We went to Timaru over Easter weekend for a conference, and that Friday evening, Esther had an idea. We had most of the next day free, since the only meeting was at 3:30 in the afternoon. She had met a girl last June at a conference in Christchurch, and has since had some contact with her online. She was thinking this girl and her family lived near Timaru, and thought it would be nice to visit her on Saturday. I thought they lived in Oamaru (pronounced Ah-muh-roo), about an hour’s drive farther south. We knew their last name, but not her father’s first name. I knew what letter her mother’s name started with, but not her full name. Esther looked in the phone book and found about half a dozen listings with that last name. One of them had a wife with the first initial I remembered, and the street name sounded familiar to Esther from a video the girl and her brothers had made, but that was all we had to go by. I told Esther she could try calling them on my cell phone and see if that was the right people, and it was! We went to visit them Saturday, and were able to spend a couple of hours visiting with that wonderful family. They live in an old house in the Victorian section of Oamaru (the most Victorian city in New Zealand), and took us on a tour of the old downtown section. One of their boys is a volunteer helping to restore old steam engines and because of that we got to tour the place they do that. What a special day!
There are a lot of old grain warehouses in Oamaru, left over from the time immediately after the city’s founding about 130 years ago, when fortunes were made from wheat. The boom ended after only 20 years or so, when there was a world-wide depression, and the city has never recovered. That means, however, that the old buildings have been preserved, because no one has had money to tear them down and build new ones!One of the steam engines that is being restored. A glimpse of the scenery between Timaru and Oamaru: