Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Restoring the Temple - Pt. 2

  • Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.  1 Cor 3:16-17
  • Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
Well, figured I'd give a quick update on how things are going...I have exercised for 11 of the last 13 days - yay!  I'm taking Sundays off.  I've been doing some strength training, flexibility and a bit of cardio.  I have a hard time with cardio because of my feet.  They are not doing so well, and it hurts when I walk much so it really limits me.  I am looking at getting a bike, and that will help with doing cardio, I think.  I'd love to have access to a pool to swim! 

As for eating...it's been going *okay*...not great.  I am torn between wanting to buy and cook my own food so I have control over it, and being thankful for what we get at the base and eating what is provided for me - even though I can't control it or always know what's in it.  However, I am in the process of going off coffee for awhile - I've been having 1/2 caf for about a week, and am now moving to having a cup every other day.  I don't know how long I'll be off it, guess we'll see!!

Well, that's just a quick little update! 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Restoring the Temple

So, I had intimated a while back about how I know that I am called to go into frontier missions (that idea of going where we are not), and how I really need to be fit and strong to be able to do that...and how I realized my weight was holding me back, but I really wanted to change that.

Well, I've continued to pray into it, and there is a lot I have to say, but right now I am just going to skim a bit of the surface...

First of all, I've really come to recognize in a much deeper and more personal way that my body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  This particular temple has fallen into some serious disrepair, and I am challenged to restore it in order to bring glory to God.  With much consideration on a clever and artistic name for this season, I've decided I will call it "restoring the temple".  Pretty good, huh?

So, along with finishing up my little series (hope to get the next article out this weekend), and chatting it up about my life in general (wow - that sounds really narcissistic!!), I'll also be chronicling my journey in the restoration of the temple. 

Currently, I am studying a lot of scripture and getting God's perspective and strategies.  I've also picked up a book called "Fit to Serve" which really fits in with where God has me in this moment and the direction I'm heading.  I had been doing some workouts here and there, mostly to get my heart rate up - but the last two days I've done the Coach Powers workout (the author of this book) and let me tell you...I am SO SORE!!  I can't remember having been THIS sore in a mighty long time!  And I am thinking tomorrow will be even worse, as it will be the 2nd day after...oh goodness gracious...

So, that is basically it...I just want to get it on the grid and be open and transparent about where I'm at...I feel that God is asking me to be vulnerable in this area and not stand in self-reliance.  Alrighty - bless ya!

Monday, November 15, 2010


As you might remember, I'm working on a series of articles that give a broad picture of just what it "is" that I am doing as a missionary, what that means in real terms, and how it impacts the future.  So far, I've covered:
Over the next several weeks, I will finish up this series by covering the following:
  • perspectives on sharing my needs - outlining the big picture
  • a scripture study on giving to missions and missionaries
  • a discussion on the standard of living for missionaries
  • why I'm in it for the long haul (and why that matters)
As you can see, this is a big undertaking, but as I was praying into the area of finances and support raising several months ago, this was the strategy the Lord gave me.

Alrighty then - let's jump right into it!  I will be open and transparent with you in admitting that laying it out there regarding finances is one of the most difficult aspects of what I do.  I tend to avoid it whenever possible.  However, it is a very real aspect of missions.

First off, I suppose I should explain what the philosophy of YWAM is regarding finances.  In a nutshell - we receive no financial compensation from YWAM for the work we do, so in that sense, we are all "volunteers".  This is true from the founder right down to the newest student.  We are all responsible for raising our own support.  This is actually true of nearly all missions agencies throughout the world.

There are a few reasons for this approach.  First, it causes us to stay in a place of dependence upon God for our provision and not walking in pride and independence.  Second, we know that God most often works through people, so it gives us the opportunity to work in partnership with others - some of us are "senders" and others are "goers", but it is in working together that the work of the Kingdom is accomplished.  Third, it brings us to a place of deep gratitude and awe as we see God's faithfulness over and over again and    experience His miraculous and loving provision.  

Hopefully that gives a bit of background and understanding.  Having been in missions full-time for a few years now, I've seen a couple of different approaches to fund raising.  Here's a bit of a list...

a la George Mueller - never ask anyone for anything; your needs are between you and God only.  This one can be appealing to many for the fact that you don't have to put yourself in the humbling position of asking for help.  However, it can rob others of being part of what you are doing with the Lord!  The most important thing to remember is that George received a very specific and direct word from the Lord about this.  While that can still be true for some, most often it is not.  There is a very real tendency to over-spiritualize the whole issue in this approach.

yikes!  help me! - this tends to be an emergency based appeal.  In my opinion, this approach is a good way to burn out supporters and can be attributed to either an issue with being perpetually under-funded or unwise stewardship.

being poor makes you more holy - this takes living simply to a whole new level.  Somehow, these guys convince themselves that living below the poverty line is glorifying God and earning them points.  The problem is that is another facet of a "works" mentality - that we can earn our way into God's favor.  Also, this person becomes a burden on those around them when they are in such dire need all the time.  This is another approach that can be over-spiritualized.

it's not a *real* job - this is a problem with many, that they don't see what they are doing as a "real" job and therefore not worth supporting financially.  It is a lack of understanding of the value of the work being done, and can be a reflection of the world's value system.  The Bible tells us that the "those who work deserve their pay" (Luke 10:7).

I don't want people to think I'm after their money - fair enough...and it's important that we aren't after people's money!  Always, always, always - relationship is more important than money.  Period.  I think the key to this is that we are communicating, and that we are very clear that a decision to support or not support is not a statement on who we are or someone's love for us.  Also - trust the Lord in this.  We have to get to the point of giving people absolute freedom to hear from the Lord on this issue. 

I can do it on my own! - this approach is most common in those of us from a Western culture, such as the US, where we have core values of "picking ourselves up by our bootstraps" and "making our own way in the world".  It stems from pride and independence, and robs others of the opportunity to partner with you and to be a blessing to the Kingdom of God.  There is a difference between standing in pride and independence with finances (or life) and being a person who does have the means to be self-supporting and choosing to use their money to serve the Lord - I guess it comes down to a heart attitude. 

I don't want to bother people - this is probably the one I struggle with most.  Recognizing that the world is in a financial crisis, and people have their own struggles to deal with, we just get by on the minimum, turning down opporunities out of fear/lack of finances, rather than because the Lord said 'no'.  I have been challenged that this is unbelief and lack of trust in God, who is bigger than our world system or the global financial crisis!  And, once again, we are robbing people of a blessing.

Hmmm...notice any type of thinking you recognize?  Well, these are a few different approaches I've seen.  I'll spend more time going over them in the next few articles, but maybe for now just a little fodder for thought.  I can honestly say, however, that I've wrestled with each of these approaches at different times throughout my time in missions.  I guess it's a process of learning, isn't it?

I'm in a new place of how I'm approaching my finances, a place I think the Lord has shown me.  That is the approach of making a realistic spending budget that reflects real life - not just bare minimum monthly obligations, but also planning for future and unknown expenses.

For example, there are some things that I know I need to budget for - things like healthcare, schooling for Sierra, visas, travel for ministry, travel to visit home, on-going training, new clothes/shoes, etc.  Then there are always those unexpected expenses that come up - emergency trips to the doctor, unforseen expenses, price hikes, etc.  And finally, there are those things that would be wonderful to have, but aren't necessarily *needed* - things like a car, dance classes for Sierra, a gym membership, a night out at the movies, etc.  Truth is, these are all things that need to be taken into account as I budget wisely.

