Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mystery Island

This past week has been a chance for increasing ministry time, which has been wonderful. We've had the opportunity to visit families and single mothers in the community and to encourage them. Some of us also went out to visit a village of widows and single mothers who are fleeing domestic violence situations and to spend some time with them. I'll be returning there weekly. Sierra really did great out there with the kids - she read stories and led art projects and left all the kids with some play-do. The really loved it!

Last Thursday we were able to go an elementary school for World Children's Day and we did a puppet show while Mirriam told the story of David and Goliath. Boy, was my arm tired from holding up that puppet!! Then the kids gave their testimonies. I was so proud of Sierra...she shared about how God helped her with her feelings of being rejected by her real dad and her step dad when they left her and didn't try to stay in relationship with her. I think this is (tragically) such a universal thing that is happening and she really was brave to share this personal thing.

Yesterday was a real blessing - it was our day off, so we took a sailboat out to Mystery Island. I ended up meeting a wonderful woman from Ireland, Tresa - I was able to share my testimony with her and we prayed for her and spent the day hanging out together. Also, we met some other missionaries, so we ended up having a time of praise and worship on the ride out to the island and on the way back - it was wonderful. AND we met a youth pastor from a town about 1/2 hour from here and he is having a youth rally this Saturday for 200 kids, and he's asked us to bring our presentation on purity to the kids! It was a great day and felt like there were many "divine appointments".

We are picking up the pace, which is exciting. Tomorrow Sierra and I will be teaching some kids a few dances and skits for an "open air" out in the village. Thursday we are making our presentation on purity to some junior high kids. Next week we'll be working with Marine Reach to bring medical care into the remote villages and the week after that we'll be hosting a VBS. This weekend we'll go to the youth rally and the weekend after we'll go to the capital city of Suva to do outreach with street kids. That happens to also be the weekend the elections start, so we are praying into that. I'm so glad to be having the opportunity to try out all sorts of different things!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter in the Islands

Happy Easter!

We had a wonderful Easter here in Fiji. The week before Easter, we went door to door in the surrounding neighborhoods to invite people to church and to talk to them about the Lord. People are so friendly and welcoming. Everyone invited us in and gave us juice while we sat and visited for a few hours. That is the island way! Each day we were lucky to get to 2 or 3 houses! It is wonderful how people really put relationships first here.

I was able to help the ladies to decorate the church for Good Friday, and Sierra sewed the hangings for the cross. On Good Friday, our team was able to give some testimonies and I gave the communion mime with Sierra and Mitchell (there were a few hundred people, so we had to modify it a bit, but it went really well). When the people recieved their nail, they were just blown away and most began to bawl. Many could not take communion for many minutes as they stood there, clutching their nail and coming face to face with what Jesus did for them personally. It was really powerful and moving. I was so proud of the kids, who did a great job and did not giggle or laugh at all - we prayed about this and they did so great. Many in the worship team could not continue to worship as they fell to their knees weeping. It was really beautiful and I felt so priveleged to share it!

On Easter we had 4 other churches from other cities join us, and after we all had lunch together. We were able to do one of our songs (Redeemer) along with the youth group, which was great. The worship music here is lively and fun, with a strong reggae/island beat to it - I love it!

This week is getting busy with building on the church, the hospital ministry, an outreach to the local schools teaching on sexual purity, working with the youth group and many other things - we are all glad to be working hard! Today I went to the hospital to pray with people and tonight we are doing a home visit with a family.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Greetings from Fiji!

We are doing well! It is hot, Hot, HOT in Fiji!! It is so beautiful here, and the people are beautiful, too. We've gotten settled in and have started doing some ministry - it's been a bit slower than we'd hoped, but I think that after Easter is over we'll get going pretty hard. We did have one person give their life to the Lord today - Paul has been going to the hospital to pray with people. One man he met is in the hospital after his house burned down this past weekend - his 8 year old daughter accidentally set teh fire, and they lost everything they owned. This is the man that Paul prayed with this morning to receive Christ.

