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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in Thailand & The Beginning of our Break

     Christmas Eve was possibly my favorite Christmas Eve ever. We went around the neighborhoods in back of us and we just loved on the kids...actually I think we were the ones that got loved on most. We started out the night by going around passing out cookies and when we came back there was this massive pile of children just playing and so we joined in. We played with those kids for about 3 hours. We'd pick them up, spin them, hug them, give them kisses, tickle them, and let them take pictures with our cameras. We'd say, "jub jub" which means "kisses" in Thai and they'd kiss us on the cheek. We'd kiss them on the cheek and they'd kiss us back. We were pouring with sweat because we're carrying kids, maybe 2 or 3 at a time in my case, and it was so freaking hot out there. At one point one of the little girls took her skirt and wiped my forehead. What love!!! Then one of the girls gave us a henna tattoo for free and she wrote my name in English on my forearm and spelt it "STETPH" haha so for two weeks I'll be branded with this incorrect spelling of my name but I love it. Those kids filled up our love tanks and made us feel loved on Christmas Eve. We plan on continuing to play and love on those kids and hope to pioneer something that future teams can join in when they come to visit SHE.
     Christmas Day didn't feel like Christmas at all especially when I woke up to find that the internet was not working but the Christmas spirit kicked in to gear when about an hour before we were supposed to leave for the BBQ it came on and I was able to watch my family open the presents I had sent them. Such a blessing and it was nothing short of a miracle that it worked. After that we went to BangWad Dam and had our Christmas BBQ which was fully equipped with worship, a message, and games. And to top the night off we went out shopping and I nearly made out with a moped lol (meaning I almost got hit). Weirdest Christmas ever! When I got back I was able to skype with my family on their Christmas morning and watch them taunt me with bacon baskets and cinnamon rolls.
Me on Christmas Day at Bang Wad

    December 26 began our break, since our team never got one (straight after DTS we came here) and we went to the beach. But since we really don't know our way around we settled for going to a beach that was further down from Patong Beach....that was a mistake. Usually when I go to the beach I feel refreshed and energized but the fact that I had to walk down Bangla Rd to get to the beach and then when I get to the beach I'm confronted with topless women and big men in tiny speedos.....yeah wasn't my favorite beach day. But the water was amazing and I got to finally sample some of the amazing street vendors I've been hearing so much about. I first got a delicious banana smoothie which cooled me right off, then for lunch I got a slab of chicken hot off the spit with some sticky rice for about $2. Plus I got a bit burned which I know will turn into a tan so great day at the beach!

     Today we went on a tour of Phuket that cost us about $20 and if you were in any other place, a tour of this caliber would have been in the hundreds at least. We went all over the island!!! First stop was a pineapple/ rubber tree farm. Then we went to a viewpoint near the southern tip of Phuket, Karon. Absolutely stunning view. Then after that we went to the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket. I've never heard the commandments "You shall have no other gods before Me" and "You shall not make for yourself a carved image" so loudly before in all my life. The only way I know to describe the contrast is like hearing a song on the radio and then hearing that same song live in concert.
You can know all there is to know about idol worship; you know it's there; you know it happens, but then you see it in person and you're blasted by its reality. The contrast between knowing in my head that people worship idols and seeing someone bow down before one is strikingly different. I found myself singing the chorus, "Glorify, glorify. Let Your Name be lifted up and glorified. Let the earth tremble at Your Name. Let Your Name be lifted up and glorified." as I walked around the temple courtyard. I also found myself saying, "Lord I'm so, so sorry." over and over again; not because of anything I had done but because of what man had done; they'd taken their God-given talents and given them to a false god. It's like when you're friend's relative dies and you apologize; you had nothing to do with it and you may not even know the person but you're sorry because you know it hurts your friend; that's the way I felt today. And although, yes these idols are lifeless, that was in no way a spiritually dead place- there was a definite presence of the enemy in that place.
     After the temple we went to some random hotel where we were treated to free coffee. I'm sure the place assumed we would help ourselves to a glass, maybe two...I had 5 glasses of iced coffee and 2 glasses of iced tea. After we flooded our bodies with coffee and Thai tea we went to a cashew factory and I now know why cashews are so expensive: because for every one cashew fruit there is one cashew nut. Then we went KAYAKING!It was so picturesque of what I imagine Thailand to be like. So I sat in the front of the kayak and a nice Thai man named Lao took me all through the mangroves, sang in Thai while he paddled and asked me all kinds a questions about where I'm from, family and how I like Thailand. He was totally on my good side till we came up to a bamboo walkway in the mangroves and I asked him what that was for; he said it was for anacondas. I asked if you could walk on it and his reply was, "No not you, you too big; you make it go BOOM!" and then he proceeded to laugh and giggle like a little school boy.
video
We had so much fun! But when we went to go get in our car our tour guide points out monkeys; we have yet to encounter monkeys in Thailand yet so we all hurried over and found two cute monkeys in the mangroves...they did not stay there. Those monkeys came out and started charging us and we flew into panic mode! All we've heard are the horror stories that monkeys bite and steal things and aren't cute so we fled with the image in our mind that those things were gonna jump on us and eat our brains. Next thing we know the monkey army comes out of the mangroves and surrounds us. You'd have your eye on two in front of you and then they'd flank around you and come up behind you for the kill. We were screaming and laughing, feeding them our newly purchased cashews and trying to not get rabies. We howled with laughter!
     After our monkey escapade we went to a waterfall. We had a beautiful trek through the jungle and when we got there I saw some Thai boys climbing up beside the waterfall and jumping into the pool below.....how could I resist? I didn't even try I made sure everyone got their cameras out, climbed up there with the boys and jumped in! I knew that if I passed it up I would regret it and I'm so glad that I seized that chance because it made my trip. I ended up jumping in 3xs just overflowing with adrenaline and joy! I kept thinking about all the times my dad told me stories of times where he did similar things and how dumb he was; the only part was I couldn't remember whether the intended moral of the story was insinuated or stated haha. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIKtUJI5jV4 Here's the video of me jumping in

     And that was our day trip! We got back to find the other half of the room vacant because the world race team left today and tomorrow there's talk of us going to the beach. Friday we start ministry again; at first it was hard to switch from ministry to vacation but today was really good for us all to just laugh, have fun, goof off and just enjoy the day. So I hope we can really suck all the possible joy out of these next two days and just bathe in it because New Years Eve in the bars is going to be a toughy.

Here are the links to view the rest of the photos from Thailand; there are two albums:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=577005&id=891755183&l=ff653a59fe
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=583786&id=891755183&l=d320a1ca5b

Friday, December 24, 2010

กดที่ = Pressing On

I've been getting more and more used to being here in Thailand and more and more comfortable with the work that we're doing. It's really hard to know what to write honestly.
     Something cool that happened was I met a girl who used to work for sex but now she's a cashier and she really opened up to me and told me what it was like; gave me a real insider's perspective and a better idea of how they see things. Through her testimony I realized that she battled with the same insecurities that any other girl has battled with in dating. She asked the same questions I've known many other girls to ask. For example; she said that when she would be having sex with a guy she would wonder how many other girls he's slept with and if they were better than her. And I really came to the understanding that for these girls, prostitution is just dating on steroids. She talked about how sad it made her to see the other girls there looking for love but that they won't find it on these streets; but they're caught up in the lie. After she told me her story; how dirty that work is and how "never again"; I got an awesome chance to pray for her right there and when I was finished praying for her she brought over another girl and had me pray for her as well. What really amazed me about this woman was that no Christian nor missionary helped get her out of this; she just decided she had enough. It really encouraged me that even though we won't get to every girl that it doesn't mean there isn't hope for them; we aren't the source of their hope- God is and He's working on Bangla Rd.
     One thing I just cannot wrap my brain around is when I see families on Bangla Rd. I kid ya'll not, people bring there whole families with them onto this road. There are women dancing on poles, grabbing men, men grabbing them; sex and drunkenness is all around and parents bring their kids with them onto this street! It's child abuse; exposing your kids to stuff like that when they're so impressionable! We were all trying to figure it out and thought, "Did they just not know what Patong was when they came here or are they just that sick?" And I said, "Well if my family, for whatever reason, made the mistake in coming here without knowing what it was; my daddy would have gone to the store bought some board games and said, 'Well sorry but we're spending our vacation in the hotel. Hope you have fun and enjoy the pool.'" Am I right Daddy?
      I know a lot of fathers come to Patong and I've seen a lot of them accompanied by their teenage sons; it's their "passage to manhood". And I know that if my dad were here he'd be heart broken at the sight of so many daughters on the poles and in the bars; he wouldn't see prostitutes, he'd see someone's daughters. It's not because my dad is the sensitive type but because he's a father. What's wrong with these dads out here? Why don't they see what my dad would see? It makes me think of Jon Foreman's song, "Somebody's Baby." In it he sings, "She's somebody's baby, somebody's baby girl. And she's somebody's baby still."
    