At this point, my budget covers the minimum montly obligations.  A few months back I had a bit of a cushion because the exchange rate was favorable to the US dollar (about $0.83 US cents to $1 Australian dollar).  However, the exchange rate has plunged (about $1.02 USD to $1 AUD) and my cushion has disappeared.  It was with savings from this cushion that I was able to pay for Sierra's ambulance and ER care back at the end of September.

Considering all of the above, I would say that I am at about 50% of where I need to be.  As I look ahead at the next year, there are several big expenses approaching for which I don't have the needed finance...things like going home and Sierra's schooling. 

Well, I think that is all for now.  This is a lot to think about, and could very well be challenging some deeply held beliefs about finances and giving.  Next we'll be looking at what scripture says, because at the end of the day, we want to know that we are acting in accordance with God's word and not being manipulated by emotions, fear or anything else.  Please let me know what you think!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spring Flowers in Western Australia

Wow, I guess it's been about a month ago now...but here are some photos of the beautiful wildflowers that bloom here in WA (from our camping trip up north). I don't know the names of most of them, but I sure appreciate their beauty!

There were fields and fields of purple flowers...

You can see more fields of flowers in the background

I suppose these aren't technically flowers, but I thought they were pretty.

This reminds me of the grasses that grow out at Bodega Bay

This is actually a tree - the flowers are so amazing.  In early spring, the trees are just the bright red flowers only and it's so gorgeous!

I love the mix of different flowers here.
Isn't the color lovely?

I love the little yellow balls!  It reminds me of that fabric from the 70's.

A great road for a drive - love the tree-lined lane!

These are called Everlastings.

So many!

We went to a swimming hole we'd heard about, but decided against getting in the water...can you see why?
Hope you enjoyed the photos!!  I will upload more soon. 

Saturday, November 06, 2010

If someone came up to you and punched you in the face for no reason, would you forgive them?

What a strange title for this blog, huh?

A week and a half ago, Sierra was challenged with this question from a friend of hers who she's been sharing the gospel with. She responded that she thought she would forgive them.

Then, just a few hours later, a woman marched up to her and punched her in the face. No warning, no reason.

She had been laying on the grass in the park, spending some time with Jesus when she noticed a woman walking toward her. She sat up, thinking that maybe the woman hadn't seen her, and said 'hello'. The woman rocked up and punched her twice in the face. Then she began to yell at her to get off her turf, so Sierra stood up and started to walk away. The woman punched her two more times in the face and head, and then turned and walked away in the opposite direction.

Sierra called me, and was quite shooken up (as you can imagine). We got her to the base and calmed her down. Less than an hour later she was doing really well. Her first response was one of forgiveness for this woman. She reluctantly went to the police and made a report.

Since then, she has been standing strong in forgiveness. She has no fear or intimidation and is celebrating and praising the Lord for His goodness! She knows that what the enemy meant for harm, God has used for good. What a testimony!

A few things that I thought were so interesting...in the midst of this woman punching her, she did not protect herself - verbally or physically. She did not respond with any words. She did not put her arms up to ward off the blows. She simply walked away. She says that after the first punch, the first thought that went through her head was "I don't think this lady has very good intentions". What a strange, funny thing to think!

She felt full of peace in the midst. Her response reminds me of what Jesus says in Luke 6:22-23, 27-29: What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man! When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven...but to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also."

A few days after this incident, Sierra saw this woman again as she walked home. Without fear, she said 'hello' to her again. The woman showed no signs of recognition. She was carrying a bottle of booze and just slurred a 'hello' back. Please lift this poor woman up in prayer, that she would be saved from the demons of addiction and violence.

Please also pray for us! Although we are in a "western" nation, the battle is huge! We need your prayer covering. I am realizing more and more how imperative this is...it is not just a nice thing to do - you are actually entering into the battle with us, girding us up and encouraging us on. Just like Aaron and Hur had to hold up Moses' hands in order for the Israelites to win the battle, so we need you to hold us up (Exodus 17:11-13).

We live in an area where there is a lot of violence, prostitution, drugs & alcohol (literally right below us). Sierra goes to a school where every evil is celebrated and God is mocked. I am working amongst a people who have been deceived about who God is and have lived through every evil imaginable. I do not say this to alarm you or make you worry, but to you encourage you as to the necessity of a strong prayer covering. We covet your prayers!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Authorized and Deputized!

Well, well...it's been a few weeks, hasn't it? I have so many things to share of what's been going on and things the Lord is revealing to me - and of course, I still intend to continue my little series as well. However, in the interest of not letting this get too long and boring, I'll just focus a bit for now and what's been going on!

So, I finished my TESOL course (for the uninitiated, that stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages...ie - an English Teacher!) with an "A" and a "high commendations" - so that is pretty exciting. I've been teaching in the English for Missions school, which prepares missionaries from non-English backgrounds to serve in English-speaking nations. I'm also teaching in the Bible School for the Nations course, which is training people to teach the Bible.

In addition, I'm back working with Pathway and ministering to the needs of the immigrant and refugee community here in Perth. We are in the midst of a big prayer push to see breakthrough with the families we are working with and in the ministry. There is a great need here! If you would join us in prayer, that would be so awesome!!

A little update on a few things:

Sierra - well, after the big scare of having collapsed and possibly had a seizure, Sierra is doing just fine. They were never able to determine if she did actually have a seizure or not, and couldn't find anything wrong with her (other than a slightly elevated thyroid). She hasn't had any problems since, so we are very thankful! The wonderful thing that came of it is that we were able to pray with a man in the ER waiting room to return to the Lord, and Sierra brightened the day of several other patients with her sweet smile.

My Ankle - I have been having a lot of pain and swelling in my ankles, particularly the right one. I went to the Dr. last week to get it checked out, and had some x-rays taken. I go back to the Dr. this week to follow up and find out what's going on. Please pray for the complete healing of my ankles - this has been a lifelong problem, but I am trusting for healing!

Well, actually, I think I could go on and on about lots of things going on, but I will save it for another time...in short, though - Sierra is in the midst of her year 11 exams. These are akin in importance to our SAT's, so please pray for her! She has been really studying hard for several weeks now, and has taken 1 out of 6. Tomorrow is Maths. Then, over summer break she is going to be going to Bali, Indonesia for 3-4 weeks to minister and work there with an orphanage and sports ministry. We are looking forward to Christmas - so weird that it will be over 100*, but fun nonetheless! Then, we are planning (Lord willing and the creek don't rise!) to come home in June 2011 for Allie's (my neice) wedding - we'll be home for 4-5 weeks and I really want to make sure to see people, so please let's start thinking of times to get together!

Okay - that's all for now....maybe I'll just start updating every few days until I expend my racing brain. Ha! Love you all and we are praying for God's abundant blessings on you!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's happening down the road...

Living a life dependent on the Lord is full of adventure! It is an exciting journey of seeing God's hand at work in every aspect of your daily life. I highly recommend it!

I mean, seriously...could I have ever guessed I'd end up living in Australia? No! However, the Lord led me to come and so here I am. He's led me to be here for a season, with the intention to build my "tool chest" and better prepare me for where we are going down the road.