We are all starting to build relationships with people and have been doing some prayer walking around a Hindu neighborhood - tomorrow we will go out and invite them to church. We are also doing some prayer walking around an area where there is prostitution that is quite near our hotel.

I have an Indian friend I've met here named Mona - she is married and has 4 children. She is severely malnourished, as are her children. She and her family live in 1 room, and Mona and the girls sleep on one bed and her husband and the boy sleep on another. Her son has a hole in his heart and requires surgery. They do not even have plates or utensils, so all eat out of one bowl. Mona recently became a Christian, but her husband is still Hindu. Please keep her in your prayers. Mom - I'll be giving each of her children a teddy bear on Easter Sunday.

The physical needs of the people here are overwhelming and I'm praying for Jehovah Rapha, God the Healer, to show up. He asks "whom shall I send" and I respond "here am I, send me"...I am praying for God to send his healing powers through my hands in accordance with his command to "go out into all the world and preach the good news, casting out demons and healing the sick"...please pray for me to hear God clearly as to who He would have be healed.

Sierra is doing well and is OH SO GLAD that we have a pool at our hotel! Our hotel is great - we each have our own bed and there is a little kitchenette so we make our own breakfast and lunch, and then a local lady here is making dinner that we all eat together. We are handwashing our clothes in the bathroom sink.

The kids are all doing well - we've had a few people get sick with colds and whatnot, but mostly all doing well.

The people here are friendly - the men all went out and got sulu's, which is the traditional bottoms men wear - it's a skirt, but we don't say that in front of the guys!! Haha. They all look great in them! The women all wanted a traditional island dress as well, so we went and got the fabric and a tailor...how much, you might ask? All told, the dresses will be about $14.50 US each!! They are called Sulu Enchamba's. I also want to get a traditional Indian outfit.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Coming down to the wire

Wow, time really does fly when you are having fun! I can't believe we leave in only a few days.

The past two weeks have been great - the teaching continues to be amazing and it's crazy how much we are trying to cram into our heads and our hearts! About two weeks ago a lot of people in class sort of "hit the wall" and were struggling - we all just want to get out in the field!!

Personally I was dealing with a really difficult personal issue and for about a week I was isolating myself and trying to struggle through it. I realized that my gift of mercy sometimes gets me in trouble! I step in and try to "fix" others pain out of my own sense of making things right rather than leaning on God to direct me. I had done this at a time I shouldn't have, and really struggled with the after-effects. It's so easy for me to step in and take up other people's crosses and offenses and to block them from the pain of real life - but sometimes God has them in that place so He can reach them, and when I step in I am actually blocking the Spirit from working. I was really saddened realizing how often I've done this in my life and seeing how the misuse of the gifts we have can be damaging to ourselves and others. I also realized that another gift I have, the gift of giving, can also be abused...in this same situation I had given something away that wasn't meant to be given away - and it was done out of a sense of unworthiness rather than a sense of love - God gives us things that are for us, and instead of appreciating it, I turned away from it in unworthiness and gave it to someone else. Again - the misuse of giftings.

This struggle was very eye-opening for me and I see how much I work out of a sense of feeling unloved and unworthy - STILL!!! It is a process, and one I am sure I will continue to go through for many years. I am so grateful to God that He loves me enough to continue walking with me through this process, and teaching me more of His ways. This was by far the most personal and closest to my heart thing I've worked through thus far here at YWAM, so it was really hard - but the fruit is worth it!

