December 12, 2016 21 Comments
Just when I thought my trip couldn't get any worse!! I remember sitting outside the Chengdu airport with my head buried in my hands, crying my heart out. There was absolutely nothing I could do at the time but cry. What a nightmare!! How on earth did my life get to this stage? I wondered. I'd never felt so alone and scared in my life! At the time, I just wanted to be saved somehow. Can you imagine? A massive Samoan woman crying outside of an airport in China? People looked at me like I had some sort of disease!
Every time I think of this exact event, I cringe BUT if you keep reading, you'll find a plot twist - truly amazing twist! Don't worry I won't hold you any longer, so here's how it all began...........
October 2015, I fly to Chengdu, China via Guangzhou to meet the manufacturers the sourcing agency had found for me. I had planned out the whole trip over 10 days. Immediately prior to leaving, I hadn’t slept for more than 48 hours as I was working on my website.
After 12 hours of flying, we land in Guangzhou at 5pm local time and my connecting flight was at 6.45pm. I had a bit of time so I sat down and had something to eat, 5.30pm I start my 10-minute stroll to the International Transfer area. As I go up the escalator I notice the super long queue of about 300 people – the thing I found with China and I say this respectfully, is that there is no such thing as a queue if there are no barriers specifically outlining a queue area. So, just imagine 300 people all bunched up, pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line. Crazy right?!! I know!! I had an hour so I figured I’d be fine, plus I wasn't really in the mood to be squashed in this so called line in front of me. 15mins went by, 30 mins, 45 mins, 60 mins now I was panicking and still no where near the front of the line. I was so tempted to push in many times but in the end I decided to wait. I got talking to a middle aged Kiwi man behind me, he assured me the flight would wait for me. I always hear passengers getting paged in the New Zealand airport page so I figured it was probably true. 7pm and I finally reach the desk!!
While waiting in line, I watched a Kiwi lady unsuccessfully push in to the line, she was on the same flight as me from Auckland. She somehow ended up behind me when we got to the front of the line. I started a conversation with her and found out she was from Hamilton and we were on the same flight to Chengdu. I let her in front of me and after clearing customs she saved a seat for me on the extra large golf cart looking cars that transport passengers to the other side of the airport. We never really exchanged names, maybe we did but I couldn’t remember hers but I saw on her boarding pass her name started with an S, so for the purpose of this story I’ll call her Sophie. I jumped on the cart, there were no seat belts yet the driver was racing through the terminal like no one’s business. We finally got to the gate only to find that the plane had already taken off - My heart sank, I started secretly panicking in my head.
Sophie started tearing up a little, my eyes were getting watery, I wanted to cry so bad but goodness we can’t have both of us crying! I just wiped my watery eyes and took a deep breath. I went to the bathroom, washed my face, looked in the mirror and told myself – You got this Gus!! All of a sudden, I had a huge boost of energy and confidence in me. I knew my next step was to speak with someone who had magical powers and could push the right buttons to achieve my goal. Once I’m determined – nothing can ever stop me!
After being passed around from desk to desk seeing about 5 different people, we finally headed out of airside to speak to the General Manager. I explained our situation in the simplest, broken English possible. The manager kept looking at her colleagues speaking in their language. By this stage, I was super frustrated, my arms were waving in the air, with my head and index finger swaying from side to side on beat. On top of that, my forehead lines were clearly visible and my broken English was now perfect. This whole scene was enough to persuade the manager that I was dead serious.
Sophie, my new friend who was mostly silent during this whole ordeal, allowed me to do all the (yelling) talking for us. The manager did a bit of typing, looked up and said “we only have one business class seat”. I didn’t even get a chance to breathe and Sophie said “yep I’ll take it” she then looked at me and said “I need that seat because my son is waiting for me”. Absolutely stunned, I didn’t even know what to say, I was so shocked *jaw drop* I couldn’t believe she actually did that! I mean, had I had the chance, I would’ve said no we both need to get on.