We've been here 8 1/2 months already...and the Lord is teaching me so much. It just keeps going deeper and deeper. Revelation is an amazing thing. Sometimes it's the simplest truth, but it drops from your head to your heart and suddenly it's "yours"...you own it, it is cemented. God is so good that way. And as we move in obedience to His voice, He continues to pour out His Spirit over us and to bring further and deeper revelation of His character and His will (and the truth of who we are in Him). I love God's truth!

As I know now, my impression is that we will be here in Australia for about another 2 years...until October 2012. This is the sense I get from the Lord, but am continuing to pray into it for clarification, direction and timing.

So what happens after that? Well, one thing I know is that the Lord has put a very specific dream in my heart about reaching the unreached...going to the furthest reaches of the earth to share His love for His most precious creation - people. As I intimated in an earlier post, I think there will be an aspect of working with single moms as well. I trust God will work out the details as I continue to do His will and move the direction He leads.

This is the time to get really transparent with you...one big obstacle I know I face at this time with fulfilling this purpose in my life is my weight. Let's be honest...to get to the furthest reaches of the earth takes strength and endurance, which I am currently lacking in. This is an area where I could so use your prayer, support and encouragement, because I really want to find victory in this. Did you know I was a collegiate athlete? Yes, I was! So, I know it's in me to get back to that athletic, strong person.

So, yes, reaching the unreached. This is a dream I've had since I was a young girl, actually. When I was about 11 I had earned $25 for picking up one of my dad's work sites one weekend (hey - that was a lot of money back then in 1980!!). That night, on TV, there was a show about children starving in Ethiopia - it just broke my heart. I didn't know that kind of world existed outside of my comfortable life. I called the number on the screen and gave them my $25. I believe in that moment the Lord planted a vision in my heart to serve the poor and needy of the world. Even when I wasn't walking with the Lord, His purpose was still strong in my life and I pursued this dream in secular & humanistic ways. Isn't God amazing! He redeems His purposes!

The Perth base is doing a lot to reach the unreached, and there is wonderful training here to prepare people as they go out. I can see God's wisdom in bringing us here!

So, over the next 3-5 years, this is a bit of what I see happening...first of all, Sierra is graduating High School in about a year and a half. The word of the Lord to me at this time is to "finish the job well". My years as primary caregiver of my precious girl are quickly coming to an end and she will soon embark on her own journey, independent of mine. Wow, does that bring a quick tear to my eye or what!??! It's exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time, as our babies spread their wings and fly! Oh, how I love my girl. I'm so thankful for how the Lord has made a way for us. So, I am staying focused on finishing my job well. Not that it *ever* finishes, I will always be her mom...but it's a new road on our adventure.

Second, I see that the Lord is continuing to prepare me for His good purposes...through the ministry I'm working with, through TESOL and also through a leadership course I will be part of over the next 2 years here in Perth.

That essentially will bring me to October 2012...and I am praying for God's wisdom. There is a ministry through YWAM, in partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators and Campus Crusade for Christ (and a few other ministries) called One Story that I am really interested in being a part of. In a nutshell, we would go out in a small team to an unreached people group for 2 years and teach them the stories of the Bible in oral story form. Why? Many of the last people groups on earth that have not heard the gospel have no written language. They pass on their histories through oral story-telling. Over the 2 years, we would teach them 25-40 Bible stories as we live amongst them, coming out for further training every 4-6 months. Wycliffe is providing the on-going training and YWAM is providing the people to go. This just gets my blood pumping, because this is exactly the sort of thing I've always dreamed of doing!! Check it out at www.onestory.org.

That is the direction I am looking at right now, always continuing to lay it before the Lord and allowing Him to direct my path, and the timing of my steps. As I said, I am continuing to lay before the Lord the idea of working with single moms in a "village" sort of environment and seeing where that leads in the future and further down the road. I will not indulge these ideas here as I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but let me know if you're interested in hearing more! As I said, it is quite exciting to live for the Lord - never a dull moment! No, more like a lot of moments at the precipice of the roller coaster, about to go shuttling down at mock-10 speed into the unknown!

So, that is the third part of this little series, covering what I am doing in the next 3-5 years. Up next...perspectives on sharing my needs - outlining the big picture.

On another note, thought I'd share that I've completed 5 weeks of my TESOL course! It's been going really well and I'm enjoying it a lot. There has been a lot of homework, but I've actually liked that (how strange!). Next week is our final week of TESOL, and then I will be going into another 6 weeks of internship. There were 15 of us in the TESOL course, but only 3 of us will continue on to the internship.

Over the past 5 weeks we have learned so much! One of my favorite topics has been bringing the glory of the Lord into the classroom. Also, I feel like my heart for teaching has really been redeemed. I had been convinced that I was not a good teacher, but really just a good encourager. However, I can really see how I am a good teacher, too. God is good!

As we've been teaching in the city at two churches, I've come to love my students. They are mostly backpackers from various Asian countries - China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, etc. They are so sweet and eager to learn. We've seen 5 come to know the Lord, and a few more who are *right on the edge*! As we've taught, we've found ways to weave God's word into our lessons. For example, in teaching on holidays, we focused on Christmas and Easter. It was amazing how many didn't know anything about the true reason we celebrate these holidays, and how thankful they were to learn about Jesus. As we build relationship with them, they have opened up and shared about their lives, their hopes and fears and wounded places...and it has given us great ability to speak truth and love into their lives. I love it!

Okay, well, that's all for now. God bless you abundantly as you go this week. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Things that keep me up at night...

How pathetic is this? The other night I was trying to fall asleep, but all I could think of were witticisms about language. I really am a nerd. Truly.

Okay, so, here's what I was thinking about...

The difference between "then" and "than" - people confuse them all the time!

"Then" generally refers to time. What will we do THEN? I went to town, THEN I came home.

"Than" is all about comparison. She is taller THAN him.

Okay, so another little note - A Lot...two words.

And finally - thinking about our little ways of writing the various noises we make...lol - wow, that sounds wierd! But...

Awwww - like the sound we ladies make when something is cute - like a baby or a puppy!

Ahhh - a sigh (of relief, of relaxation)

Uhhh - hesitation, confusion.

Okay - well, it's official - I'm a total nerd and I clearly missed my calling as an editor. It's all out in the open now.

My mind is clearly preparing for my TESOL course starting on Monday...TESOL is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I hear it's mega intense and has tons and tons of homework! I am excited, though...although I was never a good student as a young person, I have come to love learning. I'm excited about the doors this certificate will open!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Part II - What YWAM Perth *does*

Last week I gave some idea of what it is I am doing here in Australia, and I promised that I would also give a quick sketch of what the bigger picture is of YWAM, and specifically of YWAM Perth. So....without further ado, let's go!

First of all, I'll briefly explain what YWAM is - although I think most people are somewhat familiar with it, so I'll make it quick. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) was founded 50 years ago with the idea that years of theological training did not necessarily qualify people to serve the Lord effectively, and should not be a requirement before encouraging young people to pass on the love of Christ through missions. At the time, this was considered a revolutionary concept. Over the last 40 years, YWAM has grown to more that 16,000 people serving in over 1,000 bases on every continent and in over 160 nations around the world with the mission to "know God and make Him known".

YWAM Perth was started 25 years ago with 10 people and has grown to be about 300 staff, plus hundreds of students coming through the wide variety of training programs each year. There are dozens of ministries operating from the base, both in Perth and throughout the world. I will focus today on some of the training programs, as well as some of the ministries we have going on.

