I remember one Christmas in the 80’s sitting with my brother and sisters, on our Otara home driveway. It was almost customary that on Christmas morning each year, in this small dead-end street, all the kids would come out on the road and play with their newly-opened Christmas presents. It was fun. It was a chance for kids to boast about what they got from under the tree that year and, naturally, an opportunity to compare whose toys were most expensive! Nairn Place, Otara, was a multicultural street. We had Maori, Cook Island and European families as neighbours. It was good when I think about now. We were the only Samoan family there.
Anyway, that Christmas in the 80’s, the Maori kid next door to us, Brian, came out on the road on his brand new BMX bike. It was mean as! He looked at us as we discreetly tucked our little toys behind our backs. With a real cheeky tone he asked, “What did you fullas get this year?” as he whizzed past us – not even waiting for our reply. The nerve. Next door to Brian’s house, Craig, and his European nieces and nephews also rode down their driveway with their new bikes. Was there a massive bike sale our Dad had missed? Next to Craig’s, the Grace family, we already knew had bikes. We had seen Michael and Elton riding around the street before. It became clear that we were the only family in the street that didn’t have bikes. That morning, my siblings and I sat on the driveway watching our neighbours riding their bikes. We knew exactly what we were going to ask for next Christmas!
We were sure to mention “bikes” throughout that following year. Dad got the hint. As Christmas drew near that year, Dad didn’t disappoint us. It was Saturday morning and we were helping Dad put out the heavy rubbish for collection. Once we were done, Dad said, “Let’s go and get your bikes.” We were so excited! We all jumped in the car and off we went. I remember looking back as we exited Nairn Place and saying in my head, “Wait until we get back neighbours. Then, we can ride altogether.” I was so happy. My brother and sisters’ faces were too.
We drove for ages and we all knew that the further we went the bigger the shopping centre. And the bigger the shopping centre the flasher the bikes! In fact, the drive was so long that we kind of fell asleep. We turned down a street and finally the car stopped. Dad’s voice woke us up. “Okay, go and choose a bike.” Slowly waking up I remember coming to my senses and remembering why I was in the car. We were here! Yippee! “Okay, Dad, I’ll choose a bike.” As the car door opened I noticed that we were not at a shopping centre. There was no big bike store. It looked like an ordinary house. Well, a flash as house. A flash as house in Howick. In front of the house was a pile of neatly stacked rubbish. My face changed. So did my brother’s and sister’s. “Come on. Choose a bike,” Dad repeated. In the pile of rubbish were two bike frames. One was bright green with no wheels. The other was a maroon-coloured bike with rims but no tyres. “These aren’t new bikes, Dad!” said my inner tantrum. Dad assured us he would fix them. These were bikes to my Dad. We ended up taking both back home. It was a quiet ride home.
Our father fixed the bright green bike. It wasn’t brand new – but it was ride-able - even though the front wheel was much smaller than the larger rear wheel. I let my sister have that one… It always looked like she would fall forward every time. I kept the maroon-coloured bike as it looked more complete than the green one. My father oiled up the rusted chain but we never did find tyres for the rims. When we heard our neighbours on the street with their bikes, we would roll down our driveway with our bikes and join them. I had the loudest bike on the street – no tyres – sounding like a derailed train was coming down the road. And even though, my neighbours teased me – I enjoyed it. I loved my bike. My sister loved her bike too. For us, our Dad knew what we wanted – even though we couldn’t understand that he couldn’t afford it at the time – he made it happen. He got us our bikes. That’s our Dad.
Jesus, born in a manger, did not make him less a king (Luke 2:2). That Jesus spent much of his time with the poor and oppressed did not lessen his identity as royalty. Yes, in the sight of many, he wasn’t a king. He didn’t possess the traits of a “normal” king. Riding around on a donkey? Refusing to overthrow the Roman authorities? Humbly and obediently walking to the cross without resistance? What kind of king was this? Nevertheless, he was a king – a humble one at that. Like the old bikes our Dad got us that Christmas, to others, these were not bikes. These were parts of bikes. But for a young kid, who had never owned a bike before – it was a bike – a humble one at that.
Not having a bike before made me appreciate the bike that I had. I have not had a king before Jesus came. I appreciate this king who laid down his life for me (John 3:16). My friends in Christ, Jesus taught that we should not worry about what we don’t have (Matthew 6:31). “Your Father in heaven knows the things you need…” And such things, GOD will provide. It may not look like what we expected – but God knows we need it. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (v. 31), and everything that you require will be provided for you.
Be thankful for what you have. Humility is a tasty fruit.
Dedicated to my Dad, Seuala Soa’a Mauga, who was a great picture of humility.
