Thursday, 25 February 2016

An experience of Immanuel – God with us! by Matt

I’m not one that always connects well with the concept of seeing Jesus in others. Perhaps it’s because I spend most of my life in NZ in situations where I’m mostly in control and generally not too dependent on others.
In Apia where we stayed for three days and four nights we were very generously hosted by Kele and Lisa at the invitation of Kele’s sister Paula Faiva whom I’d met at a Tokelaun dancing practise last year. They were wonderful to us especially given that they’d never met us before agreeing to host a palagi family of 7!
The family we stayed with in Apia
Crashed out in the heat at night
We found Apia challenging as we adjusted to the heat, and the new environment while trying to find the supplies we needed to take on the boat to Tokelau. We made armature mistakes like going out without drinking water into the heat of the city and attempting walk around the shops. Taking taxi’s was complicated because of the number of us. The home we were staying at was a good ten minute drive out of town so we felt a bit isolated and were totally taken off guard by the fact that there was nowhere in Apia for the kids to swim.
Then on Saturday (before the early Sunday morning voyage, Paula introduced us to her cousin from Fakaofo – Manuel (or in English Immanuel) who had heard of this palagi family and decided he wanted to help us (partly he admitted because he was so fearful for us about how we will fair here in Tokelau!). He picked the whole family up in his very nicely air-conditioned car, the first cool air for the kids in days, and took us to the market to help us get some fresh fruit and veges as well as some critical small appliances and other things that we didn’t realised we would need (but are already proving a lifesaver). Without Manuel – we would have struggled to get all we needed for the last day. We felt so incredibly blessed and overwhelmed by this lovely guy giving up his Saturday to help us like that.
And then he gave one more amazing blessing – one that the kids would say was one of the best experiences of their life – he took us to Piula Cave Pools – some 30 – 40mins drive out of Apia. These pools must be sourced from a spring deep in the caves so the water is beautifully cool and clear, but flows right up to the sea which is a bath like temperature. You could swim into the cave, jump into the pool from above the cave and the pool was also full of amazing fish swimming right around you as if you weren’t there. Kele’s kids had lent their masks and snorkels which meant our kids had a ball chasing fish and looking at the huge eel they found. When you wanted a warmup you could jump the wall into the ocean! It was a truly amazing time. Manuel lavished us with treats, drinking coconuts and food. We were overwhelmed with generosity.

Manuel on the right
On our trip back from Piula, Manuel explained the Tokelaun concept of the Tamamanu, which talks of taking care of the little sea bird that has recently arrived to an island as is vulnerable as a parable for the Tokelaun way of looking out for and taking care of the very least. We learned so much from this one experience with Manuel – not least how wonderful a blessing it can be to be extravagantly generous to travellers and people that are new and vulnerable. We’ll forever be changed and affected by this act of alofa to us.

1 comment:

  1. Life of a P.I. good we caught up before youse left. Interested in more stories. Hi to chrissy and kids. Poasa