Friday, February 28, 2014



I met a teacher from my school today and was so shocked to hear perfect English tumble out of her mouth in streams. It was amazing. She was mumbling and saying, "like" like a native speaker. She is so good they've got her doing the same job as me for the 6th graders.

Even though I'm incredibly blessed to have her, the first few minutes were awkward. I could talk as fast as I liked but yet I kept slowing it down out of habit. After the day of hanging out I got used to it though.

She's so cool! And so are the other people I met. We were asked to lunch with the principal and head teachers which was a pretty big deal. It was difficult to get all the meat off the bones and I had to sheepishly retrieve a stray one from under the table where I had managed to flick it. Oops! I don't think too many people noticed though because I was pretty stealthy!

I also met my main co-teacher whose English was also superb from having lived in America for 5 years. Seriously, I don't know how I landed such an awesome school. It's just perfect in every way.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


It was pretty weird being back at the same orientation venue a year later. I felt so different from how I was last time. Walking around the hallways I could sense the anxiety and excitement of the newbies. I was also feeling the same emotions, but for different reasons.

They have no idea what life in Korea would be like. They have a million questions about phone plans, apartments, holidays, and after-school classes. I pretty much know what to expect in those areas so my anxiety was coming from the realization that these people had already been together for 8 days. That's 8 days of clique-forming and I was walking into the midst of it.

I hate being the new person. I realized to what extent today.

After our meeting with our Seoul supervisors I lingered for a couple of minutes before I felt so uncomfortable I could stand it no longer. I escaped out the door, walked a few meters and stopped myself.

I was being silly. This was my chance to make friends in Seoul. When else would I get an opportunity like this? These people want to make new friends too? Couldn't I remember that much from last year?

After the pep-talk I went back into the room armed with my question, "What time is dinner?"

I awkwardly asked this one girl after standing around for far too long. She and I struck up a conversation when I mentioned I'd taught in Daegu. Apparently she had too! We have mutual friends from Dongshin and we just clicked. I am so happy I forced myself to go be friendly. Keke is going to be a great new friend!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


It was definitely tougher to keep myself together in the airport this morning. I failed, but it wasn't a complete disaster. I just had to take a bit of a personal moment and step to the side once I got through the gate separating me from my family.

I guess this time I realize just what I'm leaving behind. I have an incredible family who love each other very much and get along like nothing else. It's quite a rare thing these days and I feel so blessed to be part of it.

These past two weeks have been amazing. I'm sad to say goodbye to all these people I care about, but I'm also excited about the possibilities and adventure that awaits. It's a strange dichotomy.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I had set today aside as a family day, thinking that Mum and I would probably go shopping and visit Nan and Pops. Obviously, those plans were now redundant but it meant that I could do something useful for my family on my last day in NZ.

It was a tough day, teetering on the cliff of overwhelming emotion, but we made it through. I clung to the promise of seeing Poppa again one day and was able to make a video for the funeral, celebrating his life.

I'd have hated to have been to busy to contribute at all. It's so annoying that I leave tomorrow and am completely useless to do anything else. But in any case today was enough. I got to hug Nan lots and tell her how much I'd prayed for Pops during the year. I got to sit with Mum and talk. I got to be with my uncle and watch him grieve. It was a real family time and I am so, so grateful to have been there today.

We went on a walk tonight. Once again I'm reminded of what an amazing place I'm leaving behind.

The view up Mt. Eden this afternoon was also spectacular

Monday, February 24, 2014


Today has been so strange. After an amazing dinner at Cazador, which was entirely remarkable moment-worthy, we giggled our way to the DVD store to pick something out, when Mum got a phone call from Nana.

Poppa was gone.

It was as if the world sucked in a huge breath at that moment and we sat in stunned silence in the car as we waited for it to exhale.

When we got to the hospital, Nana was in a corner sipping tea and staring at the ground. She looked so small on the little couch which enveloped her. It was an honour to sit next to her and hold her hand as Mum crouched and repeated words of encouragement.

Cousins trickled in and we relocated to the lounge as we regaled stories from Poppa's life and cried together. Nana shared that over the past week he had been responsive to the scripture which she was reading to him. It was incredibly reassuring. I felt like God had said to me earlier this year that I would see Poppa again on Earth and in Heaven, that he was doing a work in Poppa's heart and I needn't be so worried.

I know God kept his promise. He's never let me down yet.


Here's a little something that I wrote for the funeral:

I have many fond memories of my sawdust-scented Poppa.  I'd climb up onto the orange stool in his workshop to watch him sanding and sawing whatever project he had on the go at the time. Sometimes he even let me have a turn (with his careful guidance, of course).

As a kid I was fascinated by his green thumb. His tomato, bean, carrot, and silverbeet patches were always overflowing. I lacked his relentless patience though, so I decided on radishes as my debut gardening effort because he informed me they would only take 6 weeks. He actually ended up doing most of the work but he let me believe I was a gardening prodigy. When it was finally time to harvest them I was incredibly disappointed that radishes didn't taste all that delicious. He suffered through them with me.

Saying goodbye to Poppa before I left for Korea last year was possibly the hardest thing I've ever done. The uncertainty of whether or not I would see him again, at times made it almost unbearable to be away from home. Thankfully, in those moments I could turn to prayer and God reassured me that I would see my beloved Pops again both in this world and in the next. His peace surrounded and sustained me. I know Poppa is now in a place free from suffering or pain, which is something he hadn't experienced for a long time.

I just can't wait till I can give him a big hug and hear him say, "Hello Kates!" in a way that made me feel so loved. In the meantime I can remember him by his cheeky grin and the way his eyes lit up when he told a story from his mischievous youth, his gentle caring nature and the way he would selflessly help with any project that we asked him about, his fiery garlic bread and the way he ate dinner in his chair every night, his knowledge of every subject under the sun and his ever-ready listening ear.

I'll miss him more than I dare to think about. Love you, Pops.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


After church today I went with my girls to the French markets in Parnell. It felt so Auckland! I used to love going there and buying coffee and a treat and browsing through the farmers market.

Having my Big Girls there made it even more special. Some of them had never been before and it felt wonderful to share the delights of French pastries with them.

We sat on the grass and once we got over the fact that Benny Tipene and family were beside us we began our ritual highlight/lowlight/boy crush/girl crush. Except we had the whole year to make up for so it took some time! It was hilarious.

I have missed these girls and I will miss them so much. I can't believe they've finished school now. It's crazy to think that I've been leading a few of them since primary school. I love the to pieces and am so proud of all of them.

Seeing this made my soul happy

I love this girl

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Being at a gig tonight just felt right. I had cider in my hand, fairy lights in my eyes, friends by my side, and live music in my ears.

It's one of my ultimate fave combos.

Saying goodbye to Lucy was not very nice at all. We hugged and I cried a little bit after she left. Luckily Amy was there to hug me and it felt so cosy and comforting. She's good at that!

Had afternoon tea with Rose and Elly so I took these Little Birds. It was amazing to catch up with those girls! I love them a lot.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Tonight I stayed at the Collins' place. I love that family so much. Lucy and I made a delicious dinner, went for a swim in the pool, lay on the tiles in the sun, played with Tui, and talked past our bedtimes.

It was so much fun! We giggled a lot before we fell asleep and it felt just like high school. It's great to have a friend like Lucy.

Had a cute tea with Mum out on Greenhithe Point.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Real talk. It feels good to get to know my friends better.

Sometimes I'm too scared to ask the questions that really count in life, but today I'm glad I did.

Genuine conversation, good food, stunning vistas, and going deeper.

That's what made today special.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


As I sat in St. Kevin's Arcade on K'rd, social hub of the most eccentric and artsy folk in Auckland, I was overwhelmed by diversity once again.

Previously, in Sydney airport it was much less comfortable, but today I absolutely welcomed it. I gazed about at the weird and wonderful outfits and hairstyles and imagined all the places these people had been.

Creating backstories for strangers is one of my favourite things. I like to take hints from the way they hold themselves, dress, and speak and imagine where in life they are.

I didn't even realize how much I had missed it until this morning in that cafe. In Korea you can look at one person and see some great hair but then two tables down there's another guy with the same haircut. Presentation isn't self-expression in collectivist culture, it's the opposite. Standing out is discouraged. It's better to follow the trend.

It's impossible to dream up crazy stories for people in cafes in Korea so it made it all the more exciting to observe these strange folk with their tie-dyed pants and messy-on-purpose hair.

I had dinner and a lovely walk with Amy and Logan tonight.

Little Bird Unbakery was deeeelish

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Tonight I went for my first night swim in a very, very long time.

After lifegroup we donned our togs and headed down to Mairangi Bay for a quick dip. It was surprisingly warm and the waves were pretty thrilling.

They really freak me out, actually. Once I got far enough out I settled down a bit.

Man, I love living close enough to the beach to just go for a night swim here and there. Well, for the next week anyway!

No wonder it was itchy, look at all that junk! Pretty sure a creature jumped out too.

Monday, February 17, 2014


I went to visit Poppa today. It's really heartbreaking to see him like this. Every time I look at him I just want to cry.
He used to look so vibrant and cheeky, but now he just stares into your eyes with this longing to express himself. I'm too emotional for these situations and I end up having to avert my eyes to the TV screen and try steady my voice as I chat about whatever banal show is on.

Even though it's hard, I still feel so lucky to see him again. He started getting really sick a couple of months ago and I wasn't sure if I'd ever have this opportunity. As I sat on his bed this morning holding his hand, I was certainly counting my blessings.

I also went to the Food Truck Garage spontaneously with Lucy and Priscilla

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I am freeeeeeee! I have a car and I can drive it anywhere I like! THANKS ISAAC.

It felt amazing to be behind the steering wheel of a manual car which I could point in any direction and tell it to drive.

I can't describe in words how good it was. Seriously.

Naturally, I pointed it toward Amy's house and drove it noisily there (sorry gearbox - shhhhh don't tell Isaac!).

Besides driving, one of my favourite things to do is going to a friends' house and just hanging out. I did that twice today, firstly with Von and then with Amy. I plonked down on their beds and just talked for a while. It was as if no time had passed at all.


Mission Bay

Paleo treats with Mika!

Browns Bay



We woke up early for the sunrise this morning and it was well worth it. I loved the way it rose over the ocean and besides a solo boat and island there was nothing in between me and it. There were no power lines, apartment buildings, or people.

Just us and the huge expanse of sky as the sun took its rightful place among the clouds.

Sunset wasn't too shabby either.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


I went for a run along the beach this morning with Lucy and it made me feel absolutely wonderful!

I kept up the whole way and we just chatted. It made it a million times more fun and motivating.

To be honest I'd been fretting about running with her because she's a regular and I'm no athlete. But it wasn't too bad and I was proud of myself.

At the end we threw off our shoes and stormed into the water for a delicious little dip. I think it was possibly the best way to start a day ever.

After the run it was a wonderful, lazy Summer's day.