2012 has already dawned in the land of the long white cloud.
My grandma always told me to start the year as I meant to continue it. So this year I spent the night at home, quietly with my little family. At midnight, as my street erupted in cheering and fireworks, I popped a bottle of sparkling grape juice (non alcoholic) so we could toast the new beginning.
2011 was a year of disasters and triumphs in the most literal way.
In January there was extensive flooding in Queensland and Victoria. My husband was put on standby to join in the rescue and recovery in the second deployment which thankfully did not take place. My youngest brother and his family live in Brisbane near the Gold Coast and thankfully they were all safe.
February brought sunshine and the hottest month of summer. In late February we were thrust into another example of mother nature's awesome power when an earthquake struck Christchurch around lunch time on a busy work day. Lives were lost. It was horrifying. My husband was deployed the next day and in all did three trips to Christchurch to assist, all the while aftershocks were striking and I spend many nights worrying for him and my friends in the city as the rescue turned into recovery.
March bought a massive earthquake and tsunami to Japan. Japanese rescue workers in New Zealand to assist with the recovery hurried home accompanied by an NZ USAR (urban search and rescue) team to assist in their own country as a nuclear power plant stood on the brink of meltdown as a result of the earthquake. My friend Q, a former team mate at work who now lives outside Tokyo with his wife and children were safe.
April and May passed in a blur of activity related to the Christchurch earthquake mostly and news of the Japan quake. Aftershocks, clean up, raising funds, stabilizing the reactor. Stories of incredible survival against the odds, heartwarming tales of solidarity and stoic resolution emerged.
After that it was all about the Rugby as we geared up as a nation to host the Rugby World Cup. Visitors from overseas poured into the country for the matches throughout September and October. Neighbourhoods organized to support different countries, flags of every nation appeared on houses, cars and people. We had the amazing two month long party! And then we won!
December brought more natural disasters with extensive and continuing flooding in the top of the South Island. Once again our rescue teams deployed to assist and then...
Two days before Christmas and exactly a week after I visited. Christchurch suffered another Earthquake and is still suffering aftershocks. Thankfully nobody was killed this time.
2011 has been the year of triumph of the human spirit. As a nation, a community and family we faced adversity on an unusually large scale and we triumphed.
I'm proud of my family, my colleagues and my country. It was a challenge but we got through and with dignity. 2012 is going to be a better year for us all. I know it!
Happy New Year!