Transitions, Changes, and a Look Back

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

                                                                                                      Francis Chan, Crazy Love

I was out this weekend with a bunch of friends, some of whom I haven’t seen since being back home. While out, the topic of transitions came up. He is facing transition from university back home, and I am facing transition from one home to another. Transitions are not always easy or clean cut, but life has slowly been getting back on track. I have found a job, I have started volunteering at the youth centre in town, and there’s talk of a car coming into my life! Things are starting to get exciting around here! And for once, I am able to look at transition in a beautiful light. Instead of a disconnect, a tearing apart, I see new opportunities, room for growth, freedom to shine the light.

This quote, by Francis Chan, it’s highlighted and underlined in my book. I read “Crazy Love” about 6 months before going to Australia, and never thought the line would make such an impact on me. But how true is it? I underlined it as a nice thought, something empowering, something to remember. But no matter how eloquently it’s put, the message is still the same. What you are doing today will be graded on a scale of some sort. What you do with your life has a certain amount of importance. And, while being in this beautifully frustrating time of transition, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’m at a point where any door is open, my options are limitless. I could work, I could go to school, I could go start something new in a new country, I could jump back into YWAM. So many options, all of which are good things to do. But, as always, I’m not content with just doing “good” things, I want to do exactly what good thing God wants me to do.

So, I searched, and still am searching. Constantly, God’s told me “just be”, be where you are, live where you live, get out of your comfort zone. And yesterday I went for a walk. My spiritual walk with God has turned into a literal walk, a time where I can just talk to Him, bring everything to Him, and just listen. Isaiah 41v1 really resonates with my soul, “Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea.” I’ve felt the conviction before of asking for an answer, but not really listening for it, and don’t wish to experience it again. So I asked for the next step, I told Him I was ready to handle it, and He threw me a curve ball.

So, I’m not really at the spot where I’m ready to disclose what’s next, because I need to sort out a few details. I also have learned that as quickly as God can set you in one direction, He can spin you around and make you head straight for something else. And that’s where the quote from Francis Chan comes in. I want my life to be about doing something that matters, making a difference, even if it’s tiny, and I know God has big plans for me. It’s up to me to make sure that at the end of it all, I can look back and see that I made a difference, whether that’s here in Canada, or out somewhere else. But looking back on what He brought me through on YWAM, I know there’s still so much for me to learn. As a beautiful friend of mine said to me “Its like the journey isn’t finished yet, and this is the time in between.”  So, transition or not, this is the in between time. And I want to thank you all for making this in between time so meaningful. I appreciate hearing what’s on each and every heart, and it definitely makes me feel so loved and blessed to be here in this time.

Shine!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Reckless

“Reckless faith always has one foot in eternity. It measures people by their actions and not their belongings. A reckless faith believes when there is no evidence and hurls itself at what is unseen but promised. A reckless faith isn’t “refined” in the least. It does not make sense to the world, and yet, the world often seems fascinated by it.”                                                              Reckless Faith, Beth Guckenberger

I’m reading this book, Reckless Faith, because I have to do a book report on a missionary of my choice. I was in a huge rush to find one, yet I was so unmotivated that I actually put no effort into looking at all. Claire, a beautiful friend of mine, walks up to me and asks if I still need a book to read, and passes this one to me. And it’s beautiful. That quote, that’s how I want my life to look. I don’t want it to make sense, I will do without all the comforts. I will endure the hardships so I can grow and learn from them, I want to be reckless.

