Generosity in Unexpected Places: New Zealand’s Open Arms (Part 2)

Have you ever watched the YouTube channel, People are Awesome? If you haven’t, you can watch it here. It is truly… well, awesome. There’s no better word for it. It shows the extreme diversity of which the human body is capable, in terms of physicality, accuracy, skill and perseverance.

As a moderately un-athletic person (disregarding my ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ trophy in Year 6 – proud moment), I watch these videos open-mouthed, in admiration of these daredevils, sportspeople, and adrenaline seekers. However, I remember that people are awesome not just in their physical capabilities, but in more subtle ways: through their kindness, goodness, generosity (just like Danny’s willingness to give us a home for the night in his garage). And sometimes these attributes can produce the most awesome expressions of humanity, since (just like watching someone jump out of a plane) they can inspire and affect you in unexpected and surprising ways.

We had been travelling through the North Island of New Zealand, and it was approaching Christmas. I had surprised myself up to this point in that, although I had thought of home often, I had not once felt homesick on our travels. This might seem surprising, given my emotions during the initial goodbye. However, neither of us have ever spent a Christmas away from Devon, and added to this, we had received some sad news from home. It suddenly hit us that we were a long, long way from our family and friends, and we really felt the distance.

A very significant part of our identity at home is tied up with our Christian faith and our church family. At a time when we desperately felt the need to be connected to others, we decided that the best way to do that was to ride on the coat tails of someone else’s community… After googling ‘churches in Whitianga’, a group called C3 seemed to meet our Christian comfort zone criteria, and so we turned up uncharacteristically on time one Sunday, in the hope that we could catch some of the buzz and warmth that we feel at home when we meet with our Trinity friends.

And wow, did they deliver. At a time when we were so in need of a big metaphorical (possibly also physical) hug, the good people of C3 opened their arms to us and showed us immense generosity. The moment we stepped through the door, we were welcomed by the lovely, smiling Wendy, who promptly made us coffee, invested time in us and invited us to lunch! After the service, we drove to Wendy and John’s beautiful home, overlooking the ocean, where others from the church had also gathered. We chatted, we laughed, we cried, we shared, and we felt completely immersed in their special community for that day.

The generosity didn’t end there, though. Over lunch, we met Trevor and Raewyn, a couple with welcoming hearts, who invited us back to their home for the rest of the evening and then the night! The time we shared together was precious; the conversations we had made it seem as though we had been led to this place and these amazing people. We were so looked after and so loved, at a time when we were so very much in need of it.

The most overwhelming thing about it all was how much these wonderful folk went out of their way to not only accommodate us but to show us such love. How easy it is to just invest in those who live near you, to chat to those people you feel most comfortable with. It takes a whole lot of effort to go out of your way and talk to the person who is just passing through, to show that special welcome to someone who may not be around next week. Who knows; they may just be the person who is most in need of it.

People are awesome.

Cathedral Cove near Whitianga

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