So week 6, also known as faith week. Rather than being taught in lectures on our topic of the week, this week we are sent out to live it. We are put on groups of three (it was me, Chantel: Canada, and Justin: Hawaii), given $20 each, a packed lunch and dropped of in the middle of the road. Then you have to live the week (Sat-Sat) on faith. You literally have nothing. So This is where you start praying that God will provide all your needs and transportation...etc. BTW hitchhiking is really safe in NZ, so that was our main mode of transportation. Our team was special and also used a bus and a ferry, but that's later in the story. So here's a version of what happened last week in Chantel's view.... (she wrote up what happened during the week and I didn't want to have to retype it, so right now, copy and paste is my best friend....lol) So here are our jouney's of faith week.....
Just in case you forgot here’s a brief summary about what faith week is. We each got sent out with $20, a packed lunch, a few necessities, and heaps of faith. The leaders put us into groups, I was paired up with Justin Camacho (Hawaii), and Jodi Jacob (USA). We decided that our goals were to push our faith as much as possible during the week, we also wanted to bless as many people as possible along the way, and try our hardest to make it to the North Island. So they handed us a list of rules about hitch hiking, being a blessing, having faith, and basically just dropped us off in the middle of nowhere, literally. And this is where our journey began.
We started off by going north up the number 1 highway, where we were offered a ride up to Hanmer Springs. We declined that offer and asked to be dropped off before the turn off the #1 so that we could continue north. After that we kept on being offered rides to Hanmer Springs so we figured that must be where God wants us to be. So after the third ride offering to take us to Hanmer Springs we made our way off our original plan, and made our way to Hanmer Spings. Once we get there, we realize that there are a LOT of tourists, and there’s definitely no place for us to stay, and we are just not feeling that this was where we were supposed to be. We than discovered that to continue to go North we would have to backtrack 45 minutes to where we originally were. We were seriously disappointed at this stage in the journey, wondering why we got off the #1hwy. This is where Tilman comes into the story. Tilman is a student from Germany, who just so happened to be borrowing a car for the week, and was really hoping to pick up some hitchhikers. So Tilman picks us up YAY! He drives us all the way to Kaikoura, the exact destination we were hoping for. It was meant to be that Tilman picked us up, he seemed to be searching and asked us a lot of questions about God.
Once we get to Kaikoura, we are totally prepared to sleep outside and rough it. I was actually looking forward to sleeping outside at least once this week. Since it was Easter weekend, there was no vacancy anywhere in the whole town. In New Zealand a hostel costs around $25 NZ dollars per person, so we obviously didn’t have the money for a hostel even if we wanted to. So we walk into one of the hostels anyway to ask the manager if she could recommend any good places to sleep outside. She tells us of a few good places, and then asks us what we’re doing. So we explain what we we’re doing, and she’s very interested, and says ‘You know what, just hold on one second.’ She returns after talking to her husband, and says ‘We have a four bed dorm that’s reserved, but the people haven’t shown up yet. You can have it for free if they’re not here by 8:30PM.’ So we bummed around Kaikoura, did a little sight seeing for the hour and returned to the Albatros Hostel. Of course the people who booked the hostel never showed up, coincidence I think not, and we got the room. Tilman, the guy who drove us to Kaikoura was planning on sleeping in his truck for the night, but since we had an extra bed in our room, we of course offered it to him.
The following morning we went to the Easter service at St. Paul’s Presbyterian church. It was a really nice service, with some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They were all eager to help us and give us contact information for their friends and family members that lived in the North if we needed a place to stay. We were even invited to one of the couples campsites for lunch. Later that day we did some work at the hostel to pay for our keep and since it was raining and getting late we decided to stay one more night. Ben and Katie (managers of the hostel) were so awesome, that evening they even made us supper J After making beds, cleaning the kitchen, washrooms, and living room at the hostel we made our way to the highway.
