Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Everything Moves But You" by Christa Wells

I had some unexpected time come my way, and i had an unexpected desire to be a storyteller tonight, so you get another update! wooo! You don't have to wait! (sometimes, when it's late at night and I'm by myself I get hyper, and it's in these moments that I REALLY miss living in a college dorm)
"Everything Moves But You" by Christa Wells
“When I was a child I held to my mother tightly
then I grew taller and left to follow my dreams.
I went after my dreams and some of them brought me delight
but they didn’t bring me everything I hoped they might…
All the things I pursue, well they stay for a season
But everything moves, everything moves.
My towers fall, but you aren’t leaving me.
Everything moves but You.”
These lyrics seem so appropriate to all the things that I am processing. I’m so grateful when artists have the ability to convey what my heart has been strumming on its strings. So thank you, Christa Wells, for writing good lyrics that actually mean something. : )
     I’ve been in New Zealand for over two months. The honeymoon phase is over, the shock has mostly been worn away by the relentless waves of experience, and I’m getting accustomed to looking Right, Left, Right every time I cross the road. God is using this newly settled time in my heart to teach me some hard things about my own heart while revealing new parts of His own self to me.
     While at Easter Camp, God gave me such a beautiful picture of how He works in the small things, and why it is so important to be obedient and faithful in mundane tasks of life…

She was crying, and I was holding her.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started praying over her, but I had felt the nudge from God to step forward and pray over students. Then I saw her and her friends, and I knew why God had told me to go forward.
The speaker at Easter Camp had just asked for those students who wanted more of God, who wanted to be prayed over, who wanted healing and freedom from bondage, to step forward in the small arena and stand right below the stage. It was a small trickle of students at first, maybe ten or twenty. And then, it was like the starving souls of students caught the aroma of the feast being set before them, and they started gathering in the dozens. But it didn’t stop, students KEPT getting up out of their seats and KEPT walking forward. By the time the flow of students stopped, there were about 250 students hungering for more of God; 250 students wanted more food from the banqueting table.
I think the speaker was taken aback. He stuttered, “ummm, if there are any extra youth leaders out there who would be willing to help us pray over these students, now would be a good time to come forward.” I stayed in my chair.
I was not a youth leader this weekend. I was just a volunteer helping Ignite Sport with the recreation events for these 1,000 students.
…Yea, like God was gonna let me use that excuse.
I really felt like I was supposed to go stand in one particular area and pray for students there. So after five minutes of pretending not to hear God’s instructions, I got out of my seat and went down to pray with some students. When I got to the place I was supposed to stand, I saw her.
I have known Bekah for several weeks now. She is one of the students at Naenae College that I’ve worked with through Ignite Sport and our On-Track Program. I had seen her and her three other friends, Dani, Ally, and Rachel earlier that day at camp. I also know Dani and Ally from On-Track. (It was SO cool to meet students that I already knew at camp).
As I was thanking God for my pre-existing relationship with Bekah, I walked towards her and finally said, “May I pray for you?”
She said yes, and so I started praying for her. Not knowing anything about her could have been seen as a handicap as I prayed over her, but it turned into a gift. Instead of searching my mind for something to pray about, I just listened to the Spirit and prayed whatever words and phrases came to mind. I don’t really remember all that I prayed for, but I remember praying that God would open her eyes to see the opportunities at Naenae College. And I prayed for her friendships. And at the end of the prayer I pulled away from her and looked into her eyes. There were tears streaming from her lashes to her chin, so I embraced her again until she was ready to let go.
Then I progressed to Dani,
and Rachel,
and finally Ally.
Each prayer ended with long embraces and sometimes tears. The prayers felt especially passionate because by the time I was praying over Rachel the music was so loud that I was literally shouting prayers into Rachel’s ear. (I kind of loved shouting TRUTH and GRACE and LOVE into the hearts and ears of these beautiful young women.)
As I left the crowd of students, I went to the side of the arena and began to weep. I was crying without tears; my body was almost paralyzed by God’s faithfulness in building bridges.
Wasn’t it I who had scorned in my heart the work of On-Track just a few weeks ago? As I sat discussing nutrition with the Naenae college girls, wasn’t it I who had cried out to you silently but passionately, “what is the point of this?! I’m not passionate about teaching people new sports, or developing young athletes, or teaching people proper hydration techniques! Why am I sitting here in this classroom for On-Track?! I want to know these girls, I want to pray with these girls, I want to love on them and speak truth to their hearts! But Jesus, I’m not! This feels pointless!”
And as God listened to my questions and watched me shake my fist at Him four weeks ago, he smiled because he knew that those conversations about nutrition would lead to an afternoon of hanging out, which in turn would lead to an evening of crying and praying together, which has led to a decision for the five of us to meet up once the school term has started again.