Anyway, I thought about elbowing her at the time as my elbows were rested on the high desk which aligned with her face but of course, that wasn’t an appropriate thing to do. I was really stunned, I went silent for a bit and then I said to the manager – “Umm no! I need a seat” The manager looked shocked too, you know that look like “Aren’t you guys together?”. Sophie had never said a word to her up until that moment. The manager told me to come back in 30 minutes. During the 30 minutes, I was praying to God for a ticket, a free ticket – never prayed so much in my life until that moment! After 25 minutes, I went back up and she had issued us both tickets right at the very front of the plane! I felt so relieved. I grabbed my tickets and walked over to the baggage area to collect my bag that was taken off the missed flight. We were checked in and finally ready to leave – I couldn’t believe it. It was the best feeling ever walking into the plane.
Trust me when I say my nightmare gets even better – I had no idea. We arrive to Chengdu about 10.50pm, collect our bags and head out. Sophie needed a phone to contact her son so I asked around. I also helped explain and direct her son to find us. None of my colleagues were present, I missed the original flight so I thought they must’ve came and left. They weren’t picking up the phone either when I called. I start praying quietly in my spirit, asking God to get Sophie to offer for me to come with them to their place and I would find my own way to the factory in the morning. I didn’t want to ask because I thought there was a chance she would say no and I’d be embarrassed. There was no offer at all, her son turned up took his mum and offered to drop me off to the hotel next to the highway – “hell naw” I thought, so I thanked them and turned down their offer.
I watched them walk out, smiling but holding back my tears. I felt so lost and alone, I didn’t know what to do. For the first time I was actually scared. It was midnight, everything is closed, WIFI is only for locals, no one speaks English, I only have NZD on me and it’s absolutely worthless in China!
I went outside sat down and just started crying. I started wishing I had just stayed home, wishing I had pushed through the line, wishing I didn’t listen to that guy, wishing I didn’t help Sophie. I sat there watching the clock tick, it was past 12.40am and the best plan I could come up with at the time, was to sleep at the terminal until the morning then walk 30-minutes to the international terminal. A lot of people walked past and started staring at me crying. I hated looking vulnerable and weak in front of these people.
I started to hear my inner voice talk to me - What on earth are you even doing?! My gosh Gus, get the hell up and do something! Why are you wishing all of that? Why did you come here? Walk around find internet, do something but don’t sit here and cry! Through my tears, I found the courage to stand up, I wiped my tears and pushed my trolley back into the entrance. I asked the security for his seat so I could sit down and think of a plan. My tears were still flowing and at the time I was praying again “Lord please intervene, yes yes I know I’m a little brat most times but can you please punish me another day aye, I desperately need you to intervene like ASAP please”. I tried so hard to stop my tears but I couldn’t.
A non-English speaking lady came over with her hotel sign for the 500th time, I just ignored her and gave her my best "REWA HARD" angry look so she looks away and starts talking to the security guard in their language.
An Asian man walks past, overhears these two backstabbing me in Mandarin and sees me crying. He asks me in the most perfect English “Are you ok? Is there anything I can help you with?”. My heart nearly stopped. I couldn’t believe he spoke English LOL and he looked like he genuinely wanted to help. So I start to summarise my whole life story LOL and he said to me “Well, I’m waiting for my daughter. When she gets here, you can come with us to our hotel if you trust me”.
I knew straight away God had answered my prayers and sent me this guy. Even though I’m very paranoid when overseas, I just felt at peace with this guys offer so I took it up. To be completely honest, I thought to myself if he tries anything I’m sure my massive as South Auckland, Samoan arms would do damage to both him and his daughter – this comforting thought made me go along with them LOL.
His daughter finally arrives about an hour later, we head outside and there’s a Bentley waiting for us. I smiled and thought to myself “Daaammmmnn Daniel”. The driver takes us into town for a little ride, during the ride my new friend explains that he and his wife live in Tibet and their daughter studies English in Shanghai. They had just moved back to China after living in the USA for 6 years. I knew his English came from somewhere LOL I summarized the other part of my life story, told them I was from NZ. He said NZ was on their books for a holiday – so I told them they could stay with me and my family – well that was until I realized we were going to stay in a 5star hotel – I thought yeah I’ll probably get a loan and pay for a hotel room for them haha!