This past week was a really wonderful week of teaching about missions and was very "real life" about what happens out there in the field. I really appreciated it and learned so much. One thing that we talked about was the satisfaction level of missionaries and how long they stay in the field. Basically, missionaries who have been in the field 6 months or less tend to "LOVE" everything...oh, the food is so exotic and all those doe-eyed children begging for money are so cute and it's so quaint how you share the bus with 75 other people and chickens, too!! These people are basically in the "tourist" stage. Missionaries who have been on the field from 6 months to 2 years are just the opposite - they "HATE" everything...I'm so SICK of beans and tortillas! Those darn kids won't leave me alone! If I have to get on aonther one of those broken down excuses for a bus I will PUKE! In this stage, all the newness has worn off and you are faced with living in a culture completely different than your own. All of your comforts are far removed. Many leave during this stage with a bad taste in their mouth. There is no fruit from your ministry, only frustration...and your church and supporters are crying out "Show me the money!!"...as in - show me the evidence of why I'm supporting you out there!! But often, the missionary is just starting to figure out the cultural differences and the language, and might just be at the place where they can figure out how to get on the right bus! Finally, there are the people who stay on the field 4 years or more...they report a high level of satisfaction with their experience, but it's different than the "tourist" stage. It's a deeper, more mature satisfaction of having "made it" and triumphed over the difficulties - the ministry is bearing fruit and the missionary has become bi-cultural and bi-lingual and is accepted as part of the culture they are in.

I thought this was so encouraging to see what's coming down the pike and to know that as hard times set in if you just press in and continue on that the light will come!! I imagine it's much like couples who have fought throught the hard times to stay committed to each other and remain married...they come to a point of sweet remembrance and maturity as they truly enjoy the fruits of their labors. I think that's SO COOL!!!!! I hope someday I can be one of those people, too.

I've been thinking on what I'll do next, and praying a lot about it. I really sense that God is calling us to long-term missions and I'm excited. Sierra also feels this call, so it is a wonderful time of imagining what God has in store. I am looking into some different possibilities, but mostly just am in prayer asking God what HE wants of me. Some areas of ministry I'm interested in are Kings Kids or DTS leadership. I really havea passion for kids and families - I just believe so deeply in the ability and zeal of kids and in giving them the tools and ability to impact our world! Kings Kids takes kids 8-18 (although 8-11 are with a parent or other guardian) and trains them for a week to 2 weeks in evangelism, and then goes into the world to do it for a month at a time...through sports ministries, dance, skits, sign language, practical help, etc - it's really amazing what these kids do and what they can accomplish!! DTS is the class I've been doing, but for young people age 18-25. As for location...wow - what can I say - the world is so amazing!! I want to go anywhere and everywhere! Mexico or here in Chico seem like good starting points, though...I'll keep praying into it and see what God has for us.

You'll notice that I've put some new links on the side...one is Fiji Team and the other is Guatemala Team blogs...each team is keeping a blog of our experiences - so please, check them out and comment and see what we're doing! I will continue to update this blog, but please be aware that in Fiji we have extremely limited access to the internet so I won't be able to update it much. We will go into town once a week for check email, but I'm told that the connection is really, really slow - like, one email in an hour slow, and that it costs $5 an hour to use the internet!! So, just to let you know that I'll do it as much as possible, but it won't be quite at often or as long (maybe that will be a blessing! Haha).

Tonight we are having a "Love Feast" with the whole class, and it is a pretty fancy affair. We'll all be showing each other our skits and songs, so it should be fun. I hear there are a few surprises in store, too!!

I have a big request for you all...my good friend Rachel (not her real name) is getting ready to return to her country. She is from a "closed" country - it is muslim - and is very dangerous. They do not allow any people in, so she is really the only type of person who can talk to her people. I am not naming the country for her safety. Please pray for her - pray for safety, for provision and for opportunity. She is an amazing person and we are behind her all the way! She is aware of the danger facing her and is counting the cost right now - it's a hard time for her to be realizing what she is leaving here and what she is going back to. Being with her has helped us all to really and truly understand and appreciate our freedoms here that we take so for granted - the ability to speak openly about our beliefs, to say we disagree with the government, to wear a cross around our neck - things that people in other countries cannot do, and in fact will be imprisoned, beaten, tortured or even killed for. So please, pray for my friend...she is very special to us here.