Sunday, November 27, 2011

You Are More - Hillsong Live

I have GOOD NEWS to share!
Good News #1
Back in April, I wrote a blog about my time at Easter Camp with Ignite Sport. I wrote about four girls that God led me to pray with. Two of those girls signed up for soccer at Naenae College, and I got to coach them for 3 months.
Last night, I went to a church service where one of them was baptized! It was beautiful.
The Good News? God desires to be in relationship with us! Praise God!

Good News #2
I have told you about Jo and Isaac, but I’m not sure that I’ve told you about Rob. He is Isaac’s dad, and a regular attendee of our small group. One day at church we had this conversation:
Rob: Pua, I want to quit smoking.
Pua: Ok Rob, Let’s pray about it.
Rob: That’s ok, I guess.
Pua: God, I know that you desire wholeness and healing for Rob’s body. In the past, Rob has been addicted to nicotine. In the name of Jesus, we break Rob’s addiction to nicotine. I ask that you would restore his body to full health, and I pray that Rob’s desire for cigarettes would disappear.
Rob had been a smoker for over 20 years. It’s been 4 months since that day in church, and he hasn’t smoked, nor has he had a desire to smoke, since we prayed together!
The Good News? God breaks addictions! Praise God!
Good News #3
Since I danced at a church concert in September, I have had pain in my lower back. It felt like a nerve was pinched, and there would be moments when I would bend down and my whole leg would collapse from the sudden sharp, severe pain. It was occasional at first, but a few weeks ago I began to be in regular pain. The pain then spread to my left side, and I would be in pain every morning when I woke  up.
Two weeks ago at church, Derek (a leader at the church) was leading the service. He got to the church very early and rearranged all the seats, putting some pews backwards and forming 5 stations of prayer. I was a greeter that morning, and I LOVED seeing people’s reactions as they walked in. Not many people were impressed with the new arrangement. Several would walk in, stop mid-step, and scowl. Then they would look around awkwardly and find a seat near the back of the church.

Derek, however, had rearranged the seats for a purpose. Once people were settled in the church he asked, “How many of you expect God to do something new on a Sunday morning? Do you come to church with exciting expectations that new things will happen, or do you come to church out of routine?”

Good Question.

Derek explained that we would not be having a usual service, but that the time set aside for preaching would be used for the prayer stations.
As I entered the first prayer station, I knelt down and was keenly aware of the pain in my lower back. I thought back to the time when the pain started- the night I danced at the church concert. God brought to mind the title of the song- “Cripple Me”
A line from the chorus of the song is, “please cripple me, so I cannot keep running away”
I had danced it as a prayer to God, but I was reminded as I knelt in pain the power of those words. Was I in pain because I had prayed to be crippled?
I decided then and there to break any agreement I had made to be crippled. I prayed, “God, I do not desire to be crippled. I desire wholeness and health. I break any agreement I made with the song “cripple me” and I ask for your Spirit to come heal my lower back.”
I stood up and there was no pain in my back, and I haven’t had any pain in my back since that Sunday.

The Good News? God is a Healer! Praise God!
Good News #4This is painful news, yet also good news. In exactly three weeks, I will be flying on a plane from Wellington to Australia, and then from Australia to Los Angeles.
I am coming home.
God has orchestrated a fantastic year- where I have wept and rejoiced and been given much. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. I can’t wait to see what HE HAS IN STORE for the next 21 days! (and I can't wait to hug my family when I get home!)
The Good News? God is able to do above and beyond all that we can hope or imagine. God is for us, and not against us! God is able!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Glorious - Christy Nockels