It’s 3.30am, the receptionist gives us a 50% discount since I was only there for a few more hours. The room cost $470USD = 3225CNY. The hotel doesn’t accept any foreign cards or cash. So my new friend offers to pay for the room and the bond of $500USD. I gave him $1000 NZD, he declined it politely saying to give it in the morning. He takes me up to my room on the 27th floor and its HUGEEEEE! I have a super king bed, a whole lounge area, desk area. The floor, bathroom and toilet were tiled with marble! It was absolutely beautiful. My friend walks around the room to make sure everything is ok, gives me his number to call for help if needed and instructs me to use all 3 locks on the door when he leaves and then he leaves. Wow! What a true gentleman! An angel indeed.
I just could not believe what had happened to me in the last 24 hours!! I said a prayer of thanksgiving, had a 45-minute hot shower and went to bed. I finally had internet so I was able to get my life back in order – well that’s what it felt like. The next morning, I checked out and called my friend down to the lobby. I give him the NZD, he politely declines saying he wanted to bless me and if he ever came to NZ I can help him then. I just gave him a big hug and thanked him for caring. My colleague picked me up, I had 3 Mc Chicken combo’s that morning, I was starving. My room came with breakfast but the food was Chinese and I wasn’t quite used to all the brightly coloured food just yet so I chose to starve a couple more hours and opt for McDonalds instead LOL.
While reflecting on my experience, at first I described it as a nightmare because it truly felt like one at the time. However, the more I reflected, the more my experience became a story of inspiration for me, a blessing in disguise. My experience motivated me to keep moving forward, keep setting goals and striving to achieve them – I will achieve them one way or another!
Here are my top 5 lessons from this experience.
My encouragement to you is to never let anything get in the way of achieving your dreams and goals. I’m not quite there yet but I will get there, one day at a time. I’m happy to say that this has never happened again, I’m a more experienced China tourist now haha but I do have many more stories of similar experiences that I'd love to share with you in the future.
Have you had a similar experience? Share your stories in the comment below, I'd love to read them. If you enjoyed reading this blog, share it with someone you care about, someone you know will benefit from reading this! Sharing is caring!
Can't wait to hear about your stories below!
April 17, 2017
Absolutely loved this story! Thank you for inspiring goodness, encouraging that special relationship with God, and exemplifying the very real power of prayer. In times of trial, all too often we question why? Why is this happening to me? We become bitter and blame the world. But it’s important to remember that God will never put us in a situation that we cannot handle and that’s exactly what you understood. He will always be there beside us and will carry us when we need him most. I love your story and truly wish you all the best for your business. You’ve got me dreaming now lol xx
March 11, 2017
Thank you for sharing you’re experience, I felt like I just finished watching a mini movie. Man what a journey, gb you for putting up with Sophie, Sophie should be very thankful she ran into you! What a beautiful ending tho x thank you for sharing xx ps. will you be making any simple black/nude – heeled/wedged sandals? it’s been such a struggle to find ones that actually fit wide feet… I got ‘size 11’ from Iconic online they were Spurr branded black heeled sandals….. yeah nah definitely not for wide feet lol if you were making some I would be the first one to buy some!!!!! xx
March 08, 2017
Thank you for sharing this story. You are inspirational and real, I have become a huge fan. Best wishes.
March 03, 2017
You are a gem, what a wonderful story to give hope to others, the proof that it can be done. My mother fought for years as my sister and I have big feet to get a group of people whos kids had big feet. There was one shop in Newtown that had a few, that was 50 years ago, imagine what wasnt available in New Zealand! I now am a lucky one, I live 3 months in New Zealand and the rest in Geneva, Switzerland where I have been for a long time. I can get size 42 shoes now which is great. But I can imagine that you will go far with your shoes, there are so many people out there that need imaginative people like you. Good luck for the future and thanks for the radio interview, nice to hear someone down to earth getting on with it! Pam
January 01, 2017
Just reading through all these comments is so humbling!! Thank you so much for your kind words, for sharing your stories – it’s truly heart warming to read. Thank you for reading and commenting!!!! Appreciate you so much xx
- Abby A
- Fialaulia – Wow! What an amazing story!! Hope your hubby has recovered well. God has forever got us!
