If you never visit me here again on this site, but you read this, I’m ok with that.

This morning I did the unforgivable. I skipped church. Actually, my beautiful church family is probably starting their sermon right about now. I’m sad I’m not there, but I’m thankful I’m home. After everyone left, I had quiet. All I could hear was the faint ticking of the clock, and the gentle water hitting the ground outside the window as snow melts away.

A few days ago, I started thinking about 2014. Now I can hear you already, “Sam- be in this moment.” Be calm- I was only thinking and asking God for a word for 2014. Last year in December as I prayed about 2013, He told me that this year would be “hard, but good.” This year, I gently asked Him for something different. “Maybe not so hard this time? Please?” But He’s the almighty, and He carried me through this year, so He can carry me through anything.

.      .     .      .        .       .

 

In case you’ve been looking around here, and you’re missing me, remember to head over here. I’m not posting here on this blog anymore, so be sure to subscribe over there to see more photos, and read more words. Today’s post is a good one!

 

Much love,

 

Sam

I’ve moved..

Ever get those moments where your whole life seems to hinge off of one detail? Like- if I don’t get this job, then I can’t make my car payment, and then I won’t have a car, which means I won’t be able to get a new job, and then I’m jobless and carless. Or how about- if I don’t date/marry this person, then I’ll be alone for my whole life, and people will never stop looking at me with those sad eyes, or asking me if there’s “anyone on my radar”………

 

.                 .                .                    .                   .                .                  .                     .               .                 .

 

If you love me, and love reading what I write.. I’d like to invite you over here, where I will be writing from now on. I’ve so enjoyed this space, but realized the need to combine my art into one space, and the other guys won. I hope you’ll come and join me! If you scroll to the very bottom, you’ll find a spot to subscribe, so just like on here, every time I post, it is sweetly delivered right into your email.

Thank you for your dedication to me!

 

Samantha

More photos, more thoughts, less words

This week, as well as last week, I’ve been practicing my decision making skills. As it turns out, I’m not as skilled as I should be at making decisions, and so it’s been more challenging than it has to be. Thankfully, I’ve found a beautiful escape in nature here.

Last week’s decision: what visa do I apply for? And, based upon that decision, what forms do I need to apply for? This lead me to rushing a long form birth certificate in the mail, and booking a train trip to Ottawa next week. Discovery: be thankful for spontaneous adventures, and for friends who are willing to help you out.  Lesson learned: God has it all in control- even the boring, legal bits.

This week’s decision: Do I apply for a 2 year commitment to Amsterdam? As a sweet friend reminded me this morning, “2 years is a long time, but it’s not a lifetime”. Noted. Now to continue to pray, and then fill YWAM Amsterdam in on the spider web decision making process that is my brain. Your prayers are appreciated.

This week’s blessings: painting a room creates a brand new space, and opens up a fountain of creativity. Leaves that fall outside my window. Doing a job I love, for people I love even more (yes, Michelle, I mean you). Quiet time with Him. I’ve been quiet around Him lately, but decided (and recognized the great need) to walk back to Him and sit with Him a while. It was quiet for a bit, but not too long. I like to think He wanted to enjoy the silence of us just being there together. Together. What a beautiful word.

Thank you, my beautiful reader, for listening to the ramblings of my heart and mind. Please leave a comment and tell me what the blessing and decision and concern for you is this week.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Here and gone again

I’ve been home for a week and a half. Of the 10 days I’ve been home, I’ve probably cried on 7 of those days. Tears thinking about the past nine months and how challenging they were. Tears because saying goodbye is not on my list of favourite things to do. Tears because I’m moving again, and even though it’s exciting, it means starting over again. Tears because I have seen and felt God move, and it has blessed me.

It’s been very subtle, my plans for the next few months. I’ve sent out an update with the news, but I’ll clarify more what my bright and shining future looks like, and how I’ll need you. Trust me, I will definitely need you.

Last year in August, I was standing on the shore of Prince Edward Island, with my feet in the very cold Atlantic Ocean. At that point in time I was fairly certain I was heading back into missions full time, but wasn’t able to communicate with anyone who could help me out  with that in Kona. I was desperate, and wanted a “yes!”, or “Go to Kona” from God when I asked Him what to do. Instead of the answer I thought I needed, He gently spoke to me and said “Look for me in the darkness, for I’ll be there- shining my light.”

If you know me, you know that “my word” is shine. It’s what I want to do- I want people to look at me and see Him shining through. I want Him to light my path, I want His joy- even in tough times- to shine through. How fitting that He spoke that to me. So over the past year, as I’ve looked at some very dark places and situations, I couldn’t help but notice that He was already there. He was working, He was shining, even if very dim, He was there. I prepared myself to work with prostitution ministries, to be face to face with His beautiful sons and daughters in dark places, and although I have learned a lot, I haven’t been on the front lines.

Until now.

In early November, I will be packing- once again, but this time I’ll be leaving my sun screen and bathing suits and shorts in exchange for boots, a bicycle and some thick sweaters and jackets. I’ll be moving to the Netherlands to work with YWAM Amsterdam’s ministry, named The Lighthouse.  When I packed to leave for Kona in January, I had no idea this is where He would lead me, but I’m slowly learning that God’s ways are better, and He is trustworthy. I could tell you a whole bunch of heart wrenching statistics, but statistics don’t do much unless you know there is a person behind the number.

