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.

But why….

Why go all the way around the world? Why try to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language? Why pay to serve? Why?

I say why not.

Why not let her know she’s worth it? Why not get out of my comfort zone for her? Why not make a personal sacrifice? Why not let it hit home by seeing it with my own eyes?

She has infinite value, He said it in His Word. He created her with purpose, with plans for a full and rich and beautiful life, and that’s been stolen from her. Day after day she’s told she’s not worth it, she’s treated like nothing more than an object. She’s told that her life was a mistake, that she’s just the result of a loveless night of lust, and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of those lies she’s believing, I’m sick of the simple needs that she is denied. I’m sick of it all, and I’m sick of the fact that I could just so easily close my eyes to it all. I could go about my days just like I did for the majority of my past and just pretend like it doesn’t exist. It shouldn’t be that easy! I shouldn’t be able to change the channel, close the magazine or turn off the radio to keep myself in my safe little world. I’m sick of it, and it has to change.

So watch me go. Tell me I don’t have to go all the way over there to see it, because I agree, I see that too. But I also know that He’s called me. He’s asked me to go, and now the ball’s in my court. He’s sending me to her, He’s challenged me and broken me and picked me up out of my own filth and tears. He’s asked me to go, but what about you? Where is He sending you? Can we do this together? Can we choose to be honest about this life, this world we’re in? Let’s look outside our Pottery Barn lives and see the dirt. Let’s see the hurt, the sadness, the pain and the sickness. But don’t get depressed, don’t be discouraged. If you keep looking, you’ll find it and it will break you. You’ll find the hope in her eyes as she sees you coming. Look for that, and then you’ll get it. Then you’ll understand why I must go.

So what do you say?

Take my hand- let’s go.

photo

With Strength that is not my own, Sam