The *culture* of the base is one of working hard as a family. And we do work hard...there are no scheduled days off during the year except for Christmas day, and even this we spend together! We eat 2 meals together a day, and the singles are squeezed in 10-12 people per house! Despite this, everyone seems to get along really well. One thing I have really appreciated about the family atmosphere is how inclusive and inviting everyone is - there really is a sense of family here. Corporately we have many times together each week (in addition to 2 meals per day)...worship on Mondays, intercession on Tuesday and Fridays, staff meeting on Wednesdays, evangelism on Thursdays, and Friday night meetings. Everyone spends the first 1/2 hour of the day working together to get the base cleaned up and we also have a lot of family times doing things like going to the beach or park, BBQ's, game nights, movies, etc. It is definitely a bit different than the way we do things back home! It hasn't always been an easy transition for me, but I am learning and growing each day.

So, let's start with the training programs - the primary "school" being the DTS (Discipleship Training School). This is the entry level school for anyone wanting to be involved with YWAM, or for those just wanting to set aside 6 months to really focus on who God is and get His heart for them and for the world. This is what YWAM is best known for.

There are also a multitude of 2nd and 3rd level schools. These schools are generally 3-12 months in length and train people in more specialized areas. Did you know you can actually earn your AA, BA, MA and PhD through YWAM? Yup!

So, there are a few dozen higher level schools here in Perth, covering topics like health care, counseling, biblical studies, education/youth & child ministries, media, frontier missions (unreached peoples), worship/music, community development, community transformation, etc. All in all, there are over 35 different schools offered each year with about 500 students coming in for training. Wow! That's a lot!

Moving on to the ministries here...I'll just focus on a few, but you can actually find out lots more (if you're just REALLY wanting to know all the details!!) at www.ywamperth.org.au - it's actually a great site!

So, basically, it is helpful to recognize that all YWAM ministries focus around 3 primary areas - evangelism (making God known), training and mercy ministries. Within these 3 areas, YWAM has identified 7 "spheres of influence" that they feel cover the various aspects of society - religion, government & law, arts & entertainment, education, busines, media, and family. Hopefully that helps give some perspective.

As you can imagine, much of what we do covers multiple "areas" and "spheres" - for example, my ministry - Pathway - would be both evangelistic and mercy ministry in scope, and covers different spheres such as religion, education, and family. Yeah? Yeah!

Okay, so here is a quick look at the ministries we have going on here in Perth, and a brief description of them...

100 Clinics - planting 100 mother-and-child health clinics in poor communities throughout the world where there is little to no health care. They train local people using *simple health care* teaching in areas like: how to deal with diarrhea, dehydration, nutrition, etc.

Ark International (Children at Risk) - we are "defending the rights of children at risk, restoring their dignity as children of God, and developing their God-given gifts" in this ministry. Who are children at risk? Kids who are impoverished, abused, neglected and worse.

Art Refuge - these ladies use art to connect with people and create a place for people to open up and talk. They work with abused women, homeless people, the elderly, and those in detention. Plus, they do a lot of teaching around the base and working with the different schools there.

Asia Impact - There are over 10,000 Asian-Buddhists in Perth, and we are very close to many Asian nations. These guys partner with Asian churches in the area and are reaching the Asian community for Christ.

Australian Relief and Mercy Services - Also knows as "ARMS", they work with families at risk for short periods helping in whatever way is needed - cleaning house, watching children, running errands, gardening, and just being there in tough times.

Backbone (Support Staff) - well, I guess this one speaks for itself, huh? These servant-hearted folks take care of those things like: property, vehicle maintenance, kitchen, accounts, hospitality, accommodation, etc.

Bible Education and Leadership Training - in partnership with Wycliffe, training church leaders in Nepal, the Congo and the Pacific leading toward community trasformation.

Boomerang Teams - this is the "short term" outreach opportunities for people to get a taste of missions - similar to what I did in Chico.

Children's Resource Centre - this ministry is based in Thailand and is a partnership with ARMS, ARK and Asia Impact offering counseling, education, and training for children at risk. They work in slums, with trafficked children and offer sports programs - the Nak Suu Tigers rugby academy.

Create International - they make movies and other media projects for cross cultural evangelism that are in the mother language and are culturally relevant to different people groups - similar to the "Jesus" films.

Faces 58 - their goal is to transform communities and to see the faces of the people change.

Island breeze - using dance, music and dramas from the Islands to share the gospel.

Justice for Women and Children - fairly self-explanatory, but focused primarily on women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trade.

Media - part of the "backbone" ministry, they put together all forms of media for the base; including print, internet and video - these guys are very talented!

Megacities - with a vision to transform large cities, they coordinate with churches in different cities and surrounding areas to pour into that city for a full year with hundreds of teams from our base, as well as other bases and ministries. The 2010 city focus is Mexico City. We will be focusing on London in 2012.

Mission Builders - these are short-termers who come and help out at the base for any amount of time from 1 week to 3 months. Looking to check out YWAM, or just want to come alongside and help in a variety of areas? This is a great place to do it!

Sports Ministry - using sports to connect with youth and communities in order to share the love of Christ.

Youth Ministries - working with youth in a variety of ways - through school presentations, discipleship, sports, camps, music, youth groups, etc.

Yeah, so this is just a snapshot of some of the things going on here! This past Friday night, we were given some statistics of what we have accomplished in the past 3 months...check it out!

- we have spent over 2,000 hours in prayer in JUST our prayer chain time...which, by the way, is a 24/7 prayer chain that has been going on for over 12 years now!
- over 100,000 hours of work and ministry have been completed - all of this being *volunteer* work, as no one is paid a salary.
- we have seen over 1,000 people come to the Lord!

Well, although there is so much more going on that I could talk about, I will end now. Some things just have to be experienced, don't you think?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

"What is it you *DO* exactly???"

I get this question a lot, and I have to admit - it's a hard one. Not because I'm not doing much, but because what I'm doing is vast and huge and has many implications. Not only that, but I'm only a part of the whole, which is doing even more and is even that much more intricate and vast. Where to start? How to put it into a short blurb so you don't see the ol' eyes glaze over, yet offers enough information to adequately cover the question? Ah yes, that is the trick!

Importantly, and legitimately, I need to clearly communicate what I'm doing. After all, I'm asking people to support me and the work the Lord has called me to! So, I have decided to do a multi-part series that covers this question, as well as the following...what YWAM Perth is doing, my vision and plans for the next 3-5 years (and beyond), perspectives on sharing my needs – outlining the big picture, scripture study on giving to missions and missionaries, a discussion on the standard of living for missionaries, and why I’m in it for the long haul (and what that means).

By they way...did you know that you can receive email notification when I update my blog? It's true! And it's easy! Take a look up at the top of this page - no, not that far up....yeah - there! See in the upper left hand area where the word "follow" is? Just click on it, and put in your email address. Yup - it's that easy.

Okay then - let's get to it. So what is it I *do* exactly?

You probably already know that the ministry I am working with is called "Pathway". The short of it is that we are working with refugees and immigrants as they come to Australia, helping them in a variety of ways as they integrate into this new society. What that means on a daily basis is that I go out and meet with families to help them with practical things like: English, cooking, parenting, driving, navigating the bus system, going to the doctor, explaining bills, budgeting, etc.