     Well it's Christmas tomorrow in Thailand and we're having a bbq; although it feels nothing like Christmas especially with the added effect of sweat dripping down my back. The nice thing though is that we get the whole week off next week because we didn't get a Christmas break like the other teams so that begins tomorrow!!! WOOHOO. I'm really excited about having a break to just relax. We haven't really stopped going since DTS ended and we've just been going and going like the energizer bunny since then. So we're all pretty excited about having some R&R.

     Thank you all so much for the prayers. They're having a huge impact. I look back on conversations we've had and places we've been, how much grace and favor was there waiting for us, and the only way I can explain it is the prayers that have been being sent out. So thank you guys so much. If I wrote about every cool thing that happened then this blog would be as long an encyclopedia. You may think it already is but...I do show quite a bit of restraint while writing. To demonstrate just how I do it I'm going to.....


Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Spoon-full of Hope

     We went out to the bars tonight and even though it's late and I'm tired I really wanted to blog while this was still fresh on my mind because it's so good what God has done for us tonight.
     I was really struggling and was not sure how I was going to be in this scene for 3 months; the feelings were just so overwhelming but intercession made all the difference. Those of us whose hearts have really been grieving while on the streets went out this afternoon and covered the streets in prayer. We walked up and down and just interceeded for Bangalore Rd  (the street where we do our ministry) and for the work that our team would be doing that night and it made all the difference. It felt like stretching before a game and we all felt so much more confident and equipped to go out there.
    I visited a lady I met the first night and I got to meet her younger sister who also works there with her. I showed her a picture of my little sister and used that to kinda build a connection with them. They both don't like working there but the younger sister, who spoke better English, was telling me that she's not sure she's ready to take the step to leave because she's working to support her kids and she doesn't want to leave her sister. It's hard, I just wanted to hug her and say, "You can do this! You're strong enough! You can get out of this!" So I'm really going to keep going back to her and just build a relationship with her. She knows about SHE now and so I look forward to continuing to build the connection there.
     After other team members visited other girls they had met on the first night, we were walking and just seeing where we wanted to go next and as we were walking past Soi Sea Dragon (All the streets off of Bangalore Rd have names and down those streets are dozens of different bars. "Soi" just means street. If you click on the "Bangalore Rd" link you can see the list of all the side streets that we do ministry on.) and I really felt that we should go back there and I heard the phrase "blue shirt". I dismissed the whole blue shirt thing, more like kept it to myself, but told the team I felt we should go back. I was hesitant to because that was one of the streets we walked down on Saturday night and the demonic presence was so thick there. But we went down anyway and I saw a lady working with a blue shirt/dress and I felt "yep that's the one." So we sat down and it was mostly guys in the bar and the lady in the blue shirt refused to stay with us but there was obviously a purpose for it because there was another lady, a real character, who had an amazing conversation with Rachel, one of the girls on my team. Rachel told her about SHE and got her number...it was just great and it gave me, Rachel and Josie so much hope for that street. That there's no street  that is without hope; even the place that we thought was just the absolute pits, God really encouraged us so much on that street and even used that lady to bring us so much joy. That lady was so funny and she had us all in stitches. Rachel really felt like that was all for her.
     So seeds were sown, flyers passed out, prayers answered, hope given, spirits lifted...I'd say it was a great night! We know now that intercession is so key and that obedience in the little things is vital to us making an impact. A spoon-full of hope helps the darkness go down.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sawadeekha Thailand

     After a wonderful 12 hour plane ride filled with movies, a Thai woman vomiting, and an hour and a half of sleep we arrived in Bangkok. We stepped out of the airport and WHAM, Hello humidity! We get in the back of a truck and drive to the YWAM Thailand base where we stayed the night. All I have to say about that is "Thank God for fans!" We had our orientation and then that night we were off, again, for our 12 hour bus ride down to Phuket. We arrived in Phuket about 7 AM and our SHE contacts picked us up and took us to the ministry base in Katu, which is a little town inside Phuket.
     We are currently sharing the space here at SHE with 36 World Racers..........................they leave on the 29th. When we arrived we were able to shower and rest then we had lunch and then we had our first half of orientation part of which included us being driven over to Patong (where we do our ministry work) to see what the bar scene looks like in the day time.
     Patong in the day time looks like a ghost town. The hardest thing was seeing these old western men walking hand in hand with these young beautiful Thai girls. But the scene would only be intensified with the setting of the sun (wow that was retardedly poetic). But it did. We arrive and the crowds were so thick and the bar streets were flooded with women prostituting themselves and scattered all around were men eager to buy them. I wanted to bawl my eyes out and just weep. My heart was so incredibly broken for what was going on here. However the middle of Patong is not the best place to weep for a broken city so we continued on and we ended up going into 3 bars and talking to the girls. We would order a soda and ask to play a game. The girls are very eager, surprisingly, to play a game with you and are very easy to talk to (providing they can speak enough English). They play games like connect four, jinga, and other kinds. So we would just play games and while we played games we would talk to them and thus beginning a relationship with them. Some of the questions that we'd ask them were; "Where are you from?" (most girls are from the NE part of Thailand which is the poorest part. So most of them have come seeking a Westerner to sweep them off their feet or seeking a living to make ends meet.) "How old are you?" "How long have you been in Patong?" "Do you like your job?" The first woman I talked to said that she didn't like her job. And we're told that most women don't enjoy what they do but that they just put on a face and cope. Some girls we talked to were young! One girl was 17!!! This should not be happening. Oh I just wanted to weep. But I'm glad to feel the Father's heart for this place. I'm glad that I'm not immune or callused to the things that break His heart. But it is hard to feel that and I know that it won't be this hard forever; not that the feelings will go away but that the feelings won't dominate or overwhelm.
     Last night they had a special event where the world race team played worship in one of the bars for several hours. It was really cool that they had that opportunity and the opportunity is still there for us if we want to do it after they leave. We didn't hang around to worship, we went around and talked to some girls and we walked around and prayed. The first night we were taken out on some of the more "spiritually easy" streets, where the spiritual climate isn't quite so hot. Well last night we weren't on those streets, we were in some very dark places and the demonic presence there was very evident. My team and I had to call it a night early, it was just too much to handle; we were tired, still feeling overwhelmed, it was only our second night, and being on the more intense streets just made it all a little bit too much for one night. I kept thinking last night, "I don't know how we're supposed to do this for 3 months." But right now there are just a lot of feelings and as Josie was telling us last night, we're going to need to learn to push through the feelings to do what needs to be done. So that's what I'm going to be working on. One thing that was different last night was I really began to see how incredibly lonely these men must be and I really had compassion on them. So that was an improvement.
    
     On a much lighter note; yesterday we went and ate at this place called "The Blue Hut" which is neither blue and it's not really a hut.....but it was delicious cheap food. I got a whole plate of crispy pork, white rice and some kind of veggie for 40 baht which equals out to a little over a dollar......AMAZING!!!!!! Things are really cheap here and it's a welcomed comfort. I actually bought a couple pairs of shorts that I thought would be cooler in this climate but now I look like Aladdin. I just want to sing, "Prince Ali fabulous he, Ali Ababua....." every time I put them on lol.
     Another note; if you ever come to Thailand and they offer you to come to a "ping pong show", they are not talking about the paddle sport.....................yeah.
     You all may be wondering what the weather is like; it's off an on from being cool to "Oh my God!" throughout the day. And the scenery, where we are, is beautiful! There's a lake nearby and we're surrounded by mountains. In the morning you can see the clouds grazing over the summits; it's so beautiful. It's all very green and very tropical. I'll post some pictures soon.

