Monday, 29 August 2011

Less than a month left in Lewis House.....

Hey there! Hard to believe it is back to school season for most of you! I realized this is the first August in about 16 years that I am not going back to school! That is pretty crazy. I also just realized that I have less than a month left of living here in Newcastle. Then outreach to New Zealand and Fiji! I can’t wait to update you all about outreach here in a couple weeks when we get some things set in stone!
This past week was really great! A friend here taught me how to play chords on the piano, and I actually picked up quickly, so that was very exciting for me! We celebrated my roommate Ali’s birthday. (Not to be confused with Alee, who I miss a lot!) We had a fun time decorating her dinner table with party hats and blow horns! That night we went out for ice cream and had a really nice time! Sunday I went to the beach with a friend, Esther. We laid out for awhile and then got into the ocean. It was my first time ever being in the Pacific Ocean! It was pretty amazing! Then we walked down to the break wall, which is like a little path with a light house and a bunch of rocks overlooking the ocean. We crawled up on one and had a great talk. While we were chatting, we saw a seal catch a fish! It was so, so cool to see a seal actually in the wild! It was a great day J
Last week our lecture topic was Evangelism. Before the week even started I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was expecting to get drilled on how if we really loved Jesus we would want to go up to every random person we see and preach to them. However, that is not at all what our week consisted of! In fact, last week was my favorite week so far! Our speaker was awesome! His name is Rod Thorpe and he lives in the Middle East (Jordan, to be exact) and is the director of the YWAM bases there. He is a very humble man who is a great teacher.  He taught evangelism from a perspective of getting to know people and exploring faith together. Don’t always preach to that person and tell them why what they believe is wrong because that most likely will not turn anybody to Christ. It was very interesting hearing about his experiences evangelizing to the Islamic people in and around Jordan. We took some time to explore the Muslim faith. In an exercise we did, we looked at the 99 names that they have for God. Shockingly enough, only about maybe 5 of the names did not describe the God of the Bible! They use names such as Al Malik (sovereign Lord), Al Majeed (glorious), Al Muhyi (the giver of life). We couldn’t believe that they described God almost exactly as we would. So then, we looked at how we differ. Muslims pray five times a day and do things to please God. There is no personal relationship or emotion with the god they worship. We realized this is like a lot of Christians. Sometimes we think we have to win our way to God, we have to act a certain way, pray so many times a day, live the perfect life, not swear, go to church, and then we should be good. This is pretty much a Muslim way of religion! I’ve been reading through the first 5 books of the Old Testament over the past few weeks and am stunned at the law the Israelites were given to live by. I was thinking like “how did they even have any living animals with all of the sacrifices they had to make!” The book of Leviticus if filled with things to do to make sure you are kept pure and holy. The instructions God gave to them were so detailed. It is hard to imagine having to live that way. But… we have JESUS!!!! The Perfect Sacrifice for all our sin. He makes all the difference! We no longer have to live as slaves to sin or under the law. Jesus took care of all of that, for us! We don’t have to win our way to God. In fact, we can’t win our way to God no matter how hard we try. We NEED Jesus. He gave us everything we need. He deserves everything we have.

                                                           Happy Birthday to Ali!
                                                          Me--Ali--Nerida <3
                                                               From the rocks


