A sense of mission

A sense of mission

Val Townsend, head of the Salvation Army's Miramar toy library. PHOTO: OLIVER GASKELL

Val Townsend has always followed her calling whether it led her to war-torn Pakistan or Miramar’s vibrant toy library.

At 18, Townsend began training with the Salvation Army in Australia before accepting a five-year placement with her husband in Lahore, Pakistan, training locals to become Christian ministers.

Townsend, 75, says it was a ‘calling from God’ that led her into dangerous territory where she was at risk of being persecuted for spreading her faith.

“You just have to trust that you’re going to be safe and that God’s looking out for you.”

She feared for her life on multiple occasions such as when she had to lay down on the floor of a van to escape a clash between religious extremists.

“It took us twice as long to get home because we had to go around the outskirts of the city to get back to the college.”

After her time in Pakistan, Townsend arrived in Wellington in 1975 to care for her late husband who had fallen ill and to be with her family.

Since then she has continued to serve the Salvation Army and has spent the last eight years as the head of Miramar’s toy library, which serves a diverse range of people.

She says customers come from not only Miramar but Hataitai, Seatoun and across the globe.

Townsend says she serves many people from nearby Weta Workshop who are in the country on a short-term basis, such as a mother and three daughters from Germany.

“One of her friends told her don’t buy any toys because there’s a great toy library in Miramar so she turned up here with her three little girls who couldn’t speak a word of English.”

Townsend says her years of service have brought her great satisfaction.

“It’s good to be able to help people and share your faith, to help those who can’t help themselves and making sure that you can be there for them.”

Townsend also says the library provides a great service to the community which goes beyond sharing toys.

“Families come here and they find that this is a safe space they can come if they have issues at home or with their children, they can come and talk to us and we’ll direct them to the right places and help them as much as we can.”

“Were here for the community and the toy library is a good thing for the community.”

The Miramar Toy Library is located at 63 Miramar Ave, behind the Salvation Army family store and is open from 9am – 12pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, 11am – 2pm on Thursdays and 10am – 12pm on Saturdays.

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Article by Oliver Gaskell

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