Faces in the Fire
The cozy, welcoming hills of Dunedin seem never to get old. They wrap around the city and close us off in our own world – one which I’ve found relaxing, inviting, and full of opportunity. What a wealth of possibilities is merely a bus-ride away! Just this past weekend I had the chance to climb Mt. Xenicus on the Routeburn track. The 1912m peak afforded glorious views of the mountains of Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Park and even the Tasman Sea 80km away. But even more so, just a block away, is a more beautiful marvel – the people that I’ve met. I’d love to tell you about just a few of the relationships that I’ve been lucky enough to have.
My second week in town I met a guy named Mikey from Auckland who’s a third year at the University of Otago. Of all the people I’ve met here so far, I don’t think that anyone has loved me more or given more for me. Just last night as I left his place after hanging out with he and his flatmates my arms were full with a textbook I had been looking for, another book, and a full duvet, all of which he glady gave me to use. We’ve spent a lot of time ranging from movies to street ministry on St. Patty’s Day, and I know that he’s one friend that I’ll be Skyping from America when the day comes – we are now fellow travelers on the narrow path in life. I met Mikey through a Christian group called Student Life, and I’ve met a great deal of other awesome people through that group. In particular, two of Mikey’s flatmates, Ashwin and Jeremy, have become my good friends.
Another guy, Sam, I met through Elim church and friendship cemented over a long and excited talk over the wonders of mathematics. Last night, our group talked about fellowship – a bond between people that is life-changing.
My flatmates are also very cool, and although of American heritage, living with them is a new experience. Our flat is constantly full of hilarity. As I type this I’m listening to Michael and Eric tease a third guy about his awkward encounters with a interested girl who won’t take his (clear) hints. This place has often been filled with balloons, bottles, people, fine cheeses, tramping gear and any number of other things. Though I may not agree with everything that goes down, I’m grateful to have the chance to live with them.
Thirdly are friends I’ve met through the IFSA Butler study abroad New Zealand program. I really gelled well with a lot of the people who came through this same program provider – as I mentioned before, we all share an element of outgoingness. The people I tramped with (Kepler track) are permanently set in my heart as lifelong friends – we’ve already made mention of traveling to Texas/Maine to reunite. I got to see others tonight as well at a Butler-sponsored event. We had an orienteering competition, followed by an amazing Indian dinner at a local restaurant.
This is just a small mention of the depth of the relationships that have formed I began studying abroad in New Zealand. Even in such a fantastic place as New Zealand I’ve found that the greatest wonders are the people around me. The Southern Alps are incredible, yes, and the superb peaks of Fiordland – and I wish to explore them – but to me, the beautiful hills of Dunedin, which remind me of the community I have here, are the best of them all.