Today, my friend Amanda and I (along with some other fabulous student teachers) hiked to the top of a volcano on Rangitoto Island. The weather was perfect- breezy, clear blue skies, warm… We were all so pumped to check out the gorgeous views from the top!
First, we climbed straight to the top, pausing on the way to soak up the views and take pictures! It was so lovely. After reaching the top, we took more pictures of the crater and the surrounding panoramic views of Auckland city and the islands! It was stunning!
Next, Amanda and I split from the rest of the group, and went back down the mountain to see the lava caves. We followed the sign and finally reached the caves formed from the eruption of lava 600 years ago. We didn’t venture inside, but we just hung out around them and took some more photos!
After that, we hiked back up the mountain to see if we could find the path to the beach. At this point, it was about 3:30pm, and we had been walking nonstop for almost 3 hours with a few sips of water and a piece of fruit. We assumed (first mistake) that we would have enough time to see the beach and make it to our ferry at 5pm. So we happily walked for about 40 minutes downhill to the beach (second mistake).
We finally saw a sign that indicated where we were, so I sprinted over to it. The sign read, “Rangitoto Wharf: 2 hrs. 30 mins.” umm. you can imagine the shock that I felt when I read the sign. You should know that this island is completely uninhabited by people. There are birds, some rodents, and lots of bugs. There is also a bathroom at the wharf and one pavilion where tour guides provide more information about the volcano while the island is inhabited by people (from 10am-5pm on Sundays). Oh my goodness! I was trying not to freak out, but inside I knew I would be either swimming home or spending the night with the kiwi birds under the open sky. I prayed outloud the following prayer, “Dear Lord, please help us get off this island. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
After some running back up the trail we just walked down, we stopped and called Amanda’s homestay. She called the ferry, who said the only way we could leave is by water taxi and theyre hard to come by. So thankfully, Amanda’s homestay mom figured it all out and had a water taxi coming at 5:20…….. hang on a sec. this meant that we had to complete a 2.5 hour trip in 1 hour. We started sprinting uphill for the next 45 minutes. I had the worst cotton mouth and I was pouring sweat. I have never felt a burn like that in my calves, its shocking my muscles even worked because I hadn’t eaten much all day and had been hiking for hours!
Determined, we started to run downhill towards the wharf, when we ran into a white-haired man and two asian girls.. strange group. Clearly, we were the last 5 people on the island, so I asked if he had missed the ferry too as I zoomed past. He explained that he and his Japanese exchange students came there by boat. He immediately offered to take us home after he found out that we were running late for our expensive water taxi. But, I am not usually keen on accepting (boat) rides from strangers. So Amanda and I slowed the pace and started chatting with him to scope out the situation. He casually asked Amanda why she was wearing a cross necklace.
BADA-BING. Only a Jesus-loving, evangelistic minded man would spark conversation by asking about a cross. After that, the conversation moved quickly and he shared that he also lived in ARLINGTON AND MANASSAS while working for YWAM?!?!?!?! YWAM is sort of connected with Campus Crusade for Christ, which is an organization I love. So I immediately was fascinated! He shared his entire life story. It sounded a little like this:
When I was a kid, I didn’t have a home, so when my wife and I started our family, we built a big beautiful dream house here in New Zealand. Despite the fact that I had everything I ever wanted, I felt that God told me to sell it all and be a missionary. So I let the Lord be my material possessions. Next, I felt God leading me away from my church. So I let the Lord be my spiritual direction. We moved to Hawaii with YWAM and also to the Philippines shortly after. In the Philippines, we focused on rescuing women from the dangerous red light district. After that, we moved to Arlington, VA then Manassas, VA to help with more missions work until I came back to New Zealand and went into seminary. I love preaching and I love missions. Now, I travel around the world with a Christian performing arts high school, and I preach to the audience after they perform. I have ten grandchildren, and I am hosting Japanese foreign exchange students.
We cancelled our water ferry and forgot our fears because it was so evident that God took care of us on Rangitoto Island. Not only, did He literally answer my prayer, but He encouraged us and loved us through Barry, the man we met on the mountain! We leisurely walked to the bottom of the mountain and got into his boat with the two other Japanese students. He took us to a marina where we were eventually picked up by Amanda’s homestay, and he even offered us homemade cookies and my favorite NZ chocolate candy!
What a beautiful day of God’s care for Amanda and I! I feel blessed… even though I was almost stranded on a deserted island! As I am sitting here typing this, exhausted from 5 hours of hiking/running, I am wondering how many times God cares for me so wonderfully and I don’t recognize it?
The Lord if good. A stronghold in a day of distress. He cares for those who take refuge in Him.