Monday, 22 August 2011

Update on Aussie life

Hello again! How are you? I hope great! I am doing pretty well myself. Another week has gone by just as quick as ever! Lectures last week were over Spiritual Warfare. Before this week started, I was really nervous, especially after Holy Spirit week. In my mind, spiritual warfare was driving out demons and such. Which in one form it is, but most of us don’t live with that on an everyday basis. Last week focused more on how Satan attacks us through our thoughts, attitudes, choices, words, etc.  We talked about the armor of God in Ephesians 6 and how with those things we are ready to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy. We talked about how to recognize the tactics of the enemy. One question we were told to ask ourselves was this “What would I do to me if I was the devil?” and then “What is he doing to me right now that is working?” Well, looking at things from this perspective I could see quite a few areas where Satan was at work in my life! Good news is that as the Body of Christ, we have authority over the enemy (Matthew 16:18-19 “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”)! This was something that I knew in my head, but I am now able to really feel as heart knowledge! Even though we do have authority, there are still ways we let Satan in to work in our lives. Some examples being: not guarding our hearts from negative emotions and attitudes, functioning in the ways of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”), not controlling our mouths and failing to recognize the power of words (Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.), and divided relationships. In Matthew 17, Jesus prays for future believers to be united as one, so when we become bitter towards one another and settle for unforgiveness we become divided and this gives a pretty power foothold to the enemy. It’s like before last week, I knew all of these things were bad and ways Satan uses to bring us down, but for some reason it never clicked in my head that this is all spiritual warfare! We are at war daily!  Are you prepared?......J
Last Thursday we had a fundraiser for YouthStreet! It was held in the Warehouse where YouthStreet is held. It took a lot of work but we all were able to get it looking pretty nice for the big night! So Thursday afternoon got here and our house was crazy! Everyone was getting all dressed up-it seemed like we were all getting ready to go to prom or something! It was pretty funny. The night was a lot of fun and they ended up fundraising around $30,000 for YouthStreet! Yeah God!
Sunday a group of 5 of us went to Sydney to watch the Australia Football League (AFL). It was so much fun! It took us Americans a while to get the hand of what was going on. The rules for AFL are like a mix of American football, soccer, and basketball. It was intense! We had so much fun though and it was so neat to experience rooting for the Sydney Swans! Yeah, Go Red!
So, something hit me Saturday night. Four of us girls were all snuggled on the bottom part of a bunk bed and just talking about life-what we’ve come from, our lives over the past year, what we hope to be doing after DTS, stuff we are scared about, how God is working in us…etc. It was a late night! But when I finally crawled into my bed I realized it is going to be really hard to leave these wonderful people.  I have been so looking forward to coming home (which I still am), but haven’t taken into consideration who I will be leaving behind. I pictured me walking out these doors for the last time, dry eyed and with much anticipation of just finally being home. I realize it won’t be so easy! We have grown so close in 7 weeks time. My family here in Newcastle is definitely from God and is a big part of what gets me through the really hard times. I am so thankful for them! Before I left,  I remember thinking how crazy it was to think that God had this time set apart for all of us to come together, go through this journey together, and we didn’t even know each other! Now I know them, and it amazes to me that God knew we would be so perfect together for this time in our lives. Great reminder that God knows what He is doing and His timing is always right. When He calls us to something, He will always provide exactly what we need <3

Happy birthday to mom and Sarah this week!!! You know how much I wish I could be there to celebrate with you both :) Love you.

                                                     Cupcake display for the fundraiser
                                                                Transformed warehouse
                                                                   Favorites :)

                                                                          Aussie football!!
                                     Ali, me, Michael, Danielle, and Daniel-we had too much fun!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Halfway done down under

It is hard to believe that I am halfway through the lecture phase of my trip! It is going so quickly! I am getting really excited for outreach to New Zealand and Fiji-we will be on our way there in less than 2 months! I will be sure to update more on this when all of our details are finalized! I’m loving this experience and just about everyone who is on this journey with me, but there is no place like home. Weeks like last week make me miss home more than ever. Last week was probably one of the most difficult for me. Our lecture topic was on the Holy Spirit. Our speaker was a base director of Island Breeze Sydney and is originally from a tribe in South Africa. It was really interesting hearing about his tribe and their way of life. He has an amazing testimony of how he came to know the Lord and completely surrender his life to Jesus. Apparently South Africa is a very spiritual place. Our speaker talked about how he would be casting demons out of people and witnessing various other miracles on a regular basis. He was very in touch with the spiritual world. Let’s just say this freaked me out. I definitely believe that there is a whole spiritual realm going on, but I guess because I’ve never seen it like he was describing it to be, it was difficult for me to believe. I felt like a skeptic pretty much all week. A lot of his teachings didn’t match up with what I believe and what I have been taught, but then again I did come here expecting something like that to happen at some point! I have been doing my best to keep an open mind to the many new things I have been experiencing. My prayer since I knew I was coming here has been for God’s Truth to prevail through anything I will be taught in my time here. I don’t care if my beliefs are wrong, I am simply in search of God’s Truth. Truth was a word I felt had no definition last week. I had no idea what to believe. I knew I didn’t quite agree with what was being taught: things about specific types of baptisms and spiritual gifts and what we have to do to utilize these gifts, etc. But I was so afraid I was wrong. Should I conform or hold tightly to what I knew to be true? This was my battle last week. It was very frustrating. I definitely let fear and confusion get the best of me for a couple of days. Now that it is behind me I am glad to have gone through that. I can honestly say I didn’t change much about what I believe, but I did learn a lot. For one thing I feel much more sound in why I believe what I believe when it comes to baptism, spiritual gifts, and the Holy Spirit. The truth about comparing everything you hear against scripture was a truth I held very tightly to last week. It is so important to take what you hear and compare it to scripture to see for yourself! Holy Spirit week was definitely a good learning experience even though it was difficult more times than not. It is times like that I am reminded of my purpose in being here…to grow greatly in my relationship with Jesus…and to make His love known to people in my life…. I do believe this purpose is being fulfilled, so I need to remember to not get caught up in things that come in the way of this.
Hope everyone has an excellent week! Please continue the prayers-they are very powerful! J

Monday, 8 August 2011

Finally feel like I'm in Australia!

