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We have just returned from a great time away in Tasmania. I had never been there before, so enjoyed exploring the quaint, little towns between Launceston and Hobart, sampling the delightful fare offered at chocolate and cheese factories near Devonport and apple orchards in the Huon Valley, strolling around the Salamanca Markets, and seeing the amazing views of the Derwent valley and beyond from the top of Mount Wellington. But most of all, we were blessed by the friendliness and warm hospitality of the Tassie people themselves.

We had no sooner disembarked from the Spirit of Tasmania than we were whisked away for a delicious breakfast with friends in their unique home outside Devonport, surrounded by natural bushland. A time at Worldview College followed, where we were again warmly welcomed. We then headed to old friends and their lovely, little cottage at Beauty Point beside the Tamar River. In Hobart, we stayed in a comfortable home near the city, courtesy of another friend. One evening, a couple we had never met graciously invited me to share about my writing journey at their ‘Connect group’. Then at the end of our time away we were warmly welcomed at our billet in Devonport, before returning to our friends at Beauty Point. Surely all this demonstrates not only true Tassie friendliness but also care to heed Peter’s command to ‘offer hospitality to one another without grumbling’ (1 Peter 4:9).

But what touched us even further was the kindness shown on the two occasions when something happened to our car. One rainy afternoon, our oil gauge went crazy, shooting way over into the red. We put our emergency lights on and contacted the RACT for help. As we waited, an old, battered van pulled up and a man wearing a crumpled, checked ‘flanny’ walked towards us. I was suspicious – he had long, grey hair roughly pulled back in a ponytail and looked quite dishevelled.

‘You okay, mate?’ he drawled.

We explained we had contacted the RACT, after which he simply gave us a wave and ambled back to his van in the rain. I was duly chastised. Yet again, I had judged someone by his appearance and doubted his motives. Other cars had passed us, but the most unlikely person came to our aid.

A few days later, we had a flat tyre. As we struggled to get the wheel back on, an older gentleman stopped. He couldn’t help much, but we appreciated his kind heart. Then just as we were almost done, a young man pulled over. And again, I was chastised. I had not expected such a young man to bother stopping – or the older man either, with his limited ability to help. This whole experience reminded me forcibly of Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Those I would have thought most likely to stop didn’t, while others I didn’t expect to did.

So … which category am I in? I’m sure I often convey to my friends that I don’t relish being disturbed and taken away from my writing. Am I perhaps among those who are quite able to offer help or hospitality but choose not to?  ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ Jesus asks at the end of his parable. The expert in the law replies: ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus then says simply: ‘Go and do likewise.

I am challenged, both by Jesus’ words and the kindness and mercy shown to us. How about you?

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