Exploring the Green Pasture
By: Jay Mijares
Before coming here, I had this picture in mind that New Zealand is a green pasture for me to explore. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to buy an “everybody’s milk” brand imported from this land. I was even warned by friends and relatives that there are more cows and sheep here than people, as I processed my student visa.
Finally, I was airport-bound for the long journey ahead. Then as the plane prepared to land at Invercargill airport, I peeped through the window and took some shots with my mobile phone. Lo and behold, it really is a green pasture. However, it is not because of the hundreds of farms that I’ve seen from above but because I saw a booming city that seems to prepared to expand exponentially from that bird’s eye view before the eagle has finally landed on the runway of Otatara.
I was suddenly filled with hope that someday, I will be able to graduate, make a living amongst the most welcoming people in Southland and bring my family to live better life in this blessed place. On the other hand, this is just a dream for now that I’d prefer not to wake up from.
Yet, every small step that I make everyday, meeting new people and slowly expanding my horizon – exploring the school, the community, the culture, and the people, I believe I am making progress towards my dream. And I owe it to the active multicultural organizations like Southland Multicultural Council (SMC) operating in the city. Events being organized by SMC made me feel at home in the midst of diversity. So I was drawn to volunteer part of my spare time in order to help advance the cause of the council in drawing people together and learning from each other’s culture.
Furthermore, coming from a tropical country, it is a big thing for me to adjust to the chilly weather. But, while the winter wind starts to make my bone shiver in the middle of the night, the warm and welcoming hearts of those I meet melts cold away during the day. So while I am the only Filipino in my batch of Applied Management students at the Southern Institute of Technology, good people who make me feel at home away from home abound. Even someone in the streets readily greet me as I walk to and fro within the community. Thus, I am able to conquer homesickness.
As the place holds the promise of transforming into a bustling city, the caring individuals that prefer to thrive and live in peace together despite differing ethnicities really make it special. And with great zeal in this new land, I am preparing to make my green pasture a reality. I know difficulties may I arise but I just try to lean on the promises of the One Good Shepherd, as King David of old writes;
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Bible-MEV).”