Just who are these refugees, you ask? For the most part, they come from "unreached" people groups - meaning people who come from nations where Christianity is restricted or illegal and there is no viable church and less than 2% of the population are Christian. They are brought to Australia because their own country is so unsafe for them - due to war, famine, political unrest, and dire personal threat (of imprisonment, torture and death). They have seen and endured things no human should ever know about. They come primarily from the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central & Southeast Asia. Most are Muslim, although some are Hindu, Buddhist and even a few are Christian.

Most of the time, I am invited to come in to their homes to help them learn English. Although refugees are eligible to receive English training, many young moms are unable to go since they don't drive and have no one to watch after their children. They remain completely isolated. We meet these ladies in many different ways - door knocking, in the mall, on the bus, through social service agencies, word-of-mouth, etc. We make our home visits in pairs, at least until we know a person well. Although we start off with English, it quickly develops into many other areas. Since these women tend to be young moms with small children, one of my favorite ways of working with them is to come alongside them as a mother would and help them in their parenting.

So, as I said, most every day we are heading out to meet with different ladies - two or three per day. Some we meet with weekly, others fortnightly and still others occasionally. This is in addition to the various things happening at the base, such as Monday morning worship, Tuesday & Friday morning intercession, Wednesday afternoon staff meetings, Thursday night evangelism and Friday night meetings!

We are going to be starting to work in the detention centers next month, as well as partnering with local social servce agencies to serve the refugee community. Right now we have two free English classes per week, and will be expanding on that - at the Migrant Resource Center and also at the detention center. When refugees first get here, they spend from several months to a few years in detention while their background is checked out, and so we will be working with the people there. We are also starting to work with the Immigration department, to be the "first contact" for people - picking them up at the airport, and working closely with them for the first 6 weeks they are in the country in finding housing, work, furnishings, getting settled in, etc. All of this with only 2 of us full-time in the department!! We also have another person who is with us 6 months of the year and one more who is with us about 1/2 time as well.

You may be wondering about the spiritual aspect of what we are doing with these ladies. Most of my English lessons are centered around what I would term "Kingdom principles", meaning we talk about unconditional love, guilt and shame, forgiveness, etc. All of this is intended to get the ladies thinking about the bigger picture and how they fit into it, and leading up to deeper discussions of who God is, who Jesus is and what the Bible says. Since almost all of them are Muslim, they already believe in one supreme God, and they respect Jesus as a prophet - but they have been given some gross misinterpretations of who He is. For example, they have been told that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross, that he was switched with Judas at the last minute, but no one realized it because they looked similar. In much of this, only the Lord can reveal the truth to their hearts, so a lot of our preparation is spent in prayer, prayer and more prayer, seeking the Lord for His help and strategies.

We also regularly pray with the ladies, and they are very open to this. We are handing out Bibles in peoples' native languages and doing all we can to introduce them to the God who loves them personally and profoundly. Additionally, we have some videos we watch & discuss with them such as the Jesus film, More Than Dreams (this is a major way God is reaching Muslims right now...we Christians aren't going to them, so He is sending His Spirit in their dreams!!), and others like it - they are in the native languages of the people we work with (a lot of them are made by a YWAM Perth ministry called CREATE International).

The Muslim community is considered "resistant" to the gospel, and the reasons for this are deep and complicated. However, we have seen some good fruit in our ministry. One family of siblings are very interested in accepting Jesus as Lord. One of the brothers already has, and the other two meet with us regularly with lots of questions. This is not a quick process, and you have to be willing to walk alongside people throughout it. There are two young men who recently were saved and baptized and are so excited about the Lord. Many others are hungry and eager to learn more. We've seen several who have received instant healing after we've prayed for them - from migraines, back pain, for work. It all works together!

Well, this is a snapshot of what I'm doing here...I feel like I could go on, because there is so much more, but I'll end here! In July I'll be taking a course to earn a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), which will take 3 months. This will not only help in what I'm doing currently, but will also help as I move forward into other countries to minister, as ESL is always in high demand.

As I mentioned before, I'm going to be putting out a little multi-part series to address several topics...I expect to get one out per week or so - I'd love your feedback! Thanks and God bless you!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mild Meanderings of the Mind

I'm thinking maybe I should write a book about my life...it's been pretty interesting, really. Shocking at times. I don't know that people would believe some of the things that I've been through. Hmmm...maybe it would be a way to earn some additional support.

Speaking of support, I've realized I'm at approximately 50% of what I need to be at. That is not good. I have sufficient funds for my monthly expenses if I'm careful, but not enough to plan for the future. Currently, the future includes: Sierra's senior year in school, going home to visit in June 2011, renewing our visas (and Sierra's passport), medical insurance renewal, etc. So, I'm open to creative and clever ideas to increase my support base! Any ideas?

So I've started getting back to my hippie days a bit...okay, not really, but in a way! I was always fascinated by all-natural things and by home remedies, organic foods, gardening, etc. For the past year or so I've been making a point to eat more "whole" foods - sometimes called "clean" foods - basically, things as close to their natural state as possible. And, lately I've also been making things from scratch a lot more and not having much processed food. I'm really enjoying it and it's igniting a desire in me to learn about gardening! There is a store here called Kakula's in which they sell tons of bulk whole foods...ie - several different types of flour, or herbs, or whatever - and you can buy as much or as little as you like. It's basically like a natural foods store from back home. I really like it.

It makes me think of what I used to dream of when I was a little girl...I had visions of living on a farm, with lots of children, and animals. It eventually grew to be orphaned and foster children that were on that farm. Now I'd like to see moms, too...learning about parenting, nutrition, work skills, being discipled in their faith. I've picked up and laid down this idea a hundred times in the past. Recently, a friend and I were talking and found out that we have the same exact dream, down to every detail. Hmmm...where are you taking this, Lord?

I simply cannot believe Sierra will be 16 this month. Is it even possible that I am old enough to have a 16 year old daughter? And not only that, but a daughter who graduates High School in a year and a half? Impossible, I say! I'm absolutely in mourning about her growing up and over the fact that I don't have more children. I feel like I still have so much more "mothering" in me. I definitely want more children...is that weird?

Well, I s'pose that's all for now...maybe I'll meander on a bit more another time....night y'all!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Open Heart Surgery

The past few Mondays I've had outpatient heart surgery. No, no - please don't panic! This is a good thing! My surgeon is the best - some call Him Yahweh, others Jehovah - I mostly call Him "Father".

It's amazing how God knows those little things that have been left behind, little wounds that have mostly healed, but still need a bit of attention. Things that might be easy to overlook, justify away, ignore...until they become infected and spread their cancerous growth of bitterness, fear, pride, envy. But God is a faithful and skilled surgeon..."For the wordof God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

What I am about to share is very difficult, and quite graphic...it may be hard to read, but I felt that by sharing it, I can share God's faithfulness with you.

The first Monday I had surgery, we were together as a base, worshipping the Lord as we do every Monday morning. It was a wonderful time of worship and intercession, and we were fighting together for the breakthrough in finances needed by many of our students and staff. The air was electric and the energy was high. Suddenly, without warning or any discernible reason, I was transported in my mind to another time and place. Six weeks into my second marriage, and my face, neck and chest were scalded from the hot coffee that had just been thrown on me. My husband was on top of me, choking me with one hand and the other cocked back in a fist aimed for my face. I had already ducked out of the way of the first punch, which ended with a broken hand for him. As I lay there, helpless, I did the only thing that came to my mind to do...I gave up. I played dead. I completely surrendered. Literally, I let every muscle in my body go limp and waited to see what came next.