     Two months ago I left home, and I chased my dream of following God to New Zealand. Sometimes, it is not all that I hoped it would be… But then there are moments like the one I had at Easter Camp. Easter Camp was such a valuable reminder that God frequently uses the “pointless” moments to prepare my heart and to build bridges which enable me to walk into “praying for Bekah” moments.
     What I’m also realizing about my time in New Zealand is that New Zealand is good. Home is good. What makes either of these places joyful and lively is my willingness to tap into what God is doing and join Him in His work. Places change, people graduate, things get moved around. But God stays the same. He stays with me, and He stays with you.
     I encourage you to keep being faithful in moments/conversations/events that seem pointless. Nothing is pointless, nothing is wasted. There is a banquet being held all around you. Will you step forward and notice the feast? Will you find the purpose in the mundane? I’m telling you from experience: it’s the only way to really live.
I love you all! PuaNani
Prayer Requests:
1. please pray for my budding relationships with my naenae college girls
2. Soccer games start next week, and I feel a little unprepared as a coach. actually, REALLY unprepared. Please pray for my team.
3. My siblings arrive in New Zealand in 32 days! Please pray for their travels to Wellington, and our preparations and planning!
4. Please pray that I continue to look around and see the banquet, the feast, and the Host of the meal.
5. Please pray that I CHOOSE TO PROCESS things that God is showing me/teaching me/telling me.
This is me and the other Ignite interns peeking out of our tent at Easter Camp! Zara, Kiri, Amanda, and David.

 This is one of my favorite pictures from Easter Camp. An artist came and painted an image of Jesus on the cross -----> in four minutes. It was amazing to watch. During the next main session they put the painting at the bottom of the stage, and one student walked up to it and stood there for about five minutes. From the moment I took this photo I've called it "The Reckoning"

"Love Love Love" by Avalanche City

Here are some New Zealand phrases translated into English phrases! I'm learning more everyday!

Sweet as = that’s cool
yea nah bro = yes, I understand what you’re saying, but no, friend.
“as” = added onto the end of a word for emphasis, instead of putting the word ‘very’ or ‘so’ in front of a word (examples: 1) that house is big as! = That is a very big house! 2) I’m hungry as! = I’m so hungry!
best mate = best friend
oi! = hey! (when you’re trying to get someone’s attention)
tomato sauce = ketchup
capsicum = bell pepper
pepper = jalapeño pepper
icing sugar = powdered sugar
grid iron = Football
i’m going to toilet = I’m going to go to the bathroom
serviette = napkin
napkin = toilet paper
I’m gutted! = I’m really upset about it/I’m really torn up about it
muesli = granola/trailmix
petrol = gasoline
takeaways = fast food
ta = thank you
hotdog = corndog
American hotdog = hotdog on a piece of white bread with some ketchup
chips= French fries
chippies = potato chips/cheese balls
I’m going to the dairy to get lollies and top up = I’m running to the gas station/corner store to buy some candy and add some money to my phone credit.
fizzy drink = any kind of soda (I get teased for calling it soda)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"baby" by Justin Bieber

This update is a bit long and tedious, so please don’t feel you have to read it all. I know some of you are eager to hear things that I am processing, and I think this update will clue you in on how best to pray for me. I love you all!
The last 10 days have been an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I am literally skipping down the street praising God for my life in New Zealand. Other mornings I’ve woken up in bed not wanting to leave my room. I feel like I have more questions than answers about all the things I am processing. Here is a rundown of things I’ve been thinking about
     Friday: Drove 40 minutes to Porirua with the Ignite team to work in a predominantly PI (Pacific Islander) school, Porirua College. At the end of the day, as I was purchasing cake mix to bake a cake for the Porirua students, I realized that a very large sum of money had been stolen from my wallet. Awesome.
     Saturday: After feeling victimized, sorry for myself, angry at myself for being so naïve, angry that someone would steal from me, God asked me some hard questions. “Pua, are you going to withhold love from the Porirua students because one person took advantage of you? If you met the thief, would you withhold love from them? Are you only going to love people that love you back? Are you only going to love people that are easy to love?” So, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and ended up praising God that ONLY money was stolen, not my entire wallet, because replacing debit cards, credit cards, and licenses would have been SO hard. I’m learning about the value of money.
     Sunday: We talked about St. Columba, who apparently, did some similar things as St. Patrick (ie drove out snakes from a village). He is reported to have done many other signs and wonders, including healing the sick, raising the dead, turning water to wine… and if I’m honest it made me uncomfortable. People coming back from the dead? I was journaling about how this made me uncomfortable when God continued his recent habit of asking me hard questions, “Pua, are you passionate about my Kingdom? Or are you only passionate about the things YOU’ve experienced and are comfortable with?”
     Monday: Back to Porirua. I found a new love for those students. Afterwards I had soccer practice at Naenae College (seven players showed up) and walked the long way home in order to take time to praise God because I was so filled with joy about my soccer girls that I already love. I went for a run and was overwhelmed with the beautiful sunset and the flowers protruding from garden fences along the path where I run. I went to Jo and Isaac’s house for dinner and laughed for almost two hours straight. I haven’t laughed that hard since I was in Bristol. It felt so good to laugh until my abs and cheeks hurt.
     Tuesday: Back to Porirua. The program was an overall success, and Porirua College is interested in maintaining contact with Ignite. Got back to the house around 4 and went to Bible study around 7 PM. We talked about Shalom: the idea of a whole person being at peace, and how sin is the opposite of that, how sin is missing the mark of righteousness and peace. Yea, a real light topic…
     Wednesday: A day when I felt really homesick. I received some really good news (in the form of facebook messages/emails) from the states as well as some really disconcerting news and heavy news. I’m missing so many things back home: babies growing up, proms, weddings, graduations. But I know I’ve been called to New Zealand for this time. And it’s obvious that God is teaching me heaps about himself and his kingdom. I just really love and miss home.
     Thursday: I went into the Ignite office in the afternoon and had a Vision Planning meeting with the two leaders of Ignite Sport, Kevin and Steve. After an 1 ½ of talking about possibilities for Ignite’s future, we realized that we had barely scratched the surface. We decided to meet again on Tuesday. I came home and prepared for my lesson and dance on Sunday…. Seriously thought about giving up the dance because I was struggling to choreograph for over an hour.
     Friday: Woke up with choreography playing in my head, so I worked on my danced and praised God    : ) Then I met with Alastair McColl, who has agreed to spend time with the St. Columba youth group as a small group leader. This is such an answer to prayer! Alastair has been such a good friend to me, and I can’t wait to see how the students are impacted by his presence and faith over the next few months!
     Saturday: Basically I spent the whole day finishing up preparations for my dance and my message. My message was on the topic “Wait. And Hope.” This was the message I heard constantly from God when I was waiting for 12 months to hear about New Zealand.
     Sunday: Delivered my message. Performed my Dance to “Shine” by David Crowder. Then I sang with all my heart as we sang, “Desert Song” by Hillsong. After the service, several small girls from the church asked if we could all dance together. So I got out my laptop and danced on the stage with 6 beautiful princesses. The song of choice? “Baby” by Justin Bieber : )
The rest of the day I rested in obedience. I had spoken just what the Lord wanted, and had danced in His power... I don’t really know another way to describe that. You can see the video Here:

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The last two days have sort of been catch-up days, and tomorrow will serve that same purpose. On Thursday I leave for Easter Camp with Ignite Sport. We will be with 900 high school students for 5 days over the Easter weekend, running the sport tournaments and providing recreational activities for the students as well. Please pray for the Ignite Team:
Kevin, Steve, David, Kiri, Amanda, Zara, and Me as we work together. Please pray that we DELIGHT in serving the students and one another. Please pray for our bodies and the weather, because we will be sleeping in tents for four nights.

I spent the evening with my Bible study friends at a place in downtown Wellington called Strawberry Fare, and this restaurant is famous for their desserts.
“Pua… it’s like, your super power is eating dessert!” The fork paused halfway between the plate and my lips as I looked down quickly to keep brownie bits from exiting my mouth as I started laughing. This isn’t the first time someone has said this to me… sigh. What can I say? I LOVE desserts.
After I had finished my key lime pie, I moved onto to finish Gabrielle’s Banoffee Pie. When that was finished, I ate the last of Alastair’s brownie and chocolate ice cream. And as I finished the last bite of brownie, I looked up and down my table of friends and was thankful to be in New Zealand, surrounded by people who I love, and who love me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"SMS (Shine)" by David Crowder Band

    I can hardly believe that I’ve been in New Zealand for 6 weeks. SIX weeks? Really?! A month and a half? Then I realized, after doing some quick math, that having spent 6 weeks in New Zealand means that I have little over 8 months left.
   That’s when I heard it. The threatening voice in my head asking “What could YOU possibly do in 8 months?”
    It wasn’t a voice of love. It was the voice of Condemnation confirming my deep fear that this beautiful gift of New Zealand has somehow been given to the wrong person, that somehow, the blessing of living with this family, working in this community and being so well taken care of is being wasted on me, and that I won’t be able to do anything significant with my time here.  And for a moment, I sat there helpless to answer Condemnation’s question. What COULD I do in 8 months?
    I shared this question with my mom earlier tonight, and she didn’t hesitate with an answer. “Well I know what to say to that. What about Emily? Gail just sent you an email about her. That story shows that with Jesus you don’t need months or even hours to make an impact.”
   My aunt Gail participates in a jail ministry in Clinton, Tennessee. She had invited me several times to accompany her to the jail and minister to the women there, but most of the time I turned her down. One particular day, however, I decided to go. I don’t remember what Gail talked about. I don’t remember what scripture we read. I don’t remember anything from that day, except Emily.
   Emily, like most women in the jail, was brought in on charges of drug use and possession.  Unlike most of the women, however, Emily’s appearance was not damaged by her drug usage. She was beautiful. And after Gail spoke, Emily approached Gail and said that she wanted to accept Jesus into her life. Gail turned to me and said, “Well, Pua would love to pray with you about that!”
   um, what? All of these alarms were going off in my head! I couldn’t possibly do that! I wasn’t qualified! I didn’t know what exactly to pray, or what to say, or what to ask! I said a quick, “Jesus! Help!” prayer and walked with Emily over to her bed.
   I don’t even remember what we prayed, but I know there were a lot of tears, and I know I spent most of the time holding her while she wept. Emily kept saying, “you’re so beautiful, you’re so beautiful. I see Jesus in you, I want that Jesus too! I just want Jesus!” The way she cried out for Jesus was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
     In total, our conversation may have taken ten minutes because the visiting hours were over, and it was time for the Bible study ladies to leave. As I got up, Emily asked “what perfume are you wearing?” When I told her the name of it she just about fell off her bed. “I knew it! That’s the one I wear too! Whenever I wear it now I will think of you and pray for you!” When I left Emily, she looked radiant.
    That was three years ago. And if I’m honest, over the course of three years, I may have prayed for Emily a total of 10 times. These prayers were usually preceded by Gail telling me that she saw Emily in the prison again for similar charges.
    A week ago I received an email from Gail about Emily. She had seen Emily in the jail again, but this time Emily had great news. After a year of writing letters to a drug rehabilitation program, Emily had finally been awarded a place at the center. This facility is very unique because it offers a safe place for children of recovering addicts to stay while their parents are being treated. Emily is finally going to get the help she needed three years ago. What humbled me was what Emily told Gail.
   “Whenever I see you, I feel close to Pua. I will never, ever forget her. I have thought of her so often these past three years, and I would be honored to pray for her (in New Zealand)!”
   Emily’s unforgettable experience at the jail three years ago had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Jesus. In the kingdom of God, one small gesture of love can raise enormous waves of change, and one ten minute conversation can free drug addicts from their addiction.
There is no act too small. There is no time too short.
This is the truth being sung over me right now.
8 months? The entire nation of New Zealand can be impacted in 8 months. Let us press on in our work and let the Glory be God’s!
Prayer Requests:
1. God is really taking care of me feeling homesick! Although I miss home, I am no longer carrying a heavy heart around with me everywhere. Thank you for your prayers!
2. Next Monday, I will be on a panel of ‘Famous Athletes’ in Porirua in order for local high school students to ask us questions about what made us successful in our careers. (yea, I know, they must have run out of people to ask, ha ha) Please pray that I speak clearly and that God is glorified in that time.
3. On  Tuesday, I will be sharing part of my testimony (the part related to my high school soccer injury) with the same group of high school students in Porirua. Please pray for the students and for my heart as well.
4. Praise God for his goodness, love and mercy.
5. I am speaking and dancing in front of the whole church on April 17th. All prayers are welcomed!
I am thanking God for you!
(also, Emily is not the actual name of my friend. I kept her name confidential)