Within a few minutes of waiting a guy named Jimmy picks us up. Jimmy was great! He brought us all the way to Blenheim. The minister at the church in Kaikoura told us that if we were in Blenheim we were to call Brendan O’Haggen, the minister at St. Ninians church. So that’s just what we did J Jimmy made sure that we got to Brendan’s and even bought each of us a chocolate bar and gave us some money to help us out. He reminded me of my brother, which started to make me homesick. Once we got to Brendan’s house he offered to let us sleep at the church, we thought awesome, we don‘t have to sleep outside! We told him that we wanted to do some volunteer work, so he made a couple of calls and found us some work. We went to Allen and Katrina’s place, Allen and Katrina are an elderly couple who needed help with some yard work before winter comes. Three wheel barrel loads and two hours later we went in for a break where Katrina wanted to bless us as well by giving us some money. So at this point, end of day two, we had started off with a total of $60 between all three of us, and now we were at $95 J only about $200 more needed for the ferry to the north island. Brendan returns to pick us up and lets us know that he found us a place to stay for the night at John Evan’s place, instead of the church. Even better we thought, we get beds, and a home cooked meal! Wow was that supper good! Justin went on about how good supper was all night, and kept on rubbing his belly because he overate haha. John was so awesome and even set us up with some more volunteer work for that evening and the following morning. Two teachers, Sherryl and Hellen, from a girls college needed help with preparing their classes for the next term, and promised to drive us to Picton in exchange for our hard work. Picton is where the ferry runs from the south island to the north island. Its was a really fun job actually, we scrubbed some pots, cleaned out cupboards, and decorated the classroom. When we were having a coffee break Sherryl stayed with us and visited, and told us that we needed to pray for good prices for the ferry tickets to get to the North Island. Once we finished praying, Hellen walks in and says ‘God is good! I got you three ferry tickets for this afternoon for only $19 each!’ We were so shocked, we just couldn’t believe it. No one gets ferry tickets for only $19! Turns out that Hellen had a friend of a friend who knew someone type of connections, and booked us the tickets. Then Hellen and Sherryl surprised us even more by paying for our ferry tickets, and giving us extra for food. At this point Justin and Jodi were doing back flips, literally, and I was doing a little dance jig (I don’t know how to do back flips anymore L). So we quickly finished our work, packed up our stuff, and made our way to Picton to quickly hop onto the ferry.
We were on cloud nine when we were once we got onto the ferry. We started talking to this older woman, and we told her about what we were doing, and she just handed us over $30 and said, ’Go buy yourselves some lunch.’ Which was so funny, ’cuz we were all craving some fries, so we went and bought some, so good. Once we were on the ferry for two of the three hours, the excitement started to fizzle, and we realized that we had no plans once we arrived in Wellington. We debated hitchhiking some more, our plan at this point was to get to Taragunga, which is about a 17hr drive plus the ferry to get all the way back to Oxford. After a series of events and a lot of stress (mostly me stressing out, like usual), we decided to call Rachel MacGregor. We received her phone number from her mother at the Easter service in Kaikoura. I dialled her number, and once she said ‘Hello’ I realized that I probably should’ve practised what I was going to say to her, haha I was totally speechless for a second. Eventually I got some words out and told her who I was and explained why I was calling. Rachel replied ‘Oh! My mother told me about you, she said you guys are just lovely. Do you need a place to stay tonight? I can pick you up if you want.’ ‘Yes please!’ I replied.
Once we got to Rachels place, we knew that she did some kind of important work. She had this amazing condo! We later found out that she’s the producer of the Good Morning show here in New Zealand. Then she began to sing and her friend played piano in the evening, it was so beautiful, haha I even recorded it on my camera. The following morning, on Wednesday, we were right back into travel mode and hitch hiked all the way to Taupo by 4pm. We got ride of after ride, barely had to wait for one the whole day. Once we got to Taupo we tried hitching for two hours, and had no luck. We prayed and prayed, that someone would pick us up and bring us to Tararunga, which is only two hours north of Taupo. It was starting to get dark, windy, very cold, and our moods were starting to dwindle. So we did the only thing we could do, we prayed. Getting words, and visions from the Lord is a completely new thing for me, and it was so cool because while we were praying I had a vision of a woman, probably a grandmother, who had grey curly hair, and a big smile. I just knew that where she was, was where we needed to be. So I told Jodi and Justin this, and we all agreed that we needed to look for a church and see if a bible study or something was going on that night.
We walk back into town and go to the Tourist Information desk and ask for number for the churches in the area. The clerk looks at me and says ‘For a church? What do you want with a church?’ Obviously this was the first time she had ever been asked about churches in the area. We tell her our situation and she gets a bunch of numbers of a few churches near by. She ended up being very helpful, while I was trying to phone churches she was calling hostels seeing if they would take us in for the night if we worked off the cost of the room the following day. By this point I had been designated to be the phone person/arrangement coordinator, so I’m calling the first church, no answer. I call the second church, no answer. For some reasons I felt that I needed to call the first church again, so I did, and someone answered! I didn’t hear what her name was or anything when she answered the phone, I was just too excited that someone answered, and I just told her everything that we were doing and asked if she could help us find a place to stay for the night. She said, ‘Sorry but I have company over for the night, I have no space. But I will call my cousin, Lesley-Anne, and see if she can take you for the night.’ So we’re sitting there all nervous waiting for the phone call back, at this point we’re extra nervous because the hostels are all booked too and can’t take us either. It was starting to get really cold! People kept on telling us that the South Island is much colder than then North Island, that is such a lie, it’s WAY colder up there! So we definitely didn’t want to sleep outside that night, especially now that Jodi confessed that she didn’t bring her sleeping bag with! Finally the phone rings, and it’s the lady, and she has good news, we can stay at Lesley-Anne’s place. Finally I catch her name, its Tracey, Tracey our angel haha, and she tells us that she’ll come pick us up in ten minutes to bring us to her cousins.