The sun is warm and the breeze is constant. It’s a beautiful spring morning in New Zealand, and experience tells me that it’s a perfect day for laundry! So that is what I’m doing, sitting on the back porch, preparing for youth group, and hanging/taking down our washing.
I’ve sat down to start writing an update four times since my last one, but I could never find words to really tell you what’s going on. I still don’t know if I have the words, but it’s been almost a month, so here I am, writing you an update.
Thank you for your faithfulness in reading my blogs. I’ve felt you all celebrating with me when I’m happy and sympathizing when I’ve been sad. I can’t tell you how significant your support and encouragement has been for me and my time in New Zealand.
Youth Group
We are entering the last term of the school year, and our focus for our students is Worship: a lifestyle, not just singing in church. We will conclude the term with a weekend camp. What do you do with students who can’t afford an expensive camp? You camp out in the backyard! We are meeting tonight to finalize our weekend schedule. I’m so excited!
Ignite Sport
We just returned from a trip to Hastings (on the right side of New Zealand’s northern island) to debrief our camp with the Porirua boys and help set up a branch of Ignite in the Hastings area. The couple who plan to head this new branch are Vicki and Craig McDougall. Please pray for them and their family. They are magnificently passionate about Jesus and the work of Ignite Sport. I love them!
Liz and I traveled to Auckland for 5 days so I could see the big city and also meet some of my extended Samoan family. My conclusion? I love my extended family, and I am so glad that I live in Wellington, not Auckland. I mean, I loved my time in Auckland, and I felt so taken care of by Jesus while we were there (from parking spots to great food, from great experiences to learning more about God) but I prefer the weather and atmosphere of Wellington.
Gabrielle and Liz and I took a trip through the Rimutaka Ranges to visit Masterton. While we were there, we came upon a Technical Tree Climbing/Rescue Competition. I didn’t even know anything like that existed. (be honest, you didn’t either) so that was fun to watch!
I am hoping to get to the south island one more time before I leave New Zealand, but I’m just trusting my schedule to God, knowing that he has the best schedule for me.
God is really challenging me and teaching me a lot about myself and my fears and a lot about His kingdom and His heart for me. Recently God has been teaching me about the American culture, and how things I grew up thinking were Truth were actually Cultural Values, not Truths of God’s Kingdom. This has been really challenging, as I analyze things like how I spend my money, the clothing I wear, the food I eat, the way I want to use my future house/space/talents/passions for God and for others. I guess to sum up what I’ve been learning: It’s not just about living simply; it’s about living generously.
If that means buying fair trade bananas and cocoa and clothing instead of the cheaper/easier choices, then so be it.
If that means giving away my possessions and wardrobe and jewelry, why not?
If that means spontaneously buying dinner for all my friends, even though it means I won’t be able to afford lunch tomorrow, then that’s ok too.
I’m discovering deep freedom and deep joy as I seek to surrender everything to Jesus (and give it to anyone who needs it) and be released from my attachments to my possessions.
If I’m honest with you, I’m not very good at doing this. I’m kind of hoping it gets easier. Here’s what frequently happens:
 Jesus invites me to give away X
I hesitate, and then think of all the reasons why living without X would be hard
I bargain for X, suggesting that I could give away Y instead.
Then I’m reminded of this simple sentence:
If you’re still measuring out your offerings, you haven’t seen His worth.  –Klaus
Then I’m struck by what Christ has surrendered for me, overcome by his worthiness, and sorry for my greed.
So I finally surrender X, trusting that God knows what is better than I do.
And sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m a bit annoyed, but you know what? A week later, I’m thanking Jesus for the way X blessed someone else, and I’m feeling freedom and joy at being obedient and living generously.
So, that’s my update! I am loving life in New Zealand, and I am also eager to get home to my friends and family. God is good, all the time, and I sit in amazement frequently about the gift He’s given to me.  Love to you all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Slumber - NeedToBreathe

It was Chili night tonight, and it was the first time our Bible study group had met as a whole group in almost 2 months. We were celebrating the addition of two new members: 6 week old Alicia and 4 week old Nathan! Ruth and Jo are proud mothers of two very beautiful babies. I made chili (using the best chili recipe ever, seriously, thanks mom!) and we ate it with corn chips and delicious fresh bread. It was such a gift to spend time with everyone again. Our evening ended perfectly when we took time to intentionally pray for Nathan and Alicia.