As this scene went through my mind, I began weeping. "This is all in the past - I've dealt with this and moved on! God, why are You bringing this up again?"

Gently, with the grace and love only God can have, He showed me how this one incident had robbed me of my will to fight, to stand up for myself, to look the enemy in the face and say "enough!" Instead, I had become complacent in the face of difficulty and conflict - passive. God wanted to restore that, to restore me to wholeness. Tough when I need to be tough, gentle when I need to be gentle...able to stand in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13).

"Forgive me, Lord, forgive my passivity and complacency. Teach me and restore me! And God, I forgive him...again." How faithful is He who is more concerned about our hearts than our works, for we know that, "He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sierra's Celebrationl

Well, going back a bit, I thought I'd put up some of what happened for Sierra's celebration back in November 2009. First of all, I just want to reiterate that it was AMAZING! Thank you to everyone for your time, energy, love and support of this incredible young woman!

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain a bit. For a long time I've thought that it was tragic that as westerner's, we have no real "ceremony" or "rite of passage" where we welcome our young people into adulthood with lifelong mentoring, intentional blessing and rites of passage. Most cultures of the world have these ceremonies, and it is a time to mark the transition from childhood into adulthood. So many of our young people end up floating in adolescence for an extended period, trying to define their adulthood in really destructive ways such as drinking, drugs and sexual activity.

For years, I had wanted to have a rite of passage ceremony to mark this transition, and I began talking to people and reading up on what happened in other cultures. I thought about doing something like a Christian version of a Bat Mitzvah, etc. Finally, I took bits from different sources and made something that worked for us. A book that was a huge help to me was "Boy's Passage, Man's Journey" by Brian Moliter. I know it's focusing on a rite of passage for boys, but I was able to glean a ton of information from it.

So, to begin with, I had to prepare Sierra for it, really taking time to invest in what it means to be a godly woman, how to walk that out, etc. She rose up to it in such a beautiful way, it was really amazing. Then, I also had to teach people what it was we were doing, and trying to accomplish - this wasn't meant just be a birthday party or something (in fact, it wasn't even close to her birthday!).

The day itself was a dress-up affair and everyone looked stunning! This was a day meant for women to pass the baton on to another young woman, so it was just us girls. Sierra's grandpa made a guest appearance at the end to extend his blessing over her.

We all gathered together on a Saturday afternoon, starting our day off with some fellowship and h'orderves, followed by a bit of worship. After this, I shared some teaching on what we were embarking on and challenged the women with the gravity of what we were undertaking. A few ladies shared some relevant stories and we had a few skits that had a dual purpose of being a whole lot of fun, while also teaching valuable lessons about our choices in life, and also about the importance of asking for help. Finally, we all had an opportunity to share with Sierra.

When I was putting the celebration together, I prayed specifically for who it was God wanted to be there to extend blessing to her. As I said previously, this wasn't meant to be just a party, but really a rite of passage. I wanted people there who really understood that. I asked each of the ladies to write a letter to Sierra, imparting both knowledge and blessing. It was not meant to be a preachy time. I also asked them to bring a small, symbolic token for her, indicating something meaningful. Everyone was so creative and really invested themselves into the letters and gifts. It was priceless! Someday I think it would be awesome to put the letters into a book! All of the insight, wisdom and love shared that day will continue to unfold and gain significance and deeper revelation throughout Sierra's life.

Below I've put together the stories we read, as well as the two teachings I did on the Titus 2 charge and the significance of extending a blessing to our children. I hope you'll enjoy them - please let me know what you think!

Diamonds Are Formed Under Incredible Pressure - read by Doris Wilkison

I'm wondering where we ever got the idea that if we turned our lives over to the Lord things were going to be easy. I know there are times when it seems as if the world is crashing in around me and I look up at the Lord and say, "It's not supposed to be this way!" Really? If I take an honest look at the Scriptures, it seems to me that God's greatest leaders have always gone through times of intense trial. Look at Joseph - sold as a slave and thrown in prison through no fault of his own, Moses - ripped from the luxury of Egypt's palaces to tend sheep in the desert, David - hunted by Saul because of Saul's jealousy, Daniel - thrown into the lion's den because of his devotion to God. So, who am I to think that I should bypass the trials in life?God never promised that there wouldn't be trials. In fact, He says the exact opposite - "in this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33. And David says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Ps 23:4 I think that means we will walk through valleys, because valleys are part of the journey. But as we are walking in them, we know that God is with us in the difficulty, using it to accomplish His purpose in our lives. In fact, we know more than that. We know that God uses our trying times to forge our character into what He intends. Trouble has a way of refining and defining us. It's in the heat of affliction that our true character shines through. What is our first thought when trouble comes? Do we turn to God, fall on our knees and recognize that He is our only source - our sole sufficiency, or do we complain, curse and whine? Really, what is your response to testing times? A diamond is only formed under intense heat and pressure. It's through extreme conditions that the molecular structure of the diamond melded into place. And it's the molecular structure, the bonds at the very core of the stone that make the diamond what it is. The bonds of a diamond have such integrity of purpose that it's the hardest substance known to man. A diamond can cut through every other substance. I think God longs to form an integrity of belief and faith in us like those that are formed in a diamond. And the only way He can accomplish that is to let us go through times of intense pressure. Because the hardships in our lives are the only way He can remake us in the most elemental part of our being. He longs to form such an integrity of conviction and faith that we will be impenetrable. As we are formed in this manner, I also believe that we become brilliant to behold ~ just like a diamond. So that we can "...shine as lights in the midst of a dark and perverse generation." Phil 2:15.I believe we are diamonds in the rough. Some just beginning to become diamonds in the midst of intense trials, some have an internal structure formed, but now must go through the mining process, and some are ready to be cut and reveal the brilliance of the lessons learned in the times of trial. It really doesn't matter where we are on the journey. What's important is to know that God is at work, even when we don't see how He could be in view of our situation. When we understand that God is at work in the trials of our lives, our troubles will take on a different meaning for us and we will be able to "give thanks in everything."So, don't be surprised at the great trials and pressures in your life. God is using them to create something wonderful in you. For a while it may seem unbearable, but the results will be beautiful to behold!Lord, help us to realize that in the midst of our trials, You are working. You are forging in us integrity of character that cannot be overcome by this world. You are causing us to become more than conquerors, because we choose to acknowledge you as Lord in every circumstance and situation. Take me as a diamond in the rough, and do whatever is necessary to create a brilliant reflection of Your glory in my life. I love You, Lord. Amen

Refining Fire – Malachi 3:3 (New King James Version) - read by Gloria Coburn

3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the LORD
An offering in righteousness.

"There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three they came across verse three, which says, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot - then she thought again about the verse, that He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's the easy part -- when I see my image reflected in it."

The Importance of Training

God gives us many instructions in His Word. Today I want to focus on a few scriptures that have to do with training.

Proverbs 22:6 (New International Version)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Corinthians 9:24-26 (New International Version)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly...

I particularly want to focus on our next scripture:

Titus 2:3-5 (New International Version)
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Ladies, we have been given a mandate by the Word of God – that is, we are to “train the younger women…” Today’s celebration is a walking out of that mandate, although it does not end here.

One of the sacred duties and privileges we have as older women is to come alongside younger women, walk with them, and mentor them as they move through their lives. We have the honor of sharing with them our experiences and the things we’ve learned in life, with the hope of seeing them fulfilled in their high calling of being a woman who fears the Lord (Prov. 31:30 – “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised).