December 31, 2016
Wow Gus you had me at the beginning, middle & end of your story. You are definitely a survivor. I can’t remember if I told you but I fell over in the rain at Guangzhou and broke my arm. We went to the hospital for them to cast my arm and what a nightmare as no one could speak english, even the young ones couldn’t. We had to use a phone app to translate. To be honest it was actually the 2nd time I had fell over. The 1st time was again in the rain right outside our hotel and I hit my head on the step as I went down – so embarrassing!!!!!! But…………I’m still around to tell the story, my arm is out of the cast and we still believed it was an experience that we had to pursue. Thank you for all your help Gus in showing us the way.
December 16, 2016
To Fialauia Toailoa such a beautiful story and these stories shows exactly how our Gods grace potects and nurtures us from the worldly ways and to always see things in the spiritual lense.
December 16, 2016
Sis your story is so inspirational and I am so proud of you..God had your back alright.and always will.
Alofa atu sis keep up the good work❤
December 15, 2016
Oh me gee! Girl you made me cry, with sadness, with pride, with joy with happiness! I love that you trusted in God, even at times when you didn’t feel like it. Thank you for inspiring us and being a person with a heart! God truly shines through you. Bless you x
December 13, 2016
What an amazing story from beginning to end..Your journey is such an inspiration to not just me but to everyone who would read this. Looking forward to your many more journeys gustavia… Wow..wow..wow..is all I can say at this time..God works in mysteries ways..God Bless you and all that you strive to succeed.?
December 13, 2016
Just wow cuz!! You know i was tearing up after reading the begining and wishing i was there with you. And mis thaang from Hamilton can she not!! But thats the thing you come across ppl like that then BOOM your prayers were answered. I had a big smile on my face when that awesome angel came to your rescue. I honestly cant imagine how you felt at the very time cuz. Im so proud of the person you are, strong in faith and have the ability to overcome whatever obstacle thrown your way, im so proud to call you family because of yr determination and motivation you have, your intelligence is on point! Love you always, your truely are an inspiration❤
December 13, 2016
Needed to hear that story today!
Bless you for your teachable spirit and your heart to use your experiences to teach others like me.
Blessings, Mel x
December 13, 2016
Even though I’ve heard this story so many times (lol) I teared up reading this! So proud of you!!!! You motivate me to keep pursuing my dreams and keep working on my business when I feel like giving up on everything. Thanks for always pushing me to chase my dreams and to never settle for less. I pray that your business keep growing onto greater things and that you will impact many more lives! Love you cuz
December 13, 2016
Honestly sis very inspiring ? the last 5 statements are so so true and these are the things we learn when we take risks and follow through with what we want to do. So proud of you and what you are doing, you are amazing ??
December 13, 2016
Thank you for such an inspirational story of tears and determination! Thank you also for affirming yet again that God is real, He hears and He helps. Jer 33:3 all the time!!!
And since you shared from your heart, it is only decent that I do so in return so here’s one of my little stories of when God came through for me.For almost 4 years I worked as a non-sworn Police Officer for the NSW Police based at the Parramatta LAC (local area command). Domestic Violence (DV) as well as Juvenile Justice were 2 of the main portfolios I was responsible for.
The Police Commissioner and Crime Unit were becoming more and more concerned at the rise in violence among young people of different ethnicity in the Sydney CBD every weekend resulting in injuries or deaths. Sadly the Pasefika Young people always fared the worst as they just turn up with bare hands while the Greeks and Lebanese came with guns and the Asians with knives.
So I was called into a meeting where the District Commander stated he needed to meet with all the Pasefika church ministers in Greater Sydney and NSW to deliberate and decide how best to curb this rising problem!
It was decided the Attorney General’s Office would partner up with us and so their rep (an indian lady wiho was a psychologist) would work with me to achieve the goal.
It was a huge task as the Police department said they had tried several times before in previous years but the most number they have had turn up was 7 or 10! So nothing really happened.
I saw this as a challenge and I took it to the Lord. At the end of 3 weeks, we had 157 Ministers and their spouses on the list covering all of NSW and some from Canberra! I had spoken to them by phone then follow with a letter.
