Born and raised with mother, father, and two sisters at home, but a big family of nine children had its challenges.
During primary years, we used to have Bible studies at school once a week, and being a part of that made me feel good as I always felt isolated from everyone else and different.
Most of the time, I didn't feel like I fit in. There were a lot of members of my mother's family that attended different churches, and later on, my siblings would join and participate in the activities.
My parents didn't go to church, but they were raised in New Zealand and Maori culture. Their beliefs weren't always as a church would have sacrament say.
Maori faith is the community or villages coming together for the spiritual needs of those going through something we can't explain or a death in the family and giving blessings, etc. Those traditions could be hard to follow, so my mother never pushed it on me.
However, as a teenager, I started looking into the churches that were around, and the one family would attend found not one of them was for me. I later found my now husband, whose father was a Christian and had been for many years.
My husband and I thought we'd give this church a try as we had a small family at the time, and later decided it wasn't for me. Somehow, I always felt that something was pulling me towards the light, and I just couldn't find the one place to settle where my heart felt content.
As life went on, our relationship was going like a roller coaster and crashing, but I always felt there was something missing. Because things were just too violent and destructive in our relationship, I decided after six children later, that I needed to stop the violence, the drugs, and think about my children.
Moving to Australia was a new beginning and a fresh start, so I left my husband and children to move here, find work, get settled, then get my children and husband if he wanted.
Sometimes things just don't go to plan. My husband's mother had got me a ticket to Melbourne to stay with her because he was sending my children to me.
Everything started out great, eventually, true colors revealed themselves, and his mother turned out to be not so nice, a narcissist, abusive with my children, as well as controlling, etc. I decided to go to my sister, who I knew would help me get set up for my girls.
After a while, I settled with my sister, we had an argument. For all the time that had passed between my sister and me, she was still self-centered, jealous, and insecure.
I decided this one particular Sunday, that my girls and I would go to church, which happened to be on Easter, a day of remembrance of the Atonement of thy Savior Jesus Christ, who took on the sins and burdens of mankind and endured through this sacrifice the things mankind would never be able to overcome, but sin has given this blessing for mankind to repent and come unto him, and believe in him shall have everlasting peace and eternal life. This was pretty much where my light bulb came on.
My husband eventually moved to be with us, and with that came instability, insecurity, violence, etc. Everything just wasn't what I wanted in our life or around us again.
We stayed in Victoria for five years and eventually moved to Perth, Western Australia, to live with family and get settled here. We found ourselves homeless with four children all under 15 with only a car. My husband was on rotating shifts, so one week day, the other night.
During the day, we would drop him off, go to a park, heat up our pot of water for breakfast, get the car organized, and the kids and start looking for houses on the internet and homeless services to help with items we needed so we could save money for bond and rent and just move into a house.
After going to an inspection one Sunday, we drove around to find somewhere to have lunch then head off to find somewhere to cook dinner. There were almost of places we went to, and a lot of them were just good for the kids where they could take their mind off being in the car and have some fun with the birds or ducks, or play with a ball.
This particular day was the day our cheap registered car would pack up on us, and the motor actually blew up and fried. Somehow, I believe we were at the right place at that particular time on purpose.
While we thought about what we were going to do, my husband gets out and has another look and can't do anything but just stand there and think about what to do.
As he goes through his motions, I decided to write a prayer, which I had been doing for the time we were in the car, so about a month writing my prayers in a journal.
As I was writing my prayer, a few cars had stopped to try and help but came to the same solution. When I had finished writing, I looked up and saw a white car approach us with two young men in white shirts, and straight away I thought, "What can they possibly do, Lord? They look like they still live at home, and not to sound ungrateful, but all they know is Bible stories, and we need help."
These two young men couldn't help fix the car, like everyone that tried, but offered to tow us home, but we had no home. Anyway, earlier that day, I called the landlord of one house we looked at earlier that day and explained our situation to him and then asked if we would be able to park in his carport and stay in the car until we had all the money to move in.
The first blessing was the landlord agreed, and this would be another blessing to meet this person once and have us stay on the property until we get the money to move in. It was a strange way to be at a property but not inside. I had never heard of it before, but this was us for the time.
The landlord had a visit with church members that afternoon, and this family would offer to take us in. We spent the night in the car, and the next morning, the husband of the family came to see us and offered us a room to share, which we were so grateful for, and our girls could have a proper sleep, meals, and showers.
So many blessings in a small amount of time, unbelievable. We stayed with the family for about a week and a half and were able to move into the house, and we had to sell the car as well.
As time went on over the weeks, the elders came to teach us about Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. They offered us the opportunity to be baptized, but we first had to get married.
All of this happened within a month - we got married and were baptized, except for my baby who was too small to understand the concept of baptism. From that day forward, which was seven years ago, I have felt the Lord's presence and His calling, and have seen many blessings in my life with great results.
I am now in a better headspace and mindset, and my life is positive and full of love. I am grateful for the gospel and Jesus Christ, and for the blessings from our Heavenly Father.
I hope that everyone who reads this may feel the light and love of God and open their hearts to His good works, to change whatever they need to find that happy place within themselves. God bless, and let us give thanks for all that we receive by the grace of God.
The Holy Spirit shall dwell with us always if we follow His words and do our best to please Him. Amen.