The births of these babies come at a time when many other beautiful things have been happening, too. In my family, my sister-in-law, Marvie, just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ella Langley Coffman. And my sister just announced that she’ll be giving birth to a baby girl in February! So many babies! So many blessings!
<---------------------Baby Ella

(I know, cutest baby ever, right?)

Also, SO many Weddings and Engagements! I’m so happy for my many friends! But, I feel limited in my ability to celebrate with my friends because I’m in New Zealand, so I struggle with that. I’m very aware of the heaviness that resides in my heart because of the things I’m missing at home, but God is faithful in reminding me that He saw what I would miss, and still thought that being in New Zealand was the best way to spend 2011.
The last few weeks I have been praying that God would teach me how to remain present in New Zealand while also preparing my heart to go home. He has been so faithful in answering that prayer! The morning after I spoke those words, my dear friend Ginny sent this to me in an email, unaware of my prayers:

Some of life's richest treasures come at the end.  Endings break our hearts with sadness and beauty.  They are opportunities to speak words to one another that can have lasting impact.  We can choose to take the risk to end well for the fruit it can be in our lives and others, or we can let the pain of goodbye keep us safe, guarded, nonchalant, and avoidant.
WOW on the timing of her words! As I follow God and keep extending my roots and going deeper, He is blessing me with so many beautiful conversations. Rita, Pieter, Mari, Edith, Gabrielle, Alastair, Rob, Steve, Casie, Kevin, BJ:
All people that I’ve had life-impacting conversations with in the last month.  
All people that God is using to bless me.
All people that will make leaving New Zealand much harder.
I know I am not finished in New Zealand. In fact, I still have 2 months and 1 week. AND I intend to make the most of my time left! But, as I start my final lap around the track, I am keenly aware that each step takes me closer to the finish line, and if I’m honest, I’m a little apprehensive about the emotional upheaval I’ll experience when I cross that line. Oh Jesus, help me.
I have some prayer requests! Yay for intercession!
1. The boys of Porirua College. We took them on a 3 day camp, and for those boys it was life-giving. Affirming. Encouraging. Covered in prayer and intentionally scheduled. Several of the boys asked if we could stay just one more day at camp. I know that they were not asking to stay because they didn’t want to leave the excitement of camp, but because they did not want to return to the situations waiting for them at home. Please pray for the boys…the young MEN of Porirua College. They are so dear to my heart.

2. Adam and Damien. They are two brothers who were attending our youth group. This month they were sent to live with their father several hours away because their mother was deemed unfit to care for them after several bad situations. Please pray for their adjustments, and please pray that God would place positive role models in their lives.
3. Liz and I are traveling to Auckland from Friday to Wednesday! Yay for Vacation! Let there be REST!
4. Please pray that God would bring teams to sign up for Ignite’s Sports Camp in November. And please pray that God sends quality referees who would like to volunteer their time at our camp.  Seriously, please pray for those things.

I love you all, thank you for your prayers! I cannot tell you how much I value them- they are eternally significant!
Please know that I cannot wait to hug each of you when I get back to the beautiful U.S. of A!
This is Pieter and Mari... I just love them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Star-Spangled Banner- Francis Scott Key

There is a little sporting event called the Rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand at the moment. I know it’s football season in the states, but here, there is SO much zeal for rugby. It’s everywhere, and it’s a huge deal.
Fans from around the world have come to cheer their team on. I didn’t realize that rugby had such a dedicated following. Think about it this way: New Zealand is to Rugby as USA is to Football… although Rugby might have a more dedicated following here. Seriously.
Anyway, the USA has a rugby team! (who knew?) They are called the Eagles, and I had the privilege of watching them play in Wellington! Last Friday night, I met Gabrielle and several of her friends downtown to cheer on the Eagles! I'd been looking forward to this game for weeks. We had inflatable USA noisemakers, American flags, facepaint, red-white-blue clothes: the works. And the best part? We weren’t alone.
THOUSANDS of people were dressed in red white and blue. American flags could be seen in most bars and restaurants as we walked to the stadium. People would sporadically start chanting “USA! USA! USA!”