Rev Gary Mauga
5/7/2015 06:17:01 am
Love this Rev. It's what has made us the people we are now..humbled and thankful each day. Our dad's working 2 jobs to make sure we were well looked after. The cars we had back in those days. Pulling out the insides and putting in benches so we could all fit. Oka! Our resourceful were our parents. And though we were teased about our "Otara" style cars and clothes, we always made it to church together and we're never cold!! I will forever be thankful that our parents never have up and always saw the best in things. No matter how weird or off we kids thought it was, they saw the usefulness in things. Totally walking down memory lane right now Rev and reliving those days.
5/7/2015 06:27:20 am
Absolutely cuz. We are all the more richer for growing up this way. I'm happy to have grown up with you and the Dismeyer Crew. Those sleepovers at Nairn Place :)
5/7/2015 09:50:55 am
This was an awesome read Gary xx upon reflection here in Manila while being alone every night it really makes you think about where you came from and how you got here. We all have our stories as kids and I am truly greatful. Starting to work to help my parents at 15 wasn't easy but with God's grace I'm greatful to be so blessed. I am so greatful that I grew up and witnessed what hard work really meant through the work of our parents because without it I would not be so determined. Love your work Gary. With God on our side anything is possible... Miss you guys loads xo
5/7/2015 01:26:44 pm
Hi dear sis! I hope that everything is going well for you in the Philippines. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your own story. You have done so well for yourself and the determination that your parents instilled in you is a gift that Suli and I, as I'm sure many others, have had the privilege of enjoying. GOD really does love us graciously. And I look forward to hearing more about what GOD is doing in your life many miles away. Christ between us Ueta. Love to you.
5/7/2015 09:56:50 am
Awesome read there Gary, something that every Polynesians go through, funny that, cause this morning till now I have been thinking about how my Dad use to make me and my siblings share our stuff with others, and when we were little we hated sharing, we never understood why my dad was always saying share everything you have, even your clothes with others. Why'll at afternoon service today, something reminded me of this one night, when my dad was asking his kids for money on Sunday night, as he had no money for petrol and lunch till Thursday, of course I gave him money that night. A family member came over the same night, they were unfortunate family members of ours. By the time they left, my dad gave the kids the money I gave my dad. As they left, I totally went off at him for giving the money to them. His reply in a clam soft voice as usual with a smile: It's okay, I would rather starve and let them eat something for lunch for once. You need to understand when you give, triple will come to you without even asking for it. God has a plan. 'God has plan' is something he says all the time, it gets annoying at time, but it's true. Now growing up, all I want to do is give even if it's my last cent. Parents are always good teachers too. Hope all is well and God bless :)
5/7/2015 01:35:25 pm
Hi sis. That is a great story too. That sounds so much like the man I know as your Dad. I meet Jesus every time I talk to your Dad. That selfless and calm manner he has is a delight to witness. And yes, many a time I too, have questioned some of my parents' decisions ("why do you give so much to the church?"), things I wouldn't understand as a young teenager with a closed heart and mind. Now that I'm more mature (I hope) I can see that service takes all shape and form. I know now. Praise GOD that He blessed us with parents who by persistence became great examples of how to live. TGBTG! Love to Dad and the family. And GOD is blessing YOU.
10/7/2015 02:53:38 am
Tears Bro😢.Awesome Reading.God Blezz
11/7/2015 10:13:33 am
Thanks sis. I hope this story helps to paint a picture of the man who made your husband who he is today. I pray that these lessons in action will be instilled in your beautiful sons as they grow up. You guys are a blessing. Love you Junior, Saga, Roman and Gary Jr.
10/7/2015 05:03:56 pm
The 80s were my favourite memory.
11/7/2015 10:18:35 am
Very nice read bro. I'm so grateful to God for the ability to remember certain moments in my life growing up. It is a blessing reaching back into our memories and seeing each other and being reminded of how much we were loved and how much we loved each other. Thanks for your insight. I see a lot of Dad in you. Keep laughing all the days of your life. Love you Ite, Temu, Katie, Sammy, Victoria and Vincent.
21/8/2015 10:03:10 am
You know it's a great read when you allow yourself some time to
21/8/2015 10:08:31 am
Oh dear i didnt get to finish but had to comment to compliment your story telling and the message that not only communicates the memories but the deeper meanings behind it
29/8/2015 10:16:14 am
Thank you cuz for your kind words. Yes, all of our parents have worked so hard for us. Thank you for taking the time to read this. GOD inspired and drove our parents to live a life where "actions" were louder than "words" and they demonstrated it through their work ethic and their selfless love for us - a love that we can only recognise and begin to describe at a later time in our lives. We may not have seen it then - but we felt it then - and see it and long for it now especially from those who have left us. The neat thing about it all is that WE can reflect on such things and hope to teach something to someone, anyone, even if only one.
Leave a Reply.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Thoughts and comments by our minister, Gary.
This page content © 2016
Rev. Gary Mauga