Sunday, 23 October 2011

Life in New Zealand

Updates from New Zealand
Hey everybody! It has been awhile since I’ve updated. We have been in Christchurch, New Zealand for about a week and a half now. We had a very smooth trip over and all of our travelling went very well! We got started right in with ministry about 10 hours after getting here. For the first 3 days our team split up for the morning. My team (Me, Marika, Ali, and Daniel) helped out at Brynwyr Baptist Church with a “Kidz Alive” program, which is similar to a vacation bible school. We helped out in crafts, games, worship, and in any other ways we were needed. We had so much fun and the kids really enjoyed their time! One thing that really caught our attention was on the first day the pastor was giving the kids announcements regarding the building: bathrooms, rules, etc, and then explained to them what to do “in the likely event we would have an earthquake”. The kids all new to assume the turtle position! For the afternoons we went to Breezes Baptist Church and met up with the rest of our team. We helped people around there houses with gardening and some moving boxes. What would take one person a whole day to complete, eight of us were able to work together and get the job finished in an hour or two. It really meant a lot to the people we were able to help. They were really glad to see people coming in to Christchurch to help when so many people have been leaving the city because of the uncertainty and destruction. It was interesting to hear them tell their stories about what happened to them with the earthquake. Then on Saturday we went door to door in the community to see if there was anything we could do to help them around their house and let them know about the event Breezes Baptist was holding that afternoon. Saturday and Sunday afternoons we helped with this event called “Love Avondale”.  Avondale is a community in Christchurch that was hit very hard by the February 2011 earthquake and about 25% of people are losing their homes from it. This event was a really nice way to get the community united to have some fun together and to see some hope for their future.  There were shops, a choir, jump-jumps, food, and a lot of fellowship. I got to monitor the jump jumps- not a bad deal! On Sunday Bo was able to share a short testimony of how God has been working in his life since coming to YWAM. It was really cool and a lot of people were really encouraged by his story.
This past week we have mainly worked with another church, Linwood Baptist, taking door to door surveys of how their church could help in their local community. It was definitely challenging to do this and very humbling. I wasn’t thrilled about “bothering” people at their homes and not to mention…this is outreach!? Not what I pictured when I heard we would be doing earthquake relief. It has continued teaching me the importance of doing a job if I’m told to do it whether I agree with it or not! Also really trusting that God is in it, and even though I may not see it, there is purpose in what we are doing. It did lead to some cool opportunities to talk about what we are doing and what we believe. One of the days, Daniel and I knocked on the door of a Jehovah’s Witness (tables were turned..haha!) and ended up having an hour conversation with him about our beliefs. It was really cool and he definitely was taking to heart a lot of what we were saying. Other people on our team got to pray for people, talk to atheists about their faith, and really encourage several others. It turned out not to be as awful of a time as we were all expecting!
One night we went to a young adults group at Breezes Baptist. Most of us shared a bit about how we got to YWAM and the awesome ways that God has been working in our lives. It was really cool to be able to share with people our age. We split into guy and girl groups and us girls got a lot of insight to how fear and paranoia are still major parts of their lives. Keeping emergency kits in their cars, making sure their petrol tanks are always over half full, looking for what could fall on them when walking into a building, planning their nearest exits, etc. I will admit that a lot of their fear transferred to me that night as well. Seeing the destruction and then hearing about how fear of another earthquake or tsunami haunts them daily all of a sudden became a reality to me. My heart really broke for them. Many of their childhood memories are destroyed, friends and family have moved away, and home no longer holds the comfort it once did. I can’t imagine being afraid to be in Wauseon, in my home. But that is what reality is for them here in Christchurch. It is heartbreaking.
Even though the big earthquake was about 8 months ago, there is still so much to be done-roads still need to be fixed, houses need fixed, and people need healing. We have talked to people who saw bodies scattered in the road, walked out of a shop where most of the people were killed literally seconds before the earthquake hit, lost a daughter, and several who are losing their homes. Since the February earthquake there have been over 2,000 aftershocks. We were prepared to feel them and to not panic! So far I have not felt any, but a couple in our group has felt two of them (due to me being asleep and in a different location!) It is something you have to just not think about otherwise it will make you paranoid! Liquefaction is a substance that oozes up from the ground after a big earthquake and it is still covering many yards and sidewalks. Parts of the city are marked “Red” and are unlivable and dangerous to be around. What the people of this city have been through is unimaginable; a true nightmare.
This city needs the light of Jesus Christ and they need hope. It is a privilege to be here serving the people of this city. One of the greatest ways we have been able to serve is through building relationships with the people here. Daniel and Bo have talked to a few guys who now want to do a DTS! It is really cool to see how God is working through us to reach the lives of others. It means so much to them to know that people from all over the world really do care about them and want to help.
So many times it is hard to see God in the middle of disaster. It is too easy to shift our eyes to what we are lacking instead of the many things we do have to be thankful for.  I don’t know why God allows the hard stuff, but I know I don’t always need to know why. God’s way of doing things is a lot of times out of our comprehension, yet we still spend so much time trying to find answers that simply aren’t there for us to find. Lucky for us, we don’t need the answers…we just need the One who has them.