The reason for such widespread support?
The US was playing New Zealand’s rival team: Australia. I would say that 60% of the US supporters had nothing to do with the USA before this game, but a common saying in New Zealand is, “I support two teams, the All Blacks and anyone playing Australia.” Needless to say, there was widespread support for the US Eagles.
I was so excited for the game, and my emotions came spilling out when our national anthem was played before the game. It’s a rare experience: living in a foreign land, seeing thousands of US flags flying, and hearing your national anthem played before a global audience.
I typically don’t sing along to the national anthem, but that night was different. I was different. I sang it as loudly as I could, and I didn't care that I wasn't hitting all the notes!  Since being in New Zealand, what I have missed most are the people that I love, but that night, under the stadium lights, I missed AMERICA. and I was so proud to be American.

I wish I could end the story there, and believe me, I am tempted to...
but sadly, the Americans lost to the Australians 67-5… ie We got Killed.
I learned a good lesson in humility that night, haha, but more importantly I was reminded that there’s no place like home.
America, I love you!
U.S.A!   U.S.A!   U.S.A!  :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

When the Saints -- Sarah Groves

For such a time as this…
That’s what Queen Esther was told when her people were facing persecution. You, Queen Esther, are placed where you are for such a time as this, because you can offer something unique. And you, Pua, are placed in New Zealand for such a time as this.
How can it be that the author of all truth, creator of the universe, has arranged for me to spend 10 months in New Zealand (7 of those months already gone)? I am here because there is something unique about who God has made me to be that invites life and encourages growth during this season in New Zealand. God has brought me here to fully be who he’s making me. For this 10 month period, I have something super valuable to offer. Learning this has been so freeing!
BUT I feel like a tree that is about to be transported to new soil. I’ve grown roots, my leaves have unfurled, buds are peeking open with the first sign of spring… and I’m about to be uprooted, placed in one of those bags that keep dirt around roots, and put in a new place.  
I imagine that being uprooted in three months won’t feel good. In fact, I’m sure saying goodbye to New Zealand and her people will hurt like hell. Knowing this, I’m tempted to start pulling up my roots now so that it will be less painful in a few months. As I asked God about easing my way out of relationships and pulling out of commitments here, I think God smiled. As I explained all the “practical reasons” for uprooting early, God said “actually, princess, I want you to keep going deeper, keep pouring yourself for these people, keep loving those around you as much as you can.”
Of course you do.
OK, God, I’ll keep going deeper, reaching new depths, and following you.
Part of me going deeper is the gift of sharing all that God is teaching me. God has brought me to New Zealand, and he has not only uniquely placed me, but you as well! This update goes to people in different states and different countries, some even embarking on new journeys to foreign countries this week! And know this: God has you exactly where you are supposed to be. He is aware of the intricate details of your life, and he is working to teach you how to offer your gifts, love, and abilities to those around you. Simply put, you are uniquely placed and uniquely gifted. Be all you are, because God has made you beautifully! And you can make a difference!
Here are some things going on in my life:
Ignite Sport:  Still working with Porirua College boys. We took them sailing last week! (It was my first time sailing too!) -We are hosting a 7k walk/15k bike ride on Oct 2 to help women “jump-start” their fitness levels. -Nov 25-27 We are hosting a Sports Camp Weekend for adults at El Rancho Camp.
St. Columba:  We have started small groups with the students. My girls names are: noella, enatha, Rebecca, Emily, and Katie. -We are learning about spiritual warfare in the youth group
-God is doing incredible things at the church: people are being healed, people are sharing their gifts (like encouragement, prophecy, teaching) with the rest of the church, and it has having SUCH an incredible impact on us as a church and on the local community. Praise God!
Love to you all,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When You Come- Lisa Gungor

     I said goodbye to my mother, auntie, and cousin six hours ago. And I'm exhausted. Saying Goodbye is really hard. And in the midst of realizing I was saying goodbye to my mother, my heart noticed that in a short time I will be saying goodbye, not to three people who I will see again in a few months, but to a nation that i have grown to love. and friends that have forever marked my heart.
     It was in the midst of all of these wonderings that this update emerged. Sometimes it's easier for me to write this way, as opposed to a formal letter. So, forgive me if you hate to read poetry. Know that my week with my family was such a beautiful and eternally signifcant time for my heart. We enjoyed museums, coastlines, wildlife, and of course, delicious food. It was difficult to come back to the Pa'us after dropping them off at the airport because it looked like my mom should still be here: the cake we baked together on the counter, her favorite crumpets in the fridge, the last bit of perfume still lingering in my room...
Goodbyes are so difficult! So this is what I'm sharing with you all now. i love you!

