Well, we arrived on December 25th. It seems fitting somehow to set foot on New Zealand soil on Christmas Day to begin our new life. It was sad to say good bye to so many good friends at work, at church, and in our neighborhood, but we are looking forward to new friends in our new country. On the way to New Zealand, we spent 4 days in Hawaii which was a perfect transition for us. We stayed with my brother Ross and his family, and my parents were there too, so we got to spend some quality family time with everyone before we said good bye. Being in Hawaii also provided us the opportunity to get adjusted to the warm weather. It had snowed in Portland the day before we left! But it was plenty warm in Hawaii and when we landed in Auckland (pronounced "Oakland") it was summer and about 75º.
As we passed through the immigration checkpoint at the airport, I was expecting an extra-long session with the officer because we had a US passport, but are arriving as NZ Permanent Residents on one-way tickets. Alas, he spent 60 seconds looking at the stamp in our passports (which took us 7 months and 200 pages of documentation to acquire!) and waved us through. That's it?!? I wanted to take a photo of this momentous occasion, but suddenly it didn't seem very momentous. Oh well. We're here!
Our friends, Rick and Bev were at the airport to meet us, and it was good to see their familiar faces. Thankfully, they took us to our hotel because we needed a nap and a shower after flying all night. Later, they came back to get us and took us to their house for Christmas dinner. Their daughter Christina (a primary teacher) was there, as well as their daughter Sharron (a nurse), her husband Kris, and their friend, Jo. Sharron and Kris just returned from living and working for a year in the U.K. This is apparently a common practice and is called one's "Overseas Experience" or O.E. for short. Everyone seems to have an O.E. after they finish university. Anyway, they just got back last month and were living with Rick and Bev for a while. Christina still lives at home, too.
We had a nice family Christmas dinner with all of them and sat around afterwards learnng about the best cell phone plan, the best bank, the best neighborhoods to live in, etc. We have so many decisions like these to make and it's really helpful to have their advice! They also tried to teach us a little about rugby so we would have some background knowledge. Rugby is VERY popular here and the national team, the All Blacks, are like gods and hearthrobs all wrapped into one. During our conversations, I struggle listening to their accents, however. Kris was saying "the beest thing is"...and it took me an extra second to realize he was saying "the best thing is". Later, however, I realized something: my name, Megan, will be pronounced "Meegan" by people here, which means everyone will always get it right! That'll be a first.