Quite the adventurer | The Salvation Army

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Quite the adventurer

Daniel Wilkes
Posted June 16, 2020

Daniel Wilkes is Rotorua’s friendly, neighbourhood Family Store truck driver, with a heart for meeting people and reaching out to the elderly in his community.

I was born in West Auckland and grew up in a Christian family. I was quite the adventurer, and had great fun hanging out with my two brothers.

I became really depressed around the age of 17, to the point where I was in Starship Hospital. But God lifted me up; he was encouraging me and showing me that family still cared. Through God, friends, family and medication, I was able to get through that time. I still have my mental illness, but I’m in a lot more control than I used to be, and that’s through God’s grace and my willingness to accept that I do have a slight issue. I became a bit more sheltered because of it, so I’ve probably learnt more recently than I have for a long time—through Covid-19 and through my relationship—that God is still in the whole situation.

I am a stencil artist. I spend hours cutting stencils out by hand and then I can spray paint and screen print with them. I paint and draw too—I’ve been doing lots of drawings of nature and animals, mainly lions and tigers. I’ve been dabbling with art since I was tiny, and I do sometimes get the opportunity to design for people, which is great fun.

I did a Diploma in Fine Arts and Design, and then I followed my fiancée down to Christchurch and studied web design for a year. We moved over to Westport when we got married, and found that the best church for us was The Salvation Army. I didn’t know much about The Salvation Army before moving to the South Island. I got more involved and as time went on, I became the van driver for deliveries and pick-ups.

I moved back to the North Island to Rotorua, and I’ve been in a year of separation, which is probably the hardest part I’ve ever had to deal with, but The Salvation Army has been really supportive. Rotorua Corps really does feel like it’s a home away from home. Through friends, family—even friends of the family and so on—the people around me have been so good. I’ve learned so much about myself, and all my good mannerisms and traits have come out.

I became the Rotorua Family Store’s driver. I really do love serving people, driving the truck around and, especially, meeting older people. It’s nice that you can sometimes be the only real smile and joy they get in the entire day.

I’ve been involved with the Foodbank for the past eight weeks or so, it’s been quite an amazing time. I was grateful for it too, because I was able to do some work and keep some sanity! The group I worked with were wonderful and we got to know each other even more. It was a great time for learning about God’s grace, my own strengths and weaknesses and being in an essential service. I am a people-person, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with friends again, like the guy at my local café down the road. I made an effort to get to know him and he’s an amazing person, so it’d be nice to catch up with him properly again.