Standing on the Brink of Goodbye
Like a handsome cliff that descends into beauty
How can I leave?
The perils and preparation that led me up this mountain,
have all been reimbursed
by the giver of every good and perfect thing.
Atop this place I have learned new heights
and seen new understandings,
and even a new river has been formed
from my heart’s bursts of joy
and cries of sorrow.
I have walked new soil,
breathed new wind,
and heard new songs carried from afar.
Yet, How can I not go back?
This Land of the Long White Cloud is not my home,
nor was it intended to be.
I’ve known this was just a season

Why were we created with so much capacity for longing?
More strain on each beat,
as I keep giving pieces through tears, laughs, and sharing stories.
My heart no longer resides in me, but in the people of
Bolivia. Kenya. USA. New Zealand.
Given life to share it,
Your love poured out so that  we may pour ours out.
Help me, Jesus.

Standing on the Brink of Goodbye
able to see
what I am leaving
what lies ahead.
God, will you show me where to tread?
This life before Eternity, these transitional phases, these moments of Goodbye-
Make me hungry
for the day
of Eternal Hello’s
and the reunion of souls.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

40:19 (feat. Monica Allison)

I have to confess something: I love clothing.
And I love accessories.

    And one of the most satisfying ways to de-stress is spending the day assembling an outfit after sifting through racks of clothes. Beautiful designs, flowing skirts, high heels, flattering trousers, floral scarves, headbands, fitted tops, necklaces and matching bracelets… I love being a girl and getting excited about expressing my creativity and beauty through clothing.
     A few years ago, however, I started assessing the way I spent my money. I realized that after paying whatever small bills I had, most of my money went to a) clothes and b) food. Then this thought emerged as I was analyzing my spending habits: whatever I spend my money on, I am supporting. Even though I may not verbally support it, I am financially backing this company and whatever they stand for.
    Upon this realization, I started treating my spending habits more seriously. As I researched the clothing companies I was wearing/buying, I started to learn things that challenged my comfortable shopping lifestyle.
     Almost all of the clothes in my closet are made in sweatshops. (Target, Wal-Mart, H&M, Banana Republic, Gap, Forever 21, Adidas, and Nike to name a few) Shoes/sports wear/ scarves/ shirts/ pants/ dresses… all of them made in distant countries by women, men and children I’ll never meet in working conditions I’ll never experience. (verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, dirty factories, unsafe and unhealthy working areas, working 7 days a week, families living on less than $2 a day)  Does my distance from them give me the right to ignore their abuse or financially support their employer?
    Recently, I have discovered several companies that have begun making fair-trade clothing appropriate for all occasions! I was so thrilled at my discovery, and in the last week, I have decided to change my consumerist habits.
     From now on, I will only buy fair-trade or second hand clothing. When I leave New Zealand, I will be leaving most of my clothes behind, only bringing home those items that are fair-trade or second hand. In two years, I hope to only have fair-trade/second-hand clothing in my closet! I know this will be difficult for me, or anyone for that matter, because fair-trade clothing is often times more expensive than clothing made in sweatshops. I think that means I will just have to have LESS clothes. But, is LESS clothes really that much of a sacrifice?

“Purging my closet will not be easy, Jesus. Help this all be fueled by a love for you and your people, and please replace any legalism or judgmentalism with your love, mercy and grace. Keep teaching me how to follow you, Father. Teach me what it looks like to love you and to love my neighbor.”
Here’s a list of a few available fair-trade stores online: