Columnist Kevin Robertson, or 'Kev the Rev' as some people call him, is a gumboot-wearing-chainsaw-wielding-farm-hack and pastor-of-people at Te Awamutu Baptist Church in the beautiful Waikato region. Salt of the earth: it's what Jesus says we are. Paul the Apostle encourages us to season our conversations with salt. This column is about that: telling stories of salty people, inspiring us to imagine something we haven't thought of before, or helping us taste something differently. Porridge is better with salt!

It’s the ordinary, extraordinary people that need to be celebrated. Like Huhana. What a woman! Every time we get together she comes with an agenda – something she wants to ask me about… but to get there we kōrero about life. Like I don’t mean small talk about the weather and politics, I mean kōrero about life – like for an hour and a half and then she says, “Hey I was going to ask your opinion about this idea I have”… and in return I say “is this the reason why you wanted to meet up”. “Yes”. Brilliant, and the conversation continues. So we yak through a couple of hours and the multiple coffees are always great.

Hu runs a life group in her church. Its theme is ‘Living Simply’. She draws from the early days of her life when she had to live simply just to live. Hu has a passion to further enhance others appreciation of this lost art in a society that revels in ‘more’ and ‘self-entitlement’. When I listen, I mean take time and listen to her, I hear the echo of Paul when he writes “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” And this contentment is evidenced in her countenance. Although she has lived a life, she looks as if she is one who has had it easy – this is the work of Holy Spirit!

Hu’s troubles started early in a somewhat difficult home. Not an ideal upbringing and, as a result of these hardships, she ended up in a marriage that was – let’s say, less than what it should have been. But Hu already had learned the art of making the best of a tricky situation. Her saving grace was her early introduction to Jesus and a lifetime commitment to him as a follower. Working on farms, which is demanding in itself, she was also raising a young family with little support. Eventually things hit rock bottom in the doomed relationship and Hu found herself as a solo mum with three little “tag on’s”. Working and raising a young family was fertile ground for Hu to learn the gift of simplicity and contentment.

Never a shrinking violet, she made the most of every opportunity – raising her kids – working – and talking to the Christian boys in the flat next door! There were three of these blokes, not that she was interested coz they were all too young and immature. And anyway, she was older and had her three blessings, so she knew she was safe… till one of them started to talk to her a little bit more than the rest of the blokes. So an encounter with the Holy Spirt was catching up with her, which took her blindside! She had met this bloke’s mother… and one day when they were yakking over the fence, Holy Spirit whispered to Hu “your welcome, this is your mother [in-law]”. Gulp! What the heck? Inevitably this led to a hesitant kōrero with the ‘boy’. Yes, there was interest from both towards the other, and as they say, the rest is history! History which started when they got married 13 weeks later. Apparently they decided that they wanted to marry, so why wait. The boy became a man, not only because he got married, but because he also inherited a family of three kids, which he accepted as his own to the best of his ability. And the rest is history. What a family, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting with one of these beautiful kids who’s all grown up now.

But wait there’s more. As the new bride and groom journeyed in life together, Hu got to know her ‘mother’ in-law. Mum [in-law] eventually plucked up the courage to tell Hu that ages back before Hu and hubby got hitched, that the two of them were having a yak over the back fence and God spoke to her. As ‘mother’ was talking to the then solo mum she heard God say “look, this is your daughter”. It came out of the blue as she hadn’t realised that her son was ‘interested’ in the girl next door. The rest is history.

It’s not just Hu’s determination, strength and gentleness that impresses me. Nor is it the romance of the story, but it’s the reminder that God is so intimately woven into our stories as the God that speaks and the One who is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. It makes me think: when was the last time I heard His whisper? When was the last time I was at rest and knew contentment?

Photo: header image: Kevin's legs with his gumboots and chainsaw.

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