Meanwhile the clerk at the information desk is just stunned and can’t believe that we just called a complete stranger and have a place to stay for the night. However we weren’t, at this point we already knew that God was looking out for us in more ways then we ever imagined and we were totally used to God’s awesome surprises at the last minute haha.
When we get out of the car at Lesley-Anne’s, Tracey gives us a container with some fruit and says ‘Sorry but this is all the fruit I had left at the clinic, I brought it for you guys if you want.’ I respond with ‘Clinic? What you mean clinic? I called a church didn’t I?’ ‘No, you called me at my clinic, I own a spa here in Taupo,’ says Tracey. After a second it registers, and I don’t know whether to laugh at God’s strange humour, or cry. It was just so weird, we were flabbergasted, obviously this is where God had meant for us to be.
Lesley-Anne also had a daughter that lived her named Brooke who is 16. After eating a delicious stir-fry we got to visit and get to know these two wonderful ladies. At this point Justin and Jodi are still determined to get to Tararunga in the morning, and I’m starting to wonder if its becoming more of a goal for us instead of where God wants us to be. Once Lesley-Anne asked if we wanted to volunteer at Lake Taupo Christian Camp, I just knew that’s where I needed to be. After talking it over with Justin and Jodi, and praying about it, we decided that we should go to the camp instead of continuing on to Tararunga.
Once we got to the camp, I instantly fell in love with it, everyone was so happy there. The staff seemed to be really excited to have some extra hands for the day, immediately put us to work and took us in for the night. I got sent to the kitchen, and once I entered the kitchen I stood still for a second, there in a black chefs hat was the woman I had seen while I was praying out on the highway just outside of Taupo. Her name is Judy, but also known as oma, everyone there at the camp called her oma. Once I saw her I knew we were where we were meant to be. We all had an awesome time working there, it was the highlight of faith week for me. Later on I told oma about my vision of her, and she just gasped, and said, ‘You know what? As soon as I saw you, I felt this connection to you.’ It was just so cool, I am so thankful that we got to go to that camp.
At this point its Thursday, and we know that we needed to start making our way back home by Friday. Lesley-Anne was able to get us a ride with her neighbours daughter, Bernice, to Waikanae. But there was still the issue of getting ferry tickets home again. We only had about $140 which is only enough for maybe two tickets. So we called Sherryl up, the teacher from Blenheim, and asked her if she would be able to help us get a good price for the ferry tickets. At this point I’m getting a little stressed out again, stress/worry should’ve been my middle name. If Sherryl isn’t able to get us that amazing price for the ferry again, we’re screwed! We’d be stuck on the north island! But once again, Sherryl is able to get us the $19 tickets! Sherryl wow, what a blessing that God put her in our path. So I begin to relax, but then realize that we don’t have a place to stay in Wellington, so I’m stressing out again. Just as we’re about to leave the camp to catch or ride from Taupo to Waikanae, Ryan, one of the staff, comes up to us and says ‘I just talked to my Aunty and she said you can stay at her place. She’ll give you food, pick you up, and drop you off at the ferry in the morning.’ My jaw just about hit the ground at this point. We had been trying to find a place to stay in Wellington all day, and now last minute we finally found a place YAY!
Once we get to Waikanae, Pam, Ryans aunty, picks us up and brings us to her home in Upperhutt (suburb just outside of Wellington). Pam was so awesome! I know I keep saying everyone is awesome, but seriously, God put only amazing people into our paths this week, and I learned from everyone of them. Pam was seriously excited to have us over, and her excitement was just infectious, we had a great time with her. We asked her if we go do some work around her house to bless her back, but she said ‘Nope, you guys just relax. I’ve been blessed a lot, now its my turn to do some blessing.’ She and her family definitely blessed us, we had a lot of fun with them. And early in the morning she brought us into Wellington to catch the early ferry to the south island.
So now that I’m a little wiser at this point, and I’ve learned to trust God even more, I’m on the ferry, I have no idea how we’re going to get from the ferry to Oxford, but I’m not stressed. I’m just relaxed, and know that somehow we’ll get there. So we look up bus tickets, and turns out they were $75 for the three of us to get from Picton to Woodend, and we have $85 left, so we take them and give the remaining $10 away. We already knew at this point that we’d be late, but we didn’t want to be too late so we figured the bus would be faster then hitching, and we had just enough money. And being skilled in hitchhiking at this point, we quite easily hitched from Woodend to Oxford, without a problem J
I learned a lot of lessons this week, some of them being that God is faithful, to trust in His goodness, and that He is my provider. This week we didn’t go hungry, we had a bed every night, and had a nice warm shower every day. However I am still disappointed that we didn’t get to sleep outside and say we roughed it atleast one night haha. But it was just an amazing week, and I thank you so much for all your prayers! By the way our team made it the furthest!!