Things were looking up. 157 People guaranteed for the meeting to take place on the Friday the following week. I was excited. I had intended to invite my colleagues from Campbelltown and Cabramatta who were P.Is. as well as this was a collective project
And then on the week of the meeting, my daughter in NZ called on Tuesday to say that my husband had been admitted to hospital gravely ill with the possibility of an operation. Wow, what a dilemma! I was torn between love for my husband and my worried children, and love for my work as well as loyalty to the Police but especially what do I do with all the faife’aus I had invited??
You see, several times during the 3 weeks of scouting and recruiting, my colleague had been discouraged as she had been contacted by my own P.I.colleagues from other LACs and told that “no one would come as they had tried before!”. It was at those times I would say to her, “let us do everything we can and plan on hosting the number we have on the list, and leave the rest to God. He will bring the people through!”
So on Wednesday, I went in and met with my Commander, gave them the full list and told them that I was leaving for NZ that evening as my husband and children needed me more. I assured him the people will turn up, just make sure there was enough food to feed the 157! My Attorney General Colleague was crest-fallen that I wasnt going to be there. But once again I said to her, God will be there and shall lead. She wasnt a Christian but I encouraged her to also pray to her own Super powers!
My husband had the operation on Friday – the day of the Meeting and whilst my body was in Auckland, my mind was at the meeting, mentally following our Agenda in my head and could not wait for 4:30pm Auckland time when I could ring my Colleague in Sydney as the meeting was to end at 3pm Sydney time.
She answered on the 3rd ring and as soon as she heard my voice, she screamed “Fia, we did it. Your God brought everyone except for 7 people! And your District Commander is still in Cloud 9!!” 150 people out of a list of 157!
She also said, “Fia, there was a standing ovation for you in your absence when your Commander put in your apologies and explained why you werent there!”
I was humbled that God honoured me,
*The church Ministers of different denominations and ethnicities were able to establish many plans and strategies with the NSW Police to help curb the juvenile violence
*My non-Christian colleague was in awe of my God
***I went to my husband and children as my first priority and God honored me there by standing in for me at the meeting.
**I shall continue to "cast all my cares on Him for He cares indeed!!
Gustavia,Lui, thank you for sharing your story and Stella Muller, thank you for sharing it with me.
December 13, 2016
Wow. A very inspirational story that I want my girls to read. I know you very well and I am surprise to know you cried for real. Talofa e si ou tei. Malo lava. You have a really big heart. Keep up and keep going. Love you dear.
December 13, 2016
Love the blog post! Super entertaining. Well done.
December 13, 2016
Wow what an experience u had to go through.. he was definitely an angel of God sent to help you…main thing is you got back up and u put your TRUST in God! Stumbled by this amazing blog of inspiration☺ as i have 99problems of my own atm. Thanx for the read reason for everything? all the best in ur future endeavours with ur shoe business?shoes are #onpoint?
December 13, 2016
I can’t tell you how much this story empowered me…I’m sitting in a cafe this morning trying to get my grove on and motivated for all the work I need to get through – and your blog pops up in my newsfeed. I didn’t expect to be so encouraged and LOL in the cafe – cos your story is so relateable!
Gus – thank you so much for using your story to minister to me. Now let’s set that shoe/coffee date please! Friday looks good.
December 13, 2016
Hey Gustavia, I’ve done a fair bit of travel, lots through Asia and China and can see all of that happening exactly as you described!!! Also wasn’t surprised that you were blessed with meeting an angel like that guy. Glad that you were humble enough to accept his help but conscious enough to pay it forward!! Love your voice in these blogs. Cracked up out loud at the, “if he tries anything I’m sure my massive as South Auckland, Samoan arms would do damage…” Hahahha!! You are an inspiration and I wish you all the best! :) :)
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June 04, 2017
So inspiring and such a good read :) need more beautiful empowering woman like you in our community :) not just that, but so interested in your business and all you’ve started :) just watched your vid on Facebook and then clicked into your website and read your story lol :) Only up from here please keep it all going :) blessed day