We may share with them practical advice – how to find a properly fitting bra, or how to walk in high heels, perhaps even how to make a pot roast.

We may counsel them in relationships – how to guard their heart, how to deal with difficulties in friendships, or maybe even how to relate to young men.

We certainly talk with them about emotions – the importance of forgiveness; having the freedom to cry when necessary, and how to handle anger in a positive and healthy way.

And let us not be hesitant to also share with them spiritual truth – the importance of a God-centered life, of the need for grace, or of God’s sufficiency in our lives.

The list could go on forever – and this is our charge. To continue to walk alongside our young women; lifting them up, encouraging them, admonishing them, loving them and training them.

I have asked you to be here today because of your commitment to God, to Sierra and to our family. It is no accident that you are here – this day and this moment has been ordained by God and blessed by His hand – we are a generation of Believer’s who are committed to God’s Word and all that it contains – committed to loving God first, and then others. This is not an easy task. It takes time; it takes commitment. It takes investing your self, heart and soul, into another person. However, that is exactly what God has asked us to do, and has modeled for us himself through the example of Jesus.

Thank you so much for your willingness to be here, and for your commitment to Jesus and to us. I believe with all of my heart that God will bless your efforts and your investment into this very special, very precious young woman of God.

I also did a teaching on blessing...

Genesis 27 – The Covenant of Blessing

Genesis 27 is the story of when Jacob (at his mother urging) dresses up like Esau and tricks his father Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing (read Gen. 27).

Genesis 48:8-16 is the story of when Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons.
Just then Jacob noticed Joseph's sons and said, "Who are these?"
Joseph told his father, "They are my sons whom God gave to me in this place."
"Bring them to me," he said, "so I can bless them." Israel's eyesight was poor from old age; he was nearly blind. So Joseph brought them up close. Old Israel kissed and embraced them and then said to Joseph, "I never expected to see your face again, and now God has let me see your children as well!"

Joseph took them from Israel's knees and bowed respectfully, his face to the ground. Then Joseph took the two boys, Ephraim with his right hand setting him to Israel's left, and Manasseh with his left hand setting him to Israel's right, and stood them before him. But Israel crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of Ephraim who was the younger and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the firstborn. Then he blessed them: The God before whom walked my fathers Abraham and Isaac, The God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this very day, The Angel who delivered me from every evil, Bless the boys. May my name be echoed in their lives, and the names of Abraham and Isaac, my fathers, And may they grow covering the Earth with their children.

There are a few things that are notable about this story – most importantly is the concept of one person blessing another. The Hebrews understood this blessing to be much more than the Gentiles comprehend.

The Hebrews believed the blessing to be equivalent to a vow (covenant, pledge, treaty, alliance) made in the name of God. In ancient times, the Hebrews did not use the name of God casually. They had such a reverence for God, that they only used His name in the most serious of circumstances. In fact, they would not even write His name out! They understood that God is a covenant God, that He is utterly true to His Word, and that this undertaking – giving a blessing, making a vow or covenant – was absolutely binding because God is absolutely faithful.

I express this because I want to emphasize the seriousness of what we are doing here today. We are giving a blessing over Sierra that is binding in the heavens. What we speak over her today through our blessings and prophetic utterances, I fully believe that God hears and holds fast to. This is not a casual time of wishing her well, but a time of calling her into spiritual maturity and Godly womanhood.

Unlike the story of Jacob and Esau, there will be no stealing of any blessing spoken over Sierra today! We know this is true, because Matt. 18:18-20 tells us "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

So, in that vein, I just want to pray over this time – Jesus, we thank you for the work you did for us on the cross. Lord, we honor your Holy Name and we surrender our lives to you. We thank you for being here with us today, and for taking part in this special ceremony. We just declare our faith in You and in Your Word – we know that you are a God of your word, and we thank you for that. Lord, we loose your Spirit to reign over this day, and we pray for you to guide us. Lord, we stand in agreement over the spiritual blessings you have poured out over Sierra today, Lord, and we thank you for all that You have done in her life already, and all that You have yet to accomplish in her and through her. We praise You that You want to partner with us. Father God, we pray that you would bind these blessings in heaven and on earth. We pray that the words that are spoken today are Your words, God, and that they would sink deep into Sierra’s spirit and take root. Father, we pray that the seeds planted today would take root in healthy soil, Lord, and that they would grow and bear much fruit. Father we pray for your Holy Fire to rain down on us, Lord! We bind the enemy and his tactics – we say he cannot snatch even one word that is spoken today, that his plans against Sierra will fail. Lord, we honor You, and we praise Your holy name. Thank you, Jesus! We pray all of this in the binding name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's Up Down Under

            Wow! Has it really been two months already? I can hardly believe it - in some ways it seems like it's been a lifetime that we've lived here, and in other ways it still all seems so new!

            So much has happened, that I think I'll just make some comments on various areas....


            Well, we celebrated our first Christmas overseas...prior to the "big day" Sierra was struggling with not being home for it, but on Christmas day she woke up determined to have a good one and she blew me away with her positive and grateful attitude. That girl is so amazing! We got up and opened up presents at home and hung out and celebrated together before heading to the base for the big "Family Celebrations". It's a blast! First of all, they hang a stocking out for every single person about 10 days before Christmas, and people spend a lot of time filling them all up with all sorts of little goodies - chocolates, candles, notes, etc. Most people do this on Christmas Eve, so it looks a lot like Santa's workshop that night! We got to the base and opened up our stockings - it was really fun. We hung around a bit, and then there was a huge Christmas dinner with the works - turkey, ham, lobster, salads, desserts - just about anything you can think of. After dinner we had a White Elephant gift exchange that was pretty wild...mostly because it involved about 300 people, and also because if someone wanted to take your gift from you, you were allowed to run away to try and keep it so there were some really good games of chase in and around all 300 of us! Organized chaos, I guess you would call it....haha!!!

            The next day was "boxing day" which is really big here - I guess it means you take all the stuff you didn't like back to the store and exchage it. Or maybe box up your Christmas decorations? At any rate, the whole base went to the beach for the day - with a few thousand other Aussies. It was a beautiful and hot day and perfect for the beach. It was a wonderful way to spend the day!

            Overall, Christmas ended up being really pretty good. We were able to Skype with the fam the day after, which was their Christmas, and we were happy to be able to see them, but that also made us miss them!


            Well, as I intimated previously, I am working with the Pathway ministry. This ministry helps refugees and immigrants as they transition to Australia. It is still a new ministry, so we are "pioneering" it and still growing it. A lot of what we are doing right now is getting connected with the people, particularly in an area called Mirrabooka where many refugees go. We do a lot of door-knocking and community surveys and handing out fliers for free English classes. We also had a kids club that we started over the summer holiday and that was really successful. It was so neat to see kids from so many nations, all coming together. I just know that I've caught a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven when all the nations come together to praise God in every tongue!

            We've connected with some people in Mirrabooka now and make frequent trips there to meet with them for English practice, driving lessons or just to visit. Many of the people come from the middle East and are Muslim, so I am learning much about the Muslim culture and religion and how to share Christ with them. I have found that I particularly love the Hazara people, who are Shi'a Muslims and come from Afghanistan - they are a kind, gentle and peaceful people. It is really good to get to know people apart from all you hear in the media.