That's all for now. You guys can definitely be praying for me and my team in how we approach the bar scene and that God would really speak to us about where He wants us to go at nights, also that we would begin to walk in His strength and victory, knowing that the battle for Patong has already been won. Thank you so much for your prayers up to this point!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tomorrow it's Thailand

     Today is my last full day in Auckland! It's so weird to think that tomorrow I'll be on my way to Thailand. AAAHH! Anyway last night we had our Love Feast and it was so much fun. But before we could feast we had to clean. Me and two other girls were assigned to clean the office and the dreaded stairwell. The last time that stairwell was cleaned was from last year's team and there was dust and beer, from the club above, caked on so thick. But we cleaned it and I tell you what; the Queen of England would be privileged to walk through that place now. lol
     At the Love Feast we had a delicious spread of food; chicken, lamb, sweet potato somethin', roasted potatoes, salad, and for dessert we had an apple pie kinda thing and pavlova. It was so wonderful. We watched a slideshow and a video of these past three months, exchanged secret santa gifts, and had a dance party. It was a great night and it was really surreal to think that we're halfway done.
     I'm so thankful for this part of the journey and I know the next one will be where the change really occurs.

So this is where I'll be flying into tomorrow:
This is Bangkok. I'll be here for a night and then we take a bus down to Phuket. I'll try and blog when we arrive in Phuket but I don't know what the situation will be like there. Please pray for safe travel and for a covering of protection. Apparently it's not a rare thing for people to try and stuff drugs into your bag for you to unknowingly smuggle drugs into other countries and then you do time in a foreign prison......so please pray that our bags would be protected lol. (Sorry Momma I know...not what you wanted to hear.) ;-) No worries though! I'll just throw on my southern accent and say, "Thank you, thank you so much."

Love you guys and I'll talk to ya'll in Thailand!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Poem for New Zealand

I've been working on this poem off and on, adding here and there, since I've been here.

New Zealand is a place where the trees grow taller than buildings;
where the hills are freckled with sheep.
Never have I seen such natural beauty,
so many untampered landscapes.
Green cascading over the land
Where God is the Supreme Architect.
The mountains and landscapes are His arrows for us,
pointing our eyes and hearts to look above.
Surely people came to know color in this place;
where brightness triumphs over the gray.
Before New Zealand, perception was colored by pastels
but exposure has heightened the color's scales.
The scopes of the sea take my breath away,
with water so blue none can imitate.
How is one expected to leave this place 
where the rocks collide with the waves?
Constantly bathing the cliffs with the sea's spray,
singing the hymn of Eden's days.
The wind informs me of the power of this place; 
How it's beauty grips your heart and compels you to stay.
Privileged are you who call this place home 
and privileged am I to this place have been shown.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lecture Phase is Over

     I still can't believe that it's actually over; 12 weeks- DONE! Last night some of us were talking about our overall experience, the good and the bad, and we were recalling memories from when we first got here; how long ago that seems now. It's very hard to describe my feelings or the thoughts going through my mind right now because I still don't feel like I've hit the ground on this one.
     Well one thing I can tell you is what I feel like I'm taking away from this experience. There was a lot of emphasis on the Father heart of God, part of that being how He desires to co-create with us. Hearing that God wants to co-create with me was an entirely new concept to me and I really repelled it at first; "Why would God want to create something with me; He's the perfect one, He knows best." But God has made me a specific and unique way; giving me passions, gifts, talents and dreams that no one else has in the exact same way as me and He wants to do something beautiful with those things. And that just exemplifies His Fatherly character; He doesn't look at us like soldiers, commanding us where to go and what to do; He looks at us like sons and daughters. I look at my earthly dad and how he never forced me to be anything he just constantly encouraged me in whatever I said I wanted to do and not that I always did what I wanted to do; there were times he would step in and, in his wisdom, help me to see how that wasn't the best thing for me. But if I wanted to play softball my dad would help me in playing softball. If I wanted to draw he would encourage me and provide money for supplies to do so. Now this doesn't change God's Sovereignty but rather that in His Sovereignty He has chosen from the beginning of creation to make us co-creators and left the job of continuing creation in our hands (Gen 1:28). I feel that God has given me free reign to dream and to create something beautiful with all the things He's given me and I want to do that with Him, side by side and hand in hand. I used to have a real hard time accepting God's individual love for me. I knew in my head that God loved me but I never felt good enough, I always wanted to be better for Him. But I have the heart-felt knowledge now that He loves me just as I am and that He really likes me. Oh this is just such a good feeling to be liked by the Lord. I know that God finds me funny, He gets my jokes when no one else does lol. God finds my voice, my art, my music beautiful. He brags about me. It's a good feeling! I'm so thankful for this lesson.
     It is because of all this that I feel such a deep sense of fulfillment and establishment. That I truly am becoming who God made me to be. God gave me a picture that I want to share with you all that really describes what He's done in me here. Think about an onion or a potato, how it must grow underground and you don't really know how it's doing or coming along until you uproot it. But if you pull it up too soon then you just have a tiny vegetable that isn't ready and if you let it stay too long it will rot. The farmer has to know just the right time of when to pull the vegetables out but it's hard to know it's progress since all development was done underground. Thank God that He is such a good Farmer and nothing is hidden or unknown to Him; He knows just the right time to pull us out. The picture was this; that I was in the ground and God reached down, grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the ground and as I came up I was wearing a purple shirt (purple being the color of royalty). He pulled me out at just the right time and He's saying that I'm ready to do what He made me to do but as His daughter.
     Does this mean I'm walking with this aura of power with my chest puffed up; HECK NO! I'm unsure about a lot of things and I don't walk in this ridiculous confidence in myself and in who I am. But of this I am confident; that everything I am is who God made me to be and everything I'm not is where He will be. God's got my back and better yet, He's got my hand, my heart, my life. It's all good :-)


     Now let's talk about Thailand since ya know I leave on Wednesday!!!! Here's the schedule for the next couple of days:
Saturday and Sunday- nothing planned yet probably just hang out and get my stuff sorted
Monday- cleaning the church and then that night we're having a Love Feast= party, food, gifts, nostalgia
Tuesday- Thailand team has the day off to pack and rest
Wednesday- Check out from the hostel @10am, from there we're going to Josie's place for brunch, from there we're going by the church to say goodbye to everyone else and we'll leave there about 12:30 and we'll get to the airport around 1 and we leave at 3:30pm.
     I honestly don't think all this will hit me until we arrive in Bangkok. I just cannot fathom being in a place like Thailand; it's almost too much to try and think about. People keep asking, "So you ready for Thailand?" And I'm like, "WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?" Am I mentally ready? Well since I can't even comprehend being there...no. Am I physically ready? Probably not but hopefully I'll be rested enough by Wednesday. Am I spiritually ready? As ready as I can be. Am I emotionally ready? How can you possibly be emotionally ready for such despair?! No I'm probably not. But regardless of whether I'm ready or not, I'm going. And regardless of whether I feel like serving I'm gonna die to self and serve. Whether it's hot, dangerous or just plain miserable; I'm gonna serve those girls.
     A hymn I try to live by is

          It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide; It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide; But this one thing I know—if it be dark or fair, If Jesus is with me, I’ll go anywhere!
          It may be I must carry the blessèd Word of life Across the burning deserts to those in sinful strife; And though it be my lot to bear my colors there, If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
          But if it be my portion to bear my cross at home, While others bear their burdens beyond the billow’s foam, I’ll prove my faith in Him—confess His judgments fair, If He stays with me, I’ll stay anywhere!
          It is not mine to question the judgment of my Lord, It is but mine to follow the leadings of His Word; But if to go or stay, or whether here or there, I’ll be, with my Savior, content anywhere!
            Refrain If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere! ’Tis heaven to me, where’er I may be, if He is there! I count it a privilege here, His cross to bear, If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
So that's what I'm gonna do; ready or not. 