This week our lecture topic was, surprise surprise, missions! As dull as the thought of it all is, it actually turned out to be an amazing week. Buddy, the speaker, pumped us full of statistics and terrifying facts about the world and how Christianity fits into it all. Depending on the day, I would either leave the classroom feeling equipped and ready to go, or deflated and a bit confused about my part in it all. In the end of the week though we found a way to tie it all together and make some decisions about our futures. Friday morning we cleared the floor and made a giant map of the world on the floor with masking tape. The main idea was to intercede for each nation in the 8 spheres of society (Education, the church, economics, science & technology, etc.) We had covered these topic throughout the week and pinpointed what parts of God are revealed through each sphere. So we spent the next 3 hours praying into these areas, and God was really speaking to many people about different things. I was going through a lot during this time just listening and figuring out what God is preparing me for, and I got the same old answer. WAIT. “You’re on the right track, just trust me on this one”, that’s all He says. So, I wait.

It hit me this morning that this time next week, I’ll be enjoying my first full day in Papua New Guinea! How insane is that? I fly out at 5.15, Friday morning, and the adventure continues in a new country! I’m not sure how much I’ve told you about the trip, so I’ll give a brief overview. So, we land Friday afternoon in Pt.Moresby, PNG. For the first few day’s we are spending time in the city there, celebrating Anzac Day with the locals and tourists. Anzac day is a celebration that Australia and PNG share, going back to WW2 when the Japanese tried to invade Australia through PNG, so that sounds like it’ll be an amazing experience! So Wednesday, the 27th, we begin the hike! All together we will be hiking an estimated 60-70km, over the entire 6 weeks, but the first stretch is going to be the most difficult. We have to carry 5kg of rice and 2kg of tuna each because we won’t hit the first village until a few days into the hike, as well as our daily supply of water, which for me is 4L. So we’ll be hiking for 8 hours a day until we get to the villages. When we arrive, we have to really just wait on God to let us know our plan for the day. The plan is to stay at each village for 2 or 3 days, then hike to the next one! Depending how far apart they are spaced, it could be between 3 and 5 hour hikes. SO, a lot of hiking! And rumour has it, all the mud from the entire world has been dumped in PNG, so it’ll be 6 weeks of being dirty. Showers consist of rain, or a remotely clean stream of water, which we are praying desperately for. This outreach is by far going to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and I would DEEPLY appreciate your prayers. Specifically, that we have healthy water to drink, and that we have food when we get to the villages. (My leaders expect us each to lose between 5-12kg, (10-25lbs), so I might look a bit different when I get back!)

I know the outreach sounds barbaric, and a bit crazy, but I honestly believe this is what God needs from me at this point. I have just been receiving confirmations all over the place, and God has just been speaking so much to me about this trip. The main thing He’s telling me is that He’s already there. I’m not bringing Him there, He already lives with them. My job is solely to point Him out, which might be a bit more difficult than I expect it to be. No matter what, I’m doing what He needs me to do, whether it’s easy or not. Again, please pray. For the team, that we remain as one, and for my mind, that I remain positive.

Can you believe that in 61 days I’ll be back with you? Then I can tell you my stories face to face, and you can pour your hearts out to me as well! My heart is smiling just thinking about that!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

New Pages

Everyday, we write a page in our life book. Sometimes the pages look the same, depending how long you live a similar lifestyle. But sometimes your pages start to shift, they get a new theme. Sometimes these changes are slight, barely noticeable. They only way you know something is different is when you look back and see the change. Right now, in the stage I’m in, I have new pages. These pages are totally different from the ones I wrote before. These pages look different, and they sound different. They are fresh, clean, and unhindered. These pages are getting filled very quickly. God is writing things in me that I have never known before, and let me tell you, it is so freeing!

