Carols at Surfers Paradise

During a recent holiday in the Gold Coast of Australia, my parents and I went to 'Carols' at Surfer's Paradise. For those of you who live in New Zealand this is very similar to 'Christmas in the Park.'

Having a dad in a wheelchair has its dilemmas but at times it does have its perks. The perk at 'Carols' was a designated wheelchair viewing platform, with a great view of the stage, for those with disabilities and their families.

When we arrived, there was one plastic chair left for family members so Mum and I decided that we would share this throughout the night. We enjoyed the build up whilst munching on our less than amazing, soggy chips from 'Lord of the Fries' and anticipated a fun evening of singing carols with our free carol books.

Before the beginning of the show a lady arrived with her father who did not have a wheelchair but was obviously frail. They entered our area and the daughter (we'll call her Sarah) instructed her dad lean against the railing of an area that was free. I knew the dad wouldn't survive the night there and with two far more able bodied people already having a chair I turned to Mum and told her we needed to give our chair to the man. Mum agreed (although mocked me for quite some time after for offering up HER chair). I gave the chair to the family of which they were very grateful and I didn't think much more of it.

 More family members of the father and daughter arrived and they all seemed very close and having a lovely time. I was sitting with Mum just before the carols started when Sarah approached me and asked me to take a photo of her family. As she was about to pass me her phone her sister tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to the sky. Sarah gripped my hand like a vice and with voice shaking said, "Our mother passed away this morning and she loved rainbows." There in the sky was a beautiful, clear rainbow.

My job was no longer just to take a photo. I felt like I was standing on holy ground and I longed to bring some comfort to this grieving family. I embraced Sarah and told her how sorry I was to hear her news. I took the photo and returned to my space next to Mum almost in tears. I explained the story and we both stood there quite overwhelmed.

As the show stared we began our out-of-tune singing-along to the carols (singing isn't a strong point for some of us). Sarah came over again and showed me a picture of her mother sitting up in her hospital bed with a pink santa hat on and a tiara. She looked like a lady who had loved life. Sarah told me about her mother and that her mother had been looking forward to the 'Carols' for weeks and that if she was there that night she would have met everyone in the wheelchair area and would have had them all singing along with her. What a wonderful woman.

There was peace over us as we sung Carols and enjoyed time as a family. We had done something good with the little that we had, that didn't even belong to us, but we were the ones who felt so blessed by it. The feeling was worth far more than the comfort of a plastic chair.

As the carols continued the sun went down, but it was cloudy so no moon was visible.
Near the end of the night we were singing 'Angels We Have Heard on High/In Excelsis Deo'. I thought 'wouldn't it be incredible if angels really did come down right now' and had a wee giggle to myself about what mine and other people's reactions might be to this event. I looked up at the sky to check that this wasn't the case (you can't be too sure of these things) and was in awe to see that the clouds had parted. Not to show the moon but to show the light of the moon which at the time looked like the wings of an angel. I quickly tapped my mum on the shoulder and explained the story to her whilst pointing to the light. Then I went and told Sarah who showed her family the wondrous light being created by the moon and clouds. And just like that it faded away.

Now you might think I'm crazy, and that's completely understandable, but you can't disprove what I (and others) saw.

At the end of the evening Sarah and her family thanked us for the chair, we swapped email addresses and I was told if I was ever in the UK I was to come and visit her and stay at her house. I told her that I would be praying for her and her family over the next few days.

That evening Mum, Dad and I decided to walk the almost 5 km home to Broadbeach. Our hearts felt like they were on fire.

There is a verse in the Bible in Hebrews 13:2 that says: Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realising it!


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