     I'm really looking forward to getting an outward perspective on Auckland from Thailand. To see if I'll miss it or if I'll be just as excited and feel as much at home in Thailand as I do here now. So we'll see about that. 
     
     I'm half way done with this adventure and I can't wait to see all that God has for me in the next three months. I know it's going to be good and I know it's going to be rough but I'm excited. Please keep my team and I in your prayers! Much love

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Practice Run for Thailand

Last night we had a practice run to help prepare us for the kind of atmosphere we'll be in in Thailand. We went into a couple bars/clubs and talked to people; got used to starting up conversations and being in that scene. I really do not enjoy the whole party scene and found it quite uncomfortable to be in if I wasn't talking to people. But the whole night really brought out some things that I can be in prayer for about myself and that you too can be in prayer for with me. Because as dark and sad as the scenes were last night, in Thailand it's going to be so much worse; old nasty men with young beautiful girls- it's going to be really hard and I have a better understanding of how I'm going to be feeling in those situations.
     When we were in the bars, and I wasn't talking to people, it was a tug of war in my mind to stay focused on why I was there. I would have these thoughts back and forth that would heighten insecurities and make you want to join in and be seductive; all things I did not expect to be thinking or feeling. But then it'd come back to denying those thoughts and being like, "Steph what the heck are you thinking? You don't care about that stuff! That's not why you're here! This isn't true life; they're so deceived." I don't know if it was the spiritual atmosphere that brought on those thoughts but it was definitely an unforeseen battle that I was facing in the clubs. So you can be in prayer for that with me.
     Another thing was my reaction to the men that were buyers of sex or going into strip clubs. I wanted to confront them, castrate them, yell at them, anything to stop them. I know that God has as much compassion on them as He does for the sex slave and the prostitute but it was really hard to share that compassion. I've been saying for a long time that we need to have compassion on these guys because the Lord has compassion on them and they're just as much enslaved, and it's true, but I found all those feelings slipping through my fingers when I saw them going in or going up to prostitutes. So please pray that the Lord would give me His eyes and His heart for the men as well as for the girls.
     The highlight of the night was when I got to talk to and pray with a woman who is a prostitute. The Lord totally opened a door for me to talk with her and get to know a little bit of her story. And the most amazing thing happened when I was praying for her, she cried out to God and said, "God get me outta here!" My heart broke! This woman started working as a prostitute when she was 13 years old; her dad dropped her off on the streets to make money to support his drug addiction. She knows no other life and has known no other work. She also has 2 kids to support now and is afraid that she won't be able to support them in the same capacity with a 9-5 job. She feels stuck and she wants out. Broke my heart! I gave her some contacts and told her to go to this church and that they'll help her find a good job if she wants out. So you guys can continue to pray for her.

All in all a pretty successful night I'd say. We might go out again one more time before we go.

This last week of lectures is about spiritual warfare so I'm looking forward to it. I still can't believe it's the last week of lectures. AHHH!

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Week Left

     There is only one week left of lectures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe I just wrote that! I can't even begin to imagine Thailand. It still seems so foreign to me; it's hard to imagine that I'll be spending 3 months there too! I think it'll be really good to get some outward perspective of Auckland to better know if this is really where I want to be or if I'm being called some where else. So I look forward to seeing if I fall as in love with Phuket as I have for Auckland and if it will feel as much like home as this does now.
     It is sad to leave though. I was talking to my friend Marco, who I pass everyday and who looks for me so that we can have our morning talk, I told him how I was leaving and he said, "I will miss you when you gone." Broke my heart cause I'll miss him too. I just look at how close we're just starting to get, 3 months into it, and the potential of what could develop there. He's starting to see me as a niece or a granddaughter I think. He was asking me the other day if I was married, I said, "no I'm single." He got protective, "Good good stay single! You no marry soon, you got long time, no go make babies. No! You enjoy life, travel, have fun. Stay single." Oh mercy he was cracking me up! But it really showed how we've begun to care for each other and how much more beautiful and precious that relationship could be if it had more time to develop. 3 months isn't long enough, 6 months isn't, and neither is a year. I don't know why we treat people we meet on "missions trips" so differently than our friends back home; what do we expect some relationship annointing? For God to just POOF...you're friends? No good things take time and commitment and I really want good things for these people that I've met here in Auckland; so maybe that requires a bit of commitment...we'll see.
     I saw Diana today, which was really good because I hadn't seen her for about 3 weeks I think and I was beginning to worry about her. When I saw her she was drunk but she remembered me and she hugged me several times. It breaks my heart because I could just feel how the Father was hugging her through me and how He longed to just hold her in His arms. Who do we think we are to refuse love to these people?! Why because they smell and they're gross looking and dirty?! What do you think our sin is to God? It's disgusting but He longs to hold us so close to Him. That's the kind of God we serve and that's the kind of person I want to be. I want to hug the broken and maybe through a hug they'll feel the love of the Father. Oh ya'll the Lord is really breaking my heart for these people and I long for you all to feel it too. Why are we so separate? Why are we so afraid to get close with people? I sometimes want to just go pitch a tent with them or sleep on a bench with them and let them know that I'm not afraid of their garbage. That there's nothing that can separate them from the love of God.

Well that's all for now I think. Next week is our last week of lectures and then we're off to Thailand! Craziness.
Bless ya'll

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Photo Album

Just follow this link and you can see the new pictures!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=566492&id=891755183&l=b691e73ca1

A Year Ago Today

     I can't believe that it was a year ago today that the Lord renewed my call to the mission field; told me it was time to move on from Trinity and go on the mission field. My immediate response was, "No, I'm not ready! Lord who am I? I'm not ready to be a missionary. I can't be a missionary; I have no qualifications, I'm not prepared...no." But God, ever so gently, reminded me of the story of Moses and how he responded the same way; that it wasn't about who Moses was or wasn't but that it was all about Who God Is. And look at what God's done; He's done what I thought was impossible. I'm on the mission field! I'm walking in fulfillment of His promises everyday!
     We went to Bethel Beach yesterday and I was watching these massive waves crash against the cliffs, almost deafened by the sound, and I was just taken so aback by the blessed reality of where God has brought me. A year ago today I was nervous and unsure, my plans once again put through the shredder, my future now up in the air. My future is still up in the air but who cares?! I'M ON THE MISSION FIELD! God's proved true to everything He's ever promised me. He brought me here to New Zealand on a justice DTS and soon I'll be leaving for Thailand. There's nothing my God cannot do! 


     

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Legit

We got our visas for Thailand!! Exciting day. I've got another beautiful stamp, thing in my passport.



"Kingdom of Thailand" haha I love it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Revelation

Last night after I posted "Justice is getting messy Part 2" the Lord gave me a revelation. He just said, "Steph, you've forgotten who you were serving." And He just reminded me of the passage in Matthew 25 where He said, "whatever you've done to the least of these you've done unto me." That I wasn't serving Bob but I was serving the Lord in and through Bob. Therefore no matter if a relationship ends, if I'm serving the Lord in and through them, it's not a waste.
I feel like this is a really pivotal lesson to learn in my life and ministry and also an incredibly valuable perspective to have when serving people. Because if I'm putting my hope in man...they're going to fail me but hope in the Lord does not disappoint. So I'm going to keep on looking for the image of God in the broken people of this world and I'm going to sit and serve Him in whatever capacity I'm allowed.
Don't you just feel like a huge sigh of satisfaction and peace at that thought? I do


Doesn't it comfort and excite ya'll to know that you can serve the King of Kings? It's such a simple concept but we make it so complicated. We are a people of complication and God knew that, that's why He told us to have faith like a child; He makes it so simple to grasp. I think of theology and what a complicated, beautiful and intricate thing the Lord is and even though He is so far beyond my mind's capacity He can be grasped by the mind of a child and asks that I have faith like that. That's the heart of the Father right there! It's like He says, "Look I know that things are complicated enough and I just want you to rest in Me. So just have faith like when you were a child and we'll wrestle with the big stuff as we go." Just such tender compassion; ya know?
Crud we just got asked to leave the coffee shop cause we're taking up space for the dinner crowd. I PAID TO BE HERE TOO oh well gtg

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Justice is getting messy Part 2

I've been seeking a lot of counsel both from leaders and from the Lord and I came to the point where I don't feel guilty or ashamed for protecting myself. And so unless there are other people with me I will only be able to say hey to Bob in passing. But I'm just learning that safety and obedience go hand in hand. God's not going to send me into situations that cause me to fear because God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. (2Tim 1:7) And should my Lord send me into a dangerous situation then it probably will be unbeknown to me because perfect love casts out all fear. (1John 4:18) I'm not afraid now but I can't be stupid.

So now that my mother is at peace that her daughter isn't hanging out with a potential rapist I can continue. I'm really battling with not getting discouraged right now. I really had a lot of hope in the idea that I can befriend anyone and that the Lord would use that; and not that I think my ways are thrashed it's just discouraging when a friendship fails. When you find out that someone isn't who you thought they were. The idea that Bob didn't see me as a friend but as a potential target both disheartens me and makes me so mad at sin! That when I talked with him that in his eyes he probably saw a young beautiful girl taking interest in him (probably with some sexual connotation because guys do think about sex every 7 seconds) and not seeing a compassionate follower of Christ. And honestly if I had a penis this would not be an issue! If I was a man then I could still be this guys friend. 
"Well Steph you can have an impact with women that men can't."
Very true and valid point. However I don't pass women on a daily basis on K Rd. Believe me if there were more women on the streets that I walk I would be pouring into them and I would be blogging about them. And it's not like I sought out a relationship with a man it just happened so I just went with the flow never looking from an outward perspective at what was or could be going on. I don't do that with people on a day to day; why would I do it now? I hate being limited because of my gender. And I know I need to not look at it so much as a limitation but as an opportunity. In Thailand it will be nothing but an opportunity and an instant connection. But it goes beyond that; I feel like God has given me so much love and passion for people, a love that isn't gender specific, and it just frustrates me to not be able to pour it out on whomever I come by that needs it. IT'S NOT FAIR! 
I know that God made me a woman for a specific purpose and that all I have to do is obey the Lord at His leading. I just need to know where my place on K Rd is now. I've got less than 3 weeks left and one of the major friendships I've made has just had a huge wrench thrown in it. 
Bottom line SIN SUCKS! 

Please pray for protection from getting discouraged and that I would take away some sort of lesson from all this and once again find my place on K Rd. But most of all pray for Bob. Please pray for my friend that his mind would be healed and that someone would come into his life that can be the hands and feet of Jesus that I couldn't be. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Justice is getting messy

     So I had a coffee with my street friend Bob today and he really opened up. We've been talking and hanging out for a while now and I felt comfortable enough to ask him why he's on the streets. He's always talking about the businesses he owns, his homes, etc but yet he's begging on K Rd wearing the same outfit everyday. So I asked him and he told me how his business, as a sheep farmer, had been sued because he refused to do business with Indian people. Then he told me how since then he's been tried in court for murder in the first degree and rape. YIKES!!!! What do you do with that information? I immediately and naturally began to feel uncomfortable for the first time since knowing him. What was once so natural and so organic immediately took on a different nature; ignorance truly is bliss. He told me how he has won every case, which still begs the question why he's still on the streets, and then he went on about politics and government yada yada. I really did have somewhere else to be and he knew that going into it so I said my goodbyes and we went our separate ways. I saw him walking down Queens on my way back from running my errand and for the first time since I've been in this relationship I didn't want him to see me.
     I say all this to my shame. Why should one piece of information change the way I look at someone? On Friday we all spent hours confessing our sins and struggles in front of each other and I didn't blink an eyelid; I didn't judge them or think differently of them; why would I they're my friends? Wait isn't that what Bob is too....my friend? Why then the difference?
     I know that the Son of God would continue on............I just.........ugh! These are the things that come into my mind; "Is it safe? Is it smart/wise? Is it appropriate as a young woman to be with a 42 year old man like that? Why does Bob smile at me and swear at men?" Lots of questions and I have a lot of sensible safe answers to silence those questions but yet the Kingdom of God I've committed myself to arouses them back up again. And what then comes to mind is, "If he's my friend; what's the difference? How is his sin any different than mine? You don't even know if he's guilty or not. What does Bob need? What did Jesus do?" Whether Bob is innocent or guilty, the biggest question in my mind is; "Jesus associated with criminals; should I?" 
     I know what people would say but I don't concern myself too much with what people say as much as I do with what my Savior will say. Is my love conditional or unconditional? Is my friendship circumstantial? If I truly believe that I've made a friendship with this man, which I believe I have, these questions need to be answered if I'm to continue. Because I'm going to keep finding things out about my street friends that make my natural woman feel uncomfortable; am I going to chicken out or am I going to push through?
     Henrik Ibsen said, "A man should never put on his best trousers when he goes out to battle for freedom and truth." In other words, justice is messy. Am I willing to get dirty? Am I willing to see things through? Is my commitment to justice and righteousness strong enough to put myself at risk?.....we'll find out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How do you blog the indescribable?

     This week's speaker was Mark Parker. First impression: crazy, loud, charismatic, and passionate. Final impression?- Still the same but I love him for all of it.
     He spoke on the Lordship of Christ and boy did he challenge us; he was literally in our face at times. It was uncomfortable because he was showing us how in our shells we really were; but I think I speak for us all when I say that we're so glad he did. We are not the same group of people that we were on Monday or even Friday morning for that matter.
     We had an amazing time of worship on Friday where we went through a New Testament Tabernacle. We worshipped from 9AM to about 11:30 at night. We worshipped in so many different forms and each step increased in intimacy. God's presence was so thick and so sweet. I wish I could describe it but that's what happens when you encounter the Indescribable God; you're lost for words. A lot of it is all blurred together and I can't remember exact words but there are some things that you don't need to remember word for word because your spirit remembers well and it satisfies the mind. (Wow I'm getting deep haha)
     In my last blog and this past week I wrote how I was feeling established and fulfilled well that was only increased on Friday when the Lord again confirmed something that happened when I was six years old; reminded me that I am a prophet. I don't know how to prophesy, I just know my Dad's voice and I know how to obey. I just pray that I will do it; I need to...no more excuses, no more apologies.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

thoughts out loud

     Weeks are starting to go by really fast. On one side I really wish they'd slow down because I'm so absolutely in love with this city, the people, and the experience that I don't want it to end; however I am very excited about Thailand! It's so cool to look at the teams for outreach and to look back and see, "Wow God, You really did handpick these teams!" It's cool as!

     Looking back I can really see how God has made me more "confident" (for lack of a better word) about being a woman in ministry and in leadership in particular. Past confrontations with differing opinions about women in leadership made me uncomfortably cautious with being who God has made me to be. He's made me to be a leader, He's put that in me. So being here and getting a healthy perspective, encouragement, and opportunities to be in leader roles has really helped give me back the level of affirmation (if that's even the word I'm looking for) that I think I've been and will be in need of. If there's one word that I could use to describe what God's been doing in me this DTS it would be "fulfillment". I'll hash that all out when it gets closer to the end of lecture phase; so you'll just have to suffer with anticipation.

     I've made a break through in communication with an "unapproachable" of K'Rd. Most times if you see her she's stumbling down the street screaming and shouting profanities at all who look at her. But God opened a door for me to talk and sit with her. She totally opened up and told me her whole life story. I didn't ask any questions I just listened and gave her a pair of eyes to look into that didn't judge or look down on her but eyes that had compassion on her. I invited her to community lunch but she didn't show, even though she said she would come...but we'll keep trying. Her name is Diana if you want to pray for her. I've got 4 weeks left and I really hope that, since God's given me an open door, I'll be able to just get her plugged into community lunch so that this "break through" wouldn't be in vain.
     She told me how she hates it when people pass her by and look down on her like she's ugly and like she's a freak. She said that she used to be beautiful when she was a child and that her dad started abusing her and then she no longer felt beautiful. That she's been a glue sniffer, a paint huffer and now an alcoholic all in attempts to somehow cope with the pain. And to think that all we see are drunkards......Lord forgive us! I encourage you all to read "God In The Alley" by Greg Paul. It really taught me to look for the image of God in people on the streets, because they are, in fact, made in His image; their situations don't change that. And thank God that they don't! I don't even want to begin to think about what my life would look like without that truth reigning over me.