If you would like to learn more about The Lighthouse, click here. The Lighthouse partners with Not For Sale, an anti-human trafficking organization. I’m still in the process of finding out exactly what my role will be in supporting this ministry, but I encourage you to read up on the prostitution industry, not only in Amsterdam, but right where you are. No one wants to find it, but in this case, when we decide that ignorance is bliss, our sisters slip through the cracks.

This is where I’m headed. Each time I pray, God only gives me enough direction for November and December. This is two things- frustrating for me because I’m tiring of planting and being uprooted, and exciting because the future is wide open.  There are two things I need from you, my beautiful reader. One, and honestly my most needed and important thing:  I need your prayers. I have no idea what I’m walking in to. This is a world I have tried to overlook and avoid, and I know that beautiful things can happen in dark situations, but it’s tough. Please, keep me in your prayers, even pass my name on to your friends and family, the more the merrier! The second is for you to consider and pray about, but I am hoping to be able to increase my monthly support. If you would be able to sacrifice $20, $30 or $50 a month, please consider supporting me. What I do is entirely supported by donations, as I’m not legally allowed to work in either America or the Netherlands. Please pray and see if you would be able to join me.

So, there it is. My little announcement. I’ll still be around in Canada until around the first of November, so if you’d like to hang out, let’s grab some tea and chat! Thanks for reading this monster!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

La Vie en Togo

 

 

Different

It’s the word we choose when we try to compare our lifestyles. Different because we don’t struggle with the same things. Different because of the things we have or don’t have. Different because of the languages we speak, or the way we express affection or anger. Different.

Different has a way of poisoning us. What is really just a word turns into a barrier, a wall, a separation between what “we” do against what “they” do. Somewhere along the lines, our way becomes better than theirs, but we won’t admit to believing that, we just say “we’re just different.”

I’d like to challenge that. I’d like to challenge the belief that we all seem to have and say that even though the circumstances may not be identical, that our lives are made of the same things. I’ve been in many places, and I’ve seen the same things. Joy, life, excitement, frustration, boredom, anger, confusion, sadness- these things are everywhere. When we choose to open our eyes, we can see that, but there’s that magic word- choose.

Take a moment and look outside yourself. Look at the people around you and see the way they do things. Is it different? Quite possibly, yes. But can you relate to them? Can you relate to the mum who is visibly frustrated with her children, whether she portrays it the way you would or not? Can you relate to the teacher who is so proud of all of his students, regardless of whether they meet national standards or not? Can you relate to the father who would do anything to provide for his family, even if he works a different job than you?

What I saw in Togo was different than what I saw in Canada, or Australia, or Papua New Guinea. What I saw in West Africa is even different from what I saw in South Africa, but do you know what tied it all together? There’s a common theme in all of these places, something that, when I chose to look for it, I could relate to? It’s people, doing life, right where they are. I smile because they are beautiful, and they smile because they’ve never felt hair like mine before. I cry because they deserve more than just trying to survive, and they cry because someone is hearing their story. I laugh because they are unashamed, and they laugh because I dance and look ridiculous doing it.

You see, we’re not that different. There is no “us” and “them” in my eyes. I am a girl of 22, seeing life and death, joy and pain, new and old, all over the world. She is a girl of 22, seeing the exact same things, but through her own eyes, her own perspective, her own experiences. We all laugh. We all cry. We all sing. We all dance. We all live.

So let’s live. Let’s live as if there were no barriers. We need to look past our differences and realize that He created us to live this life together, with Him. Look inside and ask yourself where you have created those barriers, the fences that keep you on different sides. Ask yourself where you’ve used the word different in place of better. It’s not an easy process, but you have to do it. Walls and fences and barriers make for a lonely life, one full of comparisons, loneliness and pride.

So breathe. Laugh. Cry. Dance. LIVE.

Live life out loud, knowing that the only differences that keep us apart are the ones you choose to hide behind.

Safe

I should apologize again for my absence, but that has been done before. I could apologize because life has been ridiculously busy, but I’ve been enjoying it. I could apologize that I haven’t written, but I’ve still been learning. So I will apologize for not sharing what I’ve learned. Please grab some tea or something else that is delicious to you, because this girl has been learning heaps.

My life is made to be unsafe. There- I said it. And I’m the kind of girl that believes that this is alright. Lately I’ve been called many things, including naive, idealist, unrealistic, dreamer- the list goes on. People mean well- they are concerned for my safety. They don’t understand picking up and leaving- again. They love me and want to protect me- I see all these things. But something deep down inside me feels like screaming- not at them, definitely not at them, but still screaming.

When did we become so obsessed with safety?

Our lives are tailored around it. We turn on the news and fear. We fear weather, we fear other countries, we fear government, people, cars, animals and even words. I get it. We like to be safe. But is that what we’re called to? Weaving our lives around the unsafe, the unsure and the unpredictable?

