‘For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope’. Jeremiah 29:11 My story starts in June 2009 when the Lord placed upon me that verse, a vision, and a dream that: ‘I would go to Africa as a missionary teacher’. A year later to the exact day, in June 2010 I flew to the other side of the world, to the city of Dodoma in Tanzania. Far away, across the other side of the world, to a strange country; away from my family, friends, New Zealand my birth place and Kawerau, the only place I knew as home. I grew up in a scenic, small mill town that was a strong, close knit community with so many possibilities. Yes, our town of Kawerau that had its fair share of so-called very public ‘raving reviews’. The town of Kawerau I am proud to call home.
Kawerau hosts the Bay of Plenty’s most iconic and longest standing Mountain Race that is, The King of the Mountain Race on the majesty Mount Putauaki; and not forgetting the Prince and Princess Mountain Race which is a leading event for up-and-coming champions. Kawerau is popular with both families and sports people who enjoy great hunting, fishing, windsurfing, boating, tramping, swimming, tubing and water skiing. It also offers a purpose made white water slalom course on the Tarawera River and was also a venue for the 2013 World Rafting Champs. My favourite spot is the walk along the Tarawera River to the most spectacular Tarawera Falls at the foot of Mount Putauaki. Tarawera Falls are the most outstanding falls in the Bay of Plenty. The Tarawera Falls plunges 65 metres down a sheer cliff from the rock face at the foot of Mount Putauaki. I stood spell-bound, mouth opened in awe of God’s handiwork, the first time I saw the Tarawera Waterfall. It was just pure adulation!
More people are realising Kawerau’s potential and believe that there will be a return to the prosperous status it enjoyed during the early days of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Kawerau offers cheaper homes, a combination of commercial opportunities and access to an abundance of natural resources.
Anyway like every story there is a saga about a house and mine was no different. I tried to rent out my house and begun this with a hiss and a roar but after four months of ‘nothing’ the whole idea just fizzled out. What to do???? Time was running out and the realisation was ‘I had to sell the house’.
Selling the house was a big issue for me as I saw the house as belonging to me. I thought it was the only thing I could honestly say was MINE! The other thing was when I returned I wanted to have a house to come back to. OOOHHH NO!!!! I was so far from God’s truth.
First came the revelation that ‘I was only a tenant and the house belong to the Lord. He was the landlord and I was only a steward looking after his estate’. Second, the house was immaterial, that is: when I died I would not be able to take it with me. I would, as a legacy, leave it behind for my sons and grandchildren. Finally, I had to put my faith and trust in the Lord that when I returned to New Zealand He would have made provisions for me.
Miraculously the house sold not long after putting it on the market. I believed this was God’s divine intervention. Now there was no going back. As God promised Jacob in Genesis 46: 2-4: “Do not fear to go down to Egypt, ... I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will surely bring you up again.”
Jacob had packed up all his belongings with his family and travelled from Beersheba, Canaan to be with Joseph his son in Egypt. In the visions of the night God had promised that He would go with me also and be with me and bring me back again.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own’ (Luke 16:10-12).
I believe as the Scripture said, that we bear an important responsibility as stewards in handling God’s estate. So I reinvested the sale of the house to Liberty Trust; a charitable trust that is committed to teaching financial principles from the Bible. I am an avid supporter of what Liberty Trust was set-up for, that is to enable families to buy their own houses and be debt free quickly. And I would reap what I sowed for the future when I drew down an interest free loan to buy my new house.
Jeremiah continually reminded me that my future and security were in the mighty hands of the Lord. He knows the future, and his plans for us are good and full of hope. With God, who knows the future and provides us our agenda and goes with us as we fulfil his mission, we can have boundless hope. This does not mean we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardship, but that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion (Jer 29:11). Consequently I was quietly reassured and confident that everything would be KA PAI / OKAY!!!!
So by faith I had applied for a primary teaching position with an international school called Canon Andrea Mwaka School. I was successful and shortly after I sold the house I flew out in mid-June 2010.
The country of Africa, its culture, food, language and the people were an awe-inspiring experience, although there had been feelings of trepidation too. Shortly after arriving I had a melt-down – an emotional, childish wobbly’. I said “I had told the Lord I did not want this. I did not want to be a teacher. I did not want to be here. I was crying to go home. He had sent me to all these countries to be a mission teacher but the one place I would like to have gone was Niue. The birthplace of my father, Jack Hopolagi, Sieke Tatu”. But throughout the entire experience I had God’s presence always with me. Indeed I wait in the hopes I will return to Africa to do mission teaching again.
In October 2012 I briefly visited home with the intention of returning in six months’ time to resettle and live permanently in Dodoma, Tanzania. But God had purposed that I would be with my Mum because not long after I arrived she had a stroke. Thankfully she recovered and lived comfortably at home. I lived in Kawerau with Mum for the next three and half years. My town of Kawerau I am proud to call home. Yes!!! The scenic, small, mill town of Kawerau that is a close, knit community with so many possibilities.
I learnt what was truly important to the Lord as God showed me that he loved my Mum too and more; AND that her care was PARAMOUNT!!!! He had done a work as ‘a defender of the widows’ (Psalm 68:5) as ‘Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble …’ (James 1:27). So there had been lots of maturing and pruning back about MY attitude and behaviour rather than my dear Mum.
I must deviate and share about the Lord’s generosity and faithfulness. In April 2014 my six younger sisters and I spent a ten day trip in a luxurious, holiday house in Niue. Niue is known as The Rock because it is made up of 100 kilometres of volcanic rock. We celebrated our first trip to Niue, visiting Dad’s birthplace and also our sister’s 50th birthday.
We had a glorious time visiting the idyllic island of Niue, especially meeting family and friends whom Dad had grown up with. We visited the homestead that was a one bedroom home, with a small lounge and an even smaller kitchen. You could not have more than three people in the lounge otherwise it became overcrowded. What amazed us most was that our grandparents had brought up more than ten children in that tiny house with no running water and no electricity back then. They had an outdoor toilet drop back then too, but now houses a semi-outdoor toilet that flushed – a sigh of relief for us girls. Haha!!!!!
It was then the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the ‘melt-down’ I had one and a half years previously in Dodoma, Tanzania. It was like watching a black and white slow-motioned movie unfold before my eyes as He gently reminded of that ‘melting moment’ arriving in Africa but wishing I could go to Nuie. Truly I had been wonderfully blessed to know that our God cares and loves us; He who is faithful, good and keeps His promises to us.
At the end June 2014 I finished my one year contract as a career counsellor/ teacher with The Job Centre in Kawerau and a week later I flew to Niue to live, teach and work in the mission field for seven months.
In March 2016 I purchased a townhouse in Kawerau with an interest free mortgage and thanks to Liberty Trust I will be debt free in less than ten years! I love the parable in Mathew 25: 14-30 when Jesus tells the story of the loaned money. I have chosen to apply the same principle of the parable by managing my finances better and being a responsible steward of God’s estate. I hope to inspire others to employ this same practical, financial principle of the Bible in order that they may be independent, free from debt that is. ‘The head – not the tail’ in their house.
Liberty Trust teaches and enables families to own their own homes debt free quickly. It is a practical principle of the Bible to avoid debt and to sow before you reap, by wisely using the finances and talents God has given us to use responsibly. The Trust’s vision for the future for all God’s people is a practical principle of the Bible that speaks of life and liberty - being free from long term debt and in charge of God’s finances.
Without the teaching and support of Liberty Trust I would not have a house, as well as have truly achieved, let alone understood the liberty and purpose God planned for each of us to live debt free and be financially independent.
May God Bless You As You Follow His Plans For Your Life.
15 June 2016