Also feel free to post comments or email me anytime at passionate247@live.com. It's always extremely encouraging to get emails and such just to know that people are there :-).

Until next time this has been "thoughts out loud" by Stephanie Haha goodnight

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back Up

Ok so for two weeks, I think, I've been without my computer and I've been working from my ipod (which thank you God and family for that blessing) but thanks to my wonderful mother who speedily got me a new computer cord, I'm now back on. Praise the Lord
                          P.S. the last blog post was all typed out from my ipod. Can some one say, "Wow"

      This past week we had a guest speaker Etienne come and speak to us. He's from South Africa and has an amazing testimony of how God delivered him from gangs, satan worship, and a life of pain; awesome guy. He spoke to us on the Father heart of God. And I know a lot of people had a hard time with that because of their father's not being there or maybe their dad's were there physically but not emotionally; but God blessed me with an amazing father and so grasping the Father heart of God is not something that's foreign to me. I don't know why God's blessed me as opposed to others but I know that God reveals His goodness in different ways and He never leaves us wanting. (I say all that not to boast in my life of privilege but in the goodness of the Lord and in the life of my dad who is a powerful example of God's heart.) Both of my parents model the Father and Mother Heart of God so exquisitely. And I just want to praise them for the wonderful example that they've been to me and for me. Parents make all the difference. These past weeks of teaching and just being reminded of my parents has really made me excited to be a parent myself...whenever that may be.
      There's been one memory in particular of my dad that I haven't been able to shake since the first week; I don't remember how old I was but when I was young you could always find me up in one of the cherry trees in back of my house and one time I got stuck up there. My dad came out to me and was telling me to jump and that he would catch me. I was, of course, scared and crying and my dad asked me, "Steph, do you trust me?" And because I trusted my dad that he would catch me and not drop me, I jumped. And I really think that this is something that the Lord wants me to keep on the forefront of my mind for the coming season; that I need to trust Him, trust my Dad, and jump.
     The option to stay in New Zealand and staff has been brought up and if I had to make a decision right now I'd say, "YES!" 100%. However, I want to follow God not my own wants or desires. So I'm just waiting to receive some confirmation and a peace about where to go and what to do. I'm also looking at some other schools within YWAM; whatever I do I definitely want to stay connected with YWAM. I feel like it's a great support system to have, especially if I'm going to be pioneering some kind of ministry. Josie helped give me some really good perspective on my idea for ministry; to not look at is as a fully formed vision but to look at it more as an embryo- something that needs to mature, develop and grow. With that perspective in mind I'm trying to find which door the Lord wants me to walk through. So ya'll can be praying that God would give me clarity, wisdom and confirmation about which road to take.
  
Update on Outreach:
We will be going to Phuket. And we'll be working with an organization called, SHE. All I know so far is that it's going to be hot and we are going to be wearing button up shirts. :-) Can someone say, "NERDS FOR JESUS!" Too bad I torched all my button ups from Cornerstone; not that I'd still be able to fit into them but let's not go there shall we. (Which allow me to insert a little bit of vanity in this blog right here: I am loosing weight at a pretty awesome pace. My clothes are all too big for me and I'm on the last notch of my belt. Ok whew that felt good)
















Well that's it for now. I uploaded some more pictures so enjoy: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=549268&id=891755183&l=39ad5dbe61

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Half Way Point

I can't believe that lecture phase is halfway done! On one hand it feels like we've been here forever (I'm sure my family can relate to that) but on the other hand it feels like we haven't been here long enough to be HALF WAY THROUGH. My internal time-keeping-system is in need of a reboot. 
    Let's start off on a funny note; shall we? I've grown a deep appreciation for washing and drying machines. The city is a very expensive place to live and so I've tried to cut costs wherever possible. The biggest cut/adjustment was to start washing and drying my clothes by hand. Thank God for Alva J. Fisher who invented the first electric washing machine. (Yeah I looked it up! I have that deep of a respect for the man now) Not only are my hands raw from ringing out my clothes , which refuse to stop trying to hold on to as much water as possible, but my room has a funky wet smell now. I'm also pretty sure that all these tiny cuts on my hands will never heal now because they've been soaked in laundry detergent. On the plus side though I have a special bond with my clothes now....well not too special since I hate them and the whole nude-colony concept is becoming ever so more attractive. Maybe nude colonists are just a bunch of people who hate doing laundry; if that's the case then I may have found my tribe. 
     Also some info about Thailand that I have yet to reveal is that I'm leaving December 15, so I'll be spending Christmas in Thailand. It was a team decision and I'm really excited about it because Thailand is stinking cheap! Plus the idea of getting to ride an elephant for Christmas just makes my heart spin. Another reason why we all decided it would be good is because we'll have that week off, so we will have plenty of time to go through culture shock, get adjusted, scratch our travel bug, and get settled before we go out an serve amongst the slums and brothels. Also we still don't yet know where we are going but it will either be Pattaya or Phuket. Both are in the south and are MAJOR destinations for sex tourism. There really is no other reason people venture to those areas of Thailand except to buy sex. So we'll be doing a lot of work in that area. 

     Now onto this week....this week was tough but really picked up on the tail end. A short summary of why it was tough: missing family and them missing me + friends struggling and me being so out of reach +  misunderstandings + my own shortcomings + emotional weight that comes with awareness of injustices= a tough week. But like I said, it picked up. Thursday God gave me a major pick up, He gave me hope for my future. This week Josie's been teaching on having a biblical worldview and put a lot of emphasis on how we separate the physical and the spiritual (for example: saying that being a missionary is spiritual but being a businessman is secular when in fact both are profoundly spiritual). Also we learned a lot about how unbiblical it is to think that we are bound by our resources, which is in fact a very Naturalistic way of thinking. So Thursday we did an exercise where we wrote down our dreams. I didn't really have any dreams, just a bunch of ideas that I thought were all lacking. But before she announced that we were doing the exercise I had jotted down an idea, so when she said we were writing down our dreams I thought, "This isn't my dream it's just an idea." So I meditated on the idea I had just jotted down and the more and more I thought about it the more and more I realized that it was not only a summation of so many ideas I've had both before and at this dts, but it also spoke so much to who I am and to my passions. So I wrote it down on the poster and as I wrote it developed, blossomed and made me incredibly excited. My idea is to combine justice, music, art and missions together. I would go and live with people, learn about the injustice they face, learn their stories and find out what they need to start seeing change. I would then return home and write songs, record those songs- making CDs, paint pictures, draw drawings that tell these people's stories and sell all these things. 100% of the profits go to helping the need that the people voiced and also serves to raise awareness among people. Once these people start making progress I would then go back to them and shift from being the story teller to the story facilitator. I would help them, if they need it, learn how to express themselves and tell their stories through song, music and art; record their sounds, dances, dramas, whatever their gift is and sell those. 100% still going back to them which allows to tell their story (raising awareness and giving them pride, hope and dignity), to find restoration, and to have an income. There could be concerts where they come together and perform, there could be documentaries...the possibilities and projects are endless. We watched a documentary called, "War Dance" that affirmed everything I had written down because it showed the healing power of the arts and how much potential there is for my dream. 
     So yeah that gave me so much hope and really took a lot of pressure off to figure out the near future. Friday we watched another documentary called "Mugabe and the White African". WATCH IT! There is so much going on that we don't hear about on our news but that we as carriers of justice, aka Christians, should be acting on. 
     That night, since it was the fifth of November, which some how merits fireworks because of some guy who tried to blow up Parliament...., we went to the top of Mount Eden and watched fireworks. You could see fireworks going off all over Auckland it was so cool! Then yesterday we went on our weekend activity which was to go to Piha; it's the most famous and dangerous beach in all of New Zealand. It has black sand, wild penguins, massive waves and healing power for us emotional ywamers. It is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen and has ruined my ability to enjoy any other beach. I got to see a real penguin up close and personal in a cave, unfortunately it was old and had went there to die. But I climbed on the rocks, played with the sea annenomies, explored, and watched the massive waves crash on the rocks. It was so good! Then we got to go to Pack-N-Save (a grocery store)!!!! Why am I so excited? Because there are none within walking distance in Auckland city and it is so much cheaper than anything you'll find in these little jiffy stores they have in the city. It was glorious. 