This week has been insane. I looked over my notes, and they alone tell a story. Monday I took 6 pages of notes. I was enthralled with what was being thrown at me, I ate it up and craved more. Tuesday was rough. Our speaker challenged our thoughts on God. I was ticked, to say the least. “Who is this man to falter my image of God?”. Little did I know, Kevin wasn’t faltering God, he was simply revealing truths to me that I didn’t want to accept. And why not? Because I wasn’t taught it before. Wednesday was a slight continuation of Tuesday. We just needed to establish who the Bible says God is. Does God change His mind? Read Jonah. Are God’s decisions able to be influenced by a mere human? Read Ezekiel 4. I didn’t like this. I didn’t like the thought that I, a faulted human, could influence the Creator of the universe. I didn’t like how God had to change His mind, because that, to me, meant He didn’t have the outcome planned out. How could all this happen if God is perfect? The thing is, just because these things happen, God is not diminished. God lets us be a part of future plans by letting us ask for things. God changes His mind because He is gracious, and His previous plans don’t apply any more because nations turn to Him. So just because it turns out that God isn’t who I thought He was doesn’t mean He isn’t still good. It doesn’t mean He isn’t still infinite. It doesn’t mean He isn’t still bigger than I can understand. It means He wants me. He wants for me to offer my opinion. He wants me to know that this relationship we have is influenced by both Him and me. And what about that is scary? Absolutely nothing. So after all this revelation, we wanted to meet this God that we were learning all about. We wanted to meet the Spirit, and learn more about what part the Spirit has in the Trinity. So we did.

Thursday was a continuation of Wednesday. You guys know head knowledge right? Like, I’ve always known God loves me. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We rattle that song off from the time we can talk. And it’s so true. But it’s head knowledge. I wanted to know, in my heart, that He loves me. I wanted to let go of the standards I was setting for Him, but still come to Him with expectations, because that’s allowed. We are allowed to expect things from God. Just like you expect certain things from a husband, wife, best friend, or even neighbour. I made expectations for Him. And the beauty of it is that I could never have an expectation for Him that He couldn’t fulfill. The thing is, you need to come before Him with your real self. Don’t come before Him pretending to be happy, because He knows your heart. So I dropped the guard. I told Him what was on my heart, and I was prayed for by 3 incredible men of God. And guess what. HE LOVES ME. He really does. In His own way, He showed me. He told me who I was to Him,  He told me what I’m meant for, and He told me to keep going, keep stepping closer to Him.

Jesus crashed into me yesterday. I finally realized something. All this time I’ve been running for Him. I’ve been pushing things out of the way, throwing stuff around, making a mess of life, and there was beauty in it. Because on the other side of the door, Jesus was doing the same for me. HE was running to me. HE was fighting for me. HE WANTS ME. He crashed into my heart, and it didn’t hurt. He filled me with His spirit, and you would have died laughing at me, because I was so overjoyed. No one could get me to stop laughing. And I didn’t want to. Because He loves me. And that is joy to my ears. So why not laugh? Why not.

Tomorrow morning we’re leaving for Hidden Valley. Two weeks of camping. We are learning Lordship, and then a secret topic! 🙂 The drive is about 2 hours north, so I’ll be sure to make a super annoying playlist for the ride! I’ll be keeping a journal, so I will top you up when I return on the 6th. Sunday my outreach team is going for a hike through the rain forest. We’ll be dropped off and we’ll hike our way back, anywhere from 3-6 hours! We also found out the first stretch of hike for outreach in PNG is 15 hours! So again, please pray for me! 🙂

Here’s my outreach team! We’re pretty awesome. This is at the top of Castle Hill, probably around 6:15am. Like I said, pretty awesome. The back row is Abbie (leader/friend) me, Claire, Lovisa and Sam T! The men: Ben (leader/friend), Pete, Jordan, Roger and Peter. This is as good as it gets! (To see a bigger view, click on the picture)

I hope the pages you write these next few days look more and more like Jesus. I miss you all! Lots of love from Australia!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Outreach

Hey everyone! We got our outreach options last week, and I just realized I haven’t informed you what they are! We handed in our top three this morning, but I’ll tell you all four anyway, just so you know what the other teams are doing!

1)- Cairns & Taber lands–  3 week outreach in Australia, then to PNG for 6 weeks. PNG is Paupa New Guinea
The first 3 weeks will be in Cairns and Taber lands. We’ll most likely be doing general evangelism, some children’s/youth programs, and some general labour. Then we come back for 2 weeks of lectures, then leave for PNG. So for that outreach, we’ll be backpacking to remote villages in PNG and ministering to them.

