On the wings of spirit: a Southern odyssey
Here are some glimpses of activities and local communities through the eyes of two Swedish Bahá'ís travelling in the South Island.
We arrived in Christchurch on 15 October where Derek kindly met us and showed us around, and in Nelson on the next day where Ellen and Sheldon lovingly received us at the airport and invited us for dinner and for breakfast at a popular cafe in town on the following day. So many good cafes in this country! We stayed at a cozy little hostel, Almond House for 23 days. During that time we also visited some of the friends in Takaka, Hennie and her family and also Ian who was so kind and lent his car to us. We had a lovely time there and luckily warm and sunny weather, and we went together for a picnic to the Golden Bay! This region is so very beautiful.
Our time in Nelson was also very wonderful. At Almond House we got many friends among the young people working there and many opportunities to teach the Faith to travellers from far and near. Some people stayed longer, some for just one night. We will be back at this nice hostel for two more nights in the beginning of December hoping to meet the friends again. Nelson became like a home for us! We had the luck to take part in an interesting interfaith meeting, in two Nineteen Day Feasts, a devotional and some other activities. Maria was happy to be with Dayanira at her school with the young students from Colombia. Thanks to Ian’s car we could easily visit the friends in Motueka and Richmond. We also made a trip to Abel Tasman National Park with our young friends at the hostel and made a long, beautiful walk there on a sunny day. Next day we went to Christchurch by two shaky and wobbling flights via Wellington! We were received by Rex and Marlene in Diamond Harbour, took part in the celebration of the Birth of the Báb at the Bahá'í Centre, an amazing and happy gathering with so many friends. As we come from an isolated area in Sweden it’s such a great experience to see so many Bahá'ís. What a joyful, colourful event and so well planned!
On the next day we travelled to the West Coast. We met Ramu, pioneer from Wellington in Hokitika, and a bit later went to Greymouth to stay at Noah´s Arc, a very good hostel. We met many people who got to know about the Bahá’í Faith. The owner knew about Bahá’í and also regarded himself as a world citizen. We had really nice chats with him. We spent two nights in Greymouth, where we also met Graham and his wife EJ. Graham has made beautiful wood engravings with the Greatest Name and we will bring one with us to Sweden. These valuable woodblocks can be ordered from Graham and money gifts can be sent to the fund. We went one day to Westport together with Graham and Ramu and all four of us stayed one night with Libby and Brian in their beautiful house and had a wonderful evening together, sharing our experiences as Bahá'ís. Ramu (who prepared very tasty food for us) informed us about the vision and plans for uniting the friends on the West Coast in a great endeavour to spread the Faith and establish stronger communities. After a devotional we left Greymouth in the afternoon on the next day. We spent two nights at Rae’s lovely place near Kumara Junction and had a very nice time together with her, her husband and Ramu. Next stop on this long journey was Fox Glacier where we stayed at a hostel. We had been invited to a meeting in Queenstown and were twelve people from eight nations coming together in a devotional and talking about Joy and Happiness. Such a wonderful atmosphere and lovely food, yes, a very special evening never to be forgotten! We spent the night in Clyde and went on to Milton, to the Montgomery family. The heavy rain gave us some peaceful and cosy days inside, spent near the fireside. We had a devotional on our last day there and I was surprised to hear Zamira read a prayer in Maori. So beautiful!
We went northward after four nights in Milton, visiting again the friends in Diamond Harbour, then Paul and Kaye in Amberley and right now we are in Kaikoura, where the rain is pouring down, with Badi and Katherine and their children. Next stop is Blenheim and then Nelson again, and Takaka.
Most of December we will stay in Blenheim, hoping to see the friends there, and in Picton. The Bahá'í Summer School will be exciting. We will hopefully meet some old and many new friends!
We have learnt a lot and will bring much inspiration back to Sweden. The community here in the South Island is so full of ardent believers who are indeed creative, courageous, loving and eager to give the greatest message to their fellow-men. We have met incredible hospitality and generosity wherever we went and are looking forward to spend some more time in this amazing Bahá'í community!
With love and thankfulness!
Ante and Maria Blomqvist