            Yes, Sierra did make it to Cambodia for 2 1/2 weeks! She absolutely LOVED it! She was in Batambang, a rural town. She helped to teach English at a youth center and really connected with the kids there. It was quite a miracle, actually, because she was almost not allowed on the plane to go!! Apparently her passport needed to be good for 6 months beyond her travel dates, and it was only good for 5 months beyond them...so they weren't going to let her go! However, God is good, and He made a way and she found favor at each port of entry to continue on - praise the Lord!

            It was really exciting for me - okay, brag alert - but so many of the leaders from her team and from the training camp time sought me out to tell me what an amazing girl Sierra is - she was so helpful, had such a great attitude, a real leader, so on fire for God, etc, etc. I was so proud of her!! She had some amazing revelations from the Lord while she was there, and was simply beaming upon her return.

            School & Miracles

            Sierra is attending Mt. Lawley Senior High School. She just finished her 1st week, but I will give you all a little background info!

            Well, first of all, we knew coming in that foreign students pay a fee to attend school. The fees for year 10 are $6,500 - year 11 it is $7,500 and year 12 is $7,500 - $21,500 altogether. I didn't know how I was going to pay for those fees, but followed the word of the Lord and came, trusting Him to figure it out. I was praying for someone to sponsor her through school, or something.

            We signed up for school and she had to go in for an interview. I thought they would interview her and go over her records, etc - but no, they just started putting her in classes. At one point I asked "what grade will she be in?" and the lady says "what year do you want her to be in?" I about fell out of my chair!! I told her I wasn't sure - she had completed only part of grade 10 in the US. She looked over her records and called another counselor in, who did the same. Then he asked Sierra how old she was an declared she would be in year 11! So, that meant the fees for year 10 were no more!! A savings of $6,500.

            She got her classes - that was a whole ordeal - the kids have to basically declare their college major at 15 years old! She didn't know, they told her to figure it out in 5 minutes and then ended up putting her in business, which she was really bummed about. More on how that was resolved later...

            A few days later, we got a letter from the school confirming her classes, and informing us of her fees. All students here have to pay for the classes they take, plus buy their own books and of course, the uniform. So, we got a bill and it was for $536. I thought maybe I'd get another bill for the year 11 foreign student fees, but it never came. When I went to the school to pay for her fees, I asked the lady and she said "oh, it just says the $536 - we'll just leave it, I'm sure if you're volunteering here you are doing something good" and ta-da! Year 11 fees were taken care of! Not only that, but as I was looking through the 2nd hand uniforms to get some peices for Sierra, I started talking to the guy who was working there. He is the school chaplain...we chatted for 20 minutes or so and when I asked him how much I owed for what I had picked out, he gave them to me for free!!!

            So - miraculously, God has sponsored Sierra Himself! How cool is that? It's a really, really good thing, because as it is, between her regular fees, her books and her uniform, it's already been over $1,500...but thankfully I've had that and have been able to get her the things she'll need.

            Oh yeah - her classes! So, a few days before school started we went to buy the other peices of her uniform she would need and I went to the office to see if she could change her "pathway" (major of study). The head guy was there and he whisked us into his office and click-click-click it was all done and now she is studying Media Arts, which I think she will really love. She had a media class and a photography class this year, along with the usual English, Math, Science, PE, Social Studies. All in all, the only thing she'll be missing for college in America is a course in US History, which we'll do via homestudy.

            25th/50th Celebration

            This year is a banner year for YWAM - it marks our 5oth year! That is quite a feat, and so Loren Cunningham, the founder, is traveling all over the world to meet with YWAMmers and celebrate. It is also a big year for YWAM Perth - it's our 25th year! So, to celebrate, we had the 25th/50th Celebration that lasted for a week. A LOT of preparation for the big party! We had about 700 people here for the week, all to celebrate and come together.

            The week itself was packed with a lot of activities and teaching sessions where Loren & Darlene Cunningham, Peter & Shirley Brownhill (founders of YWAM Perth) and other speakers told us stories about YWAM's history, vision for the future and challenged us in several areas of our walk with the Lord. I could never capture it here, so I will share a few bullet points of things that particularly touched me.

            • We were reminded that everything we have now is because we are standing on the shoulders of those who said "yes" before us, and how the blessings of the righteous will go forth for 1,000 generations. This was particularly poignant for me as I thought of all the people who have said "yes" to supporting me and on whose shoulders I stand so that I can serve Christ with my whole being. I was also contemplating and giving thanks for my dad, who said "yes" to the Lord and put a stake in the ground to stop the generational curses from his parents of incest, abuse and addiction. I am really overwhelmed how he is first in line of that 1,000 generations - and I am second, and Sierra is 3rd. It is so humbling, and I am so thankful for him, my mom and for all you.
            • Revelation comes after you've made the commitment - not before. This was especially for me as I have come to Perth not really *knowing* the full purpose of why God has called me here, but trusting in Him for my all!
            • 100 years after Jesus died, 1 out of every 360 people in the world were born again believers. By the time of Martin Luther, that number was 1 out of 69. In 1950, the number had gone down to 1 in every 21 people (this is world-wide people!!) and now the number is 1 out of 10 people know Jesus as their personal savior. The great commission is being fulfilled!! There are so many nay-sayers out there, but God is accomplishing His great purposes. Cool, huh?
            • A reminder to stay single-minded, whole-hearted and focused on God's call - to continue to say "yes" to God, to develop an "I won't quit" attitude, as well as an attitude of gratitude.
            • Did you know it takes the average reader only 72 hours to read the Bible? Crazy!!
            • A challenge to "put legs" to your prayers! Yes God!
            • A problem for some missionaries (and I have struggled with this) is feeing "illegitimate" in what we are doing - as though it is not enough because it is so different from the world's standard and the church's standard - but a reminder to fight tenaciously for what God has called us to do - it is the legitimate call of God to "go into all the world..." We are to bring the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and to disciple nations. This is an apostolic calling.

            Well, that is some of the nuggets I got! This is getting really long, so I will move on now....

            Future Plans

            All of my plans have been moved up by a year since Sierra is now graduating High School a year early! Yikes!! I know that I am called into the frontier - to go where no man has gone before - okay, that was a bit campy, but seriously, I feel called to go to the unreached world. Did you know that over 80% of missionaries are in the most-evangelized parts of the world? I want to go to those places where we are not.

            This July, I am going to take a TESOL course - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I will receive a TESOL certificate from the government of Australia that certifies me to teach in other countries - this is a great way to get in to "closed" countries, as well as a way to do some "tent making" if need be. It is a 6 week course, followed by a 6 week internship.

            After that, I know at some point in the next year or so I want to take a course in Frontier Missions, through YWAM Perth, where I can better learn exactly how to bridge that cultural gap and go into the frontier. I am thinking of doing a 2-year internship in Nepal after Sierra graduates from High School - I am hoping she'll want to come with me for all or part of it, but she'll be a full-fledged adult and have to make some decisions of her own about the future. She is set up to be able to attend college back home when she is ready, and also is wanting to do a DTS of her own. My how time flies! The next two years will yield a lot new directions and I'm sure will be very exciting.

            Well, I guess I should go for now - if you are still with me, give a big shout HURRAY! This was an epic post!! I want to again extend my gratitude to all who are supporting me through friendship, prayers and finances...I truly, truly couldn't do this alone and am so grateful to have a wonderful team of people supporting me! God bless each and every one of you!

            With much love - Dayna