     So that was last week, I'm not sure what next week holds but it'll be good. I'm growing and seriously being stretched, which is a good thing. Love you guys and pics will be up soon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Take It To The Streets

A man went to his pastor and said, "I'm tired of being fed the milk. When am I going to start getting some meat?" The pastor pointed out of the building and said, "The meat's out there."
     I recently heard someone share this story and I love it; it's so representative of what I've been experiencing and learning here in this DTS.
     I've really been able to form some cool relationships with people on the streets here in Auckland that I'd like to share with you guys. The first guy is Marco. He's a garbage man from Fiji, he doesn't live on the streets he just works them. Every morning on my way to school I see him collecting garbage. One morning I walked by and I just decided to say hello, he looked kinda sad and it's just a habit to say hello to people in passing. But the way his face lit up when I did made me want to make an effort to do it again. So the next day I did and I got to talk to him a little bit. When I went to shake his hand he couldn't because he had gloves on so he offered his elbow and so we bumped elbows; it's kinda become our handshake now. Whether or not he has gloves on I still bump his elbow and he laughs and laughs and laughs. Seeing Marco every morning has become something I look forward to and cherish. He just lights up when he sees me coming, "OH GOOD MORNING! How you are?...Nice day....etc" We talk and laugh and just have begun to enjoy each other's company every morning. Sometimes I find myself leaving early for school so that I can have more time to talk to him.
     The next guy is Bob. It's actually kinda funny how I got to meet Bob. I saw another friend from the streets by my hostel and I stopped to talk to her, Bob was sitting next to her and he stretched out his hand and said, "Hey I'm Bob!" Then I just kept seeing Bob everywhere. I see him so much that he knows me and remembers things I tell him about my life. Now Bob lives on the streets and is seen either on Queen St. or K Rd unashamedly begging for money. But this guy never fails to ask me how school is going, how my week's been, what I've been up to; he just wants to talk. Sometimes he'll ask me to sit down and just chill with him as he begs. But this man who lives on the streets did something really impacting yesterday; he gave me food. He had a sealed pack of Asian crackers and tried to get me to take them. I said, "No Bob I've got plenty of food, you keep them." I had a can of baked beans in my purse and I tried to offer him those but he didn't want that. He wanted me to take his food, he wanted to bless me. He finally said, "If you don't take them I'm going to throw them away." Realizing that he needed to feel like he had something to offer, rather than always being in need, I took the crackers and thanked him. I asked him if he had enough bus fare to make it "home". He said he'd be alright. I looked and realized that he clearly would not be so I took whatever change I had and put it in there and he got upset with me. It was as if I just had breached a line. I've given him money in the past but it's not what he wants from me anymore and I think that he no longer sees me as a rubber-necker who throws change at him but as his friend and he wants my friendship not my change. I was so incredibly impacted by this, I still am.
     It's changing how I relate to people on the street. Marco and Bob are showing me that what people want most is relationships. They want the love that can only come through a friendship. And for people that feel like the whole world is working against them and that they can't get ahead; to have someone who comes and sits and talks with them, it gives them hope and it gives them dignity. It encourages and strengthens them. I can see the change in their eyes. I see the change in their demeanor after we've talked. It's just incredible what a difference it makes. I think I'm finding what it means to be Jesus to people. And as much as I'd like to thing that it's changing people, all I can say for certain is that it's touching people and it's changing me.
Karangahape Road in the 50s
     So the challenge to you is to dwell with people. Loose the agenda to see them saved or off the streets and be their friend. Get rid of the schedule or timeline and just get to know them and watch what it does to you and to them. Take it to the streets cause that's where the meat is.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Videos

Here are some links to youtube videos that ya'll can watch and enjoy but I'll add a little sumthin sumthin to make them funnier ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMM9xYK_vGE
Ok this video is a small glimpse of my first New Zealand hiking experience. They told us that we were going to go on a scenic hike but that it was going to be like a very easy stroll. I thought, "This is good since the only shoes I brought were TOMS, I'll be ok." I was so wrong. We begin our hike and within the first 20ft I slip and fall, my butt now covered in mud. It wasn't too much further before I slipped and fell again. Guess who was the happy camper of the group.....Anyway because so many of us were slipping and falling and having difficulty "strolling" through the ankle deep mud, a whole group of us got left behind and we ended up getting completely turned around and, in a way, lost. We took the wrong fork in a road and it took us back to the main road we started on. Me, Lauren, and Chelsea saw this as a great opportunity to return to the cars and take a nice little 1.5 hr long trail we saw earlier. (I might also add that at this point it felt like a tropical storm was upon us). So we went back to the vans, dropped off some stuff and proceeded to the, what we thought, was the easier trail. Boy were we wrong!!! We took like the black diamond level trail! And this is just a small video of part of that experience. P.S. I ended up falling 10xs on this trip and now have very nice hiking shoes 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVrvmvEpxZw
This video is just a clip of the crazy NZ seagulls here. For the longest time we couldn't figure out what was making this awful noise but then we figured out, "Oh my goodness it's those dang seagulls!" If you think that seagulls in the States are demonic...watch this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLE3PCZkhIU
This video is a drive by of Karangahape Road aka K' Rd. I walk this street everyday and it is lined with sex shops. The first one you see is the one that I had the sex shop convo at. At night the streets are covered with prostitutes. Pray for K Rd.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thank You Video

Just click on this below:
Thank You video for all my supporters

Sex Shop Convo

     I'm still not exactly sure how to describe what happened today, I'm honestly dumbfounded; both by how God worked in the conversation and of what I heard and saw. I set up a mic attached to my ipod and started recording before me, Erin B and Lauren went into the sex shop "Erox". I enter and there was a woman working the counter and she immediately asked for our ID's; she told us how she gets in big trouble if she lets someone underage in the store and thus the conversation began. We went in and presented ourselves as customers, three girls trying to get a budget and ideas for a bachelorette party; I felt that as portraying ourselves as "customers" the people would be most likely to open up to us, especially since some other team members haven't gotten anywhere by simply going up to the people and saying, "Can I ask you some questions?"
     The real open door was when I recognized her foreign accent and turns out she was Russian! So BAM there was my open door! I'm still baffled at how she just poured out information; she ended up talking to us for 30 minutes! She was just revealing all these details and there was no question that I asked that she didn't answer. I asked how she got started working in stores like this and she told me how she couldn't find any other work and she got so fed up with it that she told her husband that the next job that comes up, I'm taking it and it ended up being at a sex shop. So here's a woman who was just trying to find work and had to resort to working in this awful and disgusting place, which she admitted she had to wrestle with at first. She began to tell me how hard it was at first and how shocking it was for her to see things. She brought up how it was shocking not because of the products but because of what goes on behind the scenes, the drugs, the alcohol, the addictions, etc. Just absolutely stunned me the things she brought into the conversation.
     Another thing that really stunned me the fact that she just looks so respectable and she demands respect from people. She verbalized her frustrations and intolerance for men who come in and don't treat her with respect. Yet she totally doesn't make the connection of how the products she's selling demeans women. What does she expect? She expects people to treat it like a business reaction and, in her eyes, she is running a respectable business. She's worked her way up to a manager position and, in some way, takes a little pride in what she's become. Erin noticed that she had a small tv behind the counter that was playing porno films the whole time, basically for the person on the clock to watch when they want; so she's not separate from it, rather she's very much a part of it now.
     We "got to" go into the back and have a look at the private rooms and the theater where people pay to go watch porn flicks, it was hard not to vomit. A tiny black room with a chair, tv screen and a roll of toilet paper on the wall. The chair and the floor were stained from seamen....."respectable business?!"
     Things like this are allowed to go on because we don't stand up to it. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing. We walk by in the mall and are disgusted by the Victoria Secret pictures and displays, but if your only action is your own personal disgust than you haven't done anything. We want to complain about the lack of morality and the lack of virtue in our world and on some level it is out of our control but the idea of being tolerant has seeped into the Church like a foul odor and that's what we fall back on when things bother us. We're so afraid to be rejected or offend people, so afraid to be disliked but we're mostly afraid, I think, of being responsible. We feel like if we do step out once we'll have step out every time and "who has the time?". If you don't have the time to stand for what's right and to stand for what you believe in, if you're not willing to make the time, then what are you making time for? If justice was served on a silver platter, everyone would do it. Yes it's hard but when in the entire Word of God did Jesus say it would be otherwise? Sure it's time consuming. Sure it's disgusting. Sure it's hard and you may never see the results you desire. But please, we need to stop sitting on our bums just talking about things and start doing something about the things in our society that bother us. Why the Church has separated itself so far from activism, I don't know but I think it's due time we started to rise up and take a stand against evil that is allowed to be mainstream!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Walk In a Sex Shop