Well it is really warming up here! Thank goodness! It has been beautiful outside. This past week has been a pretty great one! Our lecture topic last week was relationships. Our speaker was Steve Aherne, the National Director or YWAM Australia. He did a great job and was really funny. We all learned a lot and are now pretty much experts on relationships……just kidding of course, but we did learn a lot. One of the phrases he kept on repeating over and over was “the battle is won or lost in the heart”. Our heart condition or “attitude” is going to predict a lot about our future and our relationships. Actions are results of attitudes-this can either build us up or tear us down and will either make or break our relationship with God and with others.
The weekend was here before I knew it! Friday night a group of us took a trip to Macka’s (aussie slang for McDonalds). A homeless man came up and asked if we had any spare change or anything and one of the guys gave him some change and he left…….to go dig through the trash bin for food. I have seen several people standing alongside the road with signs asking for food and had people ask me for money before….but never have I ever witnessed a human being searching through trash to find dinner. I had the privilege of buying this man dinner. To see the absolute joy that lit up his face upon my asking made me feel like such a blessing to him. I think truly knowing you’re a blessing to somebody is probably one of the greatest feelings there is. When I took his meal out to him I found out his name is Shane. The homeless man searching for food has a name! Imagine that. I got to talk to him for a few minutes and then had the privilege to pray for him. If you ever get the chance to be a blessing in such a necessary way, I highly recommend doing so J
Saturday was of course YouthStreet! This week our dance team joined with surf team and we got to go to the beach! It was really beautiful there! The water was really cold, but some people went surfing anyways. It was really cool to watch! YouthStreet Live was really great as well. It will never get old to see teens with arms around each other worshipping God! We had some time for small groups with them too and it is so great to see them in the journey with the Lord and hear about the questions they have.
After YouthStreet a group of us went to Chloe’s house for the weekend!! Chloe is a girl on my DTS who lives in a town called Gloucester which is about an hour and a half away from Newcastle. Let’s just say it was amazing to get away for a couple of days and shower without flip flops!! I don’t even know where to begin about how cool of an experience this was. It felt like a luxury weekend! Her house is located in the country of Australia so she is surrounded by all types of hills and mountains and wildlife! Since she is so far in the country they get their water supply by collecting rain water! I thought it was so cool to get to drink rain water! It was dark when we got there Saturday night, but Sunday morning we woke up to an amazing view of the mountains and pancakes for breakfast! Apparently Australians like to eat pancakes with lemon juice and brown sugar…it’s weird I know, but I tried it and I highly recommend you do too because it was so so good!! Sitting at the breakfast table I realized there were two wild parrots just hanging out on her back deck! It was SO cool!!! Then we enjoyed the afternoon with a picnic in the park. It was so cool to see the koala bear crossing signs along the gravel roads! Then today we took a walk to the river, which also was beautiful and relaxing! Then on our way home it finally happened!!!!!! We saw two kangaroos!!!!!!! We had to pull the car over and get out to take pictures! They were so cute!
                                                                        Beach for YouthStreet            
                                                                    With my roomate Ali :)
                                                                    Wild parrots at Chloe's!
                                                                 View from Chloe's back deck
                                            Picnic in the park: Ali, Danielle, Nerida, me, and Chloe

                                                                     Chloe, Danielle, and I

Ali and I again!

This little get away was a perfect way to end the week! Please keep up all of the prayers! Hope you enjoy the pictures.
Have a great week everyone and remember-if you get the chance to be a blessing-just do it! You won’t regret it J

Monday, 1 August 2011

One month down!!!

So I have officially been gone for a month! I'll say it again...time is flying by! Which is bittersweet. Last week our lecture topic was "Character of God". After two tough lecture weeks of Truth being shoved at us...this week was refreshing to say the least! It gave us time to kind of soak up God's "AWEsomeness" and just be amazed at how BIG He is, but yet how His love for us is so unfathomable! Our speakers were very interactive with us. We put on a lot of skits, wrote songs/poems, and did different small group activities on some of God's attributes. I even got to put some of my cheerleading skills to use by stunting for a chant my group made up-too much fun! Learning about the character of God is so interesting because it seems like the more you learn about Him...the more questions you have about Him! It is so cool to think that God is outside anything we can even fathom. Isaiah 55:8-9 reads “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” I love those verses because it paints such a cool picture in my mind of how Big God is and how much power He has. Awesome! And as many questions about God that I have…it drives me nuts to know they won’t be answered during my life on this earth! If you know me very well, you know that I like to have things figured out! But one of my favorite quotes is "If God was small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped" -Evelyn Underhill. That is some great truth to think on!

Every DTS does something called a Faith Project. This is a way to fundraise for the needs here at our base. What my DTS is raising money for is carpet for a house that is being completely redone. This house is going to be used for married couples who are here with YWAM. If you can imagine being a newly married couple and living in a dorm style house with 50 or so other people it does not sound desirable! So this house is going to be made into 3 small flats for different couples to live in. Our DTS has been asked to fundraise $1,100 for the carpets in this house. If you would be interested in donating to this please e-mail me at .
Thank you again for all of the prayers and support…I really can’t say that enough! I am beyond blessed to have such a wonderful support system. J
Take care,