A holiday at a beach house was the last thing on Ronda’s mind when she found out she only had a year to live.
But it ended up being exactly what she needed.
In October 2013, Ronda Amende was diagnosed with small intestine cancer.
“It was a huge shock,” she said.
“I don’t think anything ever prepares you for that. Any terminal diagnosis is a shock.”
She describes the next three months as a particularly stressful period. Her children all had exams, and eldest child Hunter had just got his mission call to Leeds, England. When Hunter left on his mission, Ronda wasn’t sure if she would see him again.
It was at this difficult time a friend offered their holiday home in the Coromandel for the family to have some time out.
“We had a lovely time being together and it was just what we needed,” she said.
“We left all our worries behind and were able to have quality time together leaving all other stresses behind. It allowed us to focus on being together. It was so simple- playing games together, chatting, going for walks on the beach. It was about being together.”
When Christmas came around and Ronda was undergoing chemotherapy, a work colleague offered his parents holiday home in Taupo to Ronda. It ended up being another answer to prayers. Ronda and her family were able to spend Christmas with extended family because of their generosity.
The kindness of these two friends is what inspired TimeOut, a non- profit organization that allows people to donate time in holiday homes for terminally ill and family to stay in.
“Someone donating their home for me to use made a big difference,” she said.
“ When you are going through something like this you never know if you are going to be healthy enough to travel on a fixed date and your family finances are under strain. So the donated time out took the pressure off us financially and it was flexible to fit around when I was well enough to travel.”
The special thing about TimeOut is that you can serve in multiple ways, she said.
TimeOut was started by Ronda in 2016 and continues to grow.
“There are little miracles happening all of the time, helping us to establish and run TimeOut,” she said.
“People in the community who own the holiday homes have been so generous and so willing to help. It’s nice to see that generosity in the community. We often get down and gloomy with how bad the world is but when you see people's generosity like this, it is amazing and heartwarming.
She said her faith and understanding of the gospel has helped her immensely.
“Being positive is great but it’s not about that. It is about faith to know that no matter whether I live or die, this is what my journey is. I believe strongly that Heavenly Father has a plan for everything. It is my job to have faith in Him and his plan.
“We all have choices we must make every day. We all try and find out what Heavenly Father wants us to do and do our best to do his will. TimeOut is just one of those things that Heavenly Father has asked me to do ”