Please keep praying for our team and the people in Christchurch!
                                                                house getting held in place

Leading worship

Last day of KidzAlive program

Just doing my job ;)

Watching the Rugby game....Go the All Blacks!

Earthquake damage at Linwood Baptist Church

More gardening!

6 girls on mattresses on the floor for bedtime!

New Zealand countryside

more of the country

Sheep!!! In New Zealand of course

Pictures hardly do this any justice

Sunday, 9 October 2011

First 2 Weeks of Outreach!

Hello! It has been awhile. I’ve been keeping busy these past couple of weeks of outreach! Last week we took the 36 crew (kids) from YouthStreet up to the Gold Coast in Australia for 5 Day Escape! It was so much fun, but also very exhausting. As staff, we were on the go from about 6:30am until about 10:30pm for those five days. We did different things with the crew each day such as shopping, BBQ at the beach, team games, tubing & wakeboarding, bowling, Lion King in 3D, and went to an amusement park called  Dream World. The crew had so much fun. Each night we had a night program that consisted of different team challengers, skits, a talent show, and other sorts of fun. On the last night one of our staff shared a message about Jesus being the only One we can always count on during the difficult times and how even though we may feel helpless at times, God is the One who will always come through for us. Several crew made decisions to follow Christ that night and even more crew talked with us about questions they had. It was truly a wonderful night to be a part of. I got to pray with a couple of girls in my cabin and then share with them some more and encourage them. A lot of the crew said they never knew that they could have a personal relationship with God, or that God wanted a relationship with them! A couple told me how they had never felt such power in prayer before that night. It was an honor to be used by God in such a moving way.
This past week we spent at the Island Breeze Sydney YWAM base in Sydney Australia. They had a Nations 2 Nations conference that we were able to attend and help at the base. We did some evangelism, scrubbed the kitchen floor, and helped in the kitchen a few times. The conference focused on God’s love for all the nations and how one day we will be one nation in Heaven! Revelation 7:9 “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands”. Speakers taught a lot about identity in Christ and destiny and how this related to people from every nation. It was amazing because there were people there from Australia, America, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, England, Cook Island, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Africa, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple of nations! It was amazing to talk to people from all over the world. We got a glimpse of different cultures through dress, watching dances, tribal dances/calls, and worshipping God in different languages. I’ve come to the discovery that I love islanders!! They are seriously so much fun! Definitely got me even more excited for Fiji! We all had such an amazing time. I definitely gained a whole new love and appreciation for all of the people in different nations!
As I write this we are on our way back to Newcastle for the weekend before flying to New Zealand on Tuesday! Ali actually had to fly to New Zealand last weekend because of visa issues so we are missing her and excited to see her!
Please continue praying for breakthrough in finances for our group. There are still a couple people who need their money by next week to be able to come to Fiji. If they end up not being able to come it will reduce our team to 5 and I reckon if 2 are better than 1, then 7 is better than 5! Amen? So please keep the prayers flowing!
Our first 2 weeks of outreach have been really wonderful and I’m so excited to see what God has in store for the next 8 weeks! Thanks for praying for me and my team. God bless!
Crocodile feeding at DreamWorld with 5DE

At DreamWorld


Chloe, Ali, and Danielle on the way to Sydney!

Bo and I on the way to Sydney!

Sydney Base