Yesterday on my way to the bank, I chanced upon a church as I followed the path Google Maps was leading me on – Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
It so happened that this particular church was the one I had been planning to visit this weekend for mass!
That night, as I went online to check out their website, I also found out that this church was the gathering place for the Auckland Chinese Catholic Community!
It so happened that that very morning, a friend on instagram had just asked me if there were any catholic groups in Auckland that I could join to make friends so I wouldn’t be so lonely here.
These days I don’t believe in coincidences, chance or luck anymore. Everything happens for a reason and I feel like it has all been pre-planned out by the Lord.
So I now view these events as signs or messages from God!
The 1st sign was finding this church (by chance) on my 40 min walk to the bank. What are the odds that the particular route that I chose on Google Maps (there were 3) would take me past this church.
The 2nd was the church being the gathering place of the Chinese catholic community in Auckland. This meant that I could keep in touch with my chinese heritage and hopefully, make some lifelong friends! Also, for the longest time I have been wanting to improve on my chinese language!
I guess the 3rd sign is that this catholic church is one of the closest to where I am staying – about a 20 mins walk.
Oh and the 4th sign would be the name of the Church – Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This is the same icon I use to pray in front of everyday (and the only one I brought with me to New Zealand!).
So I guess God is telling me to attend mass at this parish? 🤔🙂
From the photos I took of the mass times outside the church, I realized that there was only one Saturday mass at 5pm and it was a Mandarin mass! Another sign that I have to improve my mandarin so that was the mass I went for today.
As I walked into the main church hall, I was greeted (in chinese of course) by this big guy with the widest of smiles!
Is this your first time here?
Where are you from?”
From there, he spoke almost incessantly about how great it is for newcomers to join them, about their chinese catholic community and about how their church would like to give all newcomers a welcome gift and so I should go up to the front after mass when they announced.
When he found out I was from Singapore, he became even more overjoyed (I did not think that was possible at the time 😂). It turns out he is a Malaysian and the sweet old lady beside me was Indonesian so we kind of connected in the sense that we are all from South East Asia.
As I knelt down to pray and prepare for mass, I heard all kinds of chinese accents, probably from different parts of China.
The church hall was abuzz with conversations. Indeed, it felt like I was in a meeting place for the chinese. Never have I been at a mass where everyone was talking to each other, shaking hands and exchanging greetings so fervently before mass.
However, I was not used to the amount of noise and conversations in the hall. It did not make it difficult for to me pray but I just felt it was not very respectful and that they should talk outside. I still prefer the silence before mass where one could pray and listen to what God is trying to tell us.
After mass as I said my final prayers, the same Indonesian old lady personally sort me out, sat down beside me and gave me a form to fill with my contact information. Again, this has never happened in any new parish I’ve been to in the past! No one has ever asked for my contact information on the first mass to keep in touch with!
Soon, we were joined by Mr.Cheng (the first one to greet me) and another sweet middle-aged lady. They were all so nice and told me more about their community, asked me where I lived, how I got there, what I was doing here, if I had family here, etc etc.
(in chinese) “When you’re free, do come by again!”
I told them, after today, I should be coming back every week but my school was moving to another location further up north in 6 months. The other lady then said that many of them drive down from North Shore too and would gladly offer me a ride.
Later I found out that Mr.Cheng and his family were like the caretakers of this church. They had the keys to everything and so were the ones to lock up the hall. I met his wife, son and daughter and am now even in their 122 member strong WeChat group! Haha.
I feel so blest! 🙌
These days, I can’t stop thanking the Lord for the countless blessings I have received and continue to receive each day. 🙏
Hallelujah! I wish I could be like an angel and shout and sing his praises all day! 😂
I guess the best way is to do so is as some priests always say in their final blessings after mass, “Go in peace and glorify him with your lives.”