2)- Charter Towers Region/Ayr– 3 week outreach in Australia, then to Darwin and East Timor for 6 weeks
General evangelism, children/youth programs and labour in Charter Towers Region and Ayr. Then we go to Darwin for evangelism as a stopover to East Timor. Here we will be doing a lot of rebuilding because this country has been very depressed recently.It used to be a part of Indonesia, but it wanted to separate itself, and was battered by Indonesia after that, so it needs some rebuilding.

3)- Mt.Isa -3 week outreach in Australia, then to PNG on the Medical Ship (which is super cool) for 6 weeks
Also super cool. Mt.Isa is about 10 hours away from Townsville, where I am right now, and here we will be doing the same as the others, general evangelism, labour and children/youth programs. THEN we go to PNG on YWAM’s medical ship!! The medical ship travels for 3 days overseas to PNG and puts its anchor down, opens up ship and runs a full Medical clinic for random villages there. Free eye surgery, glasses clinic, dental clinic and primary health care tips are the main work. Evangelism is paired up with this also. We’d be on the ship for the full 6 weeks.

4)- Gladstone/Emerald- 3 week oureach in Australia, then down the coast of Australia for 6 weeks.
The Gladstone/Emerald region is about 2-3 hours away from here. Again this 3 week outreach will be focusing on general evangelism, labour, and children’s/youth programs. Then for our main outreach, we travel the coast in Australia! In Australia, governments have opened the doors for churches and other Christian organisations to enter into high schools and evangelise. This outreach would be up and down the east coast, and we’d go and do day long seminar’s in each high school we visited, doing testimonies and just random evangelism.

So! I hope that’s clear enough! Like I said, I handed in my top 3 choices this morning, and we *hopefully* should know what team’s we are on by the end of this week, so I will keep you posted! In the mean time, we are going through lectures with Ken Mulligan, the base director here. He and his wife, Robin, started the base here in 1992, and have seen many youth come and go throughout the years. Ken is speaking about Clear Conscience  and Repentance. He is talking a lot about trust and covenants, and how to receive trust we need to give trust. We went through all the aspects of trust, I’ve never realized how much goes on subconsciously to initiate trust with someone else!

We are also learning how feeling convicted is not always a bad thing! I don’t know about you, but when I think about the word conviction, I shudder. All the bad things I’ve ever done start rushing through my mind, whether I’ve been forgiven already or not. But the definition of conviction is surprising! Number 1 definition-a fixed or firm belief! So when I am convicted, it is because I believe something to be right or wrong. And we can be convicted for doing good things! See mom, I’m already learning! 🙂

The best part about life here is by far the worship. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning we all gather together and have base worship. Right now the October DTS is here between their outreach, and so there is probably 150 people in the auditorium giving their all to Christ. It is LOUD and it is CRAZY, and I LOVE it. Today I had a girl come up to me and tell me about a picture she had for me from God. She said she saw a misted mirror, like the way your bathroom mirror looks like after you take a super hot shower. Anyway, she said that’s the way I see myself. I know I’m back there, but I don’t see myself clearly. But then, out of nowhere, God came and He smashed the fog away. Soon will come the day when I can see myself clearly, how relieving!

Anyway’s, I think that’s enough preaching for today! Thanks for making it to the end! You deserve an extra hug for that feat! Come find me on June 15 and ambush me please! 🙂

Oh, and a special shout out to my family. I miss you all so much!!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Let the games begin

Let me tell you something. If you are ever in a situation where you need to fly to Australia, make sure you have the following: sleeping pills, a water bottle, ear plugs, and most importantly of all, sleeping pills. (yes, I know I said that one twice)

After leaving my house at 10:30 Thursday morning, I’ve made it to Australia. Stepping off the last plane was the largest relief of my life. I had my bags forwarded on to Sydney from Toronto, but I needed to check them again in Sydney to send them off to Townsville. Hey dad, remember how I didn’t want 2 bags? I should have followed my instinct. My bag with all my cosmetics and adaptors and important things wasn’t carried forward from San Francisco, so that delayed me in Sydney, and I had to RACE around the airport trying to fill out reports and find my other bag, and THEN almost miss my next flight by 5 minutes, thank Jesus that I made it.