I don’t think so.

I realize writing this could cause some discomfort- for me and for others. But what I’m saying has been churning in my mind for the past few months, and increasingly so as my departure date comes closer. (12 weeks!!) Call me naive, but I’m not concerned about my safety. I know that my life rests in the hands of God- and that is the most powerful statement I could ever make. He has asked me to go, and so I will. Will I be placed in situations that are uncomfortable? Most likely. Will I be in over my head? Absolutely. Will I be homesick and worried? At times, yes. But what’s my cost?

When I was in Papua New Guinea, we had a church service at night in one of the villages we stopped in. I was tired from hiking, probably didn’t smell that wonderful, I was hungry and not really “feeling” a church service. So we did our thing- asking God to lead us, to speak through us, and to show Himself to the people there. The service was nothing out of the ordinary, but one question came up from a man that met us there. He, in a longwinded way, asked “What is the cost of following Jesus in North America? Here, if we follow Jesus, we must give our food to someone else, because we must show them love. That means we have no food for our children. Here, we must invite someone into our homes to sleep at night, forcing one of our family members outside to sleep. What is your cost? What do you lay down?”

I was so ready to say “I left everything I know- I left it all to come and seek for you. That’s what I gave up.” But I sat quietly and let it all sink in. Just 3 weeks from that church service I was back home. Back with my family, my friends, comfort, food and safety. And that man was still there in PNG giving away his bed and food.

What is your cost?

I am not trying to be brave. I’m not trying to shine a spot light on myself- I am a selfish person with selfish ambitions, but I am washed freshly clean in the grace and blood of Jesus. I give up my safety. I will go to the unsafe village to love the people who get overlooked daily. I will speak life into the hearts of the unseen, and I will give words to the precious children who go unheard. Perhaps people will continue to worry for me, perhaps that’s how they show love, but rest assured- I am safe.

I’ll leave you with some song lyrics that have been rousing in my soul lately.. I’m loving the way God connects feelings and words.

I let go of all I have
Just to have all of You
And no matter what the cost
I will follow You

Jesus, everything I’ve lost
I have found in You
When I finally reach the end I’ll say
You are worth it all

There’s no riches
Earthly treasure
That will satisfy

Every longing for You, Jesus
Set this heart on fire
Set this heart on fire

And here’s the video that goes along with the lyrics! Bonus for you 🙂

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

I should be packing…

I leave in less than 48 hours. I have a million things that I should be doing right now. Journal homework, shopping for last minute things, making birthday cards for my team, praying, reading the Word, sleeping, packing. The list goes on and on. And, any of you who know me well know exactly what I like to do at a time like this. Sit and watch everyone else freak out, and deal with it all later. So, I’m going to write to you all one last time before the Grand Adventure begins.

For the past 3 months, I’ve been waiting for this time. I’ve been praying for direction, buying hiking gear that only crazy people buy, and working my body to the point of hatred. All for such a time as this. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven… a time to plant, and a time to harvest.” Well, for the past 3 months I’ve been planting a lot, and next week is time for the harvest. I’ve explained the trip to you as detailed as I know it to be, and I’m sure that God plans to fill in a few of the details once I come back. One thing I know for sure is that I am placing high expectations on God. He’s given me the power to do anything through Him, and I’m going to run with that. The most exciting thing about preparing for this trip is my prayer life, and how much excitement I receive from Him through it. This week we are learning about spiritual warfare, and it’s just raising my awareness of how sneaky the devil is. I’ve come to realize that the saying “ignorance is bliss” is just ignorant in itself, and knowing the devil’s plan of attack before he puts it into action really cripples him. I enjoy that. 🙂

I believe that our trip to PNG is going to be extremely difficult. We are going to learn a lot; about ourselves, about our team, about communicating without words, and about the importance of the Law along with salvation. What’s the point of telling an entire village about Jesus’ sacrifice and love for them, if they are dying rapidly because of an easily avoidable cholera outbreak? These are just a few of the thoughts that have been rushing through my heart in the past 2 weeks. I am so pumped for outreach. I love my team, and I’m so thankful for each one of them. They all have something inside of them that they offer to the team that can’t be matched by another. Different experiences, different outlooks, different skills, different weaknesses, but one common theme: we all have the same God. We may engage differently with Him, and He may speak to us each differently, but He’s the same God. I think that’s a beautiful thing to have in common.

SO. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to ask that you pray for us. We’re going to be going through a lot together, and we’re all going to have our days, so we’ll need a heap of grace and patience. Also, we will most definitely be sleeping on bamboo, and hiking through leech infested mud, so maybe a bit of persistence and determination as well.

Here we are! Back row: Pete (PNG & England), Jordan (Texas), Ben (Australia), Roger (Australia). Front row: Sam (Washington), Lovisa (Sweeden), Peter (Minnesota), Abbie (Iowa), me, (I’ll represent Canada well, promise!) and Claire (Florida).

Oh. And just a last minute thing. After being in Australia for 3 months, I have finally found my place in the local grocery store in the international foods section. Yes dad, I have found the droppies and strope waffles. Praise Jesus for that. 🙂 Love you all!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam