Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2011 ~ A year of Unpredictability and Irony

A New's Year wedding. A speeding ticket. 48 hours of traveling. 18-hour time zone difference. A 4-day canoe trip. Being immersed in a culture so different from my own. Lots of ceremonies. Maori people. Losing my backpack which included my camera, pillow, and a lot of other things I really needed for the trip. Continuing on my journey. Camping for three weeks straight. Meeting the same people twice in different parts of the country. Driving. Driving. Driving. More sheep than humans. The most incredible 4am wake-up I ever experienced which included herding sheep while watching the sunrise. The beauty of His majesty over and over and over. Camping in a cyclone on the beach. Dolphins. Going back to the beach we hated and learned to love it. 11 incredible new best friends. 
Sparkles. Party Bus. Good Life.

In many ways, a lot of what I just described above was one of the most challenging, perfect, encouraging journeys I have ever been on in my 20 years of life. I had the opportunity to go with 11 fellow Messiah students on a cross-cultural trip to New Zealand, specifically the North Island. "Why the North and not the South?" Although not known for the amazing scenery/ Lord of the Rings locations, the North Island has a lot to offer the South does not. Particularly the amount of culture that is available for us to learn about and explore. And explore we did. 

When I signed up for the trip, I had a picture painted in my head as to what it would look like. 80 degree weather, peaceful streams and rivers, majestic mountains in the background, my journal and Bible in hand (because I know I never feel closer to God than when I'm in nature...) and of course, my camera right next to me so that I could snap the award-winning photo of the trip. (Take note of my sense of pride that was about to be knocked out of me).

What I hadn't considered, is that maybe I shouldn't picture what it would be like, because God always likes to shock us with how different His plan is. For one thing, alone time? Really? This trip was about building community, about spending time with the 11 others on the trip, not myself. I knew that going into it, yet somehow I thought it would be about ME. Although I did grow in tremendous ways, it was through building relationships with others and learning from that. 

Also, whenever I travel the only way I know how is with my camera in hand. It's the only way I can remember things (because I sometimes have a really awful memory). And when my most valuable possession got left behind at a hostel...yes, a HOSTEL and didn't remember until we were four hours away, I realized I was going to have to work on that memory thing. Oh, the irony that a photographer on a trip would LOSE her camera. I hate to say it, but it was one of the best things that happened to me on the trip. Yes, friends, LOSING my camera was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The amount of control I had to hand over to God during the first few hours of realizing she was gone was... heaps upon heaps of control. 

I do not even know how I did end up doing that (or if I really did), but sometimes you gotta "fake it 'til ya make it". I had to convince myself that this trip would be just as good, if not BETTER because I didn't have to worry about keeping track of my camera from now on. And it was. I also realized how much worth I had placed in being able to take pictures with my own camera. That was gone and I had to remember why I was on the trip-- not for a National Geographic-like excursion, not for my own pleasure or happiness, but to grow, to become stronger (or weaker in many ways), and learn (sorry to speak in such general terms, but I think the rest might bore you to tears if I haven't already). 

I don't believe in coincidence. I lost my camera for a reason. Oh, and of course I didn't just get over it and forget about it.. I prayed and prayed and PRAYED that it would be returned to me safely. And it was! (The second to last day of the trip, but better late than never right?)

I didn't get pictures of the canoe trip....
I didn't get picture of the sheep farm...
But the memories I have are so vivid. So detailed. But I don't really have time to share all of that now, so for when I did have my camera with me... 
(Oh, and I finally got some alone time... but it was when we were sent on a "solo retreat" onto the beach in the middle of a cyclone. I guess you could say I was forced out of my comfort zone a bit, as well). I'll tell that story another time. 

One Tree Hill...

And no... I didn't grow a beard while in New Zealand.
But myself and three others did give a presentation about the Maori on top of One Tree Hill.
The Maori women traditionally have tattoos on their chins.

 The 15-minute drive that turned into two hours...
But it didn't matter because we were singing songs and admiring the scenery...

Our first night camping with the Maori. 
Also our first night setting up our tents and making complete fools of ourselves.

Love these women.

Ryan was the only male on the trip...
He may or may not be a pretty lucky guy :)

When I finally did get my camera back, it wasn't too late. I got to capture this moment... 
And this...
And this... 


Monday, February 07, 2011


Branden & Marta
New Year's Day. There is so much to say about this couple and their day.
First of all, it was BY FAR the most fun I've ever had at a wedding.
Second of all, there aren't many people that I think are worth trudging through 2 feet of snow (in flats, not boots) to get good pictures of.
But Branden & Marta were.
 Plus, they suggested taking pictures in front of this graffiti wall and it was the best suggestion ever.
Marta, as you can see... is quite beautiful. 

 Branden, as you can see... is hilarious... and he really, really loves Marta. 

This following picture might be my favorite from the day. It was not staged (meaning he was already there, in the gazebo when we got there) and we were the only ones around. Pretty romantic.

(I can't end this post without mentioning that my extremely talented sister, Kait Kurtz was the second shooter for the day. It needs to become a regular thing.)

Branden & Marta Preview 1.1.11