Townsville is a beautiful place. There’s palm trees, tropical flowers, LOADS of sunshine and beaches that go on for forever! There’s a waterpark close to where I stay, and we have to swim inside the nets in the sea because it is currently “stinger season”, and those are not so nice. I’m excited to explore life here for a while.

I wrote something in my journal on my first flight yesterday and realized how sad I was to leave home. I commented on how most people worry about packing clothes, and electronics, cosmetics and entertainment, and all I wanted to bring was my family. To be in 2 places at once would be the biggest blessing God could give me, but I also know this experience is something not everyone gets, and God has me here for reasons I don’t yet understand.

I hope God showers you with His blessing this week, whichever time zone you’re in. May you know His peace, and pass it along to others, as we all know He doesn’t give anything to us to keep to ourselves. Shine the light out.

Love you all so much,

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Leave…

“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:
Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”

That’s a quote from Donald Miller, his book is called “Through Painted Deserts”. I thought it seemed quite fitting to life right now. Read his book, it’s amazing. Sometimes leaving is an option, sometimes it’s not. For me right now, I could easily tell myself its an option. I could tell myself there’s too much going on at home. I say God needs me here more than in Australia. But time and again, those thoughts in my head are slashed. So I’ve been defeated. I’ve given up on making excuses. I’ve given over the control.

So yes. There are a lot of things to go through and finish before next Thursday. And I’ll get through them all. I have a feeling next week will show up faster than I thought, so I’m going to enjoy it. And hey. God may be calling me to leave. But that’s me. He may be calling you to do something totally different, all I can say is listen to it. Running away from what God has planned for you doesn’t work out well. Just ask my friend Jonah.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Hello world!

This is it. This is my life online. I’m not too sure how well this will work, but it’s something I’m willing to take a chance on. Now< I love blogs. I love reading about the lives of others in a way that’s so personal, but so informative at the same time. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but here’s the thing. Why would I need to update people I see all the time? So that’s why I’m starting now, because I leave next week. Next week!!

Next Thursday I embark on an adventure. One that scares me, but also one that excites me beyond belief. For the past year I’ve been waiting for “Next January”. And guess what, next January is here. Am I ready for it? NO! Not at all. This past month has been a roller coaster. My days will spin by one day, and drag the next. Some are good, great even, and some are terrible! The only thing that’s been keeping me holding on is my God and my Family. They keep me pointing forward, to days that are better, and those days are on their way. YWAM. Youth With A Mission. This is my future. For the next 5 months, I’m journeying for God. I’m dropping me for a bit, and picking up a whole lot more of Him. And although I’ll try, sending letters and postcards to every single person I love is going to be a challenge, therefore, I have this blog. This will be how I plan on keeping you tied to me. My own way of keeping you all in my pocket. And I have one request.

Comment. I want feedback. These posts will continue, with your help only. I want to know someone out there in the internet universe can hear me. You’ll know everything about me, but I want to know you. Tell me how YOU are. How YOUR days go. What’s new and exciting with YOU? God blesses me, and He blesses you, so encourage me with your stories. Please.

So yes. This blog is conditional. No feedback, no blog. 🙂

Here’s to the next 5 months. I’m trusting God to lead me where I need to be. Pray with me, alright?

And here’s a feature. This is picture of the day. My personal flair. I love pictures, you all know that. So this feature will be of something that I miss, something that inspires me, excites me, or just something I want you to see. So this is Evan. My beautiful nephew. 5 days fresh. Props go out to Tom and Jessica, my beautiful sister and her husband.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam