Monday, December 8, 2014

Nappy Valley - Community within a community

Today was my first day of  experiencing what it's like to lose a family from the Nappy Valley community. If you don't know what Nappy Valley is, I'll digress from my previous statement to explain real quick what is is. It's a residential area for married students, or students with families attending Avondale college. It's nothing flash, a small village-like block of 2 bedroom units nestled on the outskirts of the college, and just across the road from the Cooranbong shops. The houses may have been built around the late 70's or early 80's with paper thin walls and a somewhat foamy-feel floorboard. But if you just looked at the physical location and build of the units you miss the magic of this place.

From the moment we moved in to Nappy Valley (the official name is College View residences). It was evident that the majority of families were here to help each other out. A friend helped me move my gear in, (Junior who lives off campus) and my then neighbour (Peau and Tupu) had prepared a meal for us after sweating out the move. Then I returned to Brisbane to finish up work, my wife and kids were at the mercy of the other villagers, who transported her to the shops when needed among other errands.

When I finally arrived 6 weeks later, I instantly felt the sense of community when I saw the kids playing outside with each other. Kids would come in our house, and my kids would go in the other houses. Nights where we would just chat and have feeds together. It taught me that this culture of hospitality and fellowship isn't a Samoan thing (because it's in the Samoan setting I usually experience this), it's meant to be a christian thing.

Many times when one or two families are in need, others will assist even though we don't have much to offer. And it's not always the same family, eventually the time will come when it's my own, and sure enough, we get help on the wings of impeccable timing. Any bible student would understand that this resonates with the church found in the book of Acts. And this has happened many times over in this village.

But sadly, all of us residing here have a reason and a purpose. To finish our collective courses and contribute to the corners of the world that awaits us. The first year for my family and me is complete, and with this, we have families that are leaving us. Two families that have been a huge influence on me are Pats and Maika's.

Pat who will always be the most resourceful Samoan I've ever met, who exercises hospitality like nobody's business, and is a testament to the tenacity of God's calling since he came with limited English vocab and is now currently a few units short of graduating with a Bachelors Degree. And Maika, who's brain works at a capacity that sometimes I question whether he's autistic but reads the emotional climate like a barometer and has a heart of gold. I'm going to miss these brothers. But I know our departure from this place is inevitable.

Nappy Valley seems to have served as a the practical teaching to the theory of what I was learning about the church of Acts and the early church. It makes me realise that when it's time for my family to make moves......we're going to miss this too one day.

It's a darn shame that it's taken me to live in a place like this for just over a year to realise how much we miss out on in general suburbia. I remember feeling this when I was in Samoa, but hadn't felt it in NZ or Australian suburban life, However, I do know it use to be this way once upon a time.

Maybe, just maybe if Christians did live out what we're suppose to, we could counter the private, keep-to-myself, look out for number one culture that's been imposed on us and bring back the old school. The school of hard knocks but tight-as relationships.

God bless you brothers, and your families. You will be sorely missed from Nappy Valley, but we know that you'll be blessed at whatever God does when he takes you from the Valley and climbs with you to Mountain heights unimaginable.


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