show my appreciation for opening up their hearts to us these past few years.
I was blown away with all the love their classes showed. Each one of them threw them a party and went above and beyond to make them feel special. They have made such lasting friendships and I know they'll leave an empty spot in their classes as well. I didn't get a picture of the parties they threw for Jayden and Kylie, but when I picked Jayden up from school that day his eyes were red and brimming with tears. It was a heartbreaking good bye.
Kindy will always have such a special place in my heart. It's the perfect bridge between toddlerhood and childhood. A place where they are free to let their imaginations run wild.
Ryder figured since he was wearing the same color as the moving crew, that he was an honorary employee. Everyone here is so nice, it was such a different experience on each end. The NZ crew was so friendly, just above and beyond. Like he hugged me when they left. And then there was the US crew that was so unfriendly, just get in and get out. Welcome home.
Plenty of tears were shed on our last Sunday. I don't even know where to start when it comes to our experience with the church here...we have always lived in areas where everyone comes from the same mold. Looks the same, dresses the same, same number of kids, same cars, same houses, same economic situations...it was so refreshing to come to a place with so much diversity. Everyone is so unique and different and has so much to offer. And regardless of background, race, finances or personalities, everyone is accepted and welcomed for who they are. We had some pretty incredible experiences and opportunities for service. It was so good for the kids to see that not everyone has iphones and name brand clothes, that there are families who struggle just to get food on the table. It was humbling and good. Such good people with such huge hearts.
Ryder's bests friend. Simon really took to him and they became such great buddies. They still leave voice messages for each other, it's pretty cute.
We loved the chance to really get to know the missionaries. The only problem was that we would get so attached to our favorites and it was always sad to see them go! I loved having them in our home so much, they are such good examples to our boys and always bring a special spirit in our home. We've lucked out to have quite a few from Arizona so we have plans for a reunion when we get back. Jason had a tie that two of the missionaries loved so before we left he gave it to one of them (with a promise that he has to wear it in his engagement photos) and let the rest pick something out of his closet. He was a little sad to see his very favorite dress shoes go, but they'll be put to good use!
And I love each of these women for such different reasons. They have all touched me in different ways and I will always treasure their friendships!
How cute are these buddies??
Jason grew to love each one of the young men that he worked with, but he and Jake had such a unique relationship. He is such a good kid, it was a hard good bye for both of them. We're trying to convince him to come be our foreign exchange student!
We love the Tovey's our first and dearest friends in the ward. I don't know what we would have done with out them!
And the Lafayelle's will always be special to us. Rayleen has the biggest heart of anyone I know and we love her kids. They came and stayed a few days while their mom went to the temple and my kids had the best time. Jake and Simon like to tease me and always give me a hard time, but I love that they felt comfortable coming over anytime they wanted to hang out. Even if they did sneak into the house and scare me half to death.
And we'll never meet anyone like Gary again. When I look at him I always think of that scripture, "they gave up their sins to know me". When you look at him it's easy to make rash judgements, he's had a rough life but you'll never find anyone so devoted to the gospel and with such a generous heart. They have 7 kids and he washes windows on the street corner for a living. They have so little but whenever there was a need that arose in the ward, he was always the first to step up and offer what little he had. Such a great example.
We love Pete, Judy's partner. He has a way with the kids.
We had to leave for the airport at 4:30 am, but instead of doing the responsible thing and go to sleep early they decided to go toilet papering and have a sleepover. It made for some fun memories, And a very exhausting day of travel.
The Lafayelle's, bless their hearts, woke up to see us off at the airport even at such a ghastly hour. True friends, right there. Jake sent us off with Wiz Khalifa on his phone echoing through the empty corridors. "It's been a long day without you my friend, and I'll tell you all about it when I see you again"....I think of that moment every time I hear that song. I really hope we get a chance to see them again, because forever goodbyes are the absolute worst.