So as I too you guys, K Rd is lined with sex shops. Up until today I have merely been walking past and praying, but today I actually went in one. It was an adult video shop, small but packed. It had private viewing booths advertised outside so proceeded to ask the man working the register about it and how that worked. After he explained it to me I asked if I could ask a random question, at this point he thinks I'm a customer and it was key to what he later revealed; I asked him whether his customers were mostly male or female. He told me they were mostly male but most the girls that come in are working girls. This confused me, I knew he was talking about prostitutes but why would they come in a movie store? So I asked if they came into watch movies and he said, "No no we've got rooms for them in the back." "Oh so prostitutes bring their clients in here?" I ask. "Yeah we've got private rooms for that as well." This is key because its not something that's advertise and there was a very hush hush sort of way he talked about it, almost like it's not supposed to be commonly known. But there was something in his voice that led me to believe that he had to keep it quiet and that some pretty dark stuff goes on in those private rooms. There are two big gangs that work in Auckland and both are known to traffick women, one in particular deals with prostituting young girls from ages 14-18. These girls can be seen from my hostel window and we've been told to keep our distance because their "pimps" are never far away and are not afraid to protect their investment. So I couldn't help but feel like some o these girls were being brought into this place and that this guy knows and sees a lot. But the crazy thing about it is how casual he was about it. He spat off information like a fisherman who knows and enjoys his work. These are regular people that have been desensitized, they're lost souls caught in sin and my heart breaks for them.
When we left the sex shop it felt as though I were wearing tight coat, I could feel the evil on me and had to do some serious intercession. I plan on continuing to try and interview these workers and better understand what goes on on K Rd. Please pray for continued protection, grace and open doors. I need the favor of God and man here. I just feel so utterly compelled to do this and I'm not sure why yet so we'll see where this goes.

new pictures

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=549268&id=891755183&l=39ad5dbe61 


Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tauranga



Kia Ora! Wow a lot has happened these past five days. Friday we left for Tauranga which is about 2 and ½ hours north of Auckland. We had the huge honor of be invited to stay on a Marae (pronounced like “more-eye”) which is kinda like a Maori reservation; it’s a place that Maori people come to gather for various reasons; it’s a hub of history, culture, ancestry and family. So we arrive on the Marae but you can’t just walk onto the Marae, you have to be called and welcomed onto the Marae and there’s this whole protocol that you have to go through before the Maori will welcome you onto the Marae. So we all gathered at the gate, the girls were all wearing skirts and were standing in the front and the men were standing in the back; we also had a couple of Maori girls with us who would answer for us (it’s a call and response thing). So one of the Maori women starts to say a bunch of stuff and she calls “Haremai” which means “welcome”; now that we have been called we begin to walk onto the Marae while the Maori girls respond back; this goes back and forth for a little bit. Then we are allowed to sit down in a designated area, men now in front (the men’s position is always to protect the women, it has nothing to do with status). Now a Maori man speaks for a long time, we have no idea what he’s saying because it’s all in Maori. Then after he talks for a while they all stand and sing a song; now it’s our turn. Andy, the registrar, stands up to speak for us now and introduce us; he thanks the Maori people and blesses them then tells them about who we are, where we come from; then we all stand up and we sang a song back to them, we sang “How Great Is Our God.” Then after we finished our song Andy walked forward and laid a gift on the ground, then without turning his back on them, he walked backwards to his seat. They received the gift then sang another song and officially welcomed us onto the Marae saying that it was now our home and that this was now our family. Then the best part, we all hongied (this is a Maori way of greeting where two people touch noses and foreheads and inhale in order that you may share their breathe aka share their life). We went down the line and did the hongie with everyone on the Maori, sealing the deal; this was my favorite part, it just really made you feel welcome. After that we were treated to a traditional Maori meal: pig, cabbage, sweet potato, stuffing, and pumpkin that was all cooked underground. It was really really really good!
            We stayed in the fatanui (fah-ta-new-E which means “peace”) on the Marae and the whole building is carved and painted, all of which represent stories. The building itself represents a body the front you see the head at the top of the house and the arms stretched out, welcoming all in. Once you get inside you are in the womb of the house; you look up and see this central and wide pillar running all the way down to the end of the house; this represents the spine and all the posts running from it represent the ribs. The symbolism behind all 27 of us sleeping in there together was just really cool. We were all sleeping in this “womb” and it just spoke a lot of unity over us; we’re all brothers and sisters and we’re all together in this….it’s really hard to explain.
            So all this happened on Friday! We all slept on the floor in the fatanui. Our first night together we found out who snores, who screams, who farts, who talks, and apparently I sing in my sleep lol. So Saturday we went to Mount Maunganui which is a volcano and a beautiful beach area. I saw sheep in New Zealand for the first time and I climbed all the way to the summit of the mountain; the view was breath-taking, it was hard not to cry.
            Saturday night Josie tells us that on Sunday that some of the Maori people come to the Marae for church (Protestant) and that they want us to take over both services and speak. Josie was like, “This will be great training for outreach so who wants to speak?” I didn’t volunteer but was volunteered by some friends to speak…so Sunday I got to preach. I preached on love and how true love means that we must die to self; preaching out of the book of John (all over the book). Everyone said that I did really well and I got a lot of compliments. One of the biggest things I really took away from that whole experience was just how faithful God is; when I was 6 years old I was told I was going to be a prophet to the nations and now here I am, in the nations preaching. So that was super cool.
            Now let me just tell you a little something about Maori church…it goes on FOREVER! Apparently in Maori culture, one of the big things is that everyone has a voice and that everyone is allowed to speak; you can imagine how this would alter a church service. Well worship was beautiful, I get up give my sermon and I thought ok that’s it….NO. People start getting up after me and giving more “sermons”, some people would just talk about stuff that you would share over coffee or something but they shared it nonetheless. Like five people get up and speak and the pastor of the church hasn’t even spoken yet. Needless to say church went on for 3 hours……….it was beautiful but long and the night service was no different; it went on for 3 and ½ hours, except the only difference was that I had the giggles; I laughed for like an hour straight. I’d like to say the Holy Spirit just came on me and I just responded by laughing, but that’s not what was happening. I was tired, my butt was sending pain all the way up to my head and everyone of my friends I looked at had the funniest look in the world on their faces; so of course I couldn’t help but laugh. And ya’ll know that there’s nothing worse than getting the giggles in church lol.
            Monday through Wednesday we woke up every morning and went to the Tauranga House of Prayer (which is apart of IHOP); we spent 4 hours there Monday and Tuesday and then 2 hours on Wednesday. After THOP we went back to the Marae for lunch then rushed back for lectures with Aaron Walsh, who’s the founder of THOP. He blew our minds and challenged us like no other speaker has challenged us thus far. The lectures are definitely increasing in intensity as the weeks go by. Which let me just take this time to say that I can’t believe that I’m on week 4!!!!!! Ugh anyways; then Wednesday we drove back to Auckland.
            Tauranga, the Marae, and being out of the city was so incredibly peaceful and was very much needed but we all were actually starting to get homesick for Auckland which has started to feel like home; this really surprised us because we all thought that we would never want to leave the country but we’ve got so many different relationships going on here in Auckland that it just feels like home to us now.
            Yeah so that was